WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was arrested in broad daylight yesterday after the Ecuadorian government revoked the asylum it gave the Australian national. Assange was arrested after UK’s Scotland Yard was invited into the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in what WikiLeaks claimed to be a “gross violation of international and customary law”. However, Assange is also in the news for other, more speculative reasons, after two YouTubers alleged that he orchestrated a move that contributed to a significant drop in BTC prices.
The arrest comes after WikiLeaks reported that Ecuador was spying on Assange’s medical and legal visits, while also stealing his legal notes in court, in cooperation with the United States. WikiLeaks also claimed that the Ecuadorian government was trying to extort 3 million Euros from Assange.
In what could be the conspiracy theory of the day, two YouTubers, That Martini Guy and Mr_Kristof, alleged that the Founder of WikiLeaks orchestrated the cryptocurrency’s price fall yesterday after he liquidated over 4K BTCs worth $20 million through cryptocurrency exchanges. These BTCs were previously stored in WikiLeaks’ official Bitcoin wallet and were emptied out gradually, with the last withdrawal happening on March 11.
The YouTubers allege that Ecuador revoked Assange’s political asylum and got him arrested after its government found out that Assange was moving Bitcoin out of the aforementioned wallet, which was supposed to be the spoils of the alleged extortion scheme. They further claimed that Julian Assange was liquidating his Bitcoin assets through cryptocurrency exchanges, as a contingency against his arrest. The fiat currency so received would then be used for Assange’s legal fees, they claimed.
The two further alleged that WikiLeaks and Assange “intentionally inflated the market and played the long game by using leverage trading.” Using trading charts and timestamps of Assange’s arrest, the two further claimed that Bitcoin’s price drop yesterday coincided with Assange’s arrest. However, the two disagreed on the question of why Assange was doing what he was doing.
On one hand, That Martini Hat claimed that Assange “pressed the panic button” and liquidated blocks of Bitcoin assets, pulling the price of the cryptocurrency down. On the other hand, Mr_Kristof claimed that Assange wasn’t selling, but was instead leverage shorting and market buying his assets at market price. Bitcoin’s series of significant dumps yesterday was Assange market buying in smaller chunks. This was the “exit dump for Julian’s short,” Mr_Kristof claimed.
Mr_Kristof also traced the addresses to which transfers were made from the aforementioned WikiLeaks wallet and the new BIP-49 donation addresses. He found that the fact that several of these transfers were made to crypto exchanges allowing leverage trading, like Bitfinex, further substantiated his theory.
As interesting as these theories and speculations may be, it is too soon to correctly discern whether there is any truth to what these YouTubers claim. In fact, it is very likely that there is a very simple explanation behind the fall in Bitcoin prices: Market correction forces, in which case, the timing of Assange’s arrest may have been merely coincidental.
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Jibin M George is a graduate in International Relations and Law with a growing interest in the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology