The shaky video clips of Julian Assange’s arrest flashed around the world Thursday, the white-bearded prophet of the age of leaks being hauled by unsmiling security officers to a gray van marked Police.
“We must resist!” he cried. “You can resist!” It was a scene that the very image-conscious Assange might appreciate: one man literally fighting the all-powerful state.
It was also the latest — and surely not the last — dramatic turn in a career marked by both brilliant achievement and dubious judgment. Assange has long had a knack for celebrity, and as a tech-savvy, global, almost stateless figure, he captured the new influence the internet could give to individual citizens.
His creation of WikiLeaks helped empower a generation of whistleblowers and disgruntled insiders who could operate on an industrial scale, providing disclosures by the terabyte and enraging the powerful in many countries. WikiLeaks collaborated closely with major world publications, including The New York Times, in the release of secret records on the American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a quarter-million confidential State Department cables.
But Assange has always elicited fervent reactions: He has been hailed as a hero of free information, or despised as a treacherous criminal worthy of death by drone — often depending on what WikiLeaks had recently been up to. Though he has always described himself as a journalist, he has been far too much of an activist to be satisfied with the role of neutral and fair-minded provider of information.
He has proved a highly problematic, even embarrassing champion for the principles of press freedom and the public’s right to information, especially in recent years. For the past seven, he was hiding out at Ecuador’s tiny red brick embassy in London, not just from American prosecutors, but also from Swedish sex-crime investigators, who eventually closed their case.
Assange, the world’s most famous self-proclaimed political refugee, lived there with his cat in a small corner room. He continued to run WikiLeaks, conducted news conferences before hundreds of fawning admirers from a balcony, rode his skateboard in the halls and played host to a parade of visitors, including Lady Gaga and Pamela Anderson, rumored to be a lover who brought with her vegan sandwiches.
作为世界上最著名的自封政治难民，阿桑奇和他的猫住在位于一个角落的小房间里。他继续运营维基解密，在阳台上对着数百名前来膜拜的仰慕者举行新闻发布会，在走廊玩滑板，招待各路访客，其中包括Lady Gaga和帕梅拉·安德森(Pamela Anderson)，有传言说后者是他的情人，带来了她的纯素三明治。
The arrest came at the end of a meandering legal path that began in 2010, when the Justice Department announced it was investigating WikiLeaks. Obama administration officials eventually dropped the idea, persuaded by press advocates that prosecuting WikiLeaks would set a dangerous precedent because many mainstream news organizations regularly publish classified information.
In 2016, some of Assange’s former American sympathizers turned sharply against him after he made WikiLeaks into an enthusiastic instrument of Russia’s intervention in the American presidential election, doling out hacked Democratic emails to maximize their political effect, campaigning against Hillary Clinton on Twitter and promoting a false cover story about the source of the leaks.
That performance drew voluble praise from her opponent, Donald Trump, who regularly read from leaked Clinton campaign emails in his 2016 stump speeches and declared, “I love WikiLeaks.” But months later, while he was president, WikiLeaks posted a collection of classified documents on the CIA’s hacking tools, and Trump’s first CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, called Assange “a narcissist” and labeled the organization “a nonstate hostile intelligence service.”
His words were a harbinger of the single charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion against Assange that the Justice Department unsealed Thursday.
In some ways, Assange, 47, has never fully shed the rebellious, secretive ways of the precocious Australian teenager with a complicated family background who, with two pals, formed a hacking collective called the International Subversives.
By 2006, when he founded WikiLeaks, Assange had adopted a nomadic lifestyle, roaming the world and pronouncing sometimes cryptic principles about secrecy and information. By 2008, he was living in East Africa and exposing corruption in Kenya on the new site, which had published more than 1 million documents, including some from the Iraq War and the Guantánamo prison, as well as a potpourri covering less momentous topics: an early script for an Indiana Jones movie, Wesley Snipes’ tax bill, and documents from the Church of Scientology and the Mormon church.
到2006年创建维基解密时，阿桑奇已经开始过着四处流浪的生活，在世界各地漫游，有时还宣布一些语焉不详的保密和信息原则。2008年，他生活在东非，在一个新网站上揭露肯尼亚的腐败情况，该网站发布了100万多万份文档，其中一些来自伊拉克战争和关塔那摩监狱，还有各种各样不那么重要的题材：一部印第安纳·琼斯(Indiana Jones)电影的早期剧本，韦斯利·斯奈普斯(Wesley Snipes)的税单，以及山达基教会(Church of Scientology)和摩门教会(the Mormon church)的文件。
But it was Chelsea Manning, then a low-level intelligence analyst stationed at a base in Iraq, who really put WikiLeaks, and hence Assange, on the map. Bored and harboring doubts about the war and American foreign policy, she began copying thousands of documents from a classified network onto CDs that she marked as Lady Gaga songs to avoid detection.
