Julian Paul Assange (born Hawkins; 3 July 1971) is an Australian computer programmer and the editor of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006, but came to international attention in 2010, when WikiLeaks published a series of leaks provided by Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs in July 2010, the Iraq war logs in October 2010, and CableGate in November 2010. Following the 2010 leaks, the federal government of the US launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance.
In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange. He had been questioned there months earlier over allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange continued to deny the allegations and expressed concern that he would be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his perceived role in publishing secret American documents. Julian Assange surrendered himself to UK police on 7 December 2010, and was held for ten days before being released on bail. Having been unsuccessful in his challenge to the extradition proceedings, he breached his bail and absconded. He was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and has remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London since then. Assange has held Ecuadorian citizenship since 12 December 2017.
During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks hosted emails sent or received by candidate Hillary Clinton from her private email server when she was Secretary of State. According to two political scientists, WikiLeaks strategically released the e-mails whenever Clinton's lead expanded in the polls. After the Democratic Party, along with cybersecurity experts, claimed that Russian intelligence had hacked Clinton campaign-related e-mails and leaked them to WikiLeaks, Assange said Clinton was causing "hysteria about Russia." He consistently denied any connection to or cooperation with Russia in relation to the leaks.
On 19 May 2017, the Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into the rape accusation against Assange and applied to revoke the European arrest warrant. Although he is free to leave the Embassy, it is likely that he would then be arrested for the criminal offence of breaching his bail conditions. The London Metropolitan Police have indicated that an arrest warrant is still in force for Assange's failure to surrender himself to his bail.
In 1987, Assange began hacking under the name Mendax. He and two others—known as "Trax" and "Prime Suspect" formed a hacking group they called the International Subversives. During this time, he hacked into the Pentagon and other US DoD facilities, MILNET, the US Navy, NASA, and Australia's Overseas Telecommunications Commission; Citibank, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Panasonic, and Xerox; and the Australian National University, La Trobe University, and Stanford University's SRI International. He is thought to have been involved in the WANK (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) hack at NASA in 1989, but he does not acknowledge this.
In September 1991, Assange was discovered hacking into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel, a Canadian multinational telecommunications corporation. The Australian Federal Police tapped Assange's phone line (he was using a modem), raided his home at the end of October and eventually charged him in 1994 with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes. In December 1996, he pleaded guilty to 25 charges (the other 6 were dropped), was ordered to pay reparations of A$2,100 and released on a good behaviour bond, avoiding a heavier penalty resulting from the perceived absence of malicious or mercenary intent and his disrupted childhood.