This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
The @wikileaks twitter account is constantly being updated with the latest WikiLeaks/Cablegate2 news.
08:40 PM Extraterrestrial life confirmed, by Tajik leader.
05:20 PM Both U.S. Embassy in Tashkent and UNICEF opposed a boycott to child labor in the cotton industry in Uzbeskistan, seemingly in an attempt to keep good relations with the country. Cables show both institutions overlooked NGOs reports regarding exploitation of children, preferring to rely on information from ‘staff of international organizations on the ground in Uzbekistan’.
Despite NGO findings of coercion and intimidation, in a cable dated January 9, 2009, the Embassy still continued to report its belief that child labor was not forced, prefering to use the term "mobilized" versus "forced labor" and that school-children's cotton picking was "an ingrained part of the local culture" and was an "exhausting rite of passage":
"Many students look forward to the annual mobilization to pack their guitars, trail mix-equivalent snacks, vodka (for university students), and head out to the farms. The work can be exhausting, but they make the best of it. Students sometimes have campfires and enjoy evening entertainment, which provide opportunities to mingle with members of the opposite sex more freely than at home."
This is a "WikiLeaks News Update," constantly updated throughout each day. The blog tracks stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks but also follows stories related to freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
08:40 PM A useful list of contacts for journalists covering the Assange case: swedenversusassange.com
Commentators listed are described as "independent sources with differing views of the case."
06:15 PM Kristinn Hrafnsson has been announced as a keynote speaker at the Centre for Investigative Journalism Summer School 2011.
Julian Assange elaborates on the reasons he won't be able to attend the Summer School himself, as it was previously expected.
04:45 PM Wikileaks is once again taking credit card donations. DataCell is now processing Mastercard, Visa and American Express payments, but a law suit is still to be initiated in Denmark with the intention of receiving compensation for losses during the last 7 months of financial blockade. Read DataCell's full statement here.
Or use your credit card to donate.
04:25 PM At Visa's request, Wikileaks is delaying its complaint against Visa and Mastercard.
*Special thanks to C-Cyte for recording my tweets and posting them online in a post for people to view if they do not normally use Twitter.
One hundred days ago, WikiLeaks began to release the US State Embassy cables. The release event, which continues, became known as Cablegate.
A future post will include a look at Cablegate and what its impact on journalism, international diplomacy, and human rights has been and what its role has been in world events like the uprisings and revolutions the world that are currently unfolding. For now, it is worth recounting what has actually been revealed because of the release.
One common denominator can be found in a majority of the cables: corruption. For all the talk of this country and that country being corrupt and that country being so corrupt it's gone, the plain fact is that between all the countries of the world, perhaps as a result of American coercion and/or threat of force, the world is one corrupt planet.
WikiLeaks has managed to partner with 50 media outlets over the course of the past months. 5,287 of 251,287 cables have been released so far. This not only means there will likely be a 200th, 300th and 400th Day of Cablegate but also means there will be many more revelations to come in the next year.
A cable from December 2007 features Gaddafi Development Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yusuf Sawani discussing trans-national terrorism threats and security with US diplomats. The director talks about the fact that a million sub-Saharan African guest workers are resident in Libya and says it should be a “cause of concern.” The workers are a concern because Dr. Sawani believes any of those individuals could possibly commit an act of terrorism. In recent days, many of those guest workers have fled, as Libyans have grown suspicious and attacked a number of black Africans due to reports that Leader Muammar Gaddafi hired “black African mercenaries.”
The latest from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates 191,000 or more have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. A previous report estimated around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, 2,000 Nepalese and other African and Asian migrant workers are hosted by the country.
OCHA reports have been tracking the risk of violence migrant workers face. In a March 3 update, OCHA notes, “Sub-Saharan nationals remain at risk of violence from local populations on suspicion of being Government-recruited mercenaries.” A report on March 2 detailed the needs of those fleeing Libya highlights the need for protection. It reads:
I am blogging today from the So. Cal. Linux Expo [SCALE9x]. I am promoting Anonymous, among other things to the Linux and Free Software communities. While I was here yesterday, someone attending the conference told me what Google did to support the popular uprisings in Iran a few years ago.
