“Julian has been silenced. He has had no voice for the last three years. He has been detained for 11 years. His freedom is sort of linked to this NFT in a way that we can tell the story of how he’s been censored, how he is not free. We are really putting the focus on that through the NFT. But, it’s also a chance for people to give to a good cause and receive something in return, like an NFT or artwork by this amazing creator, Pak.”
–Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s Brother
(Excerpt from his interview with Naomi Brockwell)
“Censored is a Collection by Pak and Assange and You.”
“If you don’t want to talk about it, don’t. We don’t mind. This collection is already Censored”
It’s the beginning of a new movement towards Decentralization. It’s a historic occasion to co-create the future. It’s a global outrage at the troubled system that wants to put the whole world on mute. Let’s walk through all that’s been happening lately in chronological order to better comprehend its significance and potential impact on each of us.
It all started when a mysterious NFT creator, Pak whose artworks are as cryptic as his persona, collaborated with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on his upcoming NFT Collection ‘Censored’. The auction for this collection will begin on February 7, 2 PM GMT.
As described by Pak, Censored consists of two generative interactive blockchain artworks.
- Clock (1/1) Edition
The first part is a single edition (1/1 NFT) titled ‘Clock’. This ‘Clock’ counts the total number of Assange’s days in Prison. The NFT is currently displaying ‘one thousand thirty two’ days.
As the NFT is dynamic and generative, it is programmed to constantly count the days until Assange is free. Pak referred to ‘Clock’ as a ‘mute timer’. He also dropped a heavy hint that “Clock is in charge of all tokens of the collection.” In the next section, we’ll explain this further.
This dynamic NFT blinks in a rhythmic heartbeat, which possibly, or say poetically is in sync with Julian’s heartbeat. The bidding for this piece will start at 1 ETH on censored.art, a site solely dedicated to the ‘Censored’ NFT Collection.
A newly formed decentralized autonomous organization AssangeDAO has raised funds to bid on ‘Clock’ NFT. It has raised 14600 ether (worth $46 million) till now and through this raised capital it seeks to win the auction.
Auction (1/1) proceeds will go to the Wau Holland Foundation to support Julian Assange’s defense. Certainly, there are possibilities that AssangeDAO may or may not win. We’ll discuss AssangeDAO and its mission in more detail in a moment. But first, Let’s quickly explain what the open edition holds for the NFT collectors and Julian’s Supporters.
- Censored (x/x) Edition
The second part of the NFT collection is ‘Censored,’ which is an open edition, meaning it will have unlimited NFTs. Don’t scratch your head yet, there is so much more to this. To start with, ‘Censored’ is a 48-hour open edition in which anyone can participate. In Pak’s words – “Everyone who wants one, gets one.”
People may acquire an edition out of (x/x) editions at any price they desire, even free. The ‘Censored’ is a revolutionary NFT creation designed for everyone who wants to be a part of this historical NFT Project.
To participate, you have to ‘tokenize a message’ that you want to broadcast in the community. It could be anything such as word, symbol, statement, purpose, hypothesis, idea, question, vision, belief, plan, clue, thought, feeling, scheme, basically anything. Tokenizing a message means minting an NFT which will display the message you have written. Interestingly, the text written would be struck through to represent the message has been ‘Censored’.
For example, Pak has already tokenized the first message that reads – ‘Pak was here’ as Censored #2. He minted this ‘message NFT’ in 100 ETH as his contribution to the good cause. Open Edition (x/x) proceeds will go to freedom of information, education, digital privacy, health, and animal rights organizations.
The NFT that you will mint as a message would be free of cost but you can contribute with any amount you desire. Pak also described these NFTs as “A collective piece by you”.
How is ‘Clock’ in charge of all tokens of the collection?
Pak’s NFTs are incomplete without a “twist.” So here it is: All the “message tokens” that you’ll mint are “Free-to-Claim” but not “free,” in the sense that you’ll not be able to transfer these tokens to anyone (any other wallet). That’s because all the minted messages are “Censored,” just like Assange has been all these years.
The ‘Clock’ is a ‘muted timer’ displaying the number of days Julian has been locked away. Once Julian Assange is out of jail, the ‘Clock’ goes zero, freeing all the tokens.
This translates to: once Assange is free and breathes the air of freedom, your wallet-locked tokens will then be free to transfer. That’s not all. All your struck through messages will be ‘Uncensored’ as well, and you won’t see that ugly thick black line over them. This is the absolute creative expression of freedom through NFTs. If this isn’t art, we don’t know what is!
