Julian Assange has been described as a spy, a sexual predator, a genius and a hero. His website wikiLeaks, a mirror website of which can be viewed here, has published hundreds of thousands of political secrets, presumably with the purpose of “Keeping governments open”, as its tag line asserts. Examples of this include the ClimateGate e-mails from the University of East Anglia and lists of extra-judicial killings and disappearances in Kenya (which earned the organisation an award from Amnesty International) among many, many others.
The website is designed so that nothing which has been put up can be taken down. WikiLeaks is maintained on over twenty servers globally and over hundreds of domain names. Expenses are paid for by donations
WikiLeaks most recent release, the third of a series of ‘mega-leaks’ of classified U.S. documents in 2010, of over 250,000 American diplomatic cables has caused the greatest controversy to date. It comes at the same time as warrants for Assange’s arrest, first in Sweden and now across Europe via Interpol, for questioning in relation to a case of sexual assault in Sweden. This Daily Mail article shows that there is scant public evidence to support the victims’ claims. What’s more, it is widely believed that the allegations are part of a smear campaign aimed at discrediting Assange before he or his organisation do more damage.
This profile of the man in the New Yorker reveals many interesting details about his life. He is a known hacker, had a troubled childhood and is quite clearly very clever, if not a genius. As well as this, it is claimed that Assange has problems handling relationships, trouble with authority and a strong desire to fight for justice or at least, to uncover the truth.
Surely, I can’t be the only one to have noticed the similarities between this cyber (anti-)hero and the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth Salander? She too was the victim of a massive smear campaign and spent much of her time on the run or in hiding from a vast organisation of political and criminal overlords willing to manipulate the truth and lie in order to keep their interests safe. Perhaps I’m glamourising the situation, but the resemblance is undeniably uncanny…
I imagine Larsson would have been a big fan of Assange.