AssangeDAO: A Cloud of Uncertainty Looms Over Fundraising Efforts

AssangeDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) formed in 2022 to support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has become embroiled in controversy. Analysts at SlowMist, a blockchain forensics firm, raised concerns about a potential “soft rug pull” after a series of suspicious transactions involving AssangeDAO’s funds.

On March 10, 2024, a 100 Ether (ETH) transaction, valued at roughly $330,700 at the time, originated from an AssangeDAO address and landed at another seemingly DAO-affiliated address. This internal transfer sparked worries about a “soft rug pull,” a scenario where an organization misappropriates funds raised for a specific cause.

SlowMist emphasized that the true intentions behind these transfers remain unclear. However, the lack of transparency surrounding these actions prompted them to urge investors to exercise caution and conduct thorough due diligence before interacting with AssangeDAO.

A Fight for Freedom and a Record-Breaking Fundraising Effort

AssangeDAO emerged in response to a UK high court ruling in 2021 that approved Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States. Assange, an Australian activist and journalist, is best known for founding WikiLeaks, a platform known for publishing classified information from anonymous sources. Facing potential charges related to the disclosure of classified US government documents, AssangeDAO was established by his supporters to advocate for his release.

The initiative garnered immense public support, raising over $53 million in cryptocurrency donations. This sum included a notable contribution from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. AssangeDAO planned to utilize these funds to acquire a unique non-fungible token (NFT) from a collection titled “Censored” by digital artist Pak, created in collaboration with Assange himself. Proceeds from the sale were intended to finance Assange’s legal defense and bolster public awareness campaigns opposing his extradition.

A Shadow Over Success: The Movement of Funds

AssangeDAO’s fundraising efforts surpassed the record previously held by ConstitutionDAO, another DAO that raised $49 million in late 2021 to acquire a first-edition copy of the US Constitution. However, a joint investigation by SlowMist and RescuETH revealed a concerning pattern. Their analysis showed that starting in 2022, AssangeDAO transferred a significant portion of its funds to various addresses, with some linked to cryptocurrency exchanges like Kraken and Coinbase.

Furthermore, the group sent over 1,000 Ether to unidentified smart contracts, which then distributed the funds to numerous other addresses. At the time of publication, AssangeDAO had not issued any public statements regarding these transactions.

Transparency: A Critical Pillar of DAOs

SlowMist analysts highlighted the importance of transparency in DAO operations. The recent transfers have ignited questions about the ultimate destination of the raised funds, eroding trust within the community.

Despite the controversy surrounding its finances, AssangeDAO did achieve some successes in its core mission. On November 8, 2023, the organization announced that 16 US Congress members signed a letter urging the Attorney General to dismiss the charges against Assange. Additionally, on March 26, 2024, a UK court granted Assange permission to appeal his extradition to the US.

The future of AssangeDAO and its role in Julian Assange’s legal battle remains uncertain. The organization must regain the trust of its supporters by providing clear explanations regarding the movement of funds. Only through transparency can AssangeDAO continue to effectively advocate for Assange’s freedom.