On 7 December 2010, WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange surrendered himself to authorities in London, as a result of sex crimes charges filed in Sweden. The case has been misrepresented in the US as one of rape, but is actually the result of a dispute over consensual but unprotected sex after a condom broke during intercourse, which under Swedish law may constitute a crime. The charges have been magnified as a result of WikiLeaks’ latest document dump, the release of a quarter million US diplomatic cables which began on 28 November 2010, the contents of which seriously embarrassed the State Department.
Born 3 July 1971, Assange is one of the more controversial figures of the day, seen as a champion of truth and an egalitarian whistleblower by some, and a loose-lipped anarchist of demonic proportions by others. The very fact of his self-identification as a “journalist” is controversial, and calls into question the definition of the term in today’s post-modern, Internet blog world.
A native of Queensland, Australia, Assange’s unorthodox internet career began at the age of 16, when he joined with two other hackers to form the International Subversives, dedicated to exposing corporate and government secrets via internet leaks. The group was nonviolent and nondestructive, maintaining as its guiding principles, in Assange’s words, “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.” Assange used the pseudonym “Mendax” when publishing his disclosures, but after four years the Australia Federal Police discovered his identity and raided his home in Melbourne in 1991. He pled guilty to 24 charges of hacking, but there was no evidence of criminal intent, and Assange was released on bond for good conduct after payment of a nominal fine.
In 1993 Assange was a co-creator of one of Australia’s first public Internet service providers, and began writing programs for free software, as well as working with encryption systems for human rights groups to protect sensitive data. The WikiLeaks site was founded in 2006, but made little impact until Assange began partnering with traditional and online media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel, the following year.
Assange has described the site’s purpose and philosophy thus:
To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not. … [T]he more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. … Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.
WikiLeaks has been instrumental in revealing the use of extrajudicial killings in Kenya, the dumping of toxic waste off the Ivory Coast, the assassination of Somali government officials ordered by Islamic clerics, private manuals or “bibles” of the Church of Scientology, Guantanamo Bay interrogation procedures (also confirming that some prisoners were being denied access to the International Red Cross), Iraq War air strike videos, Peruvian oil scandal recordings, and documentation of corruption involving large international banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer.
In 2010 WikiLeaks began targeting US interests more directly, with the release of documents on 25 July regarding the Afghan War, an additional document dump on 22 October relating to the Iraq War, and the diplomatic cables bonanza in late November. The so-called “Afghan War Dairy” comprised leaks of nearly 100,000 military documents dating from 2004-2009, describing civilian casualties, the previously undisclosed extent of the Taliban resurgence, and active support for the insurgency from Pakistani and Iranian officials. The “Iraq War Log,” covering the same period, is the largest military leak in US history, nearly 400,000 files, and documents further Iraqi civilian deaths, to the tune of 15,000 more than reported; a systemic refusal to investigate reports of rape, abuse, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians by police and military; a US helicopter gunship shooting of two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007, previously described as “enemy killed in action”; and the slaughter by another US gunship of Iraqi insurgents attempting to surrender, among other atrocities.
But it was the release of a quarter million diplomatic cables on 28 November which was the final straw for the US. The following day both US and Australian authorities announced the investigation of Assange for criminal actions, the US attempting to frame charges under the Espionage Act. On November 30, 2010, Interpol ordered his arrest on the sex crimes charge in Sweden. Assange, who is noted for the secrecy of his movements and anonymity of his residence, surrendered himself to London police a week later. He was released under strict bail conditions on December 16.
The diplomatic cables dump comprises classified communications from embassy and State Department officials hacked from the Department of Defense by Bradley Manning, a disgruntled US soldier, and transmitted to WikiLeaks in the spring of 2010. Manning’s activities became known when a former hacker he had chatted with online about the incident informed federal authorities, as he was concerned the leaks could jeopardize the safety of diplomatic personnel. Manning was placed in detention in May and formally charged July 5 with transferring classified data onto his personal computer. Allegations emerged in December that he was being mistreated while detained.
Much of the leaked data is embarrassing only—unkind or politically sensitive critiques from embassy personnel of host nations’ governments and officials, assessments of diplomats and pending treaties, but some is more damaging—revelations of US and UK wiretapping of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan pre-Iraq War, a US embassy cover-up of a US contractor’s pimping of small Afghan boys for auction to homosexual gang rape parties hosted by the contractor for Afghan police, and US counterintelligence efforts.
Shortly before the release of the first of these documents, the WikiLeaks site experienced denial-of-service attacks in an attempt to prevent the publication of the cables, and in the aftermath of the release, the site was pulled from many servers worldwide. It was banned for federal employees and is not available from the Library of Congress. WikiLeaks is funded by donor contributions, and banking services for the site were also removed, engendering a retaliatory response, “Operation Payback,” by hackers in support of WikiLeaks, who attacked the websites of news outlets deriding Assange and banks who had withdrawn financial services.
