Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse, But....

IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE, BUT…

A fundamental maxim of western criminal justice systems is that a citizen cannot say “I am excused because I didn’t know the law”.

And that is an interesting concept which has a counter maxim which I’ll get to, in the context of a false analogy which has arisen on the web related to the Swedish prosecution of Julian Assange, which needs addressing:

http://bigthink.com/ideas/25314

"There seems to be a double standard in terms who counts as a “good victim.” Suppose your investment adviser isn’t paying out returns as promised. You don’t want to press charges, you just want your money. So, you go to the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor hears you out, and she says, “You got mixed up in a Ponzi scheme. That’s fraud. Do you want to press charges?”

Up to this point, you just wanted help to get what’s yours, but now an expert has re-framed your experience in legal terms. Is anyone going to argue that you weren’t really defrauded because you didn’t realize you were a victim until someone explained your rights?"

That is a horrible analogy to time delays in making a complaint of sexual assault.

2010-12-11 [Reminder] Personal Democracy Forum: WikiLeaks symposium today

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As previously announced, the Personal Democracy Forum will be hosting an event titled "A Symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet Freedom" today from 10am - 2pm ET in New York City.

You can tune in live to the event via http://personaldemocracy.com/pdfleakslive

The discussion will feature Emily Bell, Esther Dyson, Charles Ferguson, Jeff Jarvis, Arianna Huffington, Gideon Lichfield Rebecca McKinnon, Marc Pesce, Jay Rosen, Carne Ross, Micah L Sifry, Dave Winer and more.

2010-12-11 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Der Spiegel: Copenhagen Climate Cables: The US and China Joined Forces Against Europe

"Last year's climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world's top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement.[...]

The cooperation began under the last US president, George W. Bush. In 2007 Bush's senior climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, organized a 10-year framework agreement with China on cooperation on energy and the environment. The two countries also agreed to hold a "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" -- backroom talks that neither the Americans nor the Chinese were willing to admit to at first.

Bush's successor, President Barack Obama, and the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, continued this dialogue. During Clinton's inaugural visit to China, Beijing agreed to the formation of a "new partnership on energy and climate change," according to a US embassy dispatch dated May 15, 2009. Here too the aim was to ensure the outcome of the climate talks in Copenhagen would be favorable to Washington and Beijing."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

"The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating the clerical abuse of children and was angered when they were summoned from Rome, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks reveal.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy "offended many in the Vatican" who felt that the Irish government had "failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations", a cable says."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU

"The pope is responsible for the Vatican's growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU, previously secret cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome claim.

In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, spoke out against letting a Muslim state join, although at the time the Vatican was formally neutral on the question.

The Vatican's acting foreign minister, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, responded by telling US diplomats that Ratzinger's comments were his own rather than the official Vatican position.

The cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Ratzinger was the leading voice behind the Holy See's unsuccessful drive to secure a reference to Europe's 'Christian roots' in the EU constitution. The US diplomat noted that Ratzinger 'clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe's Christian foundations'."
Read more

Le Monde: Wikileaks : les Américains se demandent où se trouve le cœur du pouvoir en Algérie (Americans ask who holds real power in Algeria)

"Qui détient le pouvoir en Algérie? Les militaires ou les civils? Une poignée de généraux qui ont la haute main sur l'armée et les services de renseignements ou le président de la République élu au suffrage universel, Abdelaziz Bouteflika?

La question continue à diviser les chancelleries étrangères tant le cœur du pouvoir à Alger est impénétrable depuis des décennies. Pour le chef de l'Etat algérien, la réponse est évidente : l'armée algérienne respecte "absolument" l'autorité d'un président qui est un civil et non un militaire. "Ça n'est pas du tout comme en Turquie", assure-t-il lors de sa première entrevue avec le général William Ward, le chef de l'Africom, la structure de commandement américaine pour l'Afrique, en novembre 2009."
Read more

The New York Times: China Resisted U.S. Pressure on Rights of Nobel Winner

"It was just before Christmas 2009, and Ding Xiaowen was not happy. The United States ambassador had just written China’s foreign minister expressing concern for Liu Xiaobo, the Beijing intellectual imprisoned a year earlier for drafting a pro-democracy manifesto. Now Mr. Ding, a deputy in the ministry’s American section, was reading the riot act to an American attaché.

