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Julian Assange’s tryst with crypto-world: How a whistle-blower brought Bitcoin to the masses

Febin Jose

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Source: Pixabay

Julian Assange’s ascension into mainstream media following his arrest in London on April 11, 2019, was nothing short of controversial, not just because of his alleged endeavors against the United States, but also for what it represented for many, the death of press freedom.

He may have been a pioneer in engineering a new era in journalism, but unknown to many is his association with the cryptocurrency/decentralization realm. Long before he even thought of Wikileaks, the Australian man played a crucial role in bringing forth decentralization. Moreover, after the launch of Bitcoin, he was one of the few who believed in what a truly decentralized currency had to offer.

However, to understand this, we have to go back to his feud with the US government and how the fight for unraveling buried truths propelled a new epoch in the history of Bitcoin.

Acoustic Shock

Wikileaks, Assange’s baby project, which grew by massive proportions following the leak of sensitive US government info relating to war crimes in the Middle East, was allegedly not in line with the government’s vision.

His reportage of war crimes in Iraq opened the US to universal criticism, something that had never happened previously in such magnitude. With little to defend its position, the US had to face the wrath of its own people as they vocally voiced their dissent.

This act made him an enemy of the state almost overnight, forcing him to eventually take refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. However, his steadfast conduct marked the dawn of a new society, one where every citizen was aware of what their government was capable of doing.

The ‘Digital Gold’ Rush

However, even good journalism needs money to work with. No working bank or firm would come out in support of an organization that had gained ‘criminal’ status for leaking ‘sensitive military’ details. All transactions were associated with a name and risking one’s livelihood for finding the truth was not the ideal choice, even for the strongest of supporters.

Wikileaks and Assange knew this and their search for an alternative came to a halt when they came across Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin. It had everything they could have asked for, anonymity, speed, no borders and value. Inadvertently, Wikileaks was making history again. This time, by supporting an idea which would eventually grow into one of the biggest financial movements the world was not ready for, but was in dire need of.

A tale of flowers and friendship

Julian Assange finding Bitcoin was no coincidence. It was a well-calculated and researched move because unknown to many, he was already part of a movement aiming to bring ‘financial freedom’ to the masses, the Cypherpunk movement. The movement aimed at using cryptography and strong privacy tools to bring social and political changes.

His tryst with the movement made him wary of centralized institutions and according to reports, the Wikileaks Founder initiated a dialogue on digital cash, long before Bitcoin came into existence.

This made Bitcoin his favorite choice for funding his project. He even spoke about the same during a Reddit AMA. He said,

“Bitcoin is an extremely important innovation, but not in the way most people think. Bitcoin’s real innovation is a globally verifiable proof of publishing at a certain time… The blockchain nails down history, breaking Orwell’s dictum of ‘He who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future.”

Brothers in Arms

Wikileaks started accepting Bitcoin as early as 2010 as soon as Assange understood what the currency was capable of. Though Wikileaks was in the limelight for the wrong reasons, it did help bring Bitcoin into the open. Such was the influence Wikileaks had that Satoshi Nakamoto himself commented on what Wikileaks accepting Bitcoin meant for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. In a statement from his now inactive account, he said,

Source: crypto-news.in

Source: crypto-news.in

With more information about Bitcoin and what it stood for, it became clear as to what both Assange and Bitcoin were: the Resistance. They were fighting against centralized control over value and data, two elements that needed to be free of control, according to them.

Since then, Wikileaks has supported Bitcoin and more recently, Zcash. As donations started pouring in, not only did Wikileaks grow, so did a relatively unknown player, a decentralized store of value called Bitcoin.

Adoption since then has been massive, with Wikileaks registering over $30,000 in donations using Bitcoin following Assange’s arrest on April 11. The magnitude of their successful partnership is reflected by the sheer amount of money they have received using cryptocurrencies. According to sources, the organization received over $22 million in Bitcoin and Zcash donations between 2010 and 2017.

Assange even thanked the organization for monetary support. He said,

“My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return.”

Therefore, it is no wonder that many cryptocurrency enthusiasts have come out in support of Assange, following his arrest. Roger Ver tweeted,

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Even John McAfee showcased his support for the whistle-blower in a reply to Ver’s tweet,

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Cobra, Co-founder of Bitcoin.org, tweeted,

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter





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Febin Jose is a full-time journalist/editor at AMBCrypto. He believes that cryptocurrencies will navigate a volatile future and that Arsenal can still win a title. Lives around the "if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it" mantra.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin continues to scale new heights after Wasabi Wallet records first ever 100-person CoinJoin

Priya

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Bitcoin [BTC] rises in the market as cryptocurrency continues to mark new milestones
Source: Unsplash

Bitcoin [BTC], the largest cryptocurrency in the market, has successfully breached the $9000 mark, boosting the market sentiment. Notably, the digital currency was not the only coin to rise in the market as other coins such as Ethereum [ETH] also registered a significant rise in the market.

According to CoinMarketCap, at press time, Bitcoin was trading at $9181, with a market cap of $163.101 billion. The 24 hour trading volume of the cryptocurrency was recorded to be nearly $22.778 billion, with the coin recording a significant rise of over 17 percent in the past week.

Keeping the price surge aside, the coin has constantly been in the headlines with news pertaining to its development and new milestones. The coin was placed in the limelight of the cryptocurrency space after report by researchers at the Technical University of Munich [TUM]  claimed that Bitcoin’s carbon footprint was between 22 and 22.9 megatonnes/year, almost the same as that of Vienna or Las Vegas.

Further, the coin recently marked a new milestone after Bitcoin surpassed a million daily active addresses, with the last record on the same dating back to November 2017. Weiss Ratings heralded the same, tweeting,

“Bitcoin passed an interesting milestone – there are now over a million daily active addresses – an important metric that shows actual, unique transfers separate from the various direct transfers to and from bigger exchanges.”

Additionally, the coin was in the news again after Wasabi Wallet, an open-source non-custodial Bitcoin wallet, completed the first ever 100 participants CoinJoin, the largest CoinJoin transaction in terms of participants. Aviv Milner reported the same on Twitter,

“Huge Congratulations – @wasabiwallet just did the first ever 100 person CoinJoin, likely the largest in Bitcoin History. (link) A monumental achievement in Bitcoin privacy. Credit to the team @lontivero @molnardavid84 @nopara73 @dwuk86 @NicolasDorier and others!”

Days after this achievement, a Redditor highlighted that the largest CoinJoin transactions, in terms of inputs, was completed on June 17, 2019, with a total of 125 inputs. Golden Wiki describes CoinJoin as,

“A digital currency platform that enables multiple users to combine all inputs and outputs from different transactions into a single transaction. Privacy is achieved in a way that when a transaction is broadcast, it will not be possible to determine which Bitcoins went where.”





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