Crowdfunding the Cost of Julian Assange’s Astonishing Flight Home

He's a free man at last, but at the cost of a $520,000 debt to the Australian Government. Will crowdfunding for Julian Assange pay for the flight?
Main image in a Crowdsourcing Week blog about Julian Assange returning home to Australia

Written by Clive Reffell

Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is at last a free man. But at what cost? Seven years of living in a converted office in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, UK, and more than five years spent in the high security Belmarsh Prison in south London, have seriously impacted on his health. And Julian Assange’s flight home to Australia to reunite with his family, via a court hearing in Saipan, has put him US$520,000 in debt to the Australian Government. Crowdfunding for Julian Assange may resolve this for him.

We covered the background to the crimes he was accused of, and the measures Julian Assange took to avoid extradition to the U.S., in a  blog in February 2024.

Image of Julian Assance in a Crowdsourcing Week blog about crowdfunding the cost of his flight

Image source: X/Twitter @Stella_Assange

Many were surprised by the final deal negotiated with U.S. legal representatives that saw Mr. Assange released at short notice from Belmarsh Prison to fly to Saipan. Saipan is the largest island and capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. In a court hearing held under U.S. law, he pleaded guilty to a charge of espionage. Previous legal wrangles over Mr. Assange’s claims for freedom of the press under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment would not have applied to this charge, even if it ever could have been applied to the other charges he faced.

The Saipan judge found him guilty. His time already served in Belmarsh Prison was taken in to account, and at last he heard the words that he was free to go and could continue his journey home to Australia.

Crowdfunding for Julian Assange

However, he had been barred from using commercial airlines. Julian Assange’s flight, accompanied by legal and medical professionals, had to be a private charter. This saddled him with a debt of US$520,000 payable to the government of Australia.

His wife Stella had swiftly launched a crowdfunding appeal, asking for donations via the UK’s Crowdfunder platform. At the time of writing, the total raised had reached 82% of the target, with backing from over 9,000 donors. As well as helping at a personal level for humanitarian reasons, the appeal provides people with a means to demonstrate their tangible support for the rights of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to expose crime and corruption, free from government interference and obstruction. Though there have been questions as to why the crowdfunding target is £520,000 to pay a debt of US$520,000. The additional funds will help to ensure Julian Assange’s recovery, well-being and safety back in Australia.

Our blog in February 2024 included reference to another crowdfunding campaign that was running at the time. An appeal on GoFundMe was raising money for post-production and promotion of a documentary film about Mr Assange’s predicament and the wider freedom of the press issues at stake. The purpose of the film was to generate further groundswell support for his bid to avoid prosecution and possible lifetime imprisonment. This crowdfunding for Julian Assange still remains open for new donations. Now that Mr Assange has gained his freedom and is at home with his family, the film seems to be redundant. We wonder what will be done now with the AUS$193,512 that has been raised so far.  

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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