2011-01-11 Key Points from Provisional Skeleton Argument on Behalf of Mr. Assange

The extradition hearing in this case has been set for 7-8 February 2011.

The key arguments set out today in the PROVISIONAL SKELETON ARGUMENT ON BEHALF OF MR. ASSANGE presented to the media by defense counsel Mark Stephens are as follows:

(1) It is not accepted that the Swedish prosecutor is authorised to issue European Arrest Warrants (EAW). “The sole Issuing Judicial Authority [in Sweden] for the enforcement of a custodial sentence or other form of detention is the Swedish National Police Board”.

(2) European arrest warrants should only be issued for the purposes of prosecution, and it has been made very clear that Mr. Assange is wanted for further questioning.

Ms. Ny has repeatedly and publicly stated that she has sought an EAW in respect of Mr. Assange simply in order to facilitate his questioning and without having yet reached a decision as to whether or not to prosecute him.

Her statements can be considered as additional evidence because the European Arrest Warrant is itself equivocal:

The EAW is defective in respect of section 2 of the Act. It does not contain a clear indication that:

(3) The statement is one that—
(a) the person in respect of whom the Part 1 warrant is issued is
accused in the category 1 territory of the commission of an offence
specified in the warrant, and
(b) the Part 1 warrant is issued with a view to his arrest and extradition
to the category 1 territory for the purpose of being prosecuted for the
offence.


It leaves it entirely unclear as to whether the EAW is even a conviction EAW or an accusation EAW (assuming that it is one or the other, and not an interrogation EAW).

Nowhere in the EAW is Mr. Assange referred to as an “accused”.

2011-01-11 TVOntario: The Agenda: Livestream interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the Icelandic parliament and former WikiLeaks volunteer, in Toronto to speak at the first Samara/Massey journalism seminar, will be interviewed by Steve Paikin of Television Ontario's The Agenda at 2 p.m. EST today. The interview will be livestreamed and will be archived on the program's website.

From Samara:


Birgitta Jónsdóttir, now a member of Iceland’s Parliament, has led a movement in her country to take the most far-reaching steps towards advancing free speech, freedom of the press and transparency in government of any country in the world. This initiative, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) aims to bring together transparency laws from multiple jurisdictions to create the strongest media freedom laws in the world, with the goal of improving democracy and Iceland's standing in the international community.

In her talk, Birgitta Jónsdóttir will describe how and why she decided to help transform Iceland into the world’s safe haven for transparency, and what the impact has been to date, including her reflections on WikiLeaks’ ongoing revelations.

2011-01-11 Julian Assange's Hearing Summary

Tweeters were on site to report the unfolding events this morning as Julian Assange appeared in court for his bail hearing. He was granted bail and requested to stay at the Frontline Club on February 6 and 7, rather than at the Norfolk Mansion, so that he would not be required to wake up at 3am in order to arrive on time for his extradition hearing (to be held on February 7 and 8). The judge granted him permission to do this.

The defense must present its evidence for the extradition hearing by January 14.

To follow the live feed of events in the courtroom in future hearings, follow this Twitter feed.

Provisional Skeleton Argument on Behalf of Mr. Assange

Julian Assange & Conspiracy: A Bridge Too Far?

Common law conspiracy is an agreement by two or more to do an unlawful act, or to do a lawful act by unlawful means. The actus reus (guilty act) is the agreement itself. The mens rea (guilty mind) is the intention to carry out the unlawful act. Another way of putting it is that there must be a "meeting of the minds" to commit the unlawful act.

It does not matter that the conspiracy was not carried out, liability for common law conspiracy arises simply from the the agreement.

It goes almost without saying, that to avoid First Amendment protection of a hypothetical Espionage case (and I will leave those arguments to US constitutional lawyers), conspiracy appears to have a much greater prospect of success for the DOJ, provided evidence is forthcoming that can satisfy all the required elements of conspiracy.

2011-01-11 Plea for tolerance and humanity

On March 25, the glass panel door at Gabrielle Giffords’ office in Tucson was vandalized and destroyed, apparently in anger directed at her recent vote on healthcare. When asked whether she was afraid, she said no. Nor was she afraid, on that day, of Sarah Palin.

Are you afraid? Are you fearful today?

