In his teens, Assange gained a reputation as a sophisticated computer programmer. In 1995 he was arrested and pleaded guilty to hacking. He was fined, but avoided prison on condition he did not reoffend.
Photo illustration shows a figurine of Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, in Naples December 6, 2010. Assange's step father described him as a bright kid, with a strong sense of right and wrong, who always fought for the underdog.
Julian Assange at a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, November 4, 2010. He had five full-time staff, several dozen active volunteers and 800 part-time volunteers.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a news conference about the internet release of secret documents about the Iraq War, in London October 23, 2010. Assange is known for being highly secretive.
Julian Assange holds a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, November 4, 2010, the day before the United Nation's Human Rights Council examines the US human rights record in its universal periodic review programme. It has been reported that he carries several mobile phones and at one point believed he was being followed.
A screen shot of a web browser displaying the WikiLeaks website with a picture of its founder Julian Assange in Bern December 4, 2010. WikiLeaks moved its website address to the Swiss http://wikileaks.ch after two US Internet providers ditched it and Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting its database of leaked information. Assange says he has received hundreds of documents and does not have enough resources to go through all of them.
Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Australia, in July 1971, to parents who were involved in theatre and travelled frequently. Assange's mother runs a puppet theatre.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds up a copy of the Guardian newspaper during a press conference at the Frontline Club in central London, July 26, 2010. In his late 20s, Assange went to Melbourne University to study mathematics and physics.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks at a news conference at the Frontline Club in central London. Assange, already completely grey-haired at a young age, has no permanent home and is often seen carrying a rucksack, moving from city to city and staying with friends in countries from Iceland to Kenya.
Julian Assange at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, November 4, 2010. Assange began WikiLeaks in 2006, creating a web-based "dead letter drop" for would-be leakers.
A screen shot of a web browser shows the WikiLeaks home page with a portrait of its founder Julian Assange in Lavigny, December 4, 2010. Assange says that WikiLeaks has never compromised a source.
A wanted page for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the Interpol Internet website taken December 7, 2010. Brett Assange, the step father of Julian Assange, helped raise the WikiLeaks founder from the age of one.
Claes Borgstrom, lawyer for the two Swedish women making sex crime accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, talks to the media at his office in Stockholm. The women are not involved in any politically motivated plot against Assange, Borgstrom said.
Assange is an avid user of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and is known for his sometimes sharply worded tweets. WikiLeaks' pages have some 300,000 to 400,000 followers.
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, poses for members of the media outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London where Assange's case was heard. Assange was jailed after the WikiLeaks founder told a London court he would fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden, where he faces a sex-crimes investigation.
A screen shot of a web browser shows the wikileaks.ch home page with a portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange next to the out of service wikileaks.com domain, in Lavigny December 4, 2010. Assange says he thinks there is still a place for investigative journalism and hopes that WikiLeaks can complement traditional media.
A wanted page for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on a screen shot of the Interpol Internet website taken December 7, 2010. Assange handed himself in to British police on Tuesday after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest over allegations of sex crimes, London's Metropolitan Police said.
Photographers hold cameras to the windows of a prison van believed to be carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as it leaves Westminster Magistrates court, in central London December 7, 2010. Assange was refused bail by a British court after he was arrested over allegations of sex crimes in Sweden.
A protestor holds a banner in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during a flash mob demonstration, organised through the internet, in front of the British Embassy in Sofia. The sexual misconduct case against the WikiLeaks founder is a personal matter and not connected with his work releasing secret US diplomatic cables, a Swedish prosecutor said.
MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this illustrative photograph taken in Hong Kong. Credit card giants MasterCard and Visa came under intense cyber attack as supporters of WikiLeaks retaliated for moves against Julian Assange after the release of US diplomatic cables that angered and embarrassed Washington.
An artist impression by courts artist Elizabeth Cook of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's appearance at Westminster.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a news conference about the internet release of secret documents about the Iraq War, in London October 23, 2010. Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified US files on the Iraq war, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the US military knew about but did not seem to investigate. Assange is described by those he has worked with as highly intelligent, determined, intense and at times paranoid.