By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)
Julian Assagne’s journey is a strange one to say the least. An internet hacker with a prison stint, he is said to live a nomadic lifestyle. He ran Wikileaks, a website that posts confidential documents in order to expose corruption in government and business. By all accounts from his coworkers he was very dedicated to his work. His story starts to get really weird in 2010.
He got on the bad side of the American government by posting confidential documents regarding the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. This is information that was not flattering to the United States. Around that same time, he was accused of sexual assault by two women while doing a speaking engagement in Sweden. The investigation was dropped and then picked up again, but in the meantime Assange fled to England. A lengthy extradition battle went on for almost two years before the English agreed to send him to back to Sweden solely for questioning. To avoid extradition Assange is holding up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as Ecuador has agreed to grant him asylum. There’s one simple problem for him. England will arrest him the second he sets foot back on British soil. He can’t leave the Embassy to get on a plane or boat without risking arrest.
Assange is asserting that the United States plans to extradite him from Sweden to face espionage charges where he won’t get a fair trial. The United States, however, has not issued a warrant for his arrest. Assuming he’s the great hacker that everyone says he is, he wouldn’t have left the United States with any evidence to prosecute him. He was a key cog in the website at the time, but that’s probably all the U.S. has on him. He’s basically calling it a conspiracy and saying that the U.S. is out to get him, but what about facing the music in Sweden? If the charges are bogus, he can face questioning and then move on. He offered to face their questioning in London while still at the Embassy, but that only serves to benefit him. He can gauge based on their questioning how far they are along in prosecuting him. If they’ve got the goods on him, he can continue to enjoy his asylum. I would guess Swedish authorities plan on arresting him during their questioning.
He’s hiding behind this idea that he won’t get a fair trial, but what if the U.S. came out publicly and said that they had no intentions of charging him with crimes relating to any hacking he did in 2010? He would then have no reason to fear extradition to the U.S.. Would he then turn himself over to the Swedish authorities? I have no way to know for sure, but my guess would be that he wouldn’t and would talk his way out of looking bad to his supporters as best he can. I don’t know this guy well enough to know what really happened with those women. But I don’t know anyone who has done a stint in prison for hacking, lives a nomadic lifestyle, and has been accused of sexual assault twice that is a boy scout. Like all internet trolls he’s showing that he’s just a coward at heart.