Earlier this week, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been staying for seven years. Since the arrest, the organization he founded has now received over 5.6 BTC ($28,500) in donations.
According to the BBC, Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden, but his asylum was withdrawn by Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno amid claims of international conventions violations. Now, Assange is facing US federal conspiracy charges related to government secret leaks.
Since news of his arrest broke, various prominent personalities, including politicians, actors, and models, have campaigned for his release, and pointed their followers to WikiLeaks’ donations page, which details it accepts traditional payment methods, as well as bitcoin and zcash.
Bitcoin donations have poured in, so much so the organization’s wallet saw its balance jump from 2.3 BTC to over7.9 BTC in a couple of days.
After Assange’s arrest critics have voiced their concerns over governmental influences on press freedom, with both Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson noting it was a “dark day” for it.
As covered, press freedom organization Reports Without Borders revealed the arrest set a dangerous precedent for journalists and whistleblowers, as it shows the US may wish to pursue them in the future. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks’ work is award-winning journalism, as Snowden as pointed out.
Moreover, WikiLeaks has disputed Ecuador’s claims, claiming they’re “completely false.”
Ecuador's demented claims are completely false, a coordinated media plan agreed in advance between Ecuador and the UK being rolled out to taint Assange and divert attention from US indictment.https://t.co/vvbZBOgCwL
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 12, 2019
WikiLeaks Started Accepting Bitcoin Early On
It’s worth noting WikiLeaks was one of the first organizations in the world to accept bitcoin as an alternative currency, demonstrating the flagship cryptocurrency’s potential in the financial system.
The organization started accepting it after various financial institutions stopped serving it, as a way to keep on funding its journalism. WikiLeaks adopted BTC so early that its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto himself, expressed concern over the attention the cryptocurrency was getting.
In a post on the Bitcointalk Forum, Satoshi Nakamoto noted such attention would be good in a different context, but believed at the time that “WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”
Back in 2017, during the bull market that saw bitcoin get close to $20,000, a Twitter account associated with Assange thanked the US government for the financial blockade against WikiLeaks that forced it to accept BTC. The tweet was posted when bitcoin was slightly above its current $5,090 price.
My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return. pic.twitter.com/9i8D69yxLC
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) October 14, 2017
Data suggests WikiLeaks has over the years received 4,000 bitcoins in donations, totaling over $22 million. It’s worth pointing out that last year Coinbase banned its shop from its platform “without notice or explanation,” prompting the organization to consider calling a blockade against the exchange.