United Kingdom

2011-08-24 #WikiLeaks releases 55 thousand cables and asks citizens to analyze them in #wlfind hashtag

Wikileaks releases 55 thousand cables from the U.S. embassies in Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Russia, and Venezuela, among others. Through their official channels they asked for citizen participation in analyzing them. They also asked that they post their finds by sending them to @wikileaks on Twitter under the hashtag #wlfind. You can take a look at the cables yourself by visiting this link: http://wikileaks.org/tag/TU_0.html or http://www.cablegatesearch.net/search.php.

As a consequence of this release, Wikileak's Californian DNS hoster, Dynadot, "has received a PATRIOT act production order for information on Julian Assange", according to their website. It also mentioned that it had been complied and that "the production order seeks all available information on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, for the US grand jury in Alexandria, Washington."

2011-08-13 Human Rights News

Current news of any violations, legal progress, setbacks or other news in human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Syria: Assad continues to ignore the UN security council, the Arab League, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and almost everyone else, killing at least 90 civilians this week, for a total of almost 2000 since the protests began in March.

United States: A US federal appeals court ruled on August 8 that former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld had no immunity against being sued personally by US citizens Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel who allege torture at the hands of US troops. Last week, a US district judge in Washington ruled separately that a former American military contractor who also claims he was tortured in Iraq could sue Mr Rumsfeld. A lawyer for Mr Rumsfeld said the decision "puts American soldiers at risk". Further appeals by the US justice department to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals or to the US Supreme Court are possible.

On July 12, Human Rights Watch produced an extensive report entitled Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees.

Carol Rosenberg covers the rehearsals for Guantanamo trials.

2011-08-01 Alleged Lulzsec hacker Jake Davis charged [Updated]

18 year old Jake Davis was charged with five offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, the Serious Crime Act and the Criminal Law Act. He was released on bail.

Davis' lawyer admitted that his client was linked to Anonymous, but said that there was no evidence he took part in hacks.

After the court hearing, @AnonymousIRC tweeted: "http://bit.ly/obmiaW | Stay strong, @atopiary. We will continue this, as your last tweet is truth. We, the people, silent no more. #AntiSec", identifying Davis as Topiary. Shortly after his arrest, @atopiary associate @AnonymouSabu had already confirmed Topiary's arrest by tweeting: "RIP Topiary Fuck the police And as for the "doxers" you proved how clueless you ALL were when you posted he was from Sweden over 9000 times."

According to the Guardian, Davis had been arrested at a residential address in Mid Yell, a tiny settlement on Yell, a part of the Shetland Islands, on Wednesday afternoon.

There are two different types of broadband on the Shetland Islands, a BT operated connection available to the residents, which appears to be inadequate, and a system called Pathfinder North that provides some key infrastructure with fast broadband access. In Mid Yell, the junior high school has such a connection. Its website does not mention any public access to these facilities.

UPDATE:

2011-07-29 Lulzsec's Topiary and the Shetland Islands [Update]

On Wednesday the 27th of July the Metropolitan Police issued a press release stating that an 18 year old man had been arrested at a residential address on the Shetland Islands. The reason for his arrest is described as follows:

"He is believed to be linked to a continuing international investigation into the criminal activity of the so-called "hacktivist" groups Anonymous and LulzSec, and allegedly uses the online nickname "Topiary" which is presented as the spokesperson for the groups."

The release was quickly picked up by the international press, and various news outlets questioned whether the arrested person was indeed Topiary. Some even linked to a webpage containing a photograph and personal details of another person, who had been identified as Topiary by a rival hacker group. [WLCentral is not going to link to this page as it might contain defamatory information.]

The arrest was confirmed by Twitter user AnonymouSabu, an associate of Topiary, a short time later.

At the time of publication, the arrested person has not been charged, and is apparently still kept in custody at a London police station. This unusually long period of detention without charge prompted us to look deeper into the details surrounding his arrest.

From what has been publicly known, the only circumstantial evidence that the arrested person is indeed Topiary is that the last Tweet on the Lulzsec account appeared around the time of the arrest.