Born 3 July 1971, Julian Assange is a natural troublemaker, with an 11 Aries Cancer Sun in square to the Quasar at 10 Aries and an exact Eris/Chiron pairing at 13 Aries. Eris is named for the Greek goddess of discord and strife, and Chiron’s maverick, iconoclastic tendencies are well known. The Quasar there heightens and emphasizes these effects, casting a bright spotlight upon these character traits, which are so central to Assange’s makeup, as reflected by the solar square.
Additionally, the Sun conjoins a Black Hole at 9 Cancer and squares another at 13 Libra, conjunct the 9 Libra Uranus, forming a T-Square with Quasar/Eris/Chiron. Uranus completes the urge to rebellion and overthrow of existing, entrenched institutions and perspectives begun by Chiron, and adds a flair for technology and cutting-edge techniques, as well as imparting a strong sense of human rights and egalitarianism: again, with the solar square, all these themes are fundamental to who Assange is. The Black Holes indicate Assange’s attempt to remake the world in his own image, or at least, in an image other than what he sees, altering reality as he deems best, and further suggests the secrecy and subterfuge of his personal life, with long periods “underground” where no one is certain of his whereabouts.
The Sun is also exactly sextile asteroid Pallas at 11 Taurus, named for Pallas Athene, Greek goddess of truth. Assange’s stated mission is to bring the hidden truth to light, exposing corporate and government secrets which he sees as harmful to the free expression of human rights and the will to self-governance.
Mercury at 25 Cancer, representing the documents themselves, conjoins the USA’s own, an indicator of why the leaks he presents affect the nation so personally. Mercury also squares asteroid Juliana (#816, for Julian) at 24 Aries, which is exactly conjunct a Black Hole, and is trine to asteroid Askalaphus, named for a tale-bearing denizen of Hades who revealed Persephone’s secrets, at 25 Pisces. Mercury further links to Pluto (secrets, forbidden matters) by sextile at 27 Virgo, and to Jupiter (politics, international diplomacy, publication) by trine at 27 Scorpio retrograde, with Mercury, Jupiter and Askalaphus thus forming a Grand Trine and denoting the tattling (Askalaphus) of politically sensitive (Jupiter) documents (Mercury) to be of leading importance in Assange’s life.
A second Grand Trine keys off the Eris/Chiron conjunction, with trines to asteroids Karma and America at 14 and 8 Leo, and to asteroids Nemesis and Kassandra at 15 and 13 Sagittarius. Karma/America is a potent symbol of Assange’s desire to set the record straight regarding the US’ involvement in global politics, with links to Eris indicating the stress, strife and strain this evokes. Nemesis/Kassandra is again about karmic comeuppance, due enactment of what our actions have reaped, bringing home the deed to the doer, with an added focus on telling the truth, whether it’s believed or not. There are hints here also of the rape charges and the potential downfall for Assange personally via these, with Nemesis (karmic undoing) sextile asteroid Aristaeus at 13 Scorpio and opposed centaur Nessus at 19 Gemini, both points noted for sexual impropriety and aggression, with myths centering on attempted rape.
A powerful exact conjunction of Mars and Damocles at 21 Aquarius, squared the Black Hole at 24 Taurus, reinforces the “doom via sexuality” motif and shows the impact Assange’s disclosures about the Afghan and Iraq wars (Mars) have made, as he acts the part of Damocles’ sword hanging over the US military (also Mars). With Mars/Damocles also squared natal Jupiter at 27 Scorpio, we see the desire to boldly (Mars) expose political secrets (Jupiter in Scorpio), wherever they are found, but particularly as related to acts of aggression or militarism (Mars again). Natal Neptune at 0 Sagittarius also tightly opposes the 1 Gemini Saturn, indicating Assange’s desire to sow confusion, fear and paranoia (all Neptune) in the governments (Saturn) of which he disapproves.
Assange’s native curiosity and interest in deception is foreshadowed by a stirring conjunction of Venus at 26 Gemini with asteroids Lie and Ask at 29 Gemini and 1 Cancer respectively. Assange has a true passion (Venus) for inquiry (Ask), for getting to the truth behind the falsehoods (Lie). With these points opposed the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, his disseminations of information are very likely to receive global attention and universal interest (the GC). A potent pairing of asteroids Pandora and Washingtonia at 16 and 17 Libra, in square to the 11 Cancer Sun, shows the “Pandora’s Box” effect for the US (Washingtonia) of the release of these documents, unleashing a thousand ills but also providing hope for the disaffected and downtrodden, and personalizing this to Assange himself (Sun).
