Crypto to the Rescue as WikiLeaks Founder Assange Flies Free After Plea Deal

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by Mayowa Adebajo · 2 min read
Crypto to the Rescue as WikiLeaks Founder Assange Flies Free After Plea Deal
Photo: Depositphotos

After enduring an extended legal battle that kept him in a UK jail for years, Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, is now free.

Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, is finally a free man after a long legal battle that saw him being holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London for nearly seven years. While he also spent an additional five years in a UK jail cell, reports have it that he has now reached a plea deal with the US Department of Justice, and has left the United Kingdom on a private jet.

Although the deal hasn’t yet been officially finalized at this time, negotiations with the DoJ reportedly led to Assange’s departure.

WikiLeaks Founder Heads to US Territory for Sentencing

Assange’s legal troubles began when WikiLeaks’ published classified documents provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Manning, whose sentence was commuted by President Obama in 2013, faced charges related to the leaked documents.  Assange, however, sought asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition on similar charges. However, he eventually breached his bail conditions, leading to his arrest in the UK.

For now, the details of the plea deal with the US DoJ remains under wraps, but reports suggest that Assange will be sentenced in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US protectorate.

Interestingly, however, he is expected to receive a five-year sentence. This, effectively, grants him immediate release, considering the 5-year jail time he already served in the UK.

Crypto Played Key Role in Funding Assange’s Legal Battles

Notably, the history of WikiLeaks would be incomplete without a mention of the active role that cryptocurrency played.  Assange himself acknowledged this connection in a 2014 interview, where he noted that Bitcoin and WikiLeaks played a crucial role in each other’s survival.

WikiLeaks initially avoided accepting Bitcoin (BTC price data) donations to shield the prized asset from government scrutiny. However, by the time the firm faced financial restrictions, it embraced Bitcoin, which provided it the much-needed funding while simultaneously boosting the legitimacy of the digital currency.

Assange’s reliance on crypto would later extend beyond donations. In 2017, during rumours of his death, he used the latest Bitcoin block hash to publicize his well-being. Furthermore, his legal battles saw the use of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) to raise funds for his defense. In 2022, the DAO garnered over 16,500 Ether, which translates to over $38 million at the time.

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