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Assange DAO And The Liberation Of The WikiLeaks Founder - Spaziocrypto
By Clara Rosati profile image Clara Rosati
4 min read

Assange DAO And The Liberation Of The WikiLeaks Founder

The release of Assange was a success for the activists who have always supported him and believed in the power of free information. Assange DAO was an important means to achieve this.

Free Assange by all means necessary

On 11 April 2019, the newly elected president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, revoked Julian Assange's political asylum, making his arrest possible. The moment of the capture was filmed by RT a Russian television station, the only one to have positioned its cameras in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The images of a tired and long-bearded Julian were then filmed by the major international media and went around the world. Immediately after his arrest, Assange was indicted by the US on 18 counts, including conspiracy and violation of the Espionage Act.

These charges are related to WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified documents that, according to the US authorities, endangered national security.

Assange is certainly a prominent figure of our time. As a computer scientist, he had long understood the problem of total surveillance of citizens by governments. Assange, in his book 'Freedom and Future of Internet', warns that the internet, originally a tool of emancipation, has become a facilitator of totalitarianism.

He points out that global surveillance is made possible by the massive acquisition of data by surveillance industries, which threatens to turn global civilisation into a postmodern surveillance dystopia.

One answer to this form of control is knowledge and the use of cryptography. As Assange himself wrote:

"The state is seeping into the veins and arteries of our new societies, devouring every relationship expressed or communicated, every network, every page read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then storing this knowledge, billions of intercepts a day, power stored, in vast top secret warehouses, forever. The universe believes in cryptography. It is easier to encrypt information than to decrypt it. We saw that we could use this strange property to create the laws of a new world'.

Cryptography therefore becomes essential to protect information, whether in the form of money, personal or corporate data, and even news. The Australian computer scientist fits into the long cultural tradition of the chypherpunks who see cryptography as the pivotal tool for protecting the citizen.

But why is cryptography so important and what links the Wikileaks story to those of the crypto universe? In December 2010, the major banking and financial institutions, including VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Bank of America, bowed to US pressure and started to deny financial services to WikiLeaks.

They blocked bank transfers and all donations made with major credit cards. Although these were American institutions, their ubiquity in world finance meant that donors both in America and around the world were denied the possibility of sending money to WikiLeaks to support its publishing activities. The banking blockade is an assertion of the power of control, which directly undermines the economic freedoms of individuals.

This affair represented a form of global economic censorship. At the time, WikiLeaks was only able to obtain funds through donations using Bitcoin.

So however much blockchain may be criticised, it represented at that time a viable alternative to the classic government-banking arrangement, a form of countervailing power.

Assange DAO

AssangeDAO on X

In line with this vision was created in December 2021 Assange DAO, which successfully raised around $56 million in Ethereum. The funds were mainly used to bid on an NFT collection called 'Censored', created by digital artist Pak in collaboration with Assange.

The centrepiece of this collection, a unique NFT called 'Clock', tracks the number of days Assange has spent in prison. Donors to Assange's cause also include the founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin. In the last few hours as many as 8 bitcoins have been donated in a single donation to cover the costs of Julian's flight.

Spaziocrypto on X

Stella Assange, the wife who has been actively fighting for her husband's release for years, had asked for help on her X-page, not only financial help, but also attention in following the flight, to prevent anything else happening to Assange.

Many people have supported the Australian computer scientist over the years, including the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who has met the Wikileaks founder several times over the years.

This mode of fundraising represents a novelty in the political activism.

In a way, this affair could represent the realisation of what Timothy May, one of the most relevant figures of the cypherpunks, has so much hoped for. As Anderson writes in: "Cypherpunk Ethics, Radical Ethics for the Digital Age":

May predicts that cryptocurrencies will undermine the power of nation-states by limiting their power over identification, taxation and communication. The result of crypto-anarchy, May concludes, is the rise of virtual communities, completely voluntary associations that reside in cyberspace.

As extreme as May's vision may be, Assange Dao has represented an alternative form of power that can bring together people from various parts of the world with a common thought: 'Assange must be free'.

All this was possible through a decentralised system that, precisely because of its conformation, could not be subjected to any form of censorship. And this represents an important signal for the entire crypto community.

By Clara Rosati profile image Clara Rosati
Updated on
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