07/12/10 11:22 CET
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A fearless crusader, bringing the facts to the public? Or a reckless interferer who puts lives at risk?
Whistle-blower Julian Assange leaves few people indifferent. But love him or hate him, his WikiLeaks exploits have been difficult to avoid.
See our special page on WikiLeaks
The site, created in 2006, came to many people’s attention in April with footage of a US helicopter attack in Iraq. Two people working for the Reuters news agency were among those killed.
For Assange, the incident in 2007 has broad implications.
“It shows you that reports about who is an insurgent and who is not an insurgent, that appear in the media following an event where people are killed, cannot be trusted,” he said.
And the revelations kept coming, not least almost the entire military logs of the Iraq and Afghan wars, plus the latest round of US diplomatic cables.
Described as highly intelligent, determined and intense, Julian Assange had now assumed the persona for many as public enemy number one.
Known for his nomadic lifestyle, he has spent much of his time in Sweden. That is where accusations of sexual misconduct by two female WikiLeaks volunteers triggered a massive manhunt for the elusive Australian who denies any wrongdoing.
As the net tightened around him, Assange stayed in the headlines and evoked death threats against himself and his colleagues. But he vowed his disclosures would not be stopped.
His resolve now echoes comments he made back in August.
“If we look at this in a larger context, this information is so valuable that if there was a choice between publishing all of it or publishing none of it, of course we would publish it,” he said then.