You know, I'm not... we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve got to realize that there’s consequences to that action.” (Source)


Sarah Palin is also well-known for the violent rhetoric she uses to expound her depiction of Democrats as ‘the enemy’. Her solution: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" (Source)

Reminiscent of the same variety of hate speech is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign against the energy tax:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.” (Source)

On March 24, 2009, Rep. Bachmann showed up outside the White House holding a shotgun. She called upon “thousands of loyal Americans to march here this morning, with whatever weapons they have on hand … anything that’s going to let the Washington Elite know that we are serious!” (Source)

2011-01-11 WikiLeaks Rallies This Week

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GLOBAL

Global: Media Blitz to support Wikileaks
Date and time: Tuesday, January 11 · 10:30h - 13:30h
Details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=120437981357342

Global: Wikileaks Flash Mob Event
Date and time: Wednesday, January 12 · 15:30h - 17:00h
Details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112718522134191

Global: Global Protest
Date and time: Saturday 15 January 2011, 18:00h
Details: http://freewikileaks.eu/en/protests/

Global: Anonymous in defense of WikiLeaks and freedom of expression
Date and time: Saturday 15 January 2011
Details: http://www.whyweprotest.net/en/
Event Information: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/forums/planning.283/

Global: Global WikiLeaks Support Rally
Date and time: Saturday 5 February 2011, 15:00h local time
Details: http://www.facebook.com/pages/WikiLeaks-Supporters-United-global-Support...

Global: Freedom of Information Rally
Date and time: Third Saturdays Every Month
Location: Earth, Everywhere
Details: http://www.whyweprotest.net/en/
Event Information: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/forums/planning.283/

2011-01-11 Press Release from WikiLeaks

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WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE
10 Jan 2011, 10:15 PM EST

“WikiLeaks: treat incitement seriously or expect more Gabrielle Giffords killing sprees.”

Wikileaks today offered sympathy and condolences to the victims of the Tucson shooting together with best wishes for the recovery of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, a democrat from Arizona's 8th district, was the target of a shooting spree at a Jan 8 political event in which six others were killed.

Tucson Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, leading the investigation into the Giffords shooting, said that "vitriolic rhetoric" intended to "inflame the public on a daily basis ... has [an] impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with." Dupnik also observed that officials and media personalities engaging in violent rhetoric "have to consider that they have some responsibility when incidents like this occur and may occur in the future."

WikiLeaks staff and contributors have also been the target of unprecedented violent rhetoric by US prominent media personalities, including Sarah Palin, who urged the US administration to “Hunt down the WikiLeaks chief like the Taliban”. Prominent US politician Mike Huckabee called for the execution of WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange on his Fox News program last November, and Fox News commentator Bob Beckel, referring to Assange, publicly called for people to "illegally shoot the son of a bitch." US radio personality Rush Limbaugh has called for pressure to "Give [Fox News President Roger] Ailes the order and [then] there is no Assange, I'll guarantee you, and there will be no fingerprints on it.", while the Washington Times columnist Jeffery T. Kuhner titled his column “Assassinate Assange” captioned with a picture Julian Assange overlayed with a gun site, blood spatters, and “WANTED DEAD or ALIVE” with the alive crossed out.

2011-01-11 Swiss whistleblower faces charges

Rudolf Elmer, founder of Swiss Whistleblower will appear in court on January 19. He was fired from Swiss bank Julius Bär in 2002, after which he sent documents to several media outlets and Wikileaks, exposing allegedly illegal activities by Julius Bär clients in the Cayman Islands. Wikileaks was briefly shut down by a US court following publication of these documents.

Unlike most whistleblowers, Elmer's identity was never a secret.

I wasn’t looking for anonymity. I signed the first whistle-blower letter to emphasise the credibility but also to show my civil disobedience. It is my conviction that my name is important. People then got in touch with me and I received additional information from other bank clients and further data.

2011-01-10 Croatian site joins other whistleblowers

A Croatian group announces its own whistleblowing site, making it time for another updated list.

While looking at this list, please consider the radically varying quality of the sites and the security. The Croatian one is actually found at http://wikileaks.hr/ and calls itself Wikileaks Croatia, without being in any way associated with Wikileaks. ScienceLeaks is asking people to upload material as comments to a blog.

