A Guide To The Eccentric Cast Of Characters Surrounding Julian Assange

Nick Robins-Early

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has alienated and infuriated a lot of people over the years, not least the British and U.S. authorities that oversaw his arrest and indictment last week.

But he’s also managed to accumulate an eccentric group of close friends and supporters, and many of these folks are back in the news as Assange faces extradition to the U.S. on a charge of computer hacking related to WikiLeaks obtaining classified military documents in 2010.

As Assange’s longtime confidantes call for his release, here is a look at the cast of characters surrounding the anti-privacy activist.

Chelsea Manning

Although Assange and Manning have never met in person, the two have a significant history that goes back to 2010. Manning, then a private in the U.S. Army, downloaded classified military information early that year and uploaded it to the WikiLeaks site. Assange then contacted Manning and the two began a frequent correspondence that resulted in Manning sending WikiLeaks a trove of additional classified documents that included diplomatic cables and war reports from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Manning pleaded guilty in 2013 to a variety of charges related to the leak, including espionage. In her statement of guilt, Manning detailed how she and Assange ― who was using the pseudonym Nathaniel Frank ― would message on a near-daily basis as they worked together and developed a friendship. But Manning said she later realized that in retrospect their friendly conversations were artificial and that she valued them more than Assange.

Manning, who was released from prison in 2017, is now back in jail after refusing a subpoena to testify to a grand jury that is investigating WikiLeaks.

Rafael Correa

Correa, who served as Ecuador’s president from 2007 to 2017, was one of Assange’s most powerful protectors while he was in office. Correa granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to Assange in 2012, setting up a protracted fight with British and U.S. officials who...

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