Several reports on the web security and privacy of the Wall Street Journal’s new site, SafeHouse, which is inspired by WikiLeaks, have been published. Reactions centered around the “terms and conditions” on the website, which include a disclaimer that SafeHouse “cannot ensure complete anonymity." It also states the leak portal “reserve[s] the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process.”
Web security and privacy experts will continue to scrutinize this new venture. Those like Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and senior developer on the Tor online anonymity network will continue to let others know the Journal is being negligent and that this is not a project to be beta-tested on an open Internet. In addition to the security questions, there is the larger question of the Journal’s role in the press and why anyone would ever consider leaking to a newspaper like the Journal.
For establishing a basic understanding of this news organization, this is how SourceWatch, run by the Center for Media and Democracy, characterizes the publication: “The Wall Street Journal, an influential international daily newspaper published in New York City, is owned by News Corporation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. It does an abysmal job of informing its readers about climate change.”
An interview with Julian Assange for the Bulgarian site for investigative journalism Bivol.bg - Wikileaks media partner.
Bivol: WL started Cablegate with the partnership of five top international media outlets. Are you happy with this model? What are the limitations of this approach?
Bradley Manning moving to Fort Leavenworth
'US officials' say private Bradley Manning is being moved to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas according to the Associated Press. An announcement is expected tomorrow at the Pentagon. "The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the move has not yet been made public."
Fort Leavenworth is home to the United States Disciplinary Barracks, the U.S. military's only maximum-security facility, which houses male service members convicted at court-martial for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. According to Wikipedia, only enlisted prisoners with sentences over five years, commissioned officers, and prisoners convicted of offenses related to national security are confined to the USDB. Manning is still awaiting trial. Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, opened October 5, 2010, is also on the Fort Leavenworth site and may be the one Manning is headed to.
Press briefing at the Pentagon contained the following:
On 10th March 2011 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a speech to the US Congress. It was notable for one reason, the US media appeared barely to report it—Google searches show Australian entries page after page—and perhaps that’s because the US media market for show ponies, seals and canines performing obsequiously for an audience is already saturated.
Crafted for a US audience it was as Hugh White (Australian National University professor and a former senior Defence Department official) said: a piece of policy-free puff…I suppose she wanted the Americans to like her, but she decided not to say anything serious to them.
Our leaders never say much that is seriously an assertive, independent point of view to the USA. This is of course as befits a thoroughly one sided relationship characterised by ultra obsequiousness by an almost endless line of Australian prime ministers from Robert Menzies who begged the US to join in the Vietnam war; Harold Holt’s—all the way with LBJ and more lately John Howard who jumped on the Bush orchestrated litany of lies bandwagon, otherwise known as the second Iraq war (and absurdly incorporating a war on an abstract noun--terrorism) as if we somehow owed an eternal debt--which can never be repaid--as a satrapy of the USA and our prime ministers are the satraps. Or as liberal party Senator Brandis, leaker of the ‘Ratty’ label might have said in the case of John Howard, a ratsap.
A whole new avenue of the Wikileaks story opened up in late November, early December 2010 when the Prime Minister of Australia said the following about Julian Assange:
It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do.
This writer took umbrage and responded with a letter posted here on 4th December 2011. Many others were outraged and spoke out.
Immediately prior to that, on 29th November 2010 the Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland had said:
From Australia's point of view we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached.
A defence taskforce which had been monitoring Wikileaks would become a "whole-of-government taskforce", Mr McClelland said.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald today 12th March 2011:
The Australian government discussed the charge of treason - the most serious of federal offences and one that carries a mandatory life sentence - when it examined the WikiLeaks matter last year.
The advice, in a departmental briefing for the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, was among several documents published yesterday by the department in response to Senate estimates questions.
It was provided by a senior officer in the Attorney-General's Department in September, after WikiLeaks published 90,000 US military reports filed during the war in Afghanistan.
