Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is currently in hiding, despite the Wikileaks website being headline news after its explosive publishing of confidential US communications.

Assange usually addresses the world’s media when Wikileaks breaks a story but is staying out of sight over fears that he could be deported to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over claims that he raped two women last summer.

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According to Assange however, the allegations are part of a smear campaign and the women had consensual sex with him.

It has also been suggested that Barak Obama could take legal action against Assange over Wikileaks’ publishing of classified US cables.

Assange is as ever defiant about Wikileaks. In an interview with Forbes, he acknowledged that the leaks would cause pain, but countered: “Pain for the guilty.”

Julian Assange bio

Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Australia in 1971, the child of two peace activists who ran a touring theatre company.

Assange studied maths and physics at the University of Melbourne but is thought to be mainly self-taught.

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The Wikileaks founder began adult life as a computer hacker and was a member of a hacker group called International Subversives. In 1991, Assange’s house was raided by police and he was taken to court over computer hacking charges. At this point Assange’s girlfriend, the mother of his child, left him taking the child.

Assange helped write a book called Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier in 1997, but he has since distanced himself from his days of computer hacking, saying:

“It’s a bit annoying, actually. Because I co-wrote a book about being a hacker, there are documentaries about that, people talk about that a lot. They can cut and paste. But that was 20 years ago. It’s very annoying to see modern day articles calling me a computer hacker. I’m not ashamed of it, I’m quite proud of it. But I understand the reason they suggest I’m a computer hacker now. There’s a very specific reason.”

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From 1993, Assange worked as a computer programmer and developed free software such as Rubberhose deniable encryption system, a package for Linux designed “as a tool for human rights workers who needed to protect sensitive data in the field.”

Wikileaks was launched in 2006 and although Assange denies that he was the founder, final decisions about what is published sit with him and he describes himself as editor-in-chief.

Assange sits on a nine-person advisory board of Wikileaks, all of whom are unpaid volunteers.

Wikileaks has published vast swathes of classified documents since its inception. Recently the site made public material documenting the involvement of the US in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange has won several journalism prizes. In 2009 he was awarded the Amnesty International Media Award awarded for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya with the investigation The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances.

Assange lives on the move and has said that he spends most of his time in airports.