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Where in the world is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange

Managing Editor Jamila Rizvi writes:

For those of you who didn’t drop by to visit us at Mamamia yesterday, let me tell you about a post I wrote about Julian Assange.

You see, I called him a jerk. I promise there was context and I made what I thought was a really good argument for why I think he is a jerk but I can’t show you that argument because today we came into the office and…. the post was gone.

Gone. Vanished. Disappeared. Nowhere to be seen.

Has this ever happened before? Nope. So we’re a bit spooked to say the least. I’m pretty convinced that the WikiLeaks people, who obviously know a fair bit about the internet – are coming after me. Kidding. Not really. Bit scared.

The mystery of the Lost Julian Assange Post has been made even more frustrating because the debate on this post was fantastic. As is often the case on Mamamia, yesterday was one of those days where the comment section became a WHOLE lot more interesting than the article itself.

The comments were fantastic. The debate was informed, engaged and down right fascinating.

We have sent out a multi-member tech-team search-party and they are still hunting for our lost Julian Assange post. If you do see him wandering down the street or looking lost in a shopping mall, please let us know. We want him to come back home.

In the meantime, we’d love for the debate to be able to continue on this temporary post, until we can figure out what has happened.

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Here is the lastest from news.com.au:

Julian Assange

THE United States has denied Julian Assange’s assertion that Washington is orchestrating a “witch-hunt” for him, saying the WikiLeaks founder is making “wild” claims to deflect attention.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States has nothing to do with attempts by Britain to extradite Assange, who is holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London and is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sexual allegations.

“He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us when in fact his issue with the government of the United Kingdom has to do with whether he’s going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, it has to do with charges of sexual misconduct,” Nuland told reporters on Monday.

“He is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the real issue, which is whether he’s going to face justice in Sweden,” she told reporters.

“That case has nothing to do with us. It’s a matter between the UK, Sweden and now Ecuador has inserted itself,” she said.

Nuland, in an exchange with reporters, later clarified that Assange was not charged in Sweden but was wanted for questioning.

You could be forgiven for losing track of Mr Assange’s case about, oh, a long time ago. So if none of the above makes sense to you – Mamamia’s previous breakdown of the facts might help:

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, who spent some time hanging out in England (releasing cables, holding press conferences, you know – typical Aussie backpacker stuff).

Prior to being in the land of Duchess Kate and Elton John, Assange was in Sweden. He is currently facing serious allegations of sexual assault in Sweden (which he denies) and has been fighting against the decision of the British Supreme Court to extradite him back to the home of ABBA.

Assange claims that the sexual assault allegations are completely trumped up and that the extradition is simply an effort by the United States (country number 4, enter stage left!) to ultimately have him sent to their neck of the woods because they don’t have a legal basis on which to prosecute him over the WikiLeaks issue.

Assange then breached his bail and headed to Ecuador (see, this case really is a global tea party). Why was he allowed to get on a plane in the first place, you ask? Well he wasn’t physically in Ecuador, he’s just entered their London-based Embassy but in a legal sense – it all means the same thing.

And now, Assange has been granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government. But of course he can’t get to Ecuador without getting on a plane, or a boat or some kind of transportation device that would inevitably mean some involement from the British Government.

Of course, at its core, this story is really all about the release of the WikiLeaks cables themselves and whether Assange’s actions were illegal (unlikely) or simply unethical (still very much open to debate). And for us Aussies, there is also an added layer of intrigue. After all, this man is one of ours and when an Australian is in trouble overseas, there is a presumption that our Government will go to their aid.

The case is all over the news today, so if you’re after a more in-depth consideration of this chain of events, then Google will be your friend today. For those who have completely forgotten what WikiLeaks even is, then you should have a skim of our handy cheat sheet:

What is WikiLeaks?

It is an international non-profit media organisation that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources and leaks.

Where can I find it?

http://www.wikileaks.org/

When did it launch?

It launched in 2006 and within a year of its launch claimed a database of more than 1.2 million document

What is its purpose ?

WikiLeaks promises every individual a forum to anonymously publish previously classified, hidden or sensitive documents and make them publicly available. Their goal is to bring important news and information to the public.

They provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to their journalists (through an electronic drop box). One of their most important activities is to publish original source material alongside news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.

Who founded it?

It was founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and Internet activist, as its director.

How does it work?

WikiLeaks accept (but do not solicit) anonymous sources of information. They provide a high security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies. This provides maximum protection to their sources.

When information comes in, journalists analyse the material, verify it and write a news piece about it describing its significance to society. They then publish both the news story and the original material in order to enable readers to analyse the story in the context of the original source material themselves.

Do they reveal their sources?

WikiLeaks has never revealed any of its sources.

How do they verify their stories?

WikiLeaks puts every document through a very detailed examination procedure. They use traditional investigative journalism techniques as well as more modern technology-based methods. Typically they will do a forensic analysis of the document, determine the cost of forgery, means, motive, opportunity, the claims of the apparent authoring organisation, and answer a set of other detailed questions about the document.

Publishing the original source material behind each of their stories is the way in which they show the public that their story is authentic.

Where is it based?

The site is based in Sweden.

Is WikiLeaks related to Wikipedia?

No. Though it has a similar name to Wikipedia, it is not part of Wikipedia or the WikiMedia Foundation

What has WikiLeaks exposed?

In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. forces, on a website called Collateral Murder. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan not previously available for public review. In October the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations.

A full list of what they have exposed can be found here.

What’s your view on Julian Assange?

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