The following brief was submitted to the meeting outlined here by WL Central: On 2nd March 2011 at 9.15am a meeting was held, organised by Andrew Laming (Liberal Party MP Bowman Qld) at Parliament House Canberra to allow federal parliamentarians who wished to attend, some insights into the matters of Julian Assange facing extradition from the UK to Sweden, and facing (subject to that extradition process) a possible trial in Sweden and another possible extradition to the USA thereafter.
Among others, MPs Andrew Laming, Malcolm Turnbull, Doug Cameron and Sarah Hanson-Young were in attendance, along with parliamentary staff members.
Three speakers made themselves available for oral presentations and questions: Greg Barns, barrister from Tasmania; former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin and Peter Kemp solicitor from NSW, the latter two made written material available for the parliamentarians reprinted here with their permission.
The following brief was submitted to the meeting by Jennifer Robinson of the firm Finers Stephens Innocent. She is part of the legal team representing Julian Assange in the extradition proceedings requested by Sweden.
Jennifer Robinson's biography.
1. I am writing to you to provide a briefing for the meeting of members of Federal Parliament on Wednesday 2 March 2011 regarding the case against Julian Assange. This briefing note sets out the timeline of events and the human rights concerns that we have raised in relation to Julian's case in Sweden.
On 2nd March 2011 at 9.15am a meeting was held, organised by Andrew Laming (Liberal Party MP Bowman Qld) at Parliament House Canberra to allow federal parliamentarians who wished to attend, some insights into the matters of Julian Assange facing extradition from the UK to Sweden, and facing (subject to that extradition process) a possible trial in Sweden and another possible extradition to the USA thereafter.
Among others, MPs Andrew Laming, Malcolm Turnbull, Doug Cameron and Sarah Hanson-Young were in attendance, along with parliamentary staff members.
Three speakers made themselves available for oral presentations and questions: Greg Barns, barrister from Tasmania; former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin and Peter Kemp, solicitor from NSW. The latter two made written material available for the parliamentarians, reprinted below with their permission. Written material was also provided by Jennifer Robinson, UK counsel for the Julian Assange. That material is reprinted with permission here.
After short addresses by each of the three speakers, the meeting was opened for questions and summaries of each speaker in the proceedings appears below, after biographies.
The actions of WikiLeaks sparked a worldwide media barrage and has changed the face of journalism. Julian Assange,the leader of this organization quickly rose to prominence,initially because of the unprecedented public attention from the WikiLeaks revelations. Then sex scandals and smear campaigns, along with threats from the Pentagon threw him further into the eye of the typhoon of public attention. Rhetoric from some US right wing politicians and punditsescalated to calling for his murder. Many eyes have been glued to the news feed reporting on the progress of his extradition to Sweden, all the while the leaks have continued unabated.
Assassination is the intentional killing of a prominent person for political purposes. The death of John F. Kennedy shocked the world with newspapers and the TV broadcasting his tragic end. Soon after Dr. Martin King delivered a speech speaking out against the Vietnam War at New York’s Riverside Church, his voice was also shut down by an assassin’s bullet.
The following is a chat that recently took place on the Swedish news website Aftonbladet with Julian Assange. Assange talks about his trial, the possibility of extradition to the United States, why he thinks he won't get a fair trial in Sweden, how WikiLeaks is faring currently, whether WikiLeaks will go on if he is found guilty and sentenced to jail, and more. Here it is re-published in full:
Julian Assange: Hello everyone!
Kommentar från Olof: Do you see yourself as a modern-day freedom fighter?
Julian Assange: The freedom to communicate knowledge is, to me, the most important freedom. It is the freedom on which all other freedoms and rights depend. Concepts such as the right to representation, freedom from arbitary detention or torture all need to be voiced and evidence for them made clear. This can only be done effectively if the central freedom - the right to communicate is strong. In fighting for this freedom, we fight for all freedoms.
Kommentar från John: How do you feel about the court decision today?
