Monday, June 14, 2010

Cyber leaker 'may be in peril'

Dylan Welch
June 14, 2010 - 5:50AM

IT READS like a James Bond novel: its cast includes an enigmatic white-haired computer hacker; a soldier turned whistleblower; secret government correspondence; and the world's most powerful country desperate to contain the situation.

And it is all because of an Australian.

Julian Assange, the Australian-born face of the Wikileaks website, is in hiding overseas after the US military arrested one of its own soldiers, Bradley Manning, and accused him of leaking a secret video of a US Army helicopter gunning down civilians in Iraq in 2007.

The video was released on Wikileaks earlier this year, and the US is now desperate to find Mr Assange before he leaks thousands of embarrassing state diplomatic cables, which are believed to discuss the the Middle East, its governments and leaders.

Do you know more? Email dwelch@smh.com.au

Mr Assange, 38, is an enigmatic figure who moves frequently between countries and has bases in Iceland, Kenya, Australia and elsewhere.

He was due to speak at a Las Vegas conference on Friday but cancelled shortly before he was due to appear.

At the same time a US website published an article claiming that Pentagon investigators were engaged in a ''manhunt'' for Mr Assange to try to stop him from publishing the cables.

Wikileaks, which launched in 2007, is a clandestine, international organisation that relies on anonymous leaks of confidential documents from government and industry.

Although it has had a history of funding difficulties and opposition from governments - Australian communications minister Stephen Conroy threatened to call in the federal police when the site published a confidential internet censorship blacklist - it has continued to operate sporadically.

But it appears the latest leak may have pushed the US too far, and some in the US have even suggested Mr Assange may be in physical danger.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/cyber-leaker-may-be-in-peril-20100613-y5y6.

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