但是，真正让维基解密乃至阿桑奇出名的，还要算当时驻扎在伊拉克某基地的低级情报分析员切尔西·曼宁(Chelsea Manning)。出于对战争和美国外交政策的厌倦和疑虑，她把一个机密网络中的数千份文件复制到光盘上，并将其标记为Lady Gaga的歌曲，以免被发现。
Back in the United States, she called both The New York Times and The Washington Post before connecting with WikiLeaks, where Assange and his fractious band of activist volunteers eagerly took up the cause in 2010.
They first posted a devastating video of two American helicopter gunships in Iraq shooting at suspected enemies on the ground — two of whom were among those killed and turned out to be war correspondents for Reuters.
That was followed by publication, in coordination with The Times and other mainstream news organizations, of 77,000 military documents from the war in Afghanistan and then 392,000 from the war in Iraq.
The War Logs, as they were called, were published in coordination with Le Monde, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, and they shed new light on civilian casualties, soldiers’ morale, the treatment of detainees and the use of contractors. An editor’s note explained that they provided “a real-time history of the war,” but also struck an ambivalent chord about their source, WikiLeaks, which the note said “was not involved in the news organizations’ research, reporting, analysis and writing.”
这些被他们称为“战争日志”的文件是与《世界报》(Le Monde)、《卫报》(Guardian)和《明镜周刊》(Der Spiegel)合作发布的，让人们对平民伤亡、士兵士气、被拘押者的待遇以及承包商的使用有了新的了解。一份编辑手记解释说，它们提供了“战争的实时历史”；但同时对它们的来源维基解密表示出矛盾心态，该手记中写道，维基解密“没有参与新闻机构的研究、报道、分析和写作”。
Human rights groups complained that WikiLeaks’ own publication of unredacted documents might put in danger Afghans who were named as working with the U.S. military, and the Iraq documents were stripped of names. When the diplomatic cables were published, The Times and other news organizations worked closely with WikiLeaks to redact names to protect vulnerable people — but later, in a dispute with a British editor, Assange decided simply to publish the massive cable collection without any edits.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks was plagued with infighting, often touched off by Assange’s astringent style and ego. Two women complained to Swedish authorities about Assange’s sexual conduct with them, setting off a yearslong quest of investigators to question him. Angry American politicians denounced Assange, whose distinctive face had become recognizable worldwide, and called for his arrest or even his execution.
In 2012, Ecuador’s foreign minister announced that Assange was at the embassy in London and had asked for political asylum. Small as they were, Assange’s quarters there did not cramp his desire to remain in the limelight. He pronounced his opinions on Twitter, briefly hosted a talk show on Russian television channel RT and continued to oversee the publication of leaked material. He sent an associate to assist Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, when he flew to Russia from Hong Kong — even though WikiLeaks had not played a role in Snowden’s leak of agency documents.
Eventually, Assange’s isolation began to wear on him, a friend said Thursday, especially the long, lonely weekends in an essentially empty embassy that he could not leave.
He was becoming deeply depressed and wondered about simply walking out, the friend said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. And relations with his hosts were becoming deeply strained, even adversarial, as diplomats grew tired of his behavior. Even Assange’s friends called him difficult, a narcissist with an outsize view of his importance and little interest in mundane matters like hygiene.
A copy of a 2014 letter from Juan Falconí Puig, then Ecuador’s ambassador to Britain, to the Foreign Ministry, seen by The Times, complained of Assange’s penchant for riding a skateboard and playing soccer with visitors. His skateboarding, Falconí said, had “damaged floors, walls and doors.” When a security guard tried to take his soccer ball, Assange “began to shake, insult and push the agent,” reclaimed the ball and then “launched the ball at his body,” the letter said.
时报看到了厄瓜多尔驻英国大使胡安·法尔科尼·普伊赫(Juan Falconi Puig)2014年写给外交部的一封信的副本，其中抱怨阿桑奇喜欢玩滑板，和来访者踢足球。法尔科尼说，他的滑板“损坏了地板、墙壁和门”。信中说，一名保安试图拿走他的足球时，阿桑奇“开始发抖，侮辱并推搡了那名工作人员”，然后“把球扔向他”。
Assange’s presence in the embassy long after the Ecuadorean president who granted him political asylum had been replaced finally became too much for the government in Quito. Last year, it severed his internet access and limited his visitors.
Appearing in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, his silver hair tied in a bun, Assange looked composed in a navy suit. The scene underscored the obvious: that Assange will use his legal predicament as a new platform for his defiance of authority and his crusade for WikiLeaks.
Outside the courthouse, a flock of cameras were pointing toward the guarded entrance, and a group of protesters chanted feebly: “Free, free, free Assange.”
After Assange took his seat in court, a supporter wearing a scruffy fluorescent jacket gave him a thumbs-up from the public gallery. Assange returned the gesture.
Waiting for the lawyers to enter, Assange read from a book, which he raised for the media to see: “History of the National Security State,” by Gore Vidal.
等待律师入场时，阿桑奇在读一本书，他把这本书拿给媒体看：戈尔·维达尔(Gore Vidal)的《国安国家史》(History of the National Security State)。