PROFILE: Julian Assange, the computer ‘hacker’ and ‘number one’ enemy of the US who agreed to his freedom

He “enemy number one” of the United States for some and a legend for others, Julian Assange, has been released after reaching an agreement with American justice, which in principle puts an end to a long legal battle and allows him to return to his native Australia.

It was the portal that he He founded WikiLeaks. the person in charge of announcing this Tuesday on his X account that Assange was leaving the British high-security prison where he had been held for five years, leaving the United Kingdom with the aim of returning to his country.

The release had been possible after Assange, 52, reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice that puts an end to a long judicial saga over the leak of classified documents, and that will completely conclude once he appears on Wednesday. in a court in the Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific, and then headed to Australia.

Hero or villain, Assange’s journey, who went from hacker to fighter against the powers that be, is part of the universal battle for freedom of expression for journalistic and human rights organizations, such as International Amnesty.

Despite not having been convicted of any crime, the Australian has spent almost fourteen years in captivity in the United Kingdom, the last five years in London’s Belmarsh high-security prison.

Initially arrested in 2010 at the request of Sweden in a case that has now been closed, Assange was a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from June 19, 2012 until his expulsion and arrest in April 2019 at the request of the United States, which instigated the current proceedings.

During his stay at the diplomatic mission he met the Spanish-Swedish Sara González Devant, part of his legal team and who changed her name to Stella, with whom he had two children in 2017 (Gabriel) and 2019 (Max), whose existence she revealed. in 2020 by starting a public campaign for his release.

Assange, the computer programmer who was a mystery even to his collaborators

Born in Townsville (Australia) on July 3, 1971, The figure of Assange, with a pale complexion and characteristic white hair, is a mystery even to his collaborators, who describe him as charismatic and intelligent but unpredictable.

The computer programmer, who was said to spend hours at his work without washing, eating or sleeping, had a nomadic childhood in Australia, where his mother, the artist Christine Ann, He constantly changed residence, escaping from the father of his younger brother, of whom he claimed custody.

In his youth he was prosecuted in that country for computer crimes for accessing, with his group International Subversives, protected systems of official organizations, but he was successful with a mere fine when the judge assessed that his activities responded to curiosity and not criminal purposes. .

Still a teenager, he married a woman with whom he 1989 had a son, Daniel Assange, now software designer.

In the mid-nineties, Assange worked as a free software programmer on encryption programs for Linux and collaborated on the book ‘Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier’, by Suelette Dreyfuss (1997), where he explained his philosophy of not damaging the computer systems he accessed.

After studying Mathematics and Physics at the University of Melbourne (although he did not graduate), in 2006 he co-founded WikiLeaks with the mission of exposing government information that, in his opinion, should be available to citizens.

It came to light when in April 2010 WikiLeaks released a controversial video, leaked by former US soldier Chelsea Manning, in which US troops shot at civilians in Iraq in 2007, as well as other alleged atrocities in Afghanistan and 250,000 cables. diplomats who embarrassed world leaders.

The United States has accused the allegations of espionage and computer intrusion, although his defense team has called the charges politically motivated.

Controversial, daring and perseverant, Assange also dedicated himself, among other causes, to assisting Catalan independence supporters in the face of the 2017 referendum, declared illegal by Spanish Justice.

Hours after his announced return to Australia, and during a technical stop in Bangkok, WikiLeaks published today in the comment.