How Julian Assange Got Rich off the Government Blocking His Money
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is now richer than ever before, and he said his fortune came to him when the US government decided to block all his money. According to Assange, Bitcoin deserves all the credit for his wealth — bringing him a reported 50,000 percent return.
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Government Forced Assange to Make a Ton of Money
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange posted a tweet crediting U.S. government officials and other financial institutions that turned down their services to Wikileaks — forcing them to “invest” in bitcoin, the then totally unregulated digital currency.
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. pic.twitter.com/9i8D69yxLC
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) October 14, 2017
In addition to the tweet, he included screenshot of the bitcoin price graph from 18th July 2010 and 14th October 2017. Assange claimed that the company has made a 50,000 percent return on “investment” in bitcoin as a result of the blockade.
WikiLeaks’ Bitcoin Donation Bonanza
Wikileaks revealed documents that disclosed friendly fire and civilian causalities by U.S. forces during the war in Afghanistan. It This led many financial institutions to block transactions for Wikileaks starting in 2010. Later, it released gigabytes of diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning, which embarrassed governments worldwide.
After getting blocked by standard banking institutions, Wikileaks stated its income slipped by 95 percent between late 2010 and mid-2011. This cost the organization a lot of money in lost donations. Donations for December 2010 alone were around €800,000 ($942 USD).
Bitcoin donation mechanisms are proving very fruitful for the organization. Currently, its public donation address has 7.5 BTC, approximately $42,000. Over six years 26,000 transactions have been made at the address.
Had Wikileaks invested all its €800,000 into bitcoin, it would have earned equivalent to €400 million ($471 million) to date. Assange would have earned approximately $500 for every dollar invested into bitcoin.
According to reports, in August 2012 WikiLeaks received about 1,100 BTC in donations. The amount equated to approximately $32,000 at the time. Within just a year, it owned 3,200 BTC. In November 2016, WikiLeaks received more than 4,000 BTC in contributions.
Recently, the cryptocurrency traded at an all-time high at approximately at $5,700.
Satoshi Nakamoto Didn’t Want Wikileaks to Accept Bitcoin
When Assange first suggested Wikileaks should accept the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto actually opposed his decision — fearing it would bring unwanted government attention. In 2010, on Bitcointalk, Nakamoto said:
“No, don’t ‘bring it on’. The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to Wikileaks not to try to use bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.”
Additionally, in August 2017 Wikileaks revealed that donations by the private-oriented Zcash are also welcomed.
Part of the “cypherpunk” cryptography activist movement that gave birth to Bitcoin, Assange once said: “it is the most intellectually interesting development in the last two years.”
While there are many who claim bitcoin to be a speculative bubble, it is clear such remarks are not as impactful as they once were.
Who was right, Assange or Satoshi? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via The Independent, WikiLeaks