“Wikileaks was only able to survive thanks to bitcoin”

Three days full of panels and workshops, over 3,000 visitors – and just one topic: Bitcoin. From October 12th to 14th, BTCAmsterdam, the largest scene meeting place for Bitcoiners in Europe, took place in Westerpark. Also present: BTC-ECHO.

The event also focused on the case of Julian Assange. Britain wants to extradite WikiLeaks founder to the United States. There he faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing secret state documents, for example on the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The accusation: espionage. His family came to Amsterdam to ask for support from the Bitcoin community. We spoke to his brother, Gabriel Shipton, on the spot.

You can read the whole interview and our report from BTCAmsterdam in the upcoming November issue of BTC-ECHO Magazine.

BTC-ECHO: When did you last see your brother?

Gabriel Shipton: “I visited him in prison in July 2022, just after the UK court announced they wanted to extradite him to the US. He has been imprisoned in one way or another for 13 years, the last four years in Belmarsh, a maximum security prison for high-profile criminals. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described his treatment as a form of psychological torture. He is in a constant state of anxiety and depression. For a time he was suicidal. Last year he suffered a minor stroke.”

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Shipton: “Julian Assange has a long history with Bitcoin. He was part of the famous Cypherpunk mailing list in the late 90’s along with some of the early Bitcoin developers like Adam Buck. These cypherpunks wanted to use cryptography to make the world a better place.

In 2013, Wikileaks turned to Bitcoin after the US government cut it off from the legal banking system after the war documents were released. These leaks detailed the US military’s atrocious war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US blocked his personal bank accounts, his access to Visa, Mastercard and even PayPal. Wikileaks was only able to survive thanks to bitcoin. In a way, this was the original proof of concept. Even the most powerful authority in the world could not stop it.

I go to bitcoin conferences like this to remind the community how powerful it is. What happens to him can happen to anyone who opposes these forces. Bitcoin itself is a big bet against the establishment. By protecting him and breaking him out of jail, Bitcoiners are showing the world you shouldn’t mess with us.”

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BTC-ECHO: What consequences would his conviction have for freedom of the press?

Shipton: “This is the greatest global threat to press freedom of our time. Almost all major human rights organizations agree on this. The US is setting a precedent for all journalists. They say: If you publish uncomfortable truths, we will persecute you in every country in the world. You’re rotting in jail before you’re sentenced. Journalists, lawyers and activists around the world are fighting for Julian Assange. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on his defense. His case shows that the legal system we believe in does not exist. For me, this insight is almost more serious than the leaks themselves.”

BTC-ECHO Magazin 10/22 – Will Bitcoin become the new world currency?

The BTC-ECHO Magazin is the leading German-language magazine since 2014 on the topics of Bitcoin, Blockchain, NFTs & cryptocurrencies.

To the magazine

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