The fundraiser aims to support the WikiLeaks founder’s legal defence as he seeks to avoid extradition from the UK to the US.
A project called AssangeDAO, launched to support Julian Assange’s legal case, managed to raise over $55 million last week.
The collective, a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) – or people pursuing a common interest without any central authority – began mobilising on December 10, the day that the US government won its appeal over a British court ruling that barred Assange’s extradition to the US.
Currently in a London prison, the WikiLeaks’ founder is battling extradition from the UK to the US, where authorities want Assange to face trial on 18 criminal charges including breaking a spying law, after WikiLeaks began to publish thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables in 2010.
If extradited, he faces 175 years in prison.
Soon after AssangeDAO’s launch, the group teamed with Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, to collect funds for the purpose of bidding on a non-fungible token (NFT) created by Assange and digital artist Pak.
NFTs are a cryptocurrency asset that uses the blockchain, or a digital ledger, to record the ownership status of digital files such as images, videos, and even online gaming items.
Within the first day of launching on February 3, over 67 ether (Ethereum) – about $215,000 – was raised. Less than a week later, about 17,422 ether, or $55 million, was raised, on Juicebox – the same platform previously used by ConstitutionDAO in its unsuccessful $49 million bid for an original copy of the US Constitution.
“The desire to achieve Julian’s liberation and uphold civil liberties,” drove the spike in donations, AssangeDAO’s core moderator Josh (username JB87), said.
There were over 10,000 contributors, including Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin who donated 10 ether, or approximately $32,000.
“This is tens of thousands of people coming together to show real strength – the Power of the People,” JB87 said in the AssangeDAO Discord. “In less than one week, we have shown that decentralised and distributed peoples can band together to fight injustice.”
The centrepiece of the auction was an NFT artwork called Clock, which displays the number of days Assange has been imprisoned in white text on a black background.
The final bid last Wednesday saw AssangeDAO use 16,593 ether, about $53 million, it collected to bid on – and win – the Clock NFT.
BREAKING: Winning Bid in Julian Assange-PAK NFT auction of 16,593 ETH (US $52.85m) - all funds will go to aid the defense of the #WikiLeaks founder and publisher facing a 175 year sentence if extradited for revealing war crimes @muratpak @AssangeDAO pic.twitter.com/QHOTn4aTGc— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 9, 2022
Proceeds from the sale of the Clock NFT will go to support Assange’s legal defence fund and awareness campaign about the “free speech implications of his case,” the group’s mission statement said.
“By galvanizing an Assange solidarity network we hope to send a powerful signal that the time of passivity is over. A new era of cypherpunk organization has dawned,” AssangeDAO said on its website.
A member of the AssangeDAO team, Amir Taaki, said: “The AssangeDAO represents a Rubicon that’s been crossed. The cypherpunks have rallied to Assange.”
The Clock NFT won by AssangeDAO is part of a larger NFT collection by Assange and Pak called ‘Censored’, which features censored messages from NFT buyers.
The collection has raised 670 ether, around $2.1 million so far, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated toward “human rights, freedom of information, digital privacy, child education, and health organizations,” wrote digital artist Pak on Twitter.