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Julian Assange Of WikiLeaks Granted Bail; Swedish Prosecutors Appeal

by on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks

Moments ago, a British Court decision granted WikiLeaks’ leader Julian Assange bail, inciting loud and exuberant cheers from a mob beyond the courthouse doors.  The decision came with some strict conditions:  £200,000 (approximately $315,900 US) in security, £40,000 (approx. $63,180 US) in surety from two people, ‘a curfew, daily reporting to police, and a surrender of his passport’.

Swedish prosecutors were given two hours to appeal the decision, and the Guardian is reporting that they have in fact opted to do so.  As a result Assange heads back to his prison cell until the appeal is heard at the High Court.  Assange’s attorney, Mark Stevens, added that the £200,000 could not be paid by check (as checks take seven days to clear).  Therefore Assange was headed to jail regardless of the appeal, only so that he could find a way of producing the security in cash.  To date, a total of £1 million in sureties have been pledged to support Assange’s bail application.

Stevens had this to say about the Swedish appeal:

“They [the Swedish authorities] clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr Assange in jail.”

“This is really turning in to a show trial. We will be in court in the next 48 hours, they haven’t given us the courtesy to say when. It is an unfortunate state of affairs … but given their history of persecuting Mr Assange, it is perhaps not surprising.”

Sarah Ludford, the Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman, wrote a letter to the Guardian today asserting that Sweden is misusing the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) — using it for a fishing expedition — and thereby undermining the integrity of the EAW process.  She states that:

“the EAW is restricted to ‘the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution’, which must mean imminent charge followed by trial. If your reports are correct that the Swedish request for extradition of Assange under an EAW is ‘to face questioning’ or for ‘interview’, this would appear to conflict with the high court case of Asztaslos last February, which confirmed that it is not a legitimate purpose for an EAW to be used to conduct an investigation to see whether that person should be prosecuted.”

She goes on to say that for purposes of questioning — which is precisely the Swedish prosecutor’s stated reason for this EAW — national authorities should be using things like videoconferencing to conduct the interviews:

EU justice ministers last June called on national authorities not to misuse the EAW. Normal cross-border co-operation on collection of evidence or interrogation of suspects called “mutual legal assistance”, using for example videoconferencing or a summons for temporary transfer of a suspect, should be used when more appropriate.

Another of Assange’s attorneys, Jennifer Robinson, recently told DemocracyNow that before the EAWs were issued, Assange and his defense team had been rather aggressive about maintaining contact with the Swedish prosecutor.  They repeatedly offered Assange’s full cooperation to interview with her, and each offer was rejected:

It’s important to note that Mr. Assange remained in Sweden for almost a month, in order to clear his name. While he was in Sweden, after the allegations came out, he was in touch with the prosecuting authorities and offered on numerous occasions to provide an interview in order to clear his name. Those offers were not taken up by the police.

He obviously has had to travel for work, and had meetings to attend, and in order to leave Sweden he sought specific permission of the prosecutor to leave on the grounds that there was an outstanding investigation, and she gave that permission. So he left Sweden lawfully, and without objection by the prosecuting authorities.

Since that time we have communicated through his Swedish counsel, on numerous occasions, offers to provide answers to the questions that she may have through other means — through teleconference, through video link, by attending an embassy here in the UK to provide that information, and all those offers were rejected.

It’s also important to remember that the prosecutor has not once issued a formal summons for his interrogation. So all of these communications have been informally, and in our view it’s disproportionate to seek an arrest warrant when voluntary cooperation has been offered.

Clearly, by demanding his extradition for mere questioning, the Swedish prosecutors are abusing the integrity of the EAW process.  Considering they could have interviewed Assange at any given time leading up to the issuance of the EAWs, their entire motivation for the extradition request is called into question.

And shame on the UK for not rejecting the EAW on grounds that it is clearly being abused, according to its stated purpose.  This entire legal proceeding is a farce.

It would appear that Sweden and the UK are merely buying time until the U.S. can put together its own frivolous extradition request.

What The World Has Been Waiting For: Greater Transparency

by on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

WikiLeaksWikiLeaks has provided the people of the world with something they have sought since the existence of omnipotent empires: greater transparency.  The group has succeeded in creating a replicable model that utilizes encryption technologies and the world wide web to expose the inner-workings of the world’s most powerful governments and their corporate bedfellows.

In pulling the curtain aside on these highly-secretive, entrenched, and formidable power elites, WikiLeaks has revealed a world of lies, corruption, illegalities, cronyism, and a deliberate subversion of our judicial systems.  No less important, has been the revelation that our mainstream press acts more as a guardian for these entrenched power entities, than as an independent check on their power.

In retaliation to WikiLeaks’ publishing of these documents, the power entities have unleashed a whirlwind of slander, propaganda, frivolous arrest warrants, calls for assassination, unlawful reprisals, and corporate sabotage — all against this fledgling whistleblower group.

The world watches intently as this David and Goliath battle plays out before our very eyes, leaving us to wonder whether the end result will be a world with greater transparency, or one with greater authoritarianism.  For one thing is all but certain: transparency and authoritarianism cannot coexist.

The good news is that, despite its egregious efforts to smother WikiLeaks, the establishment has now discovered ‘copycat’ groups popping up around the world — all determined to carry WikiLeaks’ torch.

OpenLeaksDaniel Domscheit-Berg — WikiLeaks’ former second-in-command, behind Julian Assange — recently left the group to form OpenLeaks.  Believing WikiLeaks made some crucial strategic errors, the new group plans to promote transparency in a much different way.  For one, they plan on decentralizing the group’s power structure away from a single figurehead.  They believe this will help them to avoid some of the pitfalls WikiLeaks has endured in recent months.