Please don't take the appearance of a site on this list as any kind of a recommendation from WL Central. Buyer beware.

2011-01-10 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Le Monde: WikiLeaks dévoile aussi comment fut gérée la crise bancaire (WikiLeaks reveals as well how the banking crisis was handled)

A U.S. diplomatic cable in which figure Mervyn King, chairman of the Bank of England, Robert Kimmitt, then U.S. deputy treasury secretary, and Robert Tuttle, U.S. ambassador to Britain, has been released by WikiLeaks. It shows the players agreeing, March 17, 2008, on a diagnosis of the crisis, one that they admit ceased, from summer 2007, to be a liquidity crisis and that became instead a solvency crisis generalized within the banking sector. Although a view widely shared by commentators in the financial press at the time, it will reverse the diagnosis that these players have chosen to present to the public, a position from which they have never departed.

Cable

Read more (French)

2011-01-10 Fine Gael Claims To Have Been Hacked By Anonymous [Updates: 9]

In an odd turn of events, the Irish opposition party, Fine Gael, claims on its website that the site was hacked on the evening of January 9th by "a group calling itself the Anonymous group."

The statement goes on to link Anonymous to Wikileaks, in a move possibly betraying a lack of understanding of Anonymous. The statement follows.

From: Fine Gael Website

THE FINE GAEL WEBSITE WAS PROFESSIONALLY HACKED ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 9TH BY AN ENTITY CALLING THEMSELVES THE ANONYMOUS GROUP.

THE ANONYMOUS GROUP HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE WIKILEAKS INVESTIGATION AND ATTACKS ON COMPANIES SUCH AS VISA, MASTERCARD, AND AMAZON.

THE WEBSITE WILL BE OFFLINE WHILE WE FOLLOW-UP WITH THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES TO RESOLVE THE MATTER.

WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR FINE GAEL. IF YOU HAVE ANY FEEDBACK PLEASE TO SEND IT TO EMMA@FINEGAEL2011.COM

Why Fine Gael might have been targeted by Anonymous is as yet a mystery. Anonymous has reportedly been engaging in recent actions against government and private websites, but these actions are reported as having been DDOS attacks, which do not appropriately fall under the banner of "hacking." There is also little apparent reason in recent news why Anonymous would target an Irish political party.

A screengrab of the website is attached to this post.

Updates will be posted as they come.

Update 1
RTÉ News has posted a statement by Fine Gael elaborating on the above information.

2011-01-09 WikiLeaks in the media: Cablegate coverage

Politiken.DK: [Danish] government involved in double-dealing regarding CIA flights: documents reveal new aspects of the political manoeuvrings around illegal prisoner transports

The government, with former foreign minister Per Stig Møller in the lead, was involved in double-dealing in 2008, when it was forced to investigate whether the CIA had used Danish airspace for secret prisoner transports. While the government had to promise parliament to ask critical questions of the U.S. regarding the flights, both Per Stig Møller and the former prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen let their top officials say the opposite to the American ambassador in London: the government wants silence, not answers, hoping the story will die down.

Read more (Danish)

2011-01-10 Exclusive interview with Julian Assange (Paris Match), Mark K. Jensen (trans.)

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University

[Translated from Paris Match]
Exclusive

Link to Original Interview in French

In a long interview published in the Paris Match of Dec. 23-29, 2010, translated below in its entirety, Julian Assange said that whether he's extradited to the United States "depends on the American people: if they decide that it's not tolerable to extradite a journalist for espionage, then there will be no extradition."[1]


JULIAN ASSANGE: "I HAVE NO CHOICE. PUBLISH OR PERISH"
By David Le Bailly

2011-01-10 Weapons of Murdoch's Mass Deception: Time to Turn to Alternative Media

www.aljazeerah.info looks at the drawbacks to mainstream media and provides a list of recommended alternative websites and writers. "Twenty years ago several journalists expressed concern that the number of major news sources in America had diminished to 50." according to the article. "Today, conglomerates have bought up most of those news sources; and the number of major news sources has been reduced to six! These six control all the news reported in America and much of what gets reported in the UK and Europe."


The recently revealed story of New York Times reporter David Rohde is an apparently justifiable example of press censorship.