2011-07-19 Wall Street Journal's Murdoch-Shilling Ratchets Up

ImageThe Wall Street Journal - a News Corporation outlet - is again engaging in aggressive damage control for the Murdoch empire by attacking Wikileaks. WL Central addresses the mendacity.

It appears that the Wall Street Journal - which publishes from News Corp's Celanese Building headquarters in New York city - is suing for the title of "Murdoch's Bulldog." Thinly veiled and deceptive attempts to control the message on the escalating News of the World scandal have been issuing from the once-respected news outlet. And the tactic seems to be diversionary. The second article in two days to defend News Corp by attacking Wikileaks was published today, penned by Bret Stephens.

Trevor Timm has already written here at WL Central about yesterday's clumsy WSJ editorial, which alleged hypocrisy at the Guardian, in that it criticized News of the World while publishing material from Wikileaks. Today's article belaboured the same spurious argument even further, as the air of desperation at News Corp intensified in advance of the Murdoch hearing today. Keen to deny his motives preemptively, Stephens notes:

It's probably inevitable that this column will be read in some quarters as shilling for Rupert Murdoch. Not at all: I have nothing but contempt for the hack journalism practiced by some of the Murdoch titles.

2011-07-18 News International chief Brooks arrested over hacking scandal

Former Murdoch chief Rebekah Brooks was arrested and detained last night by British police on charges of conspiring to illegally intercept communications as well as corruption, in the form of bribing police.

Brooks was apprehended by detectives working on Operation Weeting – the UK Metropolitan Police’s phone hacking investigation, and Operation Elveden – the investigation into illicit payments to police officers, a July 18 Guardian article reported.

Until recently, Brooks had been defended by both Rupert and James Murdoch from the very outset of the now-widespread hacking scandal that began within the Murdoch-owned newspaper News of the World.

One of the most contentious cases in the scandal so far is that of teenager Milly Dowler, who was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered. Milly Dowler’s family’s phone messages were illegally intercepted by News of the World staff.

Mark Lewis, the lawyer for Milly Dowler’s family has questioned the timing of the arrest, as Brooks is due to be questioned by a parliamentary committee next Tuesday.

“Undoubtedly, she will have the option of saying on Tuesday ‘I’m sorry I can’t answer that because I’m under police investigation ‘,” he said. “The timing stinks...it gives the impression that those questions can’t be asked [at this time]...it looks deliberate.”

Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders has also expressed grave concerns over the timing of the arrest, according to a July 18 article in The Age.

The House of Commons select committee maintained that it would not canvass material that affected any criminal investigation and Brooks now appears to be protected by that. Brooks has been offering to help the police since January, yet two days before she is due to stand before a parliamentary committee she was arrested.

2011-07-18 The Guardian blames WikiLeaks for the arrest of Bradley Manning

ImageA new article by the Guardian's James Ball fleshes out David Leigh's allegation that Wikileaks is to blame for the arrest of Bradley Manning.

Last week's release of the unredacted Lamo-Manning chat logs contained more information on the means by which Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked information to Wikileaks. For a year now, Julian Assange has insisted that he can neither confirm nor deny whether Bradley Manning is the source for the leaks, since - as a matter of policy - the identity of the source is not known to Wikileaks. Wikileaks protects its sources by keeping them anonymous through cryptography and a secure submission system. Even if pressured to reveal their sources by court order - so goes the reasoning - Wikileaks will be unable to do so.

The original redacted chat logs contained no information which contradicted this, but they did contain various passages which appeared to make the story less likely. In particular, Manning is said in the logs to have claimed to have "developed a relationship" with Assange. The unredacted logs, however, give a more complete picture, and appear to confirm that Assange was speaking truthfully. If they are genuine - which is not assured - the chatlogs relate how Assange, in what appear to have been anonymous communications, insisted on knowing as little as possible about Manning.

