Politics

Julian Assange: Hacker, doting father and political provocateur



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hroughout his tumultuous life, Julian Assange has commanded loyalty from family, friends and legions of supporters.

To his allies, the 50-year-old Australian is a political provocateur, campaigner, journalist and freedom of speech hero.

His public image is larger than life, but behind the scenes, divorced Assange is an intensely private person, with a small clique of lifelong friends used to his character quirks.

He kept his partner Stella Moris under wraps, despite the couple having two children while he was at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange was born in Queensland, Australia, to artist Christine and John Shipton, an anti-war activist.

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

Said to be an accomplished hacker since his teens, he co-founded WikiLeaks in 2006.

Assange came to the fore in 2010 with the publication of damaging classified US documents.

While his activities won him high praise, it also spawned powerful enemies, with Donald Trump once calling for the death penalty.

His failure to address allegations of sexual impropriety head-on in Sweden cast a shadow, even though he denied wrongdoing and the investigation was ultimately dropped.

It was his fear of US authorities, rather than being prosecuted in Sweden, that prompted him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

He stayed there for nearly seven years before serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail.

Since then, he has been held on remand at Belmarsh prison fighting extradition to the US.

Stella Moris (Dominic Lipinski/PA) / PA Wire

The extradition case cast Assange as being a vulnerable man, who had suffered from deep depression and suicidal thoughts.



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