Mr. Ding said he would try to avoid “becoming emotional,” according to a readout on the meeting that was among thousands of leaked State Department cables released this month. Then he said that a “strongly dissatisfied” China firmly opposed the views of the American ambassador, Jon Huntsman, and that Washington must “cease using human rights as an excuse to ‘meddle’ in China’s internal affairs.”"
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout'

"The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996."
Read more

Der Spiegel: 'No and No Again': The Rocky US Relationship with Little Austria

"Austria may be small, but according to US Embassy dispatches from Vienna, the country causes big headaches in Washington. Not only are Austrian leaders seen as disconnected from international affairs, the country's neutrality means it is willing to do business with America's enemies.

The tone used by the US envoys in their reports to Washington ranges from resigned to openly hostile. Is it possible, they ask in bewilderment, for a tiny Alpine republic only half the size of the US state of Washington to ignore the primary objectives of American foreign policy? It would seem that it is."
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El Pais: EE UU considera Cataluña el "mayor centro mediterráneo del yihadismo" (The US considers Catalonia the "biggest mediterranean center for jihadism")

"La Embajada de EE UU en Madrid cree que Cataluña es el punto más caliente del islamismo radical en España , un escenario que debe vigilar y controlar como puente hacia el Mediterráneo. La fuerte implantación de la comunidad paquistaní y marroquí en Barcelona y la efervescente actividad de islamistas en localidades como Tarragona, Hospitalet, Badalona y Reus preocupan a los servicios de inteligencia estadounidenses que han convertido a esa comunidad en su primer objetivo de investigación. Los documentos secretos del departamento de Estado definen Cataluña como el principal centro mediterráneo de los islamistas."
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Le Monde: Guinée : Comment France et Etats-Unis ont écarté le chef de la junte (Guinea: How France and the US neutralized the chief of the junta)

"L'occasion était trop belle pour neutraliser un chef de l'Etat devenu très embarrassant. Français et Américains cherchaient à écarter le capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara depuis le massacre par des militaires de la garde présidentielle d'au moins 156 opposants à Conakry, en Guinée, le 28 septembre 2009.

Les événements du 3 décembre vont forcer le destin. Ce jour-là, le chef de la junte militaire au pouvoir depuis moins d'un an est victime d'une tentative d'assassinat. Grièvement blessé à la tête, le chef de la junte est envoyé d'urgence vers le Maroc pour y être hospitalisé. Dans la foulée, un diplomate américain en poste à Ouagadougou écrit : "La communauté internationale est d'une façon générale sur la même position. L'absence de Dadis a ouvert une fenêtre d'opportunité pour faciliter une transition démocratique."

"Bien qu'il ait été chassé de la scène violemment plutôt que par des moyens constitutionnels, il serait mieux pour la Guinée qu'il ne rentre pas dans son pays", ajoute l'ambassadrice américaine en poste à Conakry, Patricia Moller, dans un des télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Former Croatia PM flees over corruption claims

"The former prime minister who dominated Croatian politics for most of the past decade fled the country today as state prosecutors moved to have him arrested in connection with a major sleaze investigation.

According to cables from the US Zagreb embassy released by WikiLeaks, Ivo Sanader, the centre-right politician who stood down suddenly as prime minister in summer last year, features in several of the corruption cases currently terrorising the Croatian political class.

The country's chief prosecutor told US diplomats in Zagreb this year he had evidence that Sanader had arranged a bank loan for a business crony in return for a kickback."
Read more

Der Spiegel: The Nigeria Report: A Cesspool of Corruption and Crime in the Niger Delta

"The leaked US diplomatic cables reveal just what multinational oil companies are up against in the Niger Delta. Security forces are ineffective and involved in dubious oil deals. The government demands millions in bribes. Even university students have earned pocket money by working as kidnappers.

Bombs used against civilians; millions paid to corrupt officials; and a kidnapping industry that employs students during university vacations: The US diplomatic cables from the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos paint an unusually bleak picture of the situation in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Hardly any of the international oil companies active in the delta publishes production figures, kidnappings and hostage-taking are a daily occurence and the civilian population is suffering -- not least because they too are occasionally targets of the Nigerian Army's special forces."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Serbia suspects Russian help for fugitive Ratko Mladić

"Russia may be withholding vital information about the whereabouts of the fugitive Bosnian Serb general and genocide suspect, Ratko Mladić, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague, senior Serbian government officials have privately told American diplomats in Belgrade.

In discussions detailed in a diplomatic cable marked "secret" and sent to Washington by US chargée d'affaires Jennifer Brush in September 2009, Miki [Miodrag] Rakić, chief of staff to the Serbian president, Boris Tadić, tells Brush it remains likely Mladić is hiding somewhere in Serbia.

But Rakić also suggests the fugitive is being assisted by "foreign sources" and hints darkly that Moscow may have better information about Mladić's exact situation than does the Serbian government."
Read more

El Pais: Palomares: 50.000 metros contaminados con plutonio (50,000 sq.meters contaminated with plutonium)

"España y Estados Unidos tienen un problema enquistado desde 1966: el accidente nuclear en Palomares, en el que cuatro bombas atómicas cayeron en la pedanía almeriense. España decidió en 2004 descontaminar la zona e insiste en que EE UU pague parte de la limpieza y se lleve la tierra contaminada con plutonio. Así se lo transmitió el 14 de diciembre de 2009 el entonces ministro de Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, a la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, en Washington. Moratinos reclamó, según un cable confidencial, que Clinton hiciera lo posible "para ayudar desde el punto de vista de la opinión pública española, de la que temió que se volviera en contra de EE UU si se divulgaran los resultados de un reciente estudio sobre la contaminación". Clinton no contestó. El estudio, a cuyas conclusiones ha tenido acceso EL PAÍS pero que no ha sido hecho público, concluye que en Palomares queda medio kilo de plutonio que ha contaminado unos 50.000 metros cúbicos de tierra -el volumen de 27 piscinas olímpicas-."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables cast Hosni Mubarak as Egypt's ruler for life

"Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's long-serving president, is likely to seek re-election next year and will "inevitably" win a poll that will not be free and fair, the US ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, predicted in a secret cable to Hillary Clinton last year.

Scobey discussed Mubarak's quasi-dictatorial leadership style since he took power in 1981; his critical views of George Bush and American policy in the Middle East; and the highly uncertain prospects for a succession."
Read more

2010-12-11 Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane rally reports

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Yesterday's Australian rallies saw thousands of people take to the streets in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Some 1,500 participants attended the Sydney rally at Town Hall. "Julian Assange is an Australian. That makes me and I'm sure it makes you feel very proud," Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon told the crowd, to loud cheers. Independent journalist Antony Loewenstein also addressed the rally, noting that it was necessary "to say to the Australian government, the Gillard Government ... (their) behaviour in the last two weeks has been utterly outrageous, outrageous," reported Al Jazeera.

Our WLCentral editor Asher Wolf also addressed the rally: "Wikileaks is an important public institution. Without transparency there can be no accountability and without accountability there can be no democracy," she said, quoted by IT News Simon Skew, Pirate Party spokesman, said whistleblowers were essential to democracy: "Public disclosure is in the public interest and it's completely legitimate," reports SBS.

Channel 10 has a video report from the Sydney rally. The Age has another video available online.

