The recent removal and arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has mobilised supporters of the whistleblower organisation to respond to appeals for donations to fund the Australian journalist’s legal defence. At the time of writing, Wikileaks’ Bitcoin donation address is showing over 8.0 BTC, worth in excess of $40,000 USD.
In the past, Assange has gone on record as thanking the US Government for initiating payment freezes against WikiLeaks in late 2010, which lead to the organisation turning to cryptocurrency as its primary means of funding. The subsequent crypto payments received by Wikileaks coincided with the exponential rise in value of cryptocurrencies and allowed the whistle-blowing site to withstand the financial knocks that came with mounting legal fees.
My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return. pic.twitter.com/9i8D69yxLC
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) October 14, 2017
The arrest of Assange this week appears to have met with a relatively muted response from the larger crypto community, attributable in part to the ambivalence that Assange tends to arouse even amongst his own supporters.
However, James Ball – a former Wikilieaks collaborator who himself fell out with Assange a number of years ago – has made an ambiguous call for journalists and others to leap to Assange’s defence, stating that the US’ current attempts to criminalise Assange “threatens quality journalism and threatens the free media,” whilst British journalist Mark Curtis has described the arrest as a dangerous precedent.
Trump seeks to prosecute a *non US* publisher *in Europe* under *US laws* – amazing imperial arrogance. If UK govt and journalists allow him to succeed, maybe Moscow or Riyadh will prosecute UK journalists for revealing secrets about them. That’s the precedent we face. https://t.co/pH1lSGzLe0
— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) April 11, 2019