(02:56:46 PM) bradass87: he knows very little about me
(02:56:54 PM) bradass87: he takes source protection uber-seriously
(02:57:01 PM) bradass87: “lie to me” he says
(02:57:06 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: Really. Interesting.

2011-07-13 Eyewitness account from the Royal Crown Courts

I have to confess that I paid less attention to WikiLeaks over the last couple of months than before. The usual excuses: I had lots of other interesting things to do. Maybe the novelty had worn out. I had definitely also been lulled asleep by the fact that the Netherlands still seems running smoothly and by the assurance that Sweden would not be allowed to extradite without permission from the UK. So it was a rough awakening when I read on the brilliant website SwedenVersusAssange how an extradition would be realized:
http://www.swedenversusassange.com/US-Extradition.html

That fast and that easy!

2011-07-13 Weird accusation or proof of lies? More about the Assange case

Authored by Goran Rudling

In the Detention Memorandum (Häktningspromemorian) there is an attachment, “Bilaga – Skäligen misstänkt”, that lists all the sex crimes that Julian Assange is suspected of. It is a long list. It is one rape, one sexual coercion and five sexual molestations. Sofia Wilén is the the alleged victim of rape. According to the police investigation Anna Ardin is supposed to be the victim of six sex crimes.

2011-07-12 Tweet Stream - @m_cetera LIVE from Hearing July 12 and 13

For previous coverage of Julian Assange extradition trials by Mirjam Eikelboom see here. Follow @m_cetera on Twitter for coverage on July 12 and 13.

Chirpstory of @m_cetera's coverage below.

2011-07-12 Tweet Stream - Julian #Assange's hearing on July 12 & 13 #wjul

2011-07-12 Göran Rudling & Peter Kemp in Conversation about #Assange Swedish Extradition Case VIDEO #wljul

On July 10 and 11, WL Central's Alexa O'Brien moderated a conversation between Göran Rudling, former witness for the defense at the February extradition hearing for Julian Assange, and Peter Kemp, WL Central legal commentator and Australian solicitor.

Göran Rudling is a Swedish citizen and author of, "Sex, lies, no videotape and more lies. False accusations in the Assange case" in which he deconstructs the case against Julian Assange. Mr. Kemp has translated and made commentary on Mr. Rudling's article from its original Swedish.

Mr. Rudling has also recently written "Weird accusation or proof of lies? More about the Assange case", which covers some of the contents of our 2 hour discussion.

Total running time is about 2 hours. There is image degradation the first 30 seconds of Part 2 and 3. Sound quality is of lesser quality comparatively on Parts 2, 3, and 4 only.


Archive - Previous WL Central hearing coverage

2011-07-11 Assange to appeal extradition to Sweden

WikiLeaks front-man Julian Assange will front the high court in London on July 12 for his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange has been under house arrest in England for over six months, following a ruling in February at a London district court that the extradition of Assange to Sweden was valid and would not breach any of his human rights.

Assange’s lawyers argued that he would face an unfair trial in Sweden; there arguments can be found here: http://t.co/NTwxH2D http://t.co/oVYrSpM

Assange voluntarily turned himself in to the police in the UK after Sweden filed a European Arrest Warrant for him.

A widely held view amongst WikiLeaks’ supporters is that the extradition to Sweden is a preface to an eventual trial in the US; and that extradition for the charges against Assange would not be pursued if it was any ordinary citizen.

Assange and his colleagues at the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks have subjected the US government to extreme duress and embarrassment due to its publication of many thousands of US diplomatic cables including: the July 12 Baghdad Collateral Murder Video and other Iraq war documents; material on extrajudicial killings in Kenya, and the Guantanamo Bay files, to name a few.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen and deserves all the support our government can offer him. Instead he was thrown to the wolves. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard failed to support Assange and called the leaks “an illegal act” according to an article in The Australian in 2009.

Gillard came under widespread condemnation for failing to give support to Assange. Hundreds of prominent lawyers, journalists, editors, and academics signed a letter to the Gillard government calling for her to support Assange but the government has maintained its hardline stance from the outset.