On 22 June 2009, when news came that Rohde had escaped from his Taliban captors, few knew he had even been kidnapped, because for the seven months he and two Afghan colleagues were in the Taliban's hands, the New York Times kept that information under wraps.

Kelly McBride, who teaches ethics to journalists, says she was "really astounded" by the media blackout. "It makes me wonder what else 40 international news organizations have agreed not to tell the public."

2011-01-09 Government Requests for Twitter Users' Personal Information Raise Serious Constitutional Concerns, Says ACLU

ACLU released a statement condemning the court order from the US government requiring Twitter to provide information about subscribers who are associated with Wikileaks. From Aden Fine, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Speech, Privacy and Technology Project:


"These government requests for detailed information about individuals' Internet communications raise serious First Amendment concerns and will have a chilling effect on people's willingness to engage in lawful communications over the Internet. There are serious doubts as to whether the government's interest in obtaining all of this private and constitutionally protected information is sufficiently compelling to outweigh the constitutional interests at stake.

"Twitter should be commended for moving to unseal the court order, but we are very troubled that the order was filed under seal in the first place. Except in truly extraordinary circumstances, Internet users should receive notice, and an opportunity to go to court to defend their constitutional rights, before their rights are compromised."

One of the people named in the order is US citizen Jacob Appelbaum who is flying back to the US today. According to his twitter, ACLU members will be meeting him at the airport.

2011-01-09 National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The US National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, released in a 39 page draft on June 25, 2010, is back. CBS News reports White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said on Friday that the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace will be released by Obama in the next few months.


Details about the "trusted identity" project are unusually scarce. Last year's announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential if I don't want to," he said. There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," he said.

EFF raised some concerns about the original draft. Since most criticisms of the draft focused on the overall concept, not the detail, it is not likely that they have been addressed.

2011-01-09 Birgitta Jónsdóttir Speaking at Canadian journalism seminar January 11

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who has recently been the subject of a US Department of Justice subpoena to Twitter for her online information, will be flying to Canada tomorrow. Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson has called the subpoena “very odd and grave.” Jónsdóttir herself says she wants clear answers on whether she can stay on as a member of the Foreign relations committee of Althingi and whether it is safe for her to travel abroad. “I don’t know if I can go to the US without risking that my phone or computer will be confiscated.”

She will be speaking about IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative) at the first Samara/Massey journalism seminar, of the year. IMMI brought to Iceland the most extensive free speech, freedom of the press and transparency laws of any country in the world, and Jónsdóttir was its chief parliamentary sponsor.

In a new study of the effectiveness of freedom of information laws in five parliamentary democracies, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada, Canada placed last.

2011-01-09 Coverage of January 8 Rallies for WikiLeaks

Video from BTV "With only three days until Julian Assange appears again in court, supporters of WikiLeaks have returned to the streets simultaneously in different Spanish cities. In Barcelona, thirty people have been concentrated in the Sant Jaume square to demand the release of the leader WikiLeaks." More video from Televisio De Catalunya

Avui: "We believe that governments and organizations are trying to silence this site, which is a symbol for freedom of expression and dissemination of what our rulers," proclaimed representative of Free WikiLeaks in Barcelona, David Molina. "Any attempt to end the activity of WikiLeaks is harmful to democracy and all citizens," he added.

More coverage from Agencia Catalana de Notícies, 3cat24.cat, Agencia Catalana de Notícies again, and directe.cat.

2011-01-09 DOJ subpoena applicable to anyone who viewed WikiLeaks tweets?

Previous Update

The issued subpoena ordered Twitter to provide information regarding any account either registered to or in any way associated with the following individuals or user names:

  • rop_g
  • ioerror
  • birgittaj
  • Julian Assange
  • Bradley Manning
  • Rop Gonggrijp
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir
  • WikiLeaks

The information to be supplied, however, pertains to both the sources and destinations of these accounts. This is to include

records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account, including the date, time, length, and method of connections, data transfer volume, user name, and source and destination Internet Protocol address(es).

[N]on-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses. (Source; original pdf subpoena)

Note that the requirement of turning over user names and "destination IP addresses" would range over any electronic device (like a phone or computer) receiving communications from the above named individuals. (To see the information revealed by your IP address, click here. )

As other sources have pointed out, the order implicates more than just the above named users and user accounts. The language seems to implicate every Twitter follower of each of the named accounts, which explains Wikileaks' announcement that "all 637,000 @wikileaks followers are a target".

