The Bitcoin Whistleblower
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been long-term supporters and advocates for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency community. “The one, who kicked the hornet’s nest” in today’s BTCMEX throwback.
WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.Satoshi Nakamoto
Those were the last words published by the Bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, on the Bitcointalk forum. In 2010, WikiLeaks and Assange contemplated using Bitcoin for donations after the US government created a financial blockade against the organization.
Back then, Nakamoto responded that the project needed to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. He made the appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use Bitcoin. Bitcoin was a small beta community in its infancy at that time. The heat would likely destroy the network at that stage, worried the Bitcoin creator.
A year later, on 14 June 2011, the official Twitter account announced that WikiLeaks started accepting anonymous Bitcoin donations. The famous whistleblowing organization has spread the word about cryptocurrency.
WikiLeaks turned to Bitcoin donations because it couldn’t raise and store funds in any other way. Bitcoin and WikiLeaks became somewhat intertwined, early fledging movements that both had their roots in the cypherpunk community.
Bitcoin funding allowed the organization to continue and to post, among other things, secret files about Guantanamo Bay, correspondence from the Syrian government, Saudi Arabian diplomatic cables, and the intellectual property component of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which had been negotiated in secret up until then. WikiLeaks would also then publish internal CIA documents talking about how the agency can hack into smartphones, routers, computers, and internet-enabled devices such as smart TVs.
Much of this may not have been possible without the Bitcoins donated to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange commented that he made close to a 50,000% return on Bitcoin as a direct result of the US government imposed financial blockade on WikiLeaks. He would also go on to opine that it was the “real Occupy Wall Street”, referring to how Bitcoin could displace the same financial-political banking institutions protesters were furious about.
At the 2014 Nantucket Project, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange appeared in the form of a hologram. While Assange was physically located at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he had been given asylum, a virtual representation of Assange appeared onstage with American film director Eugene Jarecki.
Jarecki wrote in The Guardian before the event, “it crosses my mind I may be abetting a crime or violating international extradition laws. But I reassure myself that, in this regard, the worldwide web remains a kind of wild wild west, and the virtual escape of a person is not (yet?) a crime.”
Assange spoke of Bitcoin and the problem of having one central bank. “Who controls the past – controls the future”, he said, explaining Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work technology and highlighting the fact that verified transactions can never be erased from the blockchain.
In 2017, Assange tweeted that the 2010 financial blockade invoked “[WikiLeaks] to invest in Bitcoin”.
Following Assange’s arrest on 11 April 2019, Bitcoin donations to WikiLeaks surged significantly. Within 24 hours after the incident, the WikiLeaks Bitcoin wallet has logged 314 transactions, topping at 6.7 BTC, or roughly $34,000 at that time.
WikiLeaks saved an emerging Bitcoin community from excessive political pressure and heat its creator did not think it would survive. In turn, Bitcoin saved WikiLeaks from plunging into financial dissolution thanks to a US-based financial and services blockade that looked to tear it down, a legacy it continues through Bitcoin donations to Julian Assange’s legal defense fund.
WikiLeaks has saved Bitcoin and been saved by Bitcoin in turn.Forbes