WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Key dates

A May 2019 photo shows Assange gesturing from the window of a prison van as he is driven to a court in London for sentencing. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Following are key events in the life of Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website.

July 1971 - Born in Townsville, Australia, to parents who were involved in theatre and travelled frequently. Gains a reputation in his teens as a sophisticated computer programmer.

1995 - Pleads guilty to computer hacking and is fined, but avoids prison on condition he does not reoffend.

2006 - Founds WikiLeaks, creating an internet-based "dead letter drop" for leakers of classified or sensitive information.

July 25, 2010 - Over 91,000 documents, mostly secret US military reports about the Afghanistan war, are released by WikiLeaks, a month after US soldier Bradley Manning is arrested for leaking such material to Assange's group. In October, WikiLeaks releases 400,000 classified military files chronicling the Iraq war from 2004-2009. In November, WikiLeaks releases thousands of US diplomatic cables including candid views of foreign leaders and blunt assessments of security threats.

Nov 18, 2010 - A Swedish court orders Assange's arrest over rape allegations against him, which he denies, calling them part of a plot to discredit him and secure his eventual transfer to the United States to face trial. He is arrested in Britain in December on a Swedish warrant and freed on bail.

November 2011 - Britain's High Court rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden. Assange lodges an appeal against the decision but this is rejected in June 2012.

June 19, 2012 - Assange takes refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London and asks for political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, breaking conditions of his bail. Ecuador grants Assange asylum in August.

March 17, 2017 - US federal prosecutors expand a long-running grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks, which the Central Intelligence Agency director calls a "hostile intelligence service".

May 19, 2017 - Swedish prosecutors discontinue their investigation, saying it is impossible to proceed while Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy.

April 11, 2019 - A screaming Assange is carried out of the Ecuadorean Embassy and arrested by British police after Ecuador revokes his political asylum.

May 1 - Assange is sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a British court for skipping bail.

May 13 - Swedish prosecutors reopen the investigation and say they will seek Assange's extradition to Sweden.

June 3 - A Swedish court rejects a request from prosecutors for Assange to be detained in absentia, making it more difficult to have him extradited to Sweden.

June 11 - The US Justice Department formally asks Britain to extradite Assange to the United States to face charges that he conspired to hack US government computers and violated an espionage law.

Nov 19 - Swedish prosecutors drop the rape investigation for a second time, saying the evidence is not strong enough to bring charges against Assange. The decision is in part prompted by the passage of nine years since the alleged crime, reducing the value of witness accounts.

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