How Mendax made WikiLeaks a sensation

December 13, 2010


On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the controversial Australian-born founder and frontman of the WikiLeaks website is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom for the latest hearing on a request by Swedish authorities that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, and some of his supporters have dropped dark hints that the Swedish investigation could be part of some sinister conspiracy by the CIA or other WikiLeaks enemies to shut down both Assange and the website, which has lately roiled the world of international diplomacy by disclosing a cache of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutors and the lawyer for two women who complained to the authorities about Assange’s behavior deny the sex investigation has anything to do with spy plots or politics. People who know the mercurial and sometimes imperious Assange say that even on best behavior, he can be a difficult person to deal with.

In this special report last week, we took you behind the Swedish investigation into the sex allegations against Assange, and explained how Assange himself might have avoided any investigation if he had been more accessible to two women who were anxious that he undergo medical tests which he apparently wanted to avoid.

In this new special report, “Julian Assange versus the world,” we look into the strange and colorful background that helped to shape Assange’s intellect and character. Also we report on his increasingly fractious dealings with both collaborators and journalists who helped him build WikiLeaks into a worldwide brand-name.

Some original source material might be of additional interest to readers who find Assange fascinating, compelling or repellent. One seminal article on the 39-year old former hacker and self-proclaimed “scientific journalist” is this profile, which the New Yorker magazine published shortly before the reputations of Assange and WikiLeaks became an international sensation.

Further insights into what makes Assange tick can be gleaned from a series of posts he made on a personal blog a few years ago, which can be read here.

Assange has become known for his sometimes egotistical and explosive displays of temper. An example of how he treated one of his closest WikiLeaks associates can be read here  in a piece from “Threat Level,” a blog published by Wired Magazine.

According to the “Threat Level” story, one published story about internal turmoil in WikiLeaks which sent Assange into a rage against his own supporters was this Newsweek blog entry, written by the author of this blog post (before he joined Reuters in late September).

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see