In examining the language of the subpoena, this seems like a real possibility. "Communication" would seem to encompass the receipt of any tweet on Twitter, given that data transmission is involved. Hence the language is inclusive of any individual following the primary targets who receives Wikileaks tweets on their Twitter timeline, for instance. The same is true of any Twitter user receiving tweets from ioerror, rop_g, and so on.

Yet if we grant that all followers will be implicated by virtue of having received tweet data from the 7 primary targets, it seems the present language is also inclusive of anyone who has clicked on a link directing them to a tweet from any of the above accounts. If you did view one of these tweets at some point on or after November 1, 2009 (the cut-off date in stipulated in the subpoena) but were not signed in to Twitter, then even if you are not a registered user, it seems you too qualify as a "connection made to or from" the accounts. There is no stipulation that 'connections' must be from users who are following Wikileaks et al., or even that they must be from users who are signed in. If Twitter logs visitors, and it certainly does, then visitor data will be in these logs irrespective of whether they have a Twitter account.

How significant is this and what information about you will be visible if you fall under the range of affected parties? To get an idea, note that Twitter stores (or "may" store) the following data, according to the following excerpt from its privacy policy.

  • Location Information, including "exact coordinates"
  • Log Data created by your use of the Services. Log Data may include information such as your IP address, browser type, the referring domain, pages visited, and search terms. Other actions, such as interactions with advertisements, may also be included in Log Data.
  • Links: Twitter may keep track of how you interact with links in Tweets across our Services including third party clients.

While the data logged by Twitter are managed by Twitter, and while keeping your information private is a significant priority for any such large company hoping to stay in business, presumably, the same cannot be said of U.S. government entities. Even if there is no concern over how your data will be used by those entities, the likelihood that your information will remain private decreases significantly with every additional party possessing access to it.

Yet concern over the manner in which your information can be used may be legitimate. In tracking paths to and from Twitter, logs exist that document internet browsing tendencies, sites visited, timestamps, host name, search terms used and more. All this information can be easily accessed from any user not browsing through an anonymity tool like Tor and you don't need to be logged in to a site in order to disclose your data.

Although anyone can get this information from you when you visit their site, the concern here is over the manner in which the data will be used. Insofar as your information exists in the database that brought us the Terror Watch List, and insofar as you have been suspected of being the ally of a "high tech terrorist", trivial data have the potential of becoming legally relevant. And if the language of the court order is inclusive of all individuals ever having accessed a tweet from any of the targeted accounts (since 2009), then the number of people affected by the subpoena is much larger than the previous estimate of 600,000 Wikileaks followers.

Update: Open letter to Twitter and DOJ from Anonymous (anonymous.ru)

2011-01-09 U.S. DOJ access to information on Twitter followers

The official Wikileaks Twitter account has just tweeted the following official statement:

WARNING all 637,000 @wikileaks followers are a target of US gov subpoena against Twitter, under section 2. B http://is.gd/koZIA(Source)

Tweeters expressed outrage at the prospect of relinquishing their right to deny the U.S. government access to their IP addresses, banking details, connection records, email addresses or other private information. Talk of a class action law suit is already under way and a #ClassActionWL thread has been initiated. In most cases, anonymous Tweets are not considered official sources, but it seems an exception must be made in the present case, given that users are the very parties involved.

Users unfollowing the Wikileaks Twitter account at this time will not be exempt from the order, which seems to apply to users having received Wikileaks tweets in the past:

Too late to unfollow; trick used is to demand the lists, dates and IPs of all who received our twitter messages. (Source)

Update: Iceland blasts US demands for lawmaker's details in Wikileaks probe.

As reported today by the German news organization Deutsche Welle, the Icelandic government is taking the DOJ's request for personal information of one of their Parliament members seriously.

Icelandic politicians have blasted US demands for Twitter to hand over a member of parliament's account details. Birgitta Jonsdottir faces investigation as one of several people connected to the website WikiLeaks.

Icelandic Foreign Minister Oessur Skarphedinsson said it was not acceptable that US authorities had demanded the information.

Complete coverage from DW

Update: 2011-01-09: Another consequence of the DOJ subpoena

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