Wikileaks, the Law and the Future of Online Media

Julian Assange: programming prodigy, former hacker, journalist, internet activist and the mastermind behind Wikileaks. And also perhaps, secretly the most wanted man on the planet by governments world over.

About 39 years old with silvery white hair, the intriguing Australian has fought legal battles all his life, from cybercrime to child custody and now extradition to Sweden for charges of molestation, but has been most unsuccessfully sued for his cyber activity.

Photo cedits: DekadeZ-Deviantart

Assange is the award-winning chief editor of the most controversial form of new media— Wikileaks; the site that leaked more than half a million classified US diplomatic cables in November last year. The leaks are viewed as an instrument of information warfare against governments suppressing individuals— the defining human struggle, according to Assange.

The thoroughly embarrassing diplomatic gossip exposed by the leaks and the shocking secret military video “Collateral Murder” of US troops gunning down civilians in Baghdad maddened the US Department of Justice into rigorously scanning every piece of legislation that can possibly be used to prosecute Assange.

Assange has already fought off more than a 100 unsuccessful legal threats by major banks and corporations after Wikileaks exposed damaging secret information about them. And he hasn’t made the job for the US Department of Justice any easier.

Any potential US prosecution of the Wikileaks founder is fraught with legal complexities. Firstly, the cables themselves. They’re classified government property, but digital intellectual property, which makes proving their theft much more difficult because even if the cables are “stolen” by downloading them, they are not “removed” from the database itself and are still available on the original system.

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