He said that at before that time there was basically nothing in the way of computer based Farsi translation but Google had a project in the lab which they rushed into production to support the struggle then rapidly developing in Iran.
"We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran" said Google principal scientist Franz Och in a statement on Goolge's Official Blog.
After Wael Ghonim was released from the custody of Mubarak's thugs, he said he would like to return to work at Google if he was not fired. Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt tweeted back "We're incredibly proud of you, @Ghonim, & of course will welcome you back when you're ready."
Just why founder Larry Page is now stepping in to replace Eric Schmidt as Google CEO is not clear but rumor has it that differences over Google's China policy played a big role. Schmidt opposed the decision by founders Page and Brin to pull out of China over government censorship.
The current date and time in Tunis, Tunisia:
SUNDAY, February 27
8:59 PM Photo of demonstrator running from tear gas in Tunis
Beji Caid Essebsi is now the interim PM of Tunisia. Here is his biography posted on the French Wikipedia. (It can be translated with Google.)
What will likely be most focused on in the world is this:
[He] rejoined the government as Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs on 15 April 1981 , he held the position until 15 September 1986 . During these six years, he faces several crises, including the arrival of Palestinian fighters - driven out of Beirut - at Bizerte in 1982 , the bombing of the headquarters of the PLO in Hammam Chott (south of Tunis) by the army Israeli Air ( Operation Wooden Leg ) in 1985 , not to mention the constant mood of Muammar Qaddafi 2 . The high point of his career as head of the diplomacy of Tunisia remains the vote on UN resolution 3 condemning the Israeli aggression against Tunisia 4 .
Time for a Cablegate farewell to interim PM Mohamed Ghannouchi. The revolution wanted Ghannouchi gone the moment he stepped into power. His ties to the Ben Ali regime could not be overcome.
Tunisian youths were allegedly throwing rocks breaking windows right after the resignation speech. Reuters reports security forces "fired tear gas and rounds in the air to disperse them. There was no sign of any wounded."
Ghannouchi was one official the US State Department thought might succeed Ben Ali if he ever became fatally ill. This is how Ghannouchi was described in a January 9, 2006 cable titled, "Succession In Tunisia: Finding A Successor Or Feet First?":
Prime Minister Ghannouchi: (8/18/1941) A career technocrat and trained economist, Ghannouchi has served as Prime Minister since 1999. Ghannouchi is rumored to have told many that he wishes to leave the GOT but has not had the opportunity. The length of his service as PM also suggests that Ben Ali does not view him as a threat and that he is unlikely to be viewed as a qualified successor. However, average Tunisians generally view him with respect and he is well-liked in comparison to other GOT and RCD officials.
Average Tunisians' attitudes (whatever that demographic is to US officials) appear to have been made insignificant by the revolutionary organizers who continue to move Tunisia closer to the society they envision.
The third episode of this weekly podcast, which looks at stories related to WikiLeaks from the past week, featured guest Michael K. Busch, who teaches international relations at the City College of New York, where he is also program coordinator at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. He has posted on blogs on released cables on WikiBlogged, and he is listed as a resource in the back of Greg Mitchell's recently published book, "Age of WikiLeaks," which you can purchase in print on Blurb.com or in e-book form off of Amazon. [Follow him on Twitter @michaelkbusch]
The program for this week's show was dedicated to protests and violence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The show will provide updates on what is happening in the region and discuss some released WikiLeaks cables that provide context for what is happening.
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.
For those in countries that are working to topple brutal and oppressive regimes, there is a power that WikiLeaks cables have, one that can be tremendously beneficial. Cables from Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia all illuminate why the people of those countries would rise up against their governments. They compel people to acknowledge the magnitude of abuses and suffering that the people have been experiencing under autocratic regimes.