For example, by making Julian Assange the face of WikiLeaks, the group has found itself in a rather vicarious predicament.  Seemingly frivolous charges of rape have been leveled against Assange, and used in a massive vilification effort against him.  This has helped — at least in part — to divert public attention away from the leaked documents themselves, and onto its accused leader.  WikiLeaks’ viability appears to be inextricably linked to the allegations against Julian Assange.

Another difference between OpenLeaks and WikiLeaks, is the former’s decision not to “publish or verify material; leaving that role to newspapers, ‘NGOs, labour unions and other interested entities’.”  Domscheit-Berg explains the logic behind this strategy:

… the decision to be a “conduit” rather than publisher was made because of the team’s experience at Wikileaks.

“That was another constraint we saw – if your website becomes too popular then you need a lot of resources to process submissions,” he said.

Basically, he intends to provide the technology — “supplying Anonymous online drop-boxes” — to organization and entities around the world (including newspapers), so that they themselves can independently “accept Anonymous submissions in the forms of documents or other information”.

Whistleblowers would anonymously submit their documents directly to the publishers and interested parties of their choice, while removing OpenLeaks entirely from the equation.

Other new whistleblower groups have also emerged from around the world — all intent on ensuring that the transparency movement remains alive and well:

  • BrusselLeaks, formed by former European Union officials and journalists, intends to focus on “obtaining and publishing leaked internal information about the backroom dealings and secrets of the E.U.”.
  • BalkanLeaks, set up by Bulgarian expatriate Atanas Chobanov — now based in Paris — states the group’s goal is the “[promotion of] transparency and [the fighting of] the nexus of organized crime and political corruption in the Balkan states”
  • IndoLeaks, an Indonesian-based WikiLeaks copycat, has “reportedly generated 50,000 downloads of the documents it published, from investigations into the murder of activist Munir Said Thalib to the disastrous Sidoarjo mudflow and a transcribed conversation between former presidents Suharto and Richard Nixon.”  It appears their site has been brought down due to technical problems or DDoS attacks.

So what’s to become of this new populist movement — hellbent on opening up governments and corporations?

It appears that the entrenched power interests have two options before them:

  1. They resign themselves to the fact they are living in a new interconnected world where transparency will continue to thrive.  With this choice, they will be forced to voluntarily curtail their egregious abuses of power, if only for the risk of exposure.
  2. They try and infringe on our 1st Amendment rights by tightening control over the internet and the free flow of information.  In addition, they aggressively target whistleblower groups, publishers, and journalists — and hold them accountable for publishing information provided to them by their whistleblower sources.  This would be tantamount to subjecting the U.S. to a degree of authoritarianism that many of us have never before experienced.

Those journalists who have reflexively jumped the government’s propaganda bandwagon in vilifying WikiLeaks should consider that their very efforts are in fact strengthening the government’s resolve in making a case for option two.

Watch: BBC Reports ‘Hacktivist’ Groups Moving From DDoS Attacks To Journalism

by on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

Here’s an interesting BBC World News America clip that documents how a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack actually works.  The news program then brings on Jeff Jarvis, author and Professor of Journalism at the City University of New York, and Tom Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archives.  They discuss WikiLeaks and the hacktivist groups that independently target corporations complicit in the US government’s attempts to sabotage WikiLeaks’ transparency efforts.

It is revealed that the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ has called on its thousands of members today to stop the DDoS attacks — believing it’s diverting the world’s focus away from WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cable revelations.  Instead the members are being asked to redirect their energies towards reading the WikiLeaks documents themselves, and writing stories about them online:


Watch: Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks To US Congress

by on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) — the self-pronounced Libertarian — takes the floor of Congress to defend whistleblower group WikiLeaks and its right to publish the information it has lawfully obtained. This really is a must-watch speech.  Paul calls out his fellow politicians for jumping the propaganda bandwagon and in doing so, jeopardizing America’s 1st Amendment […]

Watch: First Interview With Mastermind Of ‘Anonymous’ Hacker Group

by on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

RT just released an exclusive interview with the mastermind of the ‘Anonymous’ hacker group.  The group has for some time been conducting something of a cyber war using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against anti-piracy groups — including Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  They refer to their […]

Cyber Wars: ‘Anonymous’ Hacker Group Declares War On WikiLeaks’ Censorers

by on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

A hacker collective, identified as ‘Anonymous’, has declared war on WikiLeaks’ censorers.  The group has earned itself a reputation in the tech world for targeting the entertainment and software security industries who lobby for pro-Copyright (anti-piracy) laws. The controversial UK Digital Economy Act, passed June 8, 2010, which liberal critics claim is “too heavily weighted […]

US Government Threatens Employees and College Students On WikiLeaks

by on Friday, December 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow is reporting that the State Department has been warning University students about accessing or commenting on WikiLeaks documents.  They recently contacted Columbia University to pass on the following message to students who may hope to one day work for the government: From: Office of Career Services <[email protected]> Date: Tue, Nov 30, […]

MSNBC Pundits Push False Narrative On WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

by on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

On MSNBC’s Jansing & Co, host Chris Jansing, The Washington Post Editorial Page’s Jonathan Capehart, and former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari attempt to create a fictitious narrative for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.  They claim he’s anti-American, anti-Capitalist, and a hypocrite on his transparency agenda, seeing as how he’s ‘on the run’ from his own personal transparency.  They […]

Watch: WikiLeaks Debate: Glenn Greenwald VS WikiLeaks critic James Joyner

by on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, WikiLeaks, World

Here’s a great 20+ minute video debate on Al Jazeera between Salon blogger, Glenn Greenwald, Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi, and WikiLeaks critic James Joyner.  As always, Glenn completely obliterates the underlying rational of his adversary’s position.  Enjoy! WATCH: