Who Is WikiLeaks' Founder Julian Assange?

Julian Assange on Interpol's Most-Wanted List
Wikileaks' Founder Julian Assange (CBS)
The fallout from WikiLeaks' posting of secret diplomatic cables continues as the state department has moved to stop the leaks by tightening access to its computer files.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports on Tuesday, the Wikileaks website was attacked by unknown hackers. WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, told Time magazine Sec. of State Hillary Clinton should resign if it's proved she ordered American diplomats to spy on U.N. officials.

As for Assange, he's in hiding. He's made plenty of enemies. Love him or loathe him, he provokes passionate debate.

Assange was born in Townsville, Australia, in 1971, raised by his mother and said to be fiercely intelligent.

He was homeschooled and a skilled computer hacker while still in his teens.

By 2007 he had founded WikiLeaks to expose bureaucratic secrets globally but it was in 2010 that he and the site rocketed to fame with a video posted online showing an attack on Iraqi insurgents that killed both journalists and civilians.

Assange stepped into the spotlight to defend the leak and the rumor mill went wild calling him a control freak who slept in a different place every night.

He was even named in a rape case in Sweden and added to Interpol's wanted list.

At a panel discussion in London, Palmer asked him how he liked the attention.

Elizabeth Palmer: "You have become the story almost despite yourself and I think that we'd all like to hear what you have to say about that."

Julian Assange: "So you want me to become even more part of the story?"

Palmer: "I do."

Assange: "Well, people say, don't you find all this attention on you annoying and very difficult? Well, yes it's annoying, yes it is very difficult."

If it's so difficult, what makes him tick? Colleagues say conviction.

"What comes across is a very firm, very firm belief that secrets are not often a good thing. And that society doesn't benefit from secrets," says Frontline Club founder Vaughn Smith.

This is a man with a mission to keep on leaking. Up next for WikiLeaks he says is thousands of documents from some of the world's biggest banks.

More on the Wikileaks Diplomatic Cables:

Wikileaks Sends U.S. Scrambling Over Security
Leaked Cables Reveal Locations of European Nukes
Hoekstra on WikiLeaks: "A Number of Time Bombs"
Outrage Over Wikileaks
The WikiLeaks Impact
WikiLeaks Releases State Dept. Documents
Key GOP Pol: WikiLeaks a Terrorist Group
Ahmadinejad Dismisses WikiLeaks Cable "Mischief"
U.S. Cables: Iran Armed Hezbollah Via Ambulances
Hoekstra: World's Trust in U.S. Now at Risk
U.S. Encouraged Diplomats to Spy, Leaks Show
Leaked Cables Shine Light on Iran Nuclear Threat
Worldwatch: Embarrassing Revelations Abound
Worldwatch: Diplomatic Shockers
White House Condemns WikiLeaks' Document Release
WikiLeaks Defies U.S., Releases Embassy Cables

Links to Leaked Cables:

Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels (NYT)
The US Embassy Cable (Guardian)
A Superpower's View of the World (Spiegel, in English)
Los papeles del Departamento de Estado (El Pais)
Wikileaks: Dans les coulisses de la diplomatie americaine (Le Monde)

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."