The End of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?
Julian Assange was born in Australia on July 3, 1971. He began programming at the age of 17 and continued until his mid-20s where he was arrested and charged for several internet-related crimes. Most of the charges were dropped and he was released on minimal bail and good behavior. He spent the next few years working for the Australian Police Department and other side-contractors giving technological advice and developing software. Then, in 2006, he and some classmates from his period of study at the University of Melbourne established WikiLeaks.
In October of 2006, a website registered under the name of WikiLeaks surfaced on the World Wide Web. Similar to the motive of Edward Snowden, the page looked to publicize classified intelligence from anonymous sources. According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is "to bring important news and information to the public... One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth." Since it’s conception, the site has disclosed information on many high-priority cases including Sarah Palin’s Yahoo emails, documents from the Iraqi and Afghan War, files from Guantanamo Bay, and numerous more.
Assange is wanted by multiple countries, including the United States and Sweden, for violating various treason, security and privacy acts. He was granted indefinite political asylum by Ecuador in June of 2012 and resides at their embassy in London. In 2015, he asked for refuge in France but was denied because of the lack of an official application. His current status is unknown but it is assumed that he is still living at the Ecuadorian Embassy. WikiLeaks has released 6 insurance files in the event that Assange should be harmed.
On October 16, 2016, the WikiLeaks twitter sent out 3 tweets each with a “pre-commitment” suffix and a 64-character hash that no one has yet been able to decrypt. The names connected to the tweets (Ecuador, John Kerry and UK FCO) have been connected to more recent events surrounding Assange’s plans to release more documents surrounding Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign. The following day, another tweet was sent out stating that “Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans” and later confirmed that the Ecuadorian Embassy has cut off his internet access. One of the rumors that have arose was that the string of tweets were a “dead man’s switch.” A dead man’s switch is a device that activates when certain requirements are not met. In simpler terms, it’s a safety feature to prevent injury or accident to an important figurehead or organization. Rumors and theories have surfaced that Assange has been ill-treated or possibly even killed. However, a volunteer for WikiLeaks confirmed a few hours later that Assange was still alive and well.
In the hours following the incident, the website has continued to follow its mission of revealing top-secret information to the public. No one knows what these cryptic tweets mean and WikiLeaks has yet answer any questions relating to them, or to the status of Assange.