The planned “Day of Rage” protests being met with security forces and violence in Algeria, Iran and Yemen can be further understood thanks to the cables. The clashes in Bahrain and the brewing unrest in Syria can be illuminated because of the analysis from US diplomats in the cables. And, what continues to unfold in Egypt and Tunisia and inspire people in countries like Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Libya, whose people intend to hold their own “Day of Rage” on February 17.
Cable Indicates the Green Movement May Not Be Capable of Launching Uprising
On the twenty-fifth of Bahman on the Iranian calendar or February 14, the Green Path Opposition (GPO) or “Green Wave” plans to mobilize people and hold demonstrations in Iran. Organizers inspired by recent events in Egypt and Tunisia are hoping to see many turn out and defy an Iranian regime that has rhetorically indicated its support for the Egypt revolution but yet refused for some time to permit public demonstrations in Iran.
The upcoming day is something WL Central has been following closely. On February 10, WL Central looked at plans for the upcoming “Day of Rage,” the Iranian regime’s pre-emptive crackdown on activists planning demonstrations, and how Iran was jamming BBC’s Persian TV so Iranians could not witness what was happening in Egypt.
Many mysteries remain and questions still go unanswered about what just happen in Egypt last week, particularly with regards to Mubarak and Sulieman. Who even knows where they are and what they're doing now?
It is now well established that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was suppose to have stepped down when he spoke on state TV, 45 minutes after the announced time, late Thursday evening. That's why NBC News reported the 'scoop' early in the day, why various U.S. government sources were making assurances and even the supreme council of the Egyptian army, and that is where the power really lies anyway, all but proclaimed it.
The fix was in. Mubarak had promised to resign and turn his powers over to his new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Then at the last moment he threw the hook again. This was the third time that he had spoken publicly since the mass protests began on January 25th and it is being said that on each of the previous occasions be had been expected to resign but twice, on Jan. 27th & Feb. 1st, he had failed to do so but this time it was for sure.
Even though Tunisia's dictator for 23 years, President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali has been forced to flee the country and is currently a fugitive from an Interpol international arrest warrant with his assets frozen in Tunisia and Europe, the very difficult task of thoroughly rooting out the old regime and building a new Tunisia continues.
While many are still troubled by the fact that long time Ben Ali crony Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi remains the head of government, there haven't been many street protests in recent days. After a major government reshuffle purged it of Ben Ali loyalists, most people seem to have adopted a wait and see attitude and started to get back to normal life.
“I think the pressure that was put on the government has borne its fruit, meaning that we have obtained good concessions,” was the way Kamel Ben Hamida, a resident of Tunis, put it. “It would be more reasonable to stop asking for the government to fall.”
Tunisia December 15:
2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-01-27 Tunisia protests continue as a warrant is issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-24 Tunisia today: "It’s not a unity government, it’s a fake unity government”
On February 3, 2011, Marietje Schaake addressed the EU parliament on the situation in the Mediterranean, in particular in Tunisia and Egypt. Schaake also called for an investigation into any corporations that might have facilitated the human rights abuses.
Video of her address:
Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist party Ennahda, returned to Tunisia after 22 years in exile. In a celebration of their newly won freedom, thousands of supporters welcomed him at Tunis Airport on Sunday. Ennahnda has said it intends to take part in Tunisia's post-revolution elections but Ghannouchi told reporters that fears that compare him to the father of Iran's Islamic Revolution were wrong. He said he is much more moderate in his views “Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that’s not me.”
Completely unintentionally, revolution has been the theme of this week. I read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy Of The Oppressed and saw the musical Fela! courtesy of the National Theatre broadcast. The South Africa retelling of the story of Christ (Son of Man) mirrored Fela! remarkably – for good and ill. The documentary on Antonio Negri (A Revolt That Never Ends) explored the workers movements in Italy in the 70′s, and his academic work on the Multitude since his time in prison.