Image Credits: AFP

No non-US citizen has ever been such a centerpiece of a presidential election, but Julian Assange does not prescribe himself to any of your preconceptions. Julian Assange is an Australian-born programmer, publisher, and journalist.  You probably know him as the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, the biggest thorn in Hillary Clinton’s side since Monica Lewinsky.

Julian Assange was born in Australia in 1971.  He began his hacking career in 1987, under the name Mendax. For nearly a decade afterwards, he bounced between various tasks, including technical advising in Australia’s police units, wrote for Dreyfus’ Underground, and started the company Earthmen Technology. He never obtained a degree.

WikiLeaks, which Assange is best known for, was founded in 2006.  WikiLeaks hails themselves as a nonprofit journalistic endeavor seeking to “open governments” and let civilians in on the secrets of their governments.  In the years since their founding, they have published millions of documents related to secret information, news leaks, classified information, and private emails.

Some of their most famous leaks including the Afghan War Diary, the Collateral Murder video, and secret files from Guantanamo Bay. Other leaks include the cables of Henry Kissinger, details of secret communications from Saudi Arabia, proof of the NSA spying on other nations, including France and Japan, and most famously, emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. WikiLeaks also gained United States notoriety with the release from material from Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning. Manning is currently serving 35 years for espionage and computer fraud.

The reason behind Assange’s status as an “international fugitive” stems from rape allegations made against him in Sweden, which he denies. He initially turned himself in for questioning.  He sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy after the UK Supreme Court ruled that he should be extradited. Ecuador agreed to give him asylum out of fear that his human rights might be violated if he was extradited.  This was due to both issues with the investigation of the rape allegations and his involved with WikiLeaks.  In February of 2016, a United Nations panel ruled that Mr. Assange had been “arbitrarily detained by UK and Swedish authorities since 2010.”

RELATED: 5 Podesta Emails From The Wikileaks Dump That Show How Corrupt The Clinton Campaign Really Is

As of the writing of this article, Julian Assange is still living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.  On Monday the 18th, WikiLeaks tweeted that Assange’s internet access has been cut.  It was in the middle of releasing more and more of Clinton campaign manager Podesta’s emails.  Ecuador’s government admitted to restricting Assange’s internet access – something that WikiLeaks said was requested by John Kerry and the State Department. If that is true, it certainly looks like the Obama and Kerry administration are trying to restrict any information that might hurt Hillary Clinton and are not afraid to employ other nations to help them. Of course, we have to remember the November 2010 joke that Hillary Clinton made about killing Assange with a drone. What won’t they do to keep their secrets a secret?

That still leaves the question, is he a hero? A criminal? Is WikiLeaks actually an agent of the Russian government? Frankly, we may never know. It is unlikely that Julian Assange will ever step foot on American soil.  It will likely be many more years before he feels safe enough to exit the Ecuadorean embassy he calls home. There is no denying that there is a bounty out on Assange, but whether that bounty was placed by a governmental body, associated agents, or some greater force, only time will tell. There is no right or wrong answer on Julian Assange, or WikiLeaks in general. No doubt, some of the things WikiLeaks have leaked have given information to our enemies.  There is also no question that the people of the United States and other countries have learned valuable information about their government’s operations from WikiLeaks. It is up to every individual, and most likely one day the courts, to weight both sides of the coin.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member