Museum of Australian Democracy collection

This badge was produced in 2010 in support of internet-based organisation WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief, Australian journalist and activist Julian Assange.

Assange first came to worldwide attention in 2006 with the launch of the WikiLeaks website. WikiLeaks describes itself as

a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices.

The story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is highly divisive. Proponents support freedom of speech, and detractors view Assange as dangerous and WikiLeaks as a threat to security. WikiLeaks has published numerous leaked documents that have caused embarrassment and scandal, including documents relating to the collapse of banks; a classified list of websites deemed forbidden under the Australian government’s internet filter scheme; videos

and documents from Afghanistan and Iraq exposing the conduct of soldiers and commanders; and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from 274 United States embassies.

In 2010 Julian Assange was arrested in the United Kingdom following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant to extradite him to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault charges. Believing that his extradition would see him transported to the United States to face prosecution for publishing diplomatic cables, Assange sought diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012. The story continues to develop.

The design of this badge references the iconic image of Barack Obama created by artist Shepard Fairey during the 2008 United States presidential campaign. Fairey’s world-famous posters depicted a stylised image of Obama and carried the themes of hope, change and progress. By depicting Julian Assange in a similar manner, the producer of this image implies a similarity between the two figures and aligns Assange’s campaign for freedom of information with Obama’s campaign rhetoric.