2010-12-11 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced

Further rallies in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will take place in The Hague, next Saturday, and Melbourne on Tuesday:

THE NETHERLANDS

Den Haag: Saturday, December 18, 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Binnenhof
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175978872419936

AUSTRALIA

Melbourne: Tuesday, December 14, 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Location: State Library
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=167587746610490

Please be reminded that there are upcoming rallies scheduled as follows:

December 11 (Sat): London, Hamburg, Lisbon, New York, Amsterdam, Madrid, A Coruña, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Zaragoza, Buenos Aires, Lima, Ciudad de México, São Paulo

December 12 (Sun): Adelaide, Montreal

December 13 (Mon): London, Minneapolis, Miami

December 14 (Tue): London, Melbourne

December 16 (Thu): Washington, Canberra, San Jose

December 18 (Sat): The Hague, Olympia

Please see the events list for further dates and rally details.

2010-12-10 Libération hosts WikiLeaks mirror: Statement

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Prominent French newspaper Libération is now hosting a WikiLeaks mirror at http://wikileaks.liberation.fr . Please find below a translation of the media group's statement:

"We have chosen to help prevent the asphyxiation of WikiLeaks at a time when governments and companies try to block its operation without even a legal order. Like thousands of other sites, Libération.fr decided to participate in the support movement that is being put into place on the internet, replicating WikiLeaks content fully. These sites, called mirrors, can be hosted by anyone who has server space available. This is what we did, in order to prevent the disappearance from the public record of WikiLeaks documents selected with partner media organizations. We have therefore opened this site: wikileaks.liberation.fr"

2010-12-10 WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act, part 2 [Update 1]

(Part one of this series is available here. Please also see WikiLeaks v. United States: The Pentagon Papers redux?)

Today, Jennifer Robinson, one of the lawyers for Julian Assange, told The Guardian that the US government may be about to press charges against Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. She said that the legal team had heard from "several different US lawyers rumours that an indictment was on its way or had happened already, but we don't know". Ms Robinson told ABC News that "Our position of course is that we don't believe it (the Espionage Act) applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he's entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S."

Rumours about the possibility of Julian Assange having been indicted by a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret, have been circulating for a while. The Christian Science Monitor had a few days ago quoted Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University, who said that an empaneled grand jury could have already been considering the case. "We wouldn’t know what they’re doing until the whole thing is concluded," he said. The Monitor also quoted CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin, who said "I would not be at all surprised if there was a sealed arrest warrant currently in existence."

2010-12-10 SVT: WikiRebels - The Documentary

SVT documentary

SVT, Sweden's national television broadcaster, has made available an "exclusive rough-cut" of its one-hour, in-depth documentary on WikiLeaks. The video, in its current format, will be available on the SVT Play website until Monday, December 13.

From the description:

"From summer 2010 until now, SVT has been following the secretive media organization WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist have traveled to key countries where WikiLeaks operates, interviewing top members, such as Assange, new Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, as well as people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg who now is starting his own version - Openleaks.org."

The documentary also includes interviews with Ian Overton from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, James Ball of TBIJ and WikiLeaks, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, former WikiLeaks collaborators Herbert Snorrason and Smári McCarthy, and PRQ CEO Mikael Viborg.

The documentary looks at WikiLeaks' philosophy and operations, some of its famous disclosures including the Kenya report, the Guantanamo manuals, Kaupthing, Trafigura, the Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, the US administration's reactions, and the lead-up to the Cablegate release.

2010-12-10 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced [Update 2]

For the complete list of current events, please click here.

UNITED STATES

Wikileaks National Rally for Transparency

Washington DC, other locations: Saturday, January 15
Location: To be announced
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wikileaks-National-Rally-for-Transparency/...

