Last week, a totally unexpected statement made news headlines across the world. Julian Assange, founder of the now infamous or famed whistleblower website (depending whether you’re anti or pro) WikiLeaks was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. For a man who’s been branded as a likely terrorist and a criminal by the Obama administration in the USA for leaking diplomatic, confidential as well as secret classified cables that came in his possession, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination surely comes as a surprise.
It was four years ago, Julian Assange, an Australian founded the WikiLeaks website. And today, most of the internet users are aware of it. However, in the last few months, Assange gained fame as well as notoriety when he started exposing state secrets and classified information from around the world on the website. This generally irked some of the countries which received a negative publicity and resulted in a few countries naming him as their top public enemy. But it didn’t deter a lot of people around the world who saw him more of a public messenger and a hero to take upon some of the mighty Goliaths around the world.
Some of the governments hit by the leakage on WikiLeaks are considering taking legal actions against Assange for the leaks of state secret documents and cables that came in his possession. While some may argue that everyone’s got the right to the freedom of expression, there are those who believe in following the ethics of journalism and towing a line well within the limits of journalistic freedom.
WikiLeaks started as a non-profit organization to cater to the general internet users by providing them news and other ethical, political and historical information received from anonymous or undisclosed sources from around the world. These news and information are released on its site uncensored. WikiLeaks runs purely on the donations and contributions from internet users as well as Assange’s friends and well wishers.
It was last year that WikiLeaks started posting controversial videos, war diaries and reports, state secret documents and diplomatic cables that exposed the high handedness of various governments especially of the United States of America in relation to its war in Iraq and Afghanistan and its diplomatic relationship around the world. This prompted US to denounce the actions of Assange and its WikiLeaks website and labeling Assange a criminal in disguise. WikiLeaks thus got a mixed response to its various leaks forcing some people to think of him as a media hero while some others thought of him as a threat to state governments across the world.
Closer home, India too has been a part of the WikiLeaks when it showcased some of the diplomatic cables from around the world in which India promptly featured. The good part is, most of it’s content has been in India’s favour and hence for India, WikiLeaks might not be as intimidating as it is to the US. However, with WikiLeaks laying its hands on private Swiss bank details mostly pertaining to accounts held by Indians, how soon he gets branded as a villain by the powers that be in India and holders of those accounts needs to be seen. This one leak is surely going to generate one big storm across the country.
It’s said that action speaks louder then words and Assange’s actions has definitely brought him criticism as well as accolades. With various awards coming WikiLeaks’ way, it was no surprise that Assange was also voted as the Reader’s Choice for Time’s Person of the Year in 2010.
On the other hand, Assange has been fighting a bitter battle in the UK Courts that seeks to extradite him to Sweden where he’s been accused of sexual misconduct. UK has placed the 39-year old Australian literally under house arrest while it’s courts in London hears his extradite plea. Many cynics of the accuser however feel that the charges against Assange is fabricated and just an act to punish him for bringing major private and secret information of some of the countries and especially the United States out in the open. With the last hearing scheduled today and the verdict being announced next month, Assange is optimistic that things will be back to normal and he’ll be back in his home country Australia soon, a free man.
Whether his detractors accept or not, his creation, WikiLeaks has become a global phenomenon and has empowered the common man with such information from around the world that often gets buried in the deep archives of the state governments or major corporate houses who use unethical means to loot the masses or misguide them.
Expecting a major reprisal from powerful countries and corporations around the world, a tip of the iceberg being the sexual molestation case filed against him by Sweden, Assange, for the last couple of months has been deliberating seeking political asylum in a neutral country and moving his WikiLeaks operations there as well. If this happens, it can only be one of the two countries of Switzerland and Iceland which today stands neutral across the world.
As each day passes and support for Assange and WikiLeaks growing rapidly, his detractors are worried about the repercussion of their actions against Assange and WikiLeaks for it’s a known fact that in case anything happens to either of the two, a huge amount of privy information from around the world currently in the domains of strong supporters of Assange and WikiLeaks and so far undisclosed will be made available across the internet immediately which could be very damaging to a number of governments and big corporations.
Facebook, the most popular social networking website today boasts of more than 16,00,000 fan base of WikiLeaks despite the murkier world Assange and WikiLeaks and some of its key supporting members are subjected to these days. With government sponsored acts of criminal intimidation against some of the key members of WikiLeaks and its found Assange as well major financial and corporate companies severing ties with WikiLeaks on various grounds, some quite flimsy, the going has definitely become rough for WikiLeaks over the last few months. Yet, Assange stands tall on moral obligations against the common man and is not ready to relent at this stage.
But despite all the oppositions, yet WikiLeaks continue to receive support from known entities from around the world who have openly voiced their support for it. Supporters in Assange’s home country Australia have taken out rallies in Assange’s favour. And the fact that Assange has been nominated for Noble Peace Prize for his WikiLeaks, speaks volumes of the impact the site has across the globe. In a highly watched race, it waits to be seen whether Assange wins the Noble Peace Prize or is extradited to Sweden from where he is likely to be further extradited to United States to face criminal charges. Whether, in a bid to satiate the hunger of the common man with his journalistic work, he wins or looses, Assange is keeping his fingers crossed for now. To know more about WikiLeaks, log on to wikileaks.org.