Remember, only one message can be minted per wallet, which ought to be unique as well. The minting procedure will start at 2 p.m. GMT on February 7 and will last for 48 hours on censored.art. Don’t hesitate to participate, it’s beyond Julian Assange and NFTs. It’s about freedom, justice, and a system that denies its very existence.
“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
–John F. Kennedy
“If the medium is the message, and if the medium can be stretched, then how far can the message be stretched?”
Pak is the inventor of open edition which he previously used to refer to as ‘infinite editions’. He is the first to introduce the concept of a limited time period and unlimited editions. His recent open edition was ‘Merge’ NFTs, in which he sold 312,686 units of mass (In Merge, each mass represents an NFT) to 28,984 unique buyers on NIfty Gateway. The Merge sale lasted for 48 hours and gained $91.8 million.
With this massive sum, he secured first place in the list of top NFT artists in terms of sales volume in 2021. His other popular open editions are Project X, The Fungible, and LostPoets. The ‘Censored’ project is based on the same concept.
So far, we have discussed the NFT collection, its concept and how to participate in it. Let’s understand what is AssangeDAO, what is its role in the #FreeAssange movement, and how it will take part in the auction.
AssangeDAO is a collective of cypherpunks fighting for the liberation of Julian Assange. It is based on leveraging cutting-edge technology and decentralization of trust into something that is towards a common good.
The collective efforts are aimed to fight for the freedom of Julian Assange, who since April 2019 has been in Belmarsh maximum-security prison – considered as UK’s Guantanamo bay prison where the hardest terrorist and criminals are detained.
A month after being arrested, the Trump administration, which had already indicted Assange on one count of computer misuse, filed 17 new espionage charges against him. These charges carry a maximum of 175 years in an American prison.
The AssangeDAO became active on December 10th, 2021. On this date, the U.S. government won an appeal at the British High court over the extradition of Julian Assange. The ruling overturned an earlier decision of Britain’s court that barred Assange’s extradition to the US due to his deteriorating mental and physical health.
On January 24th, 2022, Julian was granted permission from the U.K. Supreme Court to appeal against his extradition order to the US. The ‘Censored’ NFT Collection drop date has particular significance for Assange as it is the deadline for his lawyers to plead the Supreme Court for reviewing the extradition case again.
Hence, following the footsteps of FreeRossDAO, AssangeDAO is seeking to free Assange from the legacy justice system and raise funds for the legal fees of Julian Assange.
The mission of AssangeDAO is to initiate a worldwide movement using NFTs as a fundraising tool to raise capital to bid in the upcoming NFT auction of the artwork ‘Clock’. It’s to be noted, as mentioned earlier, AssangeDAO with the outpouring support from the crypto community has raised a massive amount of 10000 ETH in order to bid for this single edition.
If the ‘Clock’ auction is won by the DAO, the contributors will be given the $JUSTICE (DAO’s governance token) equivalent to their ETH contributions. The people involved in the contribution will decide via governance (through voting) what to do with the NFTs and the future roadmap of the DAO.
In case AssangeDAO loses the auction for ‘Clock’, the contributors can claim their ETH back by swapping their $JUSTICE tokens but they will lose their DAO voting privileges. Such that, those who only participated because of the NFT can exit the DAO with all the contributions they made.
It must be mentioned that whether the DAO wins or loses the auction, the amount obtained through this auction will be utilized to help with Julian’s legal fees.
The bottom line is, AssangeDAO will eventually fulfill its purpose, which is to bring everyone together and increase public awareness on the systemic failure of the justice system. It’s the best example of decentralization with an incredible mechanism that seems to align incentives. If DAO wins, the people will walk out with a piece of art in their hand and a tribute to the free press for which Julian has sacrificed his own freedom.
“We, the cypherpunks, are rallying to the cause of a fellow cypherpunk in distress”
Julian Assange – An Original CypherPunk
Julian Assange established WikiLeaks in 2006, and between 2007 to 2010 he published many revelations such as Yemen Drone Strike, Corruption in the Arab World, Extra Judicial Executions by Kenyan Police, and many classified media and news leaks, protecting the anonymity of sources.
In 2010 soon after publishing the “Collateral Murder” video, Assange came into the global limelight and his legal saga began. In this videotape, WikiLeaks revealed the US aircrew shooting down Iraqi civilians.