Julian Assange: It was not a surprise. Over 95% of EU arrest warrants result in such an outcome in the lower courts. The judge involved, Riddle was the same judge that first put me in prison. I am of course, annoyed at the tremendous distraction from our work in the revolutions in the middle east. This angers me, but on the other hand, the process does mean we and others such as Fair Trials International can inspire law reforms in Sweden and europe.
Kommentar från Maria: What do you base your assumptions on that Sweden will send you to USA?
Julian Assange has lost the case at the extradition hearing. Full ruling here in PDF. While this writer expected considerable difficulty for Assange's case on count 4, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle found all four counts to be extraditable. More on that and his findings for another day.
An important first point is that this extradition finding should not be misinterpreted as some species of proven guilt. Julian Assange is still presumed innocent until proven guilty by a proper trial process. The extradition process and appeals to follow in the UK are not that trial process.
The European Arrest Warrant system is flawed and has again been used by a signatory nation to the Framework Decision 2001 (PDF) without having to prove the strength of the prosecution case.
At the final day of the extradition hearing on 11th February 2011 SC Montgomery from the Crown Prosecution Service, acting for the Swedish prosecution authorities, made what this writer considers to be some extraordinary submissions. One of them was directed personally at Robertson and was simply unacceptable, if, and I believe it to be so, that the tweeter @federicacocco correctly recorded it:
Robertson SC has every right to report her to the Bar Council of England and Wales. It was uncalled for and unhelpful to the case and one can’t help thinking of automatic adverse inferences on both counsel and his client, the respondent/defendant Julian Assange which would have been aggravated if there had been a jury involved.
Perhaps I’m wrong and the English bar allows practitioners to insult each other at the bar table in such fashion but I rather doubt it.
The Witness Statement of Bjorn Hurtig, Swedish counsel for the defense of Julian Assange - Summary
The original statement is available here, and the supporting documents are here, here, and here. In this document, Mr Hurtig describes the case against Mr Assange to the London defense team as one of the weakest he has ever seen in his entire fifteen year career. In this document London defense Mark Stephens asserts that the Swedish prosecutor sought not just to have Mr Assange imprisoned while under investigation, but also placed in solitary confinement. The key points of Mr Assange's skeleton argument were summarized here.
Mr Hurtig states that the manner in which Ms Ny (the Swedish Prosecutor) has handled Mr Assange's case is not in compliance with the concept of a fair trial.
Mr Assange will most certainly be brought to trial behind closed doors, initially and in the Court of Appeal. Mr Assange, who has endured an avalanche of bad publicity, will be heard with no witnesses to view the weaknesses of the case and thus no opportunity to clear his name. Prosecution witnesses will not be refuted by any new witnesses coming forward, because no one will hear their testimony.
The trial will be heard by a judge and three laypersons who are appointed by, and often members of, a political party.
The trial may be affected by media prejudice caused by the unfair conduct of police and prosecutors. Before the complainants were properly interviewed, and thus before an investigation ought to have begun, a prosecutor told the Expressen newspaper that Mr Assange was being investigated for rape, a serious breach of Swedish anonymity law. Despite this breach, the prosecutor has not been disciplined and the Justice Ombudsman has refused to accept a complaint made against her.
After the positive feedback on the report I did last time - I decided to go once more to London. A different journey: Last time was spur of the moment and very intuitive. If Gallilei lived today, I would have wanted to go to THAT process and this is about the biggest thing to happen in my profession (archiving) for the coming 100 years!!! I think Wikileaks is also a sign of a lot of other things that will start shifting.
This time my decision is more controlled. I have less to 'do' for myself and one of my purposes is definitely pure support. I feel that at this time consistent, levelheaded support is very needed.
I was again early and noticed that there was slightly less press and slightly less security. The latter probably because the police now put a fence round the entrance and the road throughout and felt more in control that way. I walked straight to the entrance to queue for the public and at 8:30 could proceed to the court room without further ado.
