The secret life of Julian Assange

Atika Shubert, Ashley Fantz and Moni Basu, CNN

Julian Assange can be charming yet cagey about his private life and is rarely shaken by discussions of even the most controversial revelations on WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange can be charming yet cagey about his private life and is rarely shaken by discussions of even the most controversial revelations on WikiLeaks.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Assange’s mother buys him his first computer when he is 13
  • He becomes an expert hacker, keen on network security issues
  • Later he is driven by an activist’s conviction and a journalist’s curiosity
  • In 2006, he creates WikiLeaks, which posts leaked intelligence papers

(CNN) — He grew up constantly on the move, the son of parents who were in the theater business in Australia.

Now, Julian Assange, 39, finds himself on the move again, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes and wanted by officials around the world for his website WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of documents containing confidential information.

If he has succeeded in creating a public firewall of sorts around himself, it is perhaps because he learned as a child to cope with solitude and exposed his mind to the machinery that would overtake his life.

Assange has been described by his mother, Christine, as "highly intelligent."

He was just 13 when she bought him a Commodore 64 computer. It was 1987, and there were no Web sites. Assange attached a modem to his computer and began his journey through the growing world of computer networks.

"It’s like chess," he told New Yorker magazine. "Chess is very austere in that you don’t have many rules, there is no randomness and the problem is very hard."

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