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Julian Assange Arrives in Australia Debt-Free after Receiving over 8 BTC From Anonymous Whale

Last Updated June 26, 2024 2:29 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated June 26, 2024 2:29 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Julian Assange has been released from a UK prison after reaching a plea deal with the US and is expected to return to Australia.
  • An anonymous Bitcoin donation has cleared Julian Assange’s debts.
  • Assange pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring to obtain and release classified US defense documents.
  • WikiLeaks and Assange were early Bitcoin adopters, using it as a lifeline during financial difficulties and as a tool for proof-of-publishing.

Julian Assange has returned to Australia for the first time in over a decade after pleading guilty in a US court. The plea allowed him to return to his home country as a free man following his imprisonment in the UK and extended stay in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Assange arrived in Canberra on Wednesday evening, having flown from the Northern Mariana Islands. He had appeared in a federal court in the US territory earlier, where he admitted to unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified national defense documents, according to a statement from the US Justice Department.

Anonymous Bitcoin Donation Facilitates Assange’s Return

Julian Assange’s arrival in Canberra marks the finale of a huge multi-country journey for the 52-year-old Australian. After being freed in the UK on Monday, Assange traveled first to Thailand for refueling before continuing to the Northern Mariana Islands.

While he has avoided a lengthy prison sentence, Wikileaks started actively raising funds to cover an additional “half a million US dollars” that Assange must pay.

An anonymous donor sent over 8 BTC , valued at nearly $500,000, to cover Julian Assange’s entire debt, enabling his return home without financial burden.

This substantial contribution underscores the Bitcoin community’s ongoing support for Assange and his past efforts to expose government secrets.

While the identity of the donor remains unknown, Bitcoin enthusiasts have long championed his release. The significant Bitcoin donation highlights the cryptocurrency’s role in promoting uncensored free speech and financial freedom.

In the coming weeks, efforts will focus on helping Assange recover from his prolonged confinement. However, given his long association with the technology, it is likely that his engagement with Bitcoin will continue.

Assange Departs UK, En Route to Saipan for Sentencing Hearing

According to legal documents submitted in the US district court for the Northern Mariana Islands, Assange has consented to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiring to obtain and release classified US defense documents.

A video  shared by WikiLeaks on social media has shown Assange boarding a plane at London’s Stansted Airport on Monday evening. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed Assange’s departure from the UK. The chartered plane, flight VJT199, made a stopover in Bangkok for refueling, as reported by officials at the Thai airport.

DOJ filing of Assange's plea deal
Credit: DoJ

Julian Assange was reportedly en route to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands for a sentencing hearing scheduled at 9 am local time on Wednesday (11 pm GMT on Tuesday). Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese noted that Assange is being accompanied by Stephen Smith, Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK.

Albanese commented :

“Regardless of the views that people have about Julian Assange and his activities, the case has dragged on for too long, there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia.”

Assange Freed After 1,901 Days in Belmarsh

Under the terms of the agreement, which required judicial approval, Assange was expected to receive credit for the five years already served, likely eliminating any additional jail time.

In a letter to a federal judge in the Northern Mariana Islands, a senior official from the Justice Department explained that Assange was being sent to Saipan due to its closeness to Australia, his country of citizenship. The official also mentioned that after the sentencing, Assange would proceed to Australia.

WikiLeaks announced  on X that Assange was released from Belmarsh prison on Monday morning, after spending 1,901 days there, largely isolated in a 2×3 meter cell for 23 hours a day.

Early Adoption of Bitcoin for WikiLeaks’ Survival

Julian Assange utilized Bitcoin for various purposes, including as a proof-of-life mechanism and for verifiable proof-of-publishing. To Assange, Bitcoin represented more than just a distributed monetary system that addresses the double-spending problem inherent in digital currencies.

As a journalist, he saw greater potential in Bitcoin, and as he fought for his life, others joined him in exploring these uses. In 2010, shortly after WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables in the notorious Chelsea Manning leaks , Assange’s organization faced severe financial ostracism as major financial entities like Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal ceased their services to WikiLeaks. This predicament prompted Assange to turn to Bitcoin. By June 2011, WikiLeaks announced  on their Twitter account that they would begin accepting Bitcoin donations.

Interestingly, the idea of adopting Bitcoin was considered by WikiLeaks earlier than June 2011. According to discussions on the then-popular forum BitcoinTalk, Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, advised Assange  against this in December 2010. Satoshi’s concern was that Bitcoin was still a small, beta community in its infancy. He believed that WikiLeaks would not gain substantial funds from it at that time and that the attention drawn to Bitcoin could be detrimental to its development. Heeding this advice, WikiLeaks waited another six months before officially accepting Bitcoin donations.

Assange then stated :

“Bitcoin is an extremely important innovation, but not in the way most people think. Bitcoin’s real innovation is a globally verifiable proof of publishing at a certain time. The whole system is built on that concept and many other systems can also be built on it. The blockchain nails down history, breaking Orwell’s dictum of ‘He who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future’.”

I am Julian Assange. AMA about my new book, “When Google Met WikiLeaks.” 
byu/_JulianAssange  intechnology 

Assange’s Legacy: Bitcoin’s Role in Preserving Truth and Fighting Censorship

The plea agreement arrived several months after US President Joe Biden indicated he was considering a request from Australia to cease the American pursuit to prosecute Assange.

In 2010, WikiLeaks released  hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—representing the largest breaches of military security in US history—along with numerous diplomatic cables.

Assange was charged during the administration of former President Donald Trump, stemming from the document release, which had been leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst who was also prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

Many advocates for press freedom have contended that prosecuting Assange poses a serious threat to free speech.

Since 2014, various projects have begun to align with Julian Assange’s vision for Bitcoin , transcending mere financial utility. These initiatives vary widely but share a common goal: to leverage Bitcoin and the capabilities introduced by Ordinals for purposes beyond just speculative trading of images and videos on the Bitcoin network.

One significant project that materialized in October 2023 aimed to enable global participation in adding the diplomatic cables released during the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures—disclosures that had led to WikiLeaks being ostracized from the global financial system. Thanks to the Ordinals protocol, this project, dubbed Project Spartacus , not only timestamps these cables but also inscribes and stores the original content directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. This effort has effectively transformed Bitcoin into a modern-day Library of Alexandria , creating an immutable and indestructible archive.

This project highlighted the leaks that exposed alleged war crimes by the United States military and government, revealing truths that starkly contrast the prevailing media and governmental narratives about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. By doing so, Project Spartacus not only preserved these documents but also ensured their accessibility and permanence, safeguarding the public’s ability to reference and learn from this information.

Once again, Bitcoin could be instrumental for Julian Assange in ensuring that his ideas and documented data do not vanish. Through the aforementioned Project Spartacus, with the support of Bitcoin ordinals, Assange will be able to not only preserve these critical documents but also guarantee their continued accessibility and permanence. This initiative protects the public’s ability to access and learn from this vital information, ensuring that it remains available for future generations.

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