WikiLeaks – Three Years Later


By: Dylan Horn

Julian Assange announces his candidacy for the Australian Senate via webcam in London, UK.

Julian Assange announces his candidacy for the Australian Senate via webcam in London, UK.

European Pressphoto Agency

On July 25 2010, the whistleblower website WikiLeaks made international headlines by publishing over 90 000 internal reports involving the US-led mission in Afghanistan since 2004.

The depth and detail of these online documents ended up igniting a string of embarrassments for the United States and has caused Assange’s actions to be vilified by most Western governments.

By publishing highly classified sensitive material, the 42-year old Assange sparked a debate between the morality of a transparent government versus the reality of maintaining a secure one. This debate still rages on, and has certainly been taken up along different fronts by new whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning and most recently with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

As the founding editor of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange has became one of the Digital Era’s most polarizing figures. Many online activists praise Assange’s actions, considering him to be among the world’s most ethical hackers, while others equate his actions to treason, including former Harper aide Tom Flanagan who even called for his assassination.

Three years after these documents were released, Assange still remains a virtual political prisoner, held up for Asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London for two years, avoiding extradition to Sweden for sexual assault allegations. Assange embodies his role as an online activist, since he is only accessible to his supporters through a webcam.

Now, Julian Assange may have finally found a way out of his political stalemate, and it comes from his homeland of Australia. This Thursday, Assange announced via webcam that he is now seeking a seat in Victoria for the upcoming Australia’s Senate elections. Assange will now run alongside other like-minded candidates in Australia’s new “WikiLeaks Party” which runs on the promises of “transparency, accountability and justice”.

Assange, before his webcam feed cut out, touted his fellow WikiLeaks candidates not as politicians, but as academics “who actually give a damn… They are the people we need to keep the bastards honest.” Support for the newly registered party was pegged at 26% of Australians based off a poll in April, with his party getting the strongest support from voters under 30.

Either way, this election campaign represents both a clever, and desperate move for the founder of WikiLeaks. If he wins, it will undoubtedly create a nightmarish political situation for Assange’s opponents in government. Would the United Kingdom block Assange from flying to Australia to assume a position he was democratically elected to fill? What about Australia’s own government, who Assange accuses of being a declining democracy? A victory for Assange from Australia’s voters will surely be his best defense in an online world where it’s increasingly harder to keep secrets.

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