On the public gallery the security was one policeman up - but it was possible to wait there. Courtroom staff were less itchy than they were the last time. There were now two women in charge. Despite supporting Wikileaks, I have frowned my eyebrows at remarks that a pink cashmere sweater is apparently not appropriate on official occasions. The eyes of the people making that remark would have popped out here. Belmarsh Crown Court female staff loves high, very high (!) heels and I saw several people in fishnet stockings!
Greg Mitchell will be doing a book salon chat at Firedoglake at 3:30 PM ET this afternoon.
A little more than two months ago, as in some previous cases, Greg Mitchell started live-blogging when a major story broke. But a funny thing happened with WikiLeaks’ “Cablegate” release: The story, and the reader interest, did not go away after a couple of days—as the cables kept coming out, the controversies spread, and Julian Assange became a household name in America.
One week passed, then another. He started labeling it The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog and giving it a number, e.g. “Day 20.” Then “30.” Echoing the early days of Nightline during the Iran crisis in the late-1970s, He wrote that like America then he was being held “hostage.” When he hit day 50, he joked about topping Joe DiMaggio’s consecutive ‘hit” streak—and on day 57, passed it. Now it’s at Day 68 and counting.
It is not clear from the UK Press Association report why Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt responded to reporters' questions about Julian Assange in London two days ago by addressing the hypothetical question of Assange's extradition from Sweden to the US, but he didn't dismiss it as hypothetical:
Mr Reinfeldt said Sweden's policy was not to extradite people to countries with the death penalty. But he said Sweden's courts, not its government, would decide that. ...
"We should remember when we ask questions about this that these are legal systems talking to each other, not politicians."
We know from the cables and other sources (see the summary in section 7, 92-96, of the "skeleton" legal argument) that Swedish courts have in the past been complicit in the illegal kidnapping of refugee claimants by US agents. More broadly, the role of diplomacy as mediator between law and politics has arisen repeatedly in many of the cables released by its major media partners and WikiLeaks.
Since the role of the courts is usually to interpret legislation ("policy") or to strike it down if it is unconstitutional, Reinfeldt's apparent failure to affirm Swedish refusal to extradite to countries that retain capital punishment raises questions.
Via @calixte on Twitter
According to Russia Times, Julian Assange has been granted a Russian visa and plans to visit the country soon. With his next court hearing scheduled for February 7, Assange may be able to visit Russia in three weeks, but only if the Swedish extradition request is turned down by Britain.
No details of the agenda and schedule have been disclosed. However, by that time a Russia-based pro-WikiLeaks NGO currently being established is likely to get its official registration.
The Russian News Service quoted by Russia Times quotes Israel Shamir as its source for the article. Shamir is a highly controversial figure who was associated with Wikileaks in distributing the US State cables.
This morning at the Frontline club, Rudolf Elmer handed over to Julian Assange a set of CDs containing leaked banking materials for 2,000 offshore bank accounts. As we reported on Sunday, "[d]details on the CD's ... 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 other currently undisclosed locations. The context of today's press conference, as well as Elmer's previously expressed motivations, can be found here.
Elmer clarified his position as a banker who "has the right" to prevent further "damage to society" by taking steps to inform the public of ongoing unethical activities. He expressed his gratitude to Wikileaks, which he described as a tool that allowed him to tell the people what he thinks "society has a right to know."
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.
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.
Julian Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, delivered a 35-page skeleton outline of his court arguments to various media after the brief review hearing this morning at Belmarsh magistrates court (paraphrased in brief):
(1) It is not accepted that the Swedish prosecutor is authorised to issue European Arrest Warrants (EAW).
(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.
(3) There has been abuse of process: non-disclosure by the Swedish Prosecutor.
(4) There has been a further abuse of process: the conduct of the prosecution in Sweden.
(5) The offences alleged in the EAW are not of serious nature in the UK, as they must be to constitute extradition offences.
(6) Mr Assange reserves the right to argue extraneous considerations.(section 13 of the Act).
(7) Mr. Assange reserves the right to argue that his extradition may be incompatible with Articles 3, 6, 8 and 10 of the European Commission on Human Rights.