Supporters of Julian Assange have donated thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency since his arrest last week, according to news agencies.
The Arrest of Julian Assange
London Police arrested the australian cyber-activist on April 11 following a forcible eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange had been living in the embassy for several years, fearing arrest and possible extradition. He is wanted in a number of countries for a variety of charges, many of them relating to his website Wikileaks.
Assange strained his relationship with the embassy in previous months according to staff. His actual removal was due to his alleged use of the embassy as a center for illegal spying, according to the Ecuadorian President.
Wikileaks has been a controversial site for over ten years. The site claims to be an organ of journalism promoting transparency in government. However, a number of governments claim that the site has illegally posted classified content. Cyber-activists, including the group known as “Anonymous” have found a number of ways to support the organization. The group infamously shut down digital payment services that refused to allow donations to Wikileaks in 2010.
Following the incident, Wikileaks began accepting donations in cryptocurrency. When the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed, the organization found itself holding large amount of money, according to Assange.
Support from the Crypto Community
The actions of Anonymous don’t mean that everyone who has supported Assange has done so illegally. Assange made a lot of friends in the Bitcoin community and previously praised its secure, private, and decentralized nature.
The cryptocurrency news website Toshi Times reported that supporters donated over US$40,000 in Bitcoin (over 8 BTC). That’s in addition to donations in other cryptocurrencies including Zcash, as well as donations in fiat currencies.
A report by CCN called Assange’s arrest “disturbing” and pointed out the number of transactions. At the time, the average transaction was just over US$100.
What Happens Next?
As of this writing, Assange’s fate is not clear. He could stand trial in the U.K. but the authorities may also extradite him to the United States. There are theories that Assange was arrested in a deal to have him brought to the United States. However, U.S. President Donald Trump recently claimed to not know anything about Assange. This is unlikely, however, as he praised Wikileaks when he was a candidate. Further, members of his cabinet are currently facing charges for working with Wikileaks — and possibly Assange himself — in order to use the site to publish information about then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Wherever Assange goes to trial, it is unclear what his fate may be. The legal case against Assange and Wikileaks is very complicated. Some of their actions would be illegal if not for freedoms granted to the press. However, there remains legal debate as to whether Wikileaks qualifies as an organ of journalism.
Featured image credit:
Cancillería del Ecuador, RUEDA DE PRENSA CONJUNTA ENTRE CANCILLER RICARDO PATIÑO Y JULIAN ASSANGE – 14953880621, CC BY-SA 2.0
Jon Jaehnig is an American freelance writer specializing in Technology and Health. Jon has degrees in Scientific and Technical Communication and Journalism from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife and cat. For more from Jon, you can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.