2011-07-04 The Homophobic Smear of Bradley Manning

ImageA recent article by Steve Fishman in New York Magazine trots out more salacious gossip about Bradley Manning's sexuality, in what is now a sustained media campaign to discredit the military whistleblower. On foot of the Fishman article, WL Central examines the more insidious aspects of this trend.

Bradley Manning's sexuality is irrelevant. For anyone who has read the logs purporting to document his confession, his professed motives were plain. If he is guilty of blowing the whistle, he clearly blew the whistle on conscientious grounds. His sexual identity is irrelevant to this. If he did not blow the whistle, his sexuality is equally irrelevant.

His sexuality is irrelevant, but what is becoming relevant is how assiduously the press have focused on it. The issue has become seperate from the story of Manning's alleged involvement with Wikileaks. Since Ginger Thomson's Bradley Manning piece in August last year, mainstream media coverage of the issue has created and reinforced an alternative history of the Manning case, wherein his actions were the pathological outcome of a deeply psychologically troubled individual, recklessly breaking protocol in a fit of indulgent self-realization.

2011-07-02 RECORDED STREAM of Assange, Žižek & Goodman Conversation July 2, 11am EDT

This Saturday, July 2, Democracy Now's Amy Goodman will moderate a conversation with Julian Assange and Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek. The event is sponsored by the Frontline Club, and broadcast from The Troxy theater in London.

The focus of the event will be the "ethics and philosophy behind WikiLeaks’ work, the talk will provide a rare opportunity to hear two of the world’s most prominent thinkers discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time," according to the Democracy Now web site.

The conversation coincides with the "publication of the paperback edition of Žižek’s Living in the End Times, in which he argues that new ways of using and sharing information, in particular WikiLeaks, are one of a number of harbingers of the end of global capitalism as we know it."

Starts below at 21 minutes.

2011-06-30 UK Police Stop & Search Citizens During #J30 to Prevent Possible 'Hooliganism'

(photo: David King)

Public workers, up to seven hundred and fifty thousand teachers and civil servants, are alleged to have participated in a June 30 general strike called for in the United Kingdom after UK Parliament passed changes to pensions and retirement, specifically, increasing the amount an employee has to contribute.

At 1:31 pm London Time, Hélène Mulholland reported from the end of “the Strand, by Trafalgar Square,” that a march had been “good-natured” so far. “ She said it is clear that the turn out has been good, that quite a few in the UK believe the government did not properly negotiate the new pension and retirement changes. And she also reported, “There doesn't seem to have been much trouble," except for the stopping and searching of minority students.

Around 12 pm London Time, she “walked past five police officers stopping and searching two non-white 17-year-old sixth formers, Aamir Kadir and Jean-Claude Goddard, in Lincoln's Inn Fields to the dismay of onlookers.” Mulholland said they were searched because they were wearing keffiyeh scarves, a traditional headdress for Arab men. While there were white women with scarves standing around the two young men who were stopped, the police said they stopped the two because the scarves might be used to commit violence. They said they were stopped out of “empirical judgment” because “people use keffiyehs to mask their identity.”

Throughout the strikes today, the UK police have claimed stop and search powers under section 60 of the Criminal Public Order Act. Here is how this provision allowing police the legal right to stop citizens and search them in public is described on the Metropolitan Police website:

Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, gives police the right to search people in a defined area at a specific time when they believe, with good reason, that: there is the possibility of serious violence; or that a person is carrying a dangerous object or offensive weapon; or that an incident involving serious violence has taken place and a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon used in the incident is being carried in the locality. This law has to be authorized by a senior officer and is used mainly to tackle football hooliganism and gang fights.

In this case, the police are using Section 60 to thwart the “hooliganism” of public and civil servants who feel they just got a bad deal from their government, who are upset they might have more trouble making ends meet for their family.