According to the leaked documents, the US had underreported the number of civilians killed in the counter-insurgency. It has also been exposed that two Reuter journalists along with 12 unarmed civilians were shot dead. Reportedly, out of 1,09,000 deaths in the Iraq war, 66,081 were civilians, which is 80% more than the U.S. government had acknowledged.
WikiLeaks kept on publishing vast troves of highly classified documents such as Afghanistan War logs, Guantanamo Bay files, Syria files, among many other controversial leaks. This has heavily embarrassed the US government.
“I think Julian turned the lens of surveillance around back onto them. They know they have committed crimes that we have exposed. They have such a huge reaction because they are truly afraid of this technology that’s been developed. They are afraid of leaks. They are afraid of being surveilled. They are afraid of having their crimes exposed.”
–Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s Brother
(Excerpt from his interview with Naomi Brockwell)
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
-George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
WikiLeaks has always worked as a non-profit organization, funded by its readers and contributors. When all these leaks resurfaced, they created chaos across many governments globally. Consequently, in 2011, Visa, Mastercard, and Bank of America have all cut off donations to WikiLeaks. Additionally, PayPal and the banking arm of the Swiss postal service Post have both frozen WikiLeaks-associated Funds.
To counter the legal banking blockade, Wikileaks became one of the early adopters of Bitcoin as their operational currency. That was the first example of bitcoin being uncensorable. This incident further highlighted the need for such cryptocurrency that’s not controlled by the government. It really goes down in history as being the example of how WikiLeaks has reclaimed freedom there.
The other achievement for Assange was on 2nd Feb 2011 when WikiLeaks was nominated for the Nobel Prize. Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen described WikiLeaks as “one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency” in the 21st century.
Well, the sequence of good events didn’t last long. Regulatory attacks started popping up, which eventually led him to be confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. For 7 years from 2012, he stayed there until UK police on orders from the US government dragged him out in April 2019 for breaching his bail terms by seeking asylum. Arguably, his right to seek legal protection was violated when he was forcibly removed from the embassy owing to mounting political pressure from the US officials.
He was then arrested by British Police. Soon after the incident, he was convicted by a London court of skipping bail for which they sentenced him to 50 weeks in jail. He has been imprisoned since April 2019 and that’s what the ‘Clock’ NFT counts; the total number of days he has spent in Belmarsh prison.
This is what ‘Censored’ represents, to write down your message as NFTs, on a blockchain that can not alter, control and most importantly ‘Censor’ the message by any means. But one thing is for sure, it can certainly change “someone’s” life forever. Our combined efforts are put together to harness the true power of decentralization. This is the future!
It is the historic movement when the Web3 community, Assange’s supporters, Beacons of truth including journalists, publishers, and whistleblowers are coming together to not restore Julian’s freedom but freedom of speech and press itself.
In 1993, he helped Victoria Police in the hacking of the Child Exploitation unit to help them prosecute child pornography publishers and distributors. In 1998, Assange co-founded Earthmen Technology moderated Aucrypto forum and used it to provide computer security advice. In 2012, his book ‘Cypherpunks: Freedom and the future of the Internet’ was published. He later wrote to The Guardian saying – “Strong cryptography is a vital tool in fighting state oppression.” saying that was the message of the book CypherPunks.
Assange was an early crypto and free software developer having created the original rubberhouse encryption system, numerous UNIX tools, the forerunner to nmap, and contributed to several free software projects such as postgres.
“We represent a line in the sand where cypherpunks stand up for the original cypherpunk who helped make all this possible.”
Pak×Julian Assange: The best of Both Worlds
Pak is known for his experimental programmable NFT collections that are perceived as a portal to the world of intriguing possibilities. He has been creating art since 2012. In 2014, one of his earliest creations was Archillect, an AI that tries to forecast viral content on social media. He kept on developing, adapting, modifying, and expanding the project to reach a wider audience.
In the crypto space, he is recognized for innovating and pushing his artistic limits. His creations are beyond digital art. With his NFT mechanism, he leverages advanced smart contracts to give his art a universal meaning.
Though he keeps his identity hidden, the character and personality behind his name is no stranger to people. With his artworks, he has shifted the attention from artists to art itself. That’s where his purpose aligns with Julian Assange who introduced Wikileaks to aware people of the troublesome system, half-truths, hidden facts and a vast library of documents meant to be exposed!
We can conclude that the ‘Censored’ project is a collaboration between Pak, a professional cypherpunk, and Julian Assange, an original cypherpunk.
“The message is the medium.”
“One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice”
The Clock is Ticking! Remember, 7 February, 2 PM GMT on censored.art.