Like so many of the greatest throughout history, Julian Assange has trodden a unique path in life.
I first had the opportunity to meet him more than a decade ago in Sydney, 1997. Even at that time, he had already had established intellectual renown within the computer security community. Despite the obvious and lucrative commercial applications of his skills, Julian chose to spend time and energy facilitating access to resources for the less fortunate by running public access computer systems for the wider community and working on cryptographic systems for the protection of human rights – underpaid, under-appreciated, and clearly selfless activities.
About this time, one of Julian’s early computer programs, ‘strobe’, demonstrated a largely unknown vulnerability within TCP (one of the core internet protocols) that allowed the covert identification of open services (or “access paths”) to a remote computer without alerting their operators. It was, first and foremost, a good ‘hack’ (in the traditional sense of exploration), and one that elegantly demonstrated the power that could be gained from the careful analysis and use of public systems. Instead of selling or abusing this knowledge, Julian openly published the information for the public good. Since that program, which itself was far from his first, Julian has taken this hard-won talent for systems analysis through public media systems and journalism to international legal and finance systems.
And there we have, in short, a role-call of the key networks that underlie our modern world – telecommunications, media, law, and finance. Systems that affect all of us and define power in our societies. So few people truly understand these systems, and even fewer choose to work toward their betterment for the public good: for it’s more lucrative to sell the knowledge, to abuse the loopholes, to abuse the trust engendered by we the public, to facilitate surveillance, and to politically auction the inherent concentration of power that each of these systems engender. We see this in telecommunications, we see this in media, we see this in law, we see this in finance. Julian’s brainchild Wikileaks and each of its brave contributors and supporters have shown us this on a global scale, and have done so far more rapidly and with far greater breadth than any other entity in history.
Today, a huge community of people across the world, old and young, and from every side of the political spectrum, stand united with Wikileaks in their bid to say “enough” – I know this because I have met them personally in Asia, Australia, Europe, North Africa, the United States. It is this global community, the public, who take issue with corruption and abuse of power, who reject unrepresentative governance, reject passive surveillance of their daily life, and demand transparency – their right to know the truth. Partly, they demand journalism with insight, journalism for a global era, journalism that covers the difficult issues – worldwide issues that take not just knowledge and effort to identify, but immense courage to tackle for fear of powerful backlash by both legal and illegal means, a backlash that Wikileaks is resisting right now.
As a citizen of multiple countries, fortunate enough to travel widely and observe societies in various states of freedom, revolution and redefinition, I motion that there is no other individual within the world who has fought against the realities of our time to work so hard and so selflessly for positive change through nonviolent means on a global scale.
Yes, Julian Assange is a spokesman for all of us and a hero for many, but beyond all, he is a wonderful human being who deserves to be recognized, now more than ever, as an incredible force for peace and understanding in the world who has mustered novel, unique, nonviolent means to further these goals internationally over a period of decades, based upon a philosophy of truth and transparency.
Julian, we salute you.
I urge each and every eligible person to nominate Julian Assange for
the Nobel Peace Prize.
- An. Owing to honest, well founded and professionally informed
fears of increased government surveillance as a result of this