Cypherpunks and Ethereum holders have pooled nearly US$50 million into AssangeDAO, a fund to help prevent WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US.
After 10 years, Assange still finds himself in a legal battle with the US government after blowing the whistle on sensitive military information. In December last year, the US won an appeal against a British court ruling that had barred Assange’s extradition to the US. If extradited, he faces 175 years in prison for publishing information exposing US war crimes.
In reaction to this, a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) was set up to help with “legal fees and campaigning to raise awareness about [Assange’s] extradition case”.
At the time of writing the fund had accumulated 14,871 ETH (an estimated US$46 million) since its launch on February 3, including a 10 ETH donation from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. The aim of the DAO is to collect funds that will be used to buy into the “Censored” NFT collection created by Assange’s brother Gabriel in collaboration with renowned artist Pak.
According to the DAO, “proceeds raised from the NFT sale will benefit Assange’s legal defence fund and campaign to raise awareness about the free speech implications of his case”.
Motivated by the success of RossDAO, which raised US$12 million to help free jailed Silk Road entrepreneur Ross Ulbricht, the AssangeDAO intends to do something similar. According to its Twitter feed, it is now the largest JuiceBox Ether fundraiser to date, exceeding ConstitutionDAO, which raised 11,613 ETH last November in an unsuccessful attempt to purchase an original copy of the US Constitution.
Cypherpunks to the Rescue
With Assange facing 175 years in prison, many among the cypherpunk community have made sizeable donations to help the whistleblower in distress. WikiLeaks was famously among one of the first websites to accept bitcoin and to help bring mainstream exposure to the cryptocurrency early in its inception.
We, the cypherpunks, are rallying to the cause of a fellow cypherpunk in distress.
Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006. The website gained international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Assange has been seeking asylum ever since, fighting off extradition, and has languished in a London prison since 2019.
The US government launched a criminal investigation into Assange and charged him with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by leaking classified information. Assange infamously went on the run, avoiding extradition to Sweden on since-discredited sexual assault charges, before taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012.
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