“DAOs, in a way, they are are a very powerful token-based coordination mechanism that any person now can wield outside of the legacy financial system,” said Silke Noa, core member of AssangeDAO, which recently raised $53 million in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
According to Noa, the fundraising campaign was “a huge success” that showed the power a decentralized autonomous organization can have in impacting political and social issues. The DAO mechanism allowed anyone willing to support Assange to make a donation in Ether (ETH) and become a member of the organization.
In exchange, AssangeDAO members received a proportional amount of its governance token, JUSTICE, which will allow them to vote on how the raised funds will be spent and on future initiatives aimed at supporting the cause of the whistleblower.
“It really sends a message, a political message, that there is some political cost to this persecution of Julian,” said Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, commenting on the successful campaign.
The money raised will be used to pay for Assange’s legal expenses and campaigning in favor of his release from the United Kingdom prison where he has been held for nearly three years.
Assange recently appealed a U.K. court’s decision that could have him extradited to the United States, where he may be convicted and receive a life sentence for publishing classified documents. Assange’s supporters see him as a champion of the free press.
“The most immediate result would be the U.K. approving Julian’s appeal and rejecting the extradition,” said Shipton. “The Holy Grail of all this is that the charges in the U.S. had dropped and those powers stopped pursuing Julian for publishing their secrets,” he added.
The AssangeDAO managed to raise the funds by bidding in a nonfungible token (NFT) auction called “Censored” by Assange and digital artist Pak. The NFT auction consisted of a one-of-one piece called “Clock” and an open piece where each participant could mint their own NFT. Those NFTs cannot be traded until Assange is freed.
“Now we have 30,000 collectors who have an interest in setting Julian free so they can trade their Julian and Pak ‘Censored’ NFT.”