Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Julian Assange is Out on Bail, His Mother's Gone Into Hiding, and an "Unknown Blogger" Rises with Wikileaks Coverage


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, 39, who is receiving a flood of support from around the world, has been released on bail with tight restrictions, report news sources. Per Sky.com:
He was granted conditional bail for £240,000, thanks in large part to an address being put forward where the Australian national could reside. ... Vaughn Smith, a former Army captain who founded and runs the journalist Frontline Club, offered his 600-acre country estate as a bail address as well as a financial surety.
ABC News says that's $315K in American money. "Assange was being held in solitary confinement -- for his own protection (while imprisoned in London for alleged sexual assaults against two women in Sweden)," ABC reports, and since his imprisonment, websites for credit card companies, PayPal, and his vocal opponents such as Sarah Palin, have been attacked by hacktivists, hackers who support Assange; however, Assange says he has not directed anyone to launch cyber attacks on websites.

Multiple celebrities are coming to Assange's aid such as Bianca Jagger and film director Ken Loach. In America, documentary film director Michael Moore announced on his blog that he's putting up $20,000 toward Assange's bail. He urgers his readers to, "Tell the US government and other governments and corporations to halt their persecution of WikiLeaks." It's been reported that the U.S. is preparing to indict Assange.

The U.K. Guardian has a running update on this saga and reports that cheers erupted when Assange was granted bail. The paper also has video of supporters commenting on Assange's imprisonment outside the courtroom in London.

Wired says the conditions for his release are as follows:
"Assange must surrender his passport and agree to travel restrictions, adhere to a curfew and wear an electronic tracking device. He must remain at a Sussex address and report into a local police station each evening."
Wired says further that Swedish officials plan to appeal his release.

According to Assange's stepfather, Brett, Julian's mother, Christine Assange is so "terrified" by her son's troubles that she has gone into hiding. (She talks about her fears in a video at this link and does not believe her son would sexually assault anyone.) The stepfather, who also said Julian was bullied as a child because he was nerdy but also sometimes exhibits a violent temper, gave his interview to the gossip paper, the National Enquirer, but he's also spoken to news outlests such as CNN's Australian affiliate, reports New York Magazine. Assange's parents used to work in theater.

An alternative to Wikileaks is staking a claim on releasing secrets. CNN reported yesterday that "former WikiLeaks members unhappy with the way WikiLeaks is being run under Assange" have launched their own site with similar open information goals called Openleaks.org. One of its founders, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, says in a documentary that aired on Swedish television that Wikileaks has become too focused on one person. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnssonmembers wishes Openleaks well, saying "the more, the better."



And lastly, another techie's in the news because of the Wikileaks controversy. The Atlantic profiles Aaron Bady of the blog Zunguzgungu, as "the unknown blogger" who changed Wikileaks coverage."
"His probing analysis of Julian Assange's personal philosophy and possible motivations became an oft-cited piece of the global conversation about what WikiLeaks might mean. Before Bady's November 29 post, Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; "To destroy this invisible government", only a few hundred people a day found their way Bady's blog. In the days afterward, tens of thousands of people swarmed to the site -- and Bady ended up linked by some of the most influential media outlets on the planet."
The article references other times when big media's followed the footsteps of lesser-known bloggers and brought them the attention they deserved.

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