US soldier Bradley Manning has played a key role in the latest chapter of Assange’s career, and may prove instrumental in his downfall, should that be forthcoming. Asteroids Bradley (#2383) and Manning (#3698) figure prominently in Assange’s nativity, with Bradley at 8 Gemini conjunct Saturn (responsibility, criticism, success and penalties for failure) at 1 Gemini, exactly sextile America at 8 Leo and trine Uranus (disruption, technology, the internet) at 9 Libra. Manning appears at 2 Libra, trine Saturn, conjunct Uranus, squared Ask and Lie, and sextile Neptune.
When the Afghan War documents were released on 25 July 2010, asteroid Juliana at 6 Libra was conjunct natal Uranus (technology, internet), with Mercury (documents) and Lie (deception) tied at 28 and 22 Leo, squared America at 28 Taurus, and semisextile Mars (war, military)/Washingtonia (US) at 27 and 28 Virgo, also with asteroid Karma tied to the pattern from 26 Sagittarius, exactly conjunct the GC, calling the nation to task for its misdeeds. Asteroid Ask at 11 Leo was exactly semisextile the natal Sun and exactly squared natal Pallas, goddess of truth, at 11 Taurus, while conjunct the natal America/Karma pairing at 8 and 14 Leo, on their midpoint.
When the Iraq War document dump began on 25 October 2010, asteroid Juliana at 11 Scorpio was exactly trine the natal Sun and exactly opposed natal Pallas. Asteroid America at 3 Cancer was conjunct natal Ask, which was itself exactly squared transit Bradley at 1 Libra, with asteroid Photographica at 6 Leo conjoined natal asteroid America (Manning had also supplied the videos—Photographica—of rogue US gunships—America—released at this time). Transit Lie at 9 Libra was exactly on natal Uranus (the Internet), transit Jupiter (politics) at 24 Pisces was exactly on natal Askalaphus (tale-bearing). Transit Pallas (truth) and transit Manning were exactly conjunct the Black Hole at 5 Sagittarius, opposed natal Saturn (regimes). Transit Mars (war, military) at 25 Scorpio conjoined natal Jupiter and trined natal Askalaphus and transit Jupiter, while transit Pandora at 16 Cancer conjoined Assange’s Sun and exactly squared his natal Pandora/Washingtonia.
When the dump of the diplomatic cables began (the bulk of the material supplied by Bradley Manning) on 28 November 2010, asteroid Juliana at 26 Scorpio was conjoined natal Jupiter (politics, diplomacy), trined natal Mercury (documents), and squared natal Mars/Damocles. Transit Ask at 3 Libra squared its natal degree, and conjoined natal asteroid Manning at 2 Libra. Asteroid Lie at 29 Libra was exactly trine its natal degree of 29 Gemini. Transit asteroid Bradley appears at 22 Libra, exactly conjunct asteroid Washingtonia for the Iraq War dump and asteroid Bradley for the Afghan War dump, all points trined natal Mars. Transit asteroid Bradley was exactly conjunct transit Mercury at 27 Sagittarius, closely conjoined the GC, and exactly semisextile natal Jupiter, while opposing natal Ask/Lie.
When Assange surrendered himself on the charge of rape on 7 December 2010, asteroid Juliana at 0 Sagittarius was exactly conjunct natal Neptune (ruling prisons and incarceration), while the 15 Sagittarius transit Sun hovered exactly atop natal Nemesis, showing Assange’s potential undoing, with transit Saturn (restriction, penalties) lending support for intervention by authorities (also Saturn) in exact sextile from 15 Libra, and trouble-unleashing Pandora in exact inconjunct from 15 Cancer, conjunct Assange’s natal Sun. Transit Aristaeus and Nessus, both redolent of rape or sexual misbehavior, are traveling together at 17 and 12 Aquarius, fast approaching natal Mars/Damocles at 21 Aquarius, indicating the possible doom hanging over Assange’s head (Damocles) for an inappropriate (Nessus/Aristaeus) sexual act (Mars). Transit Asteroid America at 29 Gemini was exactly conjunct natal Lie, while transit Lie at 4 Scorpio paired with transit Venus (women, love affairs) at 3 Scorpio and transit Washingtonia (the US) at 5 Scorpio, suggesting that the charge is not an honest one, but politically motivated and its prosecution coordinated by the US.
If US authorities can prove that Assange had foreknowledge of the theft of classified material by Bradley Manning, he can be charged as an accomplice in this admittedly illegal (if not immoral) act. Charges under the Espionage Act will be harder to prove, and will always smack of trumpery and legal chicanery to justify a political end. The original rape charge is unlikely to stick, unless as a minor legalistic matter based in the minutia of Swedish law. Assange, in all probability, will emerge from this period and live to fight another day, continuing to be a goad and a flail to secretive regimes the world over.