Newsroom Panama reports the Secretary General of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PDR) is calling for the removal Salomon Shama, the country's Minister of Tourism, because of revelations in cable released by Wikileaks, wherein the US Ambassador Barbara Stephenson voiced suspicion Shama had "suspected links with drug traffickers." [Source]
Panama’s main opposition party has called for the removal from office of the head of the country’s tourism authority following Wikileaks revelations that the former U.S. Ambassador suspected links to drug traffickers.
The mood on the day was convivial, despite the heavy police presence and the memory of the December 14th's rally looming large, which saw some clashes between protesters and police as a result of the NSW police's refusal to issue a demonstration permit.
The thousand-strong crowd began their march from Town Hall, stopping by the headquarters of the U.S Consulate General at the MLC Centre for some civilized but impassioned shouting, before descending upon Hyde Park.
Speakers at the event included David Shoebridge, the NSW Greens MP; Wendy Bacon, Director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism; Marcus Strom, reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald and member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance; and Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist.
Unfortunately I didn't take notes of the speeches as I was too busy taking pictures, but some of my recollections are as follows:
Bacon spoke of the need to place increased and continual emphasis on the contents of the cable leaks. Although the legal quandaries of Assange and Manning are of serious and global importance, she said , we should not let our focus slip from the scrutiny of those in power that Cablgegate allow us.
Antony Loewenstein pointed out that the hounding and prosecution of whistleblowers in the United States and Australia has increased exponentially during the Obama and Rudd administrations. Loewenstein also remarked on the hostile reaction to Wikileaks from traditional media quarters, noting that many in established media roles see themselves as 'players' and merely cosy up to power when they could be preventing unjust wars from gaining support instead.
The next rally is scheduled for 1pm Sunday February 6th, at Town Hall. Please see our Global Rallies page for upcoming event details.
Arab leaders are demonstrably nervous as protests continue throughout the Arab world, fueled by hope that other countries can follow Tunisia's example for change. Some are responding proactively to the protests, attempting to appease, rather than quell the unrest.
Nearly one thousand demonstrators rallied outside parliament in Jordan today. Food prices in Jordan have dropped 5% in the 24 hours since Ben Ali fled Tunisia, possibly in response to a government order. Demonstrations in Jordan also brought about the reversal of what had been the ninth increase in fuel prices since 1989.
Syria has announced 12 billion Syrian pounds (US$250 million) for a fund to help the most needy families in Syria.
Around 11.4 percent of the total population of 22 million people, ie around 2.2 million people can not meet their basic needs, according to a report issued by the United Nations Development Programme.
Algeria, rushed through a $225 million package of price cuts last week on types of fuel and goods at government run stores.
Meanwhile, on facebook and in street protests throughout the Arab world, protesters continue to wave the Tunisian flag.
Algerian man Mohsen Bouterfif died on Saturday. He had doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire on Thursday after a meeting with the mayor of the small city of Boukhadra who was unable to provide him a job and a house, according to El Khabar news. His death has been followed by protests in Boukhadra and reportedly, the firing of the mayor.
Several Algerian towns, including the capital Algiers, have experienced riots in recent weeks over unemployment and a sharp rise in the prices of food staples.
Official sources say two people have been killed and scores were injured during the unrest, which unfolded in parallel to street violence in Tunisia and demonstrations over high food prices in other North African and Middle Eastern countries.
To calm the protests, Algeria has cut the cost of sugar and cooking oil.
Al Jazeera reports from Cairo, Egypt, where some are hoping to follow Tunisia's example and have an uprising of their own. "Down with corruption, Down with autocracy, Down with dictators!" they chant.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit downplayed any risk of a Tunisian style uprising in Egypt.
"The talk about the spread of what happened in Tunisia to other countries is nonsense. Each society has its own circumstances," Abul Gheit told reporters in Sharm el-Sheikh.
EA World View is reporting protests in Darna on the northeast coast of Libya, in Beida, the third-largest city, and at the Press Syndicate in Cairo, supporting the rising in Tunisia and calling for a change in Egypt's politics: "Revolution, revolution until victory, revolution in Tunisia, and revolution in Egypt!"
More news is appearing under the hashtag #Libya including the following:
Setting up death threats against Julian Assange in the form of a domain name is the new fad. Just don't try setting up "killobama.org" or "murderthepresident.com". The site http://vivantleakers.org/ is devoted to tracking these explicit threat domain names. At the moment it lists 6 domains of the "kill Assange" variety.
Here's a summary of coverage:
From the above HuffPo item:
Go Daddy, the site which registered both killjulianassange.com and julianassangemustdie.com said there is nothing that can be done about either site while they are contentless. Go Daddy registers a domain name every .8 seconds -- any domain name can be registered and there is no human intervention.
Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, newly crowned Miss America, was asked her opinion of WikiLeaks in the final stages of the competition last night.
You know when it came to that situation it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation we have to focus on security first, and then people's right to know. Because it's so important that everyone in our borders is safe, and so we can't let things like that happen and they must be handled properly... and I think that was the case.
The Times Live reports that a probe team has been appointed by Zimbabwe's attorney general to determine whether any of the leaked diplomatic cables are in breach of Zimbabwe's security laws.
"I am seeking a professional legal opinion from registered lawyers to see whether there is need to prosecute anyone following revelations by the Wikileaks website," Johannes Tomana, the attorney general told the state-run Sunday Mail.
"People should understand that this is a serious matter...after their recommendations, I will then decide whether there is need to open a docket against anyone.
"This is not a commission of inquiry, but a panel of experts whose recommendations will inform whether to prosecute anyone or not."
Tomana was quoted over the holidays as stating that
[T]he WikiLeaks appear to show a treasonous collusion between local Zimbabweans and the aggressive international world, particularly the United States. With immediate effect, I am going to instruct a team of practising lawyers to look into the issues that arise from the WikiLeaks.
However, he denied having made the statement and insisted that appointing an investigative team was beyond his power:
If you look at the scenarios around the appointment of commissions, it must be of national importance and it is only the president who can appoint a commission. I do not know where all this is coming from"
Global rallies were held on Saturday, January 15, for Freedom of Information and in support of Wikileaks. Here are some of the protests that were held yesterday, primarily organized by Anonymous and Free Wikileaks (Europe).
Istanbul, Turkey:Wonderful video of Anonymous in Istanbul.
Sydney, Australia: More than a thousand in attendance. Here are some Photos. In addition, there is a video of the Pirate Party's own Rodney Serkowski speaking: Video. (Stick around for the written message from Phillip Adams--you won't regret it!)
Our own JLo, who was on the scene, has now covered the Sydney protest, and provided a gallery of photographs from the event.
Vancouver, Canada: The number of protesters was much lower than in Sydney, but rest assured that their passion made up for their numbers. Read about it!
Seattle, U.S.A.: Several protesters show up in the rain: (Video) Now that's dedication! Thank you Washington!
San Francisco, U.S.A.: "A Media Intervention for Wikileaks" (Video). Very powerful: "We have never been more empowered to fight back than we are right now." Thank you San Francisco!
Rudolf Elmer, the founder of Swiss Whistleblower who we wrote about here is in the news again. He will return to Switzerland to appear in court on January 19, where he will face charges of stealing banking information. Two days earlier he will be at the Frontline Club in London to present Wikileaks with CD's containing the offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations.
Elmer told the Observer that the details on the CD's will include information on business people, approximately 40 politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates, from US, Britain, Germany, Austria, Asia, and all over.
Elmer, says he is releasing the information "in order to educate society". He is concerned about the wealthy individuals and multinationals who use banking secrecy to hide possibly criminal activities such as tax evasion.
"What I am objecting to is not one particular bank, but a system of structures, I have worked for major banks other than Julius Baer, and the one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes, and other things such as money-laundering – although these cases involve tax evasion."
"I agree with privacy in banking for the person in the street, and legitimate activity, but in these instances privacy is being abused so that big people can get big banking organisations to service them. The normal, hard-working taxpayer is being abused also.
The US state cables have been credited with enormous importance in the Tunisian revolution. Preserved for the Tunisians by organizations such as Tunileaks and other online media, they may have provided the spark to an already very volatile situation. In any case, they enhance our understanding of the situation, as understood by the US embassy. Arguably the most interesting of the cables may be 09TUNIS492#1 which describes the US ambassador's belief that the US cannot make the progress they wish to in the country while Ben Ali is president and outlines the embassy's policy of using social media to communicate with the people in the country.
In 2006 and 2007 we see cables where France is accusing Tunisia of not cooperating on "counter-terrorism".
"We want all the information to be above the table so the press is not restricted and the truth is reflected in the history books. These principles, are in essence, our philosophy." -Julian Assange (translated)
Today, the Dutch news organization NOS.nl posted a segment of their interview with Julian Assange. In this brief segment, Mr. Assange elaborates on the philosophy behind the release of several cables concerning Afghanistan troop deployment from the Netherlands. According to the website, the full interview will be posted later today, at which time we will provide an update.
Interview with Julian Assange. (Full Interview)
The full article can be found here.
Le Monde: Corruption en Tunisie, "ce qui est à vous est à moi" (Corruption in Tunisia, "What is yours is mine")
"Le Monde publie exceptionnellement une traduction en français d'un télégramme diplomatique américain dévoilé par WikiLeaks et décrivant la corruption au plus haut niveau du régime du président Ben Ali. (Le Monde publishes exceptionally a French translation of an American diplomatic cable unveiled by Wikileaks, which describes the corruption at the highest level of President Ben Ali's regime.)"