Miami FL:: Monday, December 13, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: U.S. Attorney's Office Building, 99 Northeast 4th Street, Miami, FL
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175854382432344

San Jose, CA: Friday, December 10, 2010, 12pm - 3pm
Location: In front of San Jose City Hall
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178828535463159

San Jose, CA: Thursday, December 16, all day
Location: San Jose State University

UNITED KINGDOM

London:, Monday, December 13, 4pm
Location: Swedish Embassy, 11 Montagu Place, London W1H 2AL
Topic: Against extradition to Sweden (JusticeforAssange.com Campaign)
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Assange-UK/169102599797422?v=wall
Campaign website: http://www.justiceforassange.com

SPAIN

For freedom, say no to state terrorism

Madrid: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada británica en Madrid (British Embassy), Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/

A Coruña: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada de Suecia en A Coruña (Swedish Embassy): Sale del Cantón Grande a las 18.00 en el Obelisco hacía la Avenida de Linares Rivas 18-21, A Coruña, Spain
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/

Barcelona: Saturday, December 11, 6pm

2010-12-09 UN, international officials in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern at a press conference today over political pressure aiming to discourage provision of hosting and other services to WikiLeaks.

Ms Pillay said: "I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website."

"This can be interpreted as at attempt to censor the publication of information, and potentially constitutes a violation of WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression," she said, according to Le Monde.

The UN rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said in an interview with ABC.net.au that he did not think the US government had grounds to charge Julian Assange or request his extradition. "If there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of the media that publish it," he said. When asked whether he agreed that Assange is "a martyr for free speech," he said "It certainly is (true)."

Mr La Rue said that "in reference to what has been published in WikiLeaks I think there is no criminal responsibility for being the medium." He noted that there are cases that have to be looked at, but "having said that just the fact that the information is embarrassing information to a government does not make it subject to be blocked or filtered or reprisals to the director/founder of the service." He added: "I have made it clear that just the fact that the information is leaked should not be the excuse to pressure any of the enterprises that are serving that information."

2010-12-09 Brisbane rally reports

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As we announced yesterday, a rally in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks was held today in Brisbane, the first of numerous events organized by WikiLeaks supporters worldwide.

Hundreds rally for WikiLeaks founder, reported the Sydney Morning Herald today. "We're here to defend WikiLeaks, to defend our right to freedom of information, to defend our right to know what our elected representatives are up to," Jessica Payne, the event organizer, said. "We are all Assange, and if they want to take down Assange, they have to take down all of us."

Speakers at the event included former Australian Democrats senator and now Greens member Andrew Bartlett, and Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope. "It's entirely inappropriate that people be extradited simply to be questioned as appears to be happening in this case," Mr Cope said. He added that government attempted to restrict freedom of speech "to protect themselves from being exposed to their dishonesty, their corruption and their mistakes," reported the Herald.

A statement from prominent investigative journalist John Pilger was also read at the rally. "The defence of Julian Assange is one of the most important issues of my lifetime," Mr Pilger's letter said. "There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents."

The Brisbane Times quotes one of the rally participants, John Jiggens, a veteran of independent media in Brisbane:

2010-12-09 Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 10

John Pilger: Statement in support of Sydney rally

"The defence of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is one of the most important issues of my lifetime. There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents.

If the Australian prime minister doesn’t understand this, we Australians need to remind her that she may head a mercenary government but we are not a mercenary people.

Those of us in London who are working to free Julian, knowing that the Swedish prosecution is a political stunt that would never produce a fair trial, will be at his side, and we call on the support of every decent Australian."
Read more

Robert Scheer, TruthDig: From Jefferson to Assange

"All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”[...]

2010-12-09 Sweden case updates

Jennifer Robinson, one of Julian Assange's lawyers, was interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now!. Regarding the charges, she clarified that "the first thing to note is that no formal charges have yet been brought" and that the warrant is "in relation to the allegations, not formal charges, and is for the purposes of having him give his interview and answers to the questions of the prosecutor."

She reiterated that Julian Assange had cooperated with the investigation throughout, and that there was absolutely no need for an arrest warrant to be issued for an interview. He had remained in Sweden for more than a month and a half to answer the allegations and police questions, and he left the country with the prosecutor's permission. She added: "Since leaving the country, he has been in touch with her. And indeed, the judge noted yesterday that I had written to the police to notify them here in Britain that we were aware that an arrest warrant may be communicated and that we were willing to cooperate. The judge noted that this was a very positive sign. Julian has, at all stages, cooperated. We have volunteered cooperation to the prosecutor."

Julian Assange and his legal team have not been presented yet with any of the evidence of the allegations against him, she noted, despite the fact that this contravenes the European Convention. "The first document we have received in English, which is her obligation under that convention, with respect to Mr. Assange, was Monday, when we received the arrest warrant, and there was a very short notation of the offenses and the basic facts underlying those offenses. So, as to any earlier correspondence between the complainants and Julian and their motivation for going to the police, we only know what we’ve been able to read in the press, which is a highly unsatisfactory position to be in."

2010-12-09 Get Up! Action for Australia: Petition in support of WikiLeaks

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Get Up! is hosting a petition in support of WikiLeaks. The campaign organizers also plan to take out ads in The New York Times and Washington Times. The petition reads:

"Dear President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder:

We, as Australians, condemn calls for violence, including assassination, against Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or for him to be labeled a terrorist, enemy combatant or be treated outside the ordinary course of justice in any way.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "information is the currency of democracy." Publishing leaked information in collaboration with major news outlets, as Wikileaks and Mr. Assange have done, is not a terrorist act.

Australia and the United States are the strongest of allies. Our soldiers serve side by side and we’ve experienced, and condemned, the consequences of terrorism together. To label Wikileaks a terrorist organisation is an insult to those Australians and Americans who have lost their lives to acts of terrorism and to terrorist forces.

If Wikileaks or their staff have broken international or national laws, let that case be heard in a just and fair court of law. At the moment, no such charges have been brought.

We are writing as Australians to say what our Government should have: all Australian citizens deserve to be free from persecution, threats of violence and detention without charge, especially from our friend and ally, the United States.

We call upon you to stand up for our shared democratic principles of the presumption of innocence and freedom of information."

Please join us in signing the petition here.

2010-12-11 Personal Democracy Forum: A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom

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Personal Democracy Forum presents:

A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom

Saturday, December 11, from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM (ET), New York City

  • In the digital age, should all information be free?
  • Does good government require secrecy, or more openness?
  • Can we trust private internet service providers to defend free speech?
  • Is Wikileaks a terrorist organization, or the beginning of a new kind of transnational investigative journalism?

Join us to explore these questions with:

Emily Bell, Director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School
Esther Dyson, EDventure
Allison Fine, Co-author, The Networked Nonprofit
Charles Ferguson, Director, Inside Job and No End in Sight
Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post
Jeff Jarvis, Professor, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
Andrew Keen, Author of the forthcoming book, Digital Vertigo: An Anti-Social Manifesto
Gideon Lichfield, Deputy digital editor, The Economist
Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior fellow, New America Foundation and author of the forthcoming book, Consent of the Networked
Mark Pesce, Author and futurist
Andrew Rasiej, Co-founder, Personal Democracy Forum
Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism School and PressThink.org
Jack Rosenthal, Senior fellow, Atlantic Philanthropies
Carne Ross, Director, Independent Diplomat and former UK Diplomat
Douglas Rushkoff, Author, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
Micah L. Sifry, Co-founder, Personal Democracy Forum
Katrin Verclas, Principal, New Rights Group
Tom Watson, Author, CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World
Dave Winer, Editor, Scripting News and Visiting Scholar, NYU
and more...

