Julian Assange is the face of WikiLeaks, the headline-making publishing organisation famous around the world for releasing secret information from corrupt governments, unaccountable corporations, occupying militaries and secretive international trade deals. Founder, philosopher, editor-in-chief and original financier, his name and the WikiLeaks brand are inseparable, and both have proven indomitable over the organisation's 10 year publishing history.
Assange shot to global prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks released "Collateral Murder", a suppressed video of the 2007 mass killing of civilians and two Reuters journalists in Baghdad by a US Army helicopter. Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks has published several million documents in its ten eventful years. Best known among these are:
the US Army "War Logs": half a million battleground dispatches from the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan over almost a decade, showing the true history of these costly, heavily propagandized conflicts.
the US diplomatic cables leak: beginning in 2010 with "Cablegate", WikiLeaks has been continuously releasing collections of US diplomatic correspondence, forming a database now containing nearly three million documents. These documents have laid bare the reality of US relations with the rest of the world, and the true role of the world's "sole remaining superpower."
the "Three Big T"s: WikiLeaks has published over 30 secret chapters from three major global trade treaties which have been negotiated clandestinely between governments and corporate stakeholders, encompassing two thirds of global GDP and affecting nearly every area of life for nearly every person. These are the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA).
Among many others, these publications have enriched the historical record, exposed injustices and atrocities and provoked reforms and revolutions all around the world. WikiLeaks has emboldened the public to challenge official narratives on the most crucial issues of our age, and has inaugurated a new standard for transparency in modern journalism, which has been eagerly adopted elsewhere. But WikiLeaks has also provoked the ire of powerful interests, including the US Government, which has since 2010 been seeking without success to shut WikiLeaks down and silence its founder, Julian Assange.
As an author, Assange has demonstrated remarkable insight and prescience.
A long time campaigner against surveillance, and an expert on the US National Security Agency, Assange authored Cypherpunks (OR Books, 2012), describing a new reality of global mass surveillance which was then virtually unknown to the world's public. In 2013, when the US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden came forward to tell his story, Assange's warnings were proven true to the last detail. Stranded in Hong Kong, Snowden's future looked bleak until Assange and WikiLeaks stepped in with legal and logistical support, successfully helping him to avoid US extradition and to gain political asylum.
Assange is also a co-author of The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire (Verso, 2015), an exciting new collaborative volume between Verso Books and WikiLeaks, which for the first time collects together in-depth scholarly analysis by regional experts writing on the US diplomatic cables, finally providing the public with the critical overview the industrial media failed to produce.
Assange is both a bold political thinker and a man of action, both an innovator-entrepreneur in the digital age and a world-class dissident whose work has challenged unjust power and brought retribution. He was a pioneer of the internet and helped bring it to Australia in the early 1990s. He believes that the internet is a great tool of human emancipation, but he is also one of the world's keenest critics of the repressive uses of technology. He holds that the first value to emerge from the new global civilisation of the digital age is the right to communicate: to receive and transmit information across boundaries. Truth, he holds, should be available to all, and few people have done as much to make this a reality.
Economist New Media Award (2008, UK)
Amnesty International UK: New Media Award (2009 UK)
Sam Adams Associates: Award for Integrity in Intelligence (2009 USA)
Le Monde: Man of the Year (2010 France)
Sydney Peace Foundation: Gold Medal for “exceptional courage and initiative in the pursuit of human rights” (2011 Australia)
Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (2011 UK)
Voltaire Award of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (2011 Australia)
Voice of the West Award (2011 Spain)
Walkley’s Award for Most Outstanding Contribution To Journalism (2011 Australia)
Co-recipient of the 2012 FPP Peace Prize
The Newsweek Daily Beast Digital Power Index: Revolutionary First Place (2012 USA)
Big Brother Awards Hero of Privacy (2012)
Yoko Ono Courage Award (2013 USA)
Global Exchange Annual Human Rights Award: “People’s Choice” (2013 USA) honoured alongside Noam Chomsky.
The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire (Verso Books, 2015)
The WikiLeaks Files presents expert analysis on the US diplomatic cables and over two million additional WikiLeaks documents published as recently as 2014. In a series of chapters dedicated to the various regions of the world, the book explores the machinations of the United States as it imposes its agenda on the world: a new form of imperialism founded on varied tactics from torture to military action, to "free trade" deals and “soft power,” in the perpetual pursuit of expanding influence. It illustrates the close relationship between government and big business in promoting US strategic interests around the world.
An introduction by Julian Assange — writing on the subject for the first time — situates the importance of the cables in what they tell us about the operation of American empire, and examines the censorship of the cables within the field of international relations in the Anglo-American academy.
When Google Met WikiLeaks (OR Books, 2014)
In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, arrived from America at Ellingham Hall, the country residence in Norfolk, England where Assange was living under house arrest.
For several hours the besieged leader of the world’s most famous insurgent publishing organisation and the billionaire head of the world’s largest information empire locked horns. The two men debated the political problems faced by society, and the technological solutions engendered by the global network — from the Arab Spring to Bitcoin. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with US foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to American companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet’s future that has only gathered force subsequently.
When Google Met WikiLeaks presents the story of Assange and Schmidt’s encounter. Both fascinating and alarming, it contains an edited transcript of their conversation and extensive, new material, written by Assange specifically for this book, providing the best available summary of his vision for the future of the Internet.
Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet (OR Books, 2012)
Visionary WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute "the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed," perpetually tracking people's locations, contacts and lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most people willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance? And does anyone have the ability to resist this tide?