Assange and Bitcoin: A Lifelong Saga

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gained fame (and a prison sentence) by exposing classified U.S. materials that detailed corruption across the American establishment, behind-the-scenes diplomatic dealings, and military crimes.
Assange's efforts have traditionally been supported by the Bitcoin community, whose members have actively campaigned for the release of the controversial Australian journalist.

After enduring 14 years of legal strife, residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and spending the last five years in actual imprisonment, Julian Assange was freed from a British prison on June 24, 2024.

Immediately after his release, Assange departed for Saipan, an island in the Pacific under U.S. jurisdiction, where he was scheduled to attend a court session. There, as part of a deal with the authorities, Assange was expected to plead guilty. The U.S. government had long accused him of espionage and relentlessly pursued his extradition from the UK. Following the court session, Julian Assange was granted the right to return "unhindered" to Australia. He was not allowed to use commercial flights, thus the only available option was a private charter flight costing $520,000. 

Assange's wife, Stella, made an urgent appeal for donations—not only for the flight but also for medical care, which Assange desperately needed after many years in prison. In response, an anonymous Bitcoin donor contributed over 8 BTC to an address provided by Assange's supporters, which nearly covered the total sum required and became the largest single donation.

Assange and Bitcoin

Julian Assange called Bitcoin "the most interesting thing on the internet" back in 2014, well before it became mainstream, when it was priced at only $300. Now, with Bitcoin having reached highs of $74,000, it seems Assange's early insights into cryptocurrency were undervalued. 
The ability of cryptography to create situations where it can defend the people who use it against the full might of a superpower. The full might of a superpower doesn't help you solve a math problem. It's not something you can get at through overwhelming coercive power,
Julian Assange.
Assange claims he joined the cypherpunk movement in the 1990s, and in his youth, he founded the hacker group "Worms Against Nuclear Killers," which operated under the motto "damage systems and share information."  

Cryptocurrency has proven to be an effective funding tool for the Australian activist. Assange and his supporters started accepting cryptocurrency donations in 2011. As WikiLeaks began to significantly inconvenience the authorities, Assange's account with Swiss PostFinance was frozen, and Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal ceased processing transactions for the organization. In response, WikiLeaks posted a new donation address on Twitter (now X).
WikiLeaks now accepts anonymous Bitcoin donations on 1HB5XMLmzFVj8ALj6mfBsbifRoD4miY36v,
the post reads.
While in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy, Assange hosted an AMA session on Reddit. To prove the session was authentic and conducted live, the ingenious journalist used blockchain technology by reading out the hash of Bitcoin block 447,506, which had been mined the previous day.

Assange's arrest in 2019 once again spurred a wave of crypto donations: in a single day, the WikiLeaks project gathered 6.3 BTC. Bitcoin Cash developer Chris Troutner uploaded 30 GB of WikiLeaks files to the distributed file system IPFS and the BCH blockchain. After publishing detailed instructions on accessing the files from IPFS, anyone can now download them from the site

Over the years, the WikiLeaks crypto wallet has significantly increased in value; journalists from The Times estimate the total donations collected amount to $244 million (approximately 4,000 BTC). Assange himself has never concealed that he has profited handsomely from Bitcoin. In 2017, he stated that he had earned a 50,000% return on the cryptocurrency.

In February 2024, AssangeDAO was founded to raise funds to fight for the freedom of the WikiLeaks founder. Silke Noa, a member of AssangeDAO, revealed that the organization spent more than 11,000 ETH ($37 million) on legal and informational campaigns from the 16,593 ETH collected by the DAO since its establishment. It remains unclear why there was a call for additional fundraising for a plane and medical treatment, given the substantial funds already available.

Previously, we reported how an image of Assange in a British prison was reposted nearly 30,000 times on the X platform before its creator disclosed that he had used AI to create the image to bring attention to the plight of the controversial activist.