2010-12-09 [Reminder] Global WikiLeaks support rallies today

We would like to remind you that a few events are taking place today, Thursday, December 9:

AUSTRALIA

Melbourne: A meeting to discuss Wikileaks' Julian Assange's legal and political position
Speakers: Julian Burnside AO QC, Peter Gordon, John Faine and Professor Spencer Zifcak
Date: Thursday 9 December 2010
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: the Law Institute of Victoria, 470 Bourke St, Melbourne
Details: http://www.law.monash.edu.au/castancentre/events/index.html

Brisbane: Rally in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Date and time: Thursday, December 9, 5.30pm
Location: Brisbane Square CBD
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=153885131325141

UNITED STATES

New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 6:30pm - 0:30am
Location: New York Times Bldg, New York, NY 10018
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155203287858724

New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 5:00pm
Location: Federal Building, Broadway between Worth and Duane St, NY, NY
(A, C, E, R, 4, 5, 6 Trains to Chamber and/or Brooklyn Bridge stops)
Event page: http://www.iacenter.org/nyc_actions/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182681678414096
Organized by: International Action Center, 212-633-6646

Please spread the word and attend if you can! For details on other upcoming global WikiLeaks support events, please click here.

2010-12-09 New WikiLeaks global support rallies announced [Update 2]

New events in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been announced as below. Our current list of events is available here. Note to event organizers: please email us at admin@wlcentral.org with updated event information, such as event pages.

AUSTRALIA

Perth: Friday, December 10, 6:00pm
Location: Wesley Church, corner of William & Hay Streets, Perth City
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=152006861514227

Canberra: Thursday, December 16, 5:30pm
Location: Garema Place, Civic
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=109503732454066

UNITED STATES

New York City, NY: Saturday, December 11 at 12:00 noon
Location: British Consulate-General at 845 Third Ave.

Minneapolis, MN: Monday, December 13, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: Senator Klobuchar's Minneapolis Office, 1200 Washington Ave S., Minneapolis, MN
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=109641875774406

THE NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam: Saturday, December 11, 2:00pm
Location: De Dam
Event page: http://www.dejimachan.org/jihad/

UNITED KINGDOM

London: Tuesday, December 14, 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, 70 Horseferry Rd, Westminster, London SW1P
Directions: Google maps
Nearby stations: St. James Park, Victoria and Pimlico

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Consult us before using intelligence to commit war crimes, US tells Uganda

"The US told Uganda to let it know when the army was going to commit war crimes using American intelligence – but did not try to dissuade it from doing so, the US embassy cables suggest.

America was supporting the Ugandan government in its fight against rebel movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), providing information and $4.4m (£2.8m) worth of military hardware a year.[...]

[US Ambassador Jerry] Lanier continued: "Uganda understands the need to consult with the US in advance if the [Ugandan army] intends to use US-supplied intelligence to engage in operations not government [sic] by the law of armed conflict. Uganda understands and acknowledges that misuse of this intelligence could cause the US to end this intelligence sharing relationship."

Nowhere, though, does it appear that the ambassador directly told the Ugandans to observe the rules of war."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

"The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations."
Read more

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2010-12-08 Avaaz petition in support of WikiLeaks

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Global activist organization Avaaz has launched a petition titled Wikileaks: Stop the crackdown. The text reads:

"Whatever we think of WikiLeaks, the massive campaign of intimidation against it is sending a chill through free speech and media advocates everywhere. Top US politicians has even gone as far as calling WikiLeaks a terrorist organization and suggested assassination of its staff, and the organization has come under massive corporate attack to shut it down.

Right now, dozens of governments and corporations are being heavily pressured to join the crackdown -- we urgently need the public to take a stand and make sure our governments protect our democracies and rule of law.

Sign the petition to stop the crackdown below and forward this email to everyone -- let's get 1 million voices against the crackdown this week!"

"To the U.S. government and corporations linked to Wikileaks:

We call on you to stop the crackdown on Wikileaks and its partners immediately. We urge you to respect the democratic principles and laws of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. If Wikileaks and the journalists it works with have violated any laws they should be pursued in the courts with due process. They should not be subjected to an extra-judicial campaign of intimidation."

Please join us in signing the petition here.

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