WikiLeaks Has Received Nearly $30,000 Worth of Bitcoin After Assange's Arrest

Francisco Memoria

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According to the BBC, Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden, but his asylum was withdrawn by Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno amid claims of international conventions violations.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.

WikiLeaks' bitcoin wallet balance

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.”

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.

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.

Bitcoin Presented as ‘First Successful Application of Blockchain’ to 1.4 Billion People

Francisco Memoria

Chinese state news agency Xinhua has published a front-page article on bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, presenting it as blockchain technology’s first successful application.

In its article, Xinhua details how bitcoin works and goes in-depth into how public and private keys differ, how new cryptocurrency enters the market, and even touches the halving event. Xinhua points out BTC has a pseudo-anonymous nature, but falsely claims it main use case are darknet market transactions.

The piece was first spotted by Sino Global Capital’s CEO Matthew Graham, who shared it on the microblogging platform Twitter.

It isn’t clear how big Xinhua’s audience actually is as figures aren’t disclosed. It a state-run news outlet, which means it reaches China’s 1.4 billion people, and has been ranked as one of the top news agencies in the world.

The front-page article came shortly after China’s President Xi Jinping stated the country should “seize the opportunity” afforded by blockchain technology, praising its potential for improving various sectors. The country is, according to reports, using it to record the loyalty of its Communist Party’s members.

As CryptoGlobe reported, shortly after the President’s comments China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) stopped mentioning restricting or eliminating the cryptocurrency mining industry.

Some on social media have claimed Xinhua’s front-page piece on Bitcoin may be a way for the Chinese government to start educating people on how cryptocurrencies work and familiarizing them with the concept, so it can later on introduce its central bank digital currency.

It’s worth noting China cracked down on cryptocurrencies in 2017, banning exchanges from the country. Since then its search giant Baidu started censoring crypto discussions on forums. Nevertheless, courts have ruled bitcoin is legally protected virtual property.

Featured image by Roman Kraft on Unsplash.