2011-05-18 WikiLeaks Notes: Diplomatic Sexual Abuse a la Strauss-Kahn, Spy Powers to Expand for Australian Security Agency

ImageFROM THE CABLES/GITMO FILES

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be just one of many diplomats or international officials alleged to have abused maids or nannies in the United States:

In April 2007, a Tanzanian maid filed a lawsuit against Alan Mzengi, a minister-counselor at the Tanzanian Embassy. She alleged the Mzengis kept her as “a virtual prisoner in their residence, stripping her of her passport, refusing to permit her to leave the house unaccompanied.” The lawsuit states she was not paid for her four years of work.

On this case, Reuters reports a US State Embassy cable from December 2009 shows the US government asked the Tanzanian government to investigate saying, “While payment of the lost wages to Ms. Mazengo is our first priority, we also hope that any diplomat who has treated his domestic staff in such an abusive manner would face appropriate sanction upon his return home," the cable said.

The State Department continues to monitor a possible Tanzania investigation and claims it will be getting “tough on alleged abuse of domestic workers by foreign diplomats.”

Cables deal with Canadian electricity:

One story out from CBC reports that Prince Edward Island utility Maritime Electric was part of Hydro-Québec's plans for purchase of NB Power. In October 2009, as the New Brunswick government was considering a $4.8 billion deal that was politically unpopular, the possibility of a sale was denied. The cables show it was seriously considered.

2011-05-16 This Week in WikiLeaks Special Segment - Debating Whether the Organization is Hypocritical or Not

ImageFor the past four or five days, a copy of a leaked confidentiality agreement from WikiLeaks has been a hot topic among those who follow news and politics. Those that have regularly scrutinized WikiLeaks, who have typically gone along with any meme in the media that shines a light on the organization’s imperfections, took the posting of this agreement as an opportunity to focus on how this showed complete hypocrisy. Those sympathetic and supportive, on the other hand, saw this as a moment when they needed to get out in front and defend the organization.

I was one of those people who found the renewed push to further de-legitimize WikiLeaks concerning. I posted an analysis of the confidentiality agreement and later posted a comprehensive and thought-out critique of David Allen Green's work on WikiLeaks. (Green is the blogger for the New Statesman, who helped make the agreement a big story.)

As the story was breaking, I received a Twitter message, “WikiLeaks Threatens Its Own Leakers With $20 Million Penalty" http://bit.ly/klgAnz What says @kgosztola?” The message came from Roni Weiss, a personality on a podcast show called “Don’t Worry About the Government.” I told him he should have me on his program to share my opinion.

On Facebook, we went back and forth on the “Don’t Worry About the Government” show page as I tried to get him to do a segment with me. He stated his position, “My biggest concern is that I just don't have much to say about it…My stance is basically: This looks bad for them, publicity-wise, and beyond that, I don't really care, because they do a lot of things that look bad.

2011-05-15 Behind the Blogger Who Made the WikiLeaks Confidentiality Agreement a Top Story

ImageDavid Allen Green, legal correspondent for the New Statesman out of the UK, has spent the last few days calling attention to a leaked confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which he revealed in a blog post on May 11. Green has posted a second post on the agreement on his blog, Jack of Kent, and will be posting a summary to the New Statesman website on May 16, which last time I checked, he intends to glibly title, "NDAs for Dummies."

I published an initial analysis of the leaked agreement on WL Central. The analysis was featured as a “Best Opinion” in an “Irony Alert” blog post on the agreement on The Week’s website.

Green, who is the blogger who was the first to draw attention to the agreement, called it a “draconian and extraordinary legal gag that WikiLeaks imposes on its own staff” and, in particular, focused on Clause 5 of the agreement that “imposes a penalty of ‘£12,000,000 – twelve million pounds sterling’ on anyone who breaches this legal gag.”

In his follow-up post, which cites the analysis I wrote, he groups me with others who “sought to explain the document away: to normalize it and to contend that it is somehow unexceptional.” That is true. That is what I did.

He adds:

It may be well that for WikiLeaks partisans (like "the Birthers" in the United States), nothing - not even a disclosed document- will shift their adherence to their cause.

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