A US court decision appears to draw a line between advocacy and journalism that could have dangerous consequences for other publishers and artists.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Joe Berlinger, a filmmaker who was ordered to hand over footage from his 2009 documentary “Crude” to the Chevron Corporation, cannot invoke a journalist’s privilege in refusing to do so because his work does not constitute an act of independent reporting. ...
In a decision issued on Thursday concerning Mr. Berlinger’s contention that he was protected as a journalist from being compelled to share his materials, the Second Circuit judges said they did not find the argument, which his lawyers presented to the court in July, to be persuasive.
“Given all the circumstances of the making of the film,” the judges wrote, “as reasonably found by the district court, particularly the fact that Berlinger’s making of the film was solicited by the plaintiffs in the Lago Agrio litigation for the purpose of telling their story, and that changes to the film were made at their instance, Berlinger failed to carry his burden of showing that he collected information for the purpose of independent reporting and commentary.”
Via @jeffjarvis on Twitter
We are indebted to Julian Assange who apparently instructed his counsel to make available the "Skeleton Argument" for the extradition hearing proper.
It was expected, per my previous post Extradition Part 3 that the issue of extradition (and arrest) for the purposes of investigation only, would be a highly significant issue for the extradition arguments, and so it was.
One part of that document however that shocked me, that I have discussed with colleagues (likewise shocked) was paragraph 88, the legal implications of which I was unaware. It now seems that some (or indeed all?) of the prospective charges of a sexual nature in Sweden do not have as a required element that the prosecution must prove (for a conviction to be sustained) the element of mens rea, the "guilty mind" otherwise known as the fault element.
Today marked the end of a 23 year rule by Tunisian president Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia after police in the country killed at least 23 protesters. “What happened here is going to affect the whole Arab world,” said protester Zied Mhirsi. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced his intention to serve as interim president, and protesters immediately refused to have him.
Fadhel Bel Taher, whose brother was one of dozens of people killed in protests, said: "Tomorrow we will be back on the streets, in Martyrs Square, to continue this civil disobedience until... the regime is gone.
"The street has spoken."
Much ink has been spilled in the last 24 hours over the insurance file Julian Assange alluded to in his interview with John Pilger of New Statesman. In the event that something should happen to WikiLeaks or Assange himself, insurance files will be released which contain "504 files on one broadcasting organisation." There are also "cables on Murdoch and News Corp," Assange tells us.
Interesting possibilities for the scope of the leaks are vast and include technology, politics and the media. Each in turn.
News of the Wikileaks files comes at what might be an inconvenient time for Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp., who is in the midst of launching his "new baby" in conjunction with Apple founder Steve Jobs. The baby is apparently worth $300M to Murdoch and comes in the form of an iPad-only publication called "The Daily" (Source).
News Corp. has also ventured into the domain of online education technology. In November 2010,
In response to Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, who had demanded that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange be placed on a blacklist maintained by the US Treasury Department, a department representative said today, "We do not have evidence at this time as to Julian Assange or Wikileaks meeting criteria under which [Treasury] may designate persons and place them on the [sanctions list]."
Last Monday at 16.30, I was on the internet, trying to help some people find their way around London to be able to go to Belmarsh court. And then it suddenly dawned on me that, after having followed Wikileaks intensely over the last couple of weeks, it would be a good thing to go as well. This is a short account of my experiences - together with practical ideas about the next court-hearing on the 7th and 8th of February.
How to get there:
Travel to Bank-underground station
Take the "light rail train" to Woolwich-Arsenal from there
A short walk away from the trainstation is a busstop - take bus 244/380
The journey took me 1 1/2 hour.
I had mailed the court in advance firstname.lastname@example.org to ask if there was anything I should be aware of. And this was their reply:
Please see link, the hearing is at 10am, there will be a public gallery, but please get there early. http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/HMCSCourtFinder/SearchLinked.do?court...
So I did - I planned to be there at 8.00 and the whole place was already full of press, vehicles, cameras etc. They were all huddled up behind some type of railing & I was told to go to the front-door of the court and start a queue there. Before I did I had a bit of a chat with whoever was interested. The most intriguing conversation was with a journalist from Expressen: the Swedish paper that broke the news on the rape charges. I said to her that they would know who would have told them the news (see this link http://radsoft.net/news/20101202,00.shtml I don't like the tone of the article, but I love the logic!) & she was like "but we keep our sources confidential". And I was like - "but you must know the full story, would a rape victim have gone to you to advertise??" Funniest was that another journalist joined me and she became more and more agitated.