Assange Claims “Bitcoins & Wikileaks Helped Each Other”

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Julian Assange has described how bitcoin founder ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ asked him not to use the fledgling digital currency for WikiLeaks fundraising, and how going along with that request helped protect bitcoin from government scrutiny during its early days.

The revelations came in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session set up by the WikiLeaks founder to promote his new book, When Google Met WikiLeaks. Most of the Q&A revolved around WikiLeaks and politics, but the subject of bitcoin was raised on more than one occasion.

Assange said: “There’s lots on bitcoin in my book – on my thoughts on it, and on WikiLeaks’ history with it. [Google’s] Eric Schmidt and I conversed for a while about it, and I also included a lot of notes to expand on my views. It’s a fascinating and complex subject, so I can’t possibly go through all of it.”

Assange further explained that he started exploring the possibility of using bitcoin to raise funds in late 2010, after major payment processors started denying their services to WikiLeaks.

News on Bitcoins

That idea, however, proved controversial, since some bitcoin pioneers were concerned that it could provoke unwanted government interest in the new digital currency. On the other hand, some believed the media attention would make bitcoin more popular. An online discussion ensued on a bitcoin forum early in December of 2010.

In the book, Assange recalls Nakamoto’s pragmatic position on the matter: ‘Basically, bring it on,’ wrote one poster. ‘Satoshi Nakamoto,’ the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin, responded: “No, don’t ‘bring it on.’ The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.

Bitcoin Financial News

Assange said the WikiLeaks team looked into the matter and agreed with Nakamoto. Consequently deciding against accepting bitcoin donations at such an early date, giving the cryptocurrency more time to mature and establish itself as an alternative method of payment. WikiLeaks eventually opened up to bitcoin donations in June 2011.

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