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WikiLeaks founder Assange the center of worldwide attention

Por Brett Michael Dykes.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may claim that he wants the public to focus on the revelations in each of his document dumps, but he can’t seem to avoid the spotlight.

The odd Australian Web activist has been doing interviews this week talking up the 250,000 State Department documents his organization released, and in the process, he’s made himself a bigger part of the story.

[Details: Police step up search for WikiLeaks founder]

In an interview with Forbes, for instance, Assange hinted that his next document dump would be a “megaleak” involving a major U.S. bank, which he claims will create fallout comparable to the emails that helped bring down the Houston-based energy brokerage Enron in the early aughts. A Forbes reader then alerted the magazine to a 2009 Computer World interview that seems to suggest that Bank of America may be the bank in Assange’s sights.

Then, after WikiLeaks’ massive dump of State Department cables spurred some pointed, if entirely predictable, criticism from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assange returned fire by calling for her resignation.

And yesterday, Interpol — a worldwide police organization — placed Assange on its most wanted list, though not for the controversial work of his website. Instead, the agents of Interpol issued a warrant on charges of rape and sexual harassment against Assange in his adopted home of Sweden — charges he has vehemently denied. The Interpol warrant strongly suggests that a number of the world’s governments want to stop Assange as he continues targeting the activities of Western states and financial operations.

[Related: 10 most surprising WikiLeaks revelations]

He’s currently believed to be in hiding in Britain, but he moves frequently, rarely staying in one place for more than a few days. It has been reported that an Ecuadorian official extended an offer of asylum to Assange earlier in the week, but the country’s president shot down any chance of that happening yesterday.

Meanwhile, Assange’s mother, who runs a puppet theater in Australia, confesses that she is worried about her son’s well-being. Telling the local press that she’s extremely “distressed” about the global manhunt for her son, Christine Assange has gone into hiding herself out of fears for her own safety.

[Related: Assange calls for Clinton resignation]

And Assange isn’t just getting negative attention from law enforcement. He’s also sparked the ire of Sarah Palin, who posted a long note on her Facebook page denouncing Assange, while also blaming President Obama for failing to block Assange’s activites.

Still, for all the controversy surrounding him, Assange can still lay one potential claim to fame: There’s a strong possibility he’ll be named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2010. Online voting by readers has Assange near the top, and the magazine announced this week that “Assange’s exploits have cemented him as a candidate.”

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