Julian Paul Assange is an Australian journalist, publisher, and activist who launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006. WikiLeaks first gained public notoriety in 2010 when it published a series of disclosures provided by Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence specialist.
After WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic documents concerning the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2009 and 2010, the WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, where he faces 18 criminal charges, including breaking a spying law (and allegedly violating the Espionage Act).
NFT auction to raise money for legal defense.
Last month, Assange, who is still being held in a London jail, was allowed to appeal the decision to extradite him to the U.K.’s highest court, the Supreme Court. But for his case’s hearing, he lacked the funds.
To earn funds to help his defense, Assange teamed with a cryptocurrency artist known as Pak to offer a collection of NFTs dubbed Censored in an online auction.
Non-fungible tokens are a cryptocurrency asset that employs blockchain to track the ownership status of digital files like photographs, movies, and even in-game objects.
The Clock NFT.
The auction’s centerpiece was an NFT piece called Clock, which shows the number of days Assange has been detained in white writing on a dark background. Every day, it is updated.
At 2 p.m. U.K. time on Wednesday, the Clock NFT sold for 16,593 ether, which is worth about $52.8 million. It was purchased by AssangeDao, a group of over 10,000 Assange supporters.
A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is an online community that allows members to pool their funds and vote on group decisions using blockchain-based tokens.
The auction also allowed supporters to make their own NFTs by selecting a price and entering in a short message, which is then made into an image with the text struck through as if censored.
Supporters raised almost $671 ether ($2.1 million) in this fashion, resulting in 29,766 “censored” communications, with the revenues going to pro-freedom groups picked by Assange and Pak.
As of 1115 GMT on Wednesday, bids on the Clock NFT stood at 16,593 ether, worth slightly under $52 million.
According to the Juicebox (a crowdfunding website), the Assange DAO has raised 17,422 ether (about $54.6 million) since February 2. The fundraising effort drew in more than 10,000 people.
What the community of supporters had to say:
In a Discord post announcing the proposal, the Assange DAO community lead Joshua Bate remarked, “This is tens of thousands of individuals coming together to show true strength – the Power of the People.” “In less than a week, we’ve demonstrated that decentralized and dispersed people can band together to achieve their goals.”
While courts have jailed Assange, and many share the court’s stance, there are many more in favor of his release- some famous faces may even surprise you!
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has come out to support Assange. Amnesty International group, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demanded that he be freed.
Among the important figures, Alberto Fernandez, the President of Argentina; Noam Chomsky, linguist and political critic; Lula Da Silva, the former President of Brazil; Rafael Correa, the former President of Ecuador; and Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour Party leader in the United Kingdom have all shown support to Assange’s release.