Supporters sent more than 50 donations to a Bitcoin wallet used to fund WikiLeaks in the three hours following Mr. Assange’s arrest, or more than a quarter of the 176 transactions the account received since its first transaction nearly two months earlier.
WikiLeaks posted donation information on Twitter minutes after confirming that Mr. Assange, a 47-year-old Australian native, was arrested inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as a result of having his asylum withdrawn by Quito nearly seven years since seeking refuge. The U.S. Department of Justice has since unsealed an indictment charging Mr. Assange with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and an extradition hearing has been set for May 2.
The Justice Department began investigating Mr. Assange’s website after it published classified U.S. documents in 2010. The website subsequently began soliciting donations in Bitcoin, a popular type of digital cryptocurrency, when companies including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal responded to the leaks by refusing to process payments to WikiLeaks.
Confirmed donations made to WikiLeaks in Bitcoin in the few hours following Mr. Assange arrest totaled 0.617 BTC, or more than $5,000; taking into account pending transactions, that sum increased to 1.365 BTC, or nearly $6,900. The wallet has received nearly 3 BTC since February 20, according to public transaction records.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit group currently led by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, was established after the 2010 financial blockade to serve as a conduit for supporters wishing to donate to WikiLeaks. Both groups parted ways in 2017 after the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s board found that the financial blockade was no longer in effect.
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