WikiLeaks chief living a haunted life

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 08:46

New York: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living a haunted life fearing arrest and has been on the run following the release of nearly 400,000 secret US military documents related to the Iraq war on his whistleblowing website.

39-year-old Assange checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends, said the New York Times, which has interviewed him. The WikiLeaks founder also demands that his loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts.

"They called me James Bond of journalism... It got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble," he was quoted as saying, expressing concern that UK may act against him if the US decides to prosecute him — an option that is currently being explored.

"By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I`ve wound up in an extraordinary situation ," Assange said.

"When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realisation dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like."

On the run again, Assange left Stockholm for Berlin and now is in London, according to the Times, which reported that his bag and three encysted laptops disappeared on the journey from Sweden to Germany.

The WikiLeaks founder also faces rape and molestation accusations by two women in Sweden, where he went to stay due to the country`s strong laws protecting freedom of speech and expression . Assange, however, has maintained that their relations were consensual and blamed a " smear campaign," possibly planned by the US government.

On Friday, his online whistleblower leaked nearly 400,000 secret US documents on the Iraq war detailing accounts of torture, killing of over 66,000 civilians and Iran`s role in the conflict.

Earlier this year, the Australian computer hacker was catapulted into the global spotlight when WikiLeaks released 92,000 secret documents pertaining to the Afghanistan conflict that supported existing suspicions such as Pakistan`s ISI being linked with extremists and extra-judicial killings by US forces.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 08:46

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