United Kingdom

2011-01-28 World leaders comment on events in Egypt

Amidst the on going protests / revolution, several leaders across the world have spoken out in regards to the turmoil which has over taken Egypt. The following are excerpts from the various governments' press release.

Germany
Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for an end to violence in Egypt. Further, calling on all parties, especially the Egyptian government to authorize peaceful demonstrations, and to allow freedom of expression.

France
"We expect the authorities and relevant public bodies to respect public liberties, notably freedom of expression." (Foreign Ministry)

2011-01-28 FBI executes 40 search warrants for DDoS attacks, UK arrests 5

The FBI announced on Thursday that it has executed over 40 search warrants in the United States today against individuals who are thought to have participated in cyber attacks against "major companies and organizations" who cut off sources of funding to WikiLeaks. The FBI states in its press release:

A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.

The press release coincides with events also unfolding in France and UK.

Paris police also announced on Thursday that a French teenager suspected of involvement in the DDoS attacks in the United States was taken into custody for a few hours last December.

2011-01-27 Pirate Party statement concerning Anonymous arrests

On 27th of January 2011 at 15:00, the Pirate Party UK issued a press release in regards to the recent five arrests of Anonymous members. Amongst other points made in the Press releasethis underlining point was made:

While the Party will never condone any illegal actions, it can understand the frustration felt by many who feel powerless in the face of multinational corporations and Governments unwilling to step in.

That normal, everyday people choose to take these sorts of actions shows the extent to which many people feel disenfranchised by mainstream politics and the Pirate Party aims to give such people a voice and a means to engage in these issues through lawful and political methods rather than resorting to 'hacktivism' and other actions that could be illegal.

Further, the Piratenpartei has filed a petition with the Deutscher Bundestag which, in part states:
Protection of whistle blowers. (Translated in Part)

2011-01-27 WikiLeaks barrister Geoffrey Robertson receives NY Bar Association award, warns US

While accepting an award for distinction in international law and affairs from the NY Bar Association, Geoffrey Robertson, who will defend Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at his extradition hearings in London in February, warned that the United States "risked irrevocable damage to its reputation if it pursued Assange" by "aiming the blunderbuss of its 1917 Espionage Act, death penalty and all, at a publisher who is a citizen of a friendly nation," according to the The Age: US told to drop Assange pursuit.

The Sydney Morning Herald writes:

2011-01-23 Swedish PM denies political role in Assange extradition case

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

2011-01-22 Hungary faces fines and other administrative action over new media law

Reuters reported today on possible EU legal action against Hungary for its new media law passed in 2010 (reported here by WL Central). Hungary has two weeks to show that the new law complies with EU rules regarding free speech and media freedom, and with EU regulations on broadcasting. The report goes on to state:

The commission, which serves as the EU executive body, is concerned whether the new rules limit freedom of expression in Hungary by requiring all broadcasters to provide balanced coverage of news and to register with a state authority.

The full article can be read here.

2011-01-21 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks points to US meddling in Haiti

"US embassy cables reveal how anxious the US was to enlist Brazil to keep the deposed Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti.

Confidential US diplomatic cables from 2005 and 2006 released this week by WikiLeaks reveal Washington's well-known obsession to keep exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti and Haitian affairs."

Read more

Le Monde: En 2007, les ministres suédois voulaient stopper les réfugiés irakiens (In 2007, the Swedish ministers wanted to stop the Iraqi refugees)

"Des télégrammes diplomatiques américains transmis par WikiLeaks au quotidien suédois Svenska Dagbladet font état, vendredi 21 janvier, des efforts de plusieurs ministres suédois pour limiter l'arrivée de réfugiés irakiens en Suède. (The American diplomatic cables sent by Wikileaks to the Swedish paper "Svenska Dagbladet" report, this friday January 21st, the efforts of several Swedish ministers to limit the entry of Iraqi refugees in Sweden.)"

Read more (French)

2011-01-21 Ben Ali has used Europe's prejudices

Today, The German news outlet Frankfurter Rundschau reported on some comments made by Jebali Hamadi. Hamadi was the leader of the Islamic party Al-Nahdha just prior to the fall of the Ben Ali government of Tunisia. In the brief interview, Jebali Hamadi is reported to have said:

Aber eine Beteiligung an dieser Regierung lehnen wir ab. Wir wollen eine Regierung, an der sich alle beteiligen, ohne Ausnahme.

(Participation in this government, we reject. We want to be involved in a government in which all political parties are equally represented, without exception.)

Jebali Hamadi continued in the interview to state:

Wir sind gegen Einschränkungen. Aber schauen Sie auf die Straße! Das Volk hat sich gegen die Politik der RCD ausgesprochen. Wer in die Repression verwickelt ist, kann nicht an der Regierung beteiligt werden

2011-01-20 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: Iran has cleared major hurdle to nuclear weapons

"Tehran has 'technical ability' to make highly enriched uranium, say experts, as efforts turn to disrupting supply of other materials.

US officials believe Iran now has the "technical ability" to make highly enriched uranium, an essential step towards building a nuclear bomb, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable."

Read more

The Guardian: US embassy cables: Botswana's forced relocation of indigenous tribespeople condemned

"Ambassador Huggins visited Botswana's western town of Ghanzi and the San/Basarwa relocation settlement of New Xade on March 10-11. Rural poverty, severe dependence on government assistance, lack of income-generating opportunities, despair among youth, and the underperformance of the parastatal Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) were identified by interlocutors as dominant issues in the district. Officials proclaimed the advantages of the relocation of the San/Basarwa out of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve into villages. NGOs emphasized the forcible aspect of the exercise and the psychological trauma and cultural disorientation it had produced. The GOB, as revealed in a subsequent meeting with the MFA PermSec, views the San as a group which, like other ethnic minorities in Botswana, should use education to move forward."

Read cable

Hispanically Speaking News: Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom Said Rigoberta Menchu is “A Fabrication”

2011-01-16 Swiss Whistleblower to leak bank documents to WikiLeaks two days before trial

Rudolf Elmer, the founder of Swiss Whistleblower who we wrote about here is in the news again. He will return to Switzerland to appear in court on January 19, where he will face charges of stealing banking information. Two days earlier he will be at the Frontline Club in London to present Wikileaks with CD's containing the offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations.

Elmer told the Observer that the details on the CD's will 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 all over.

Elmer, says he is releasing the information "in order to educate society". He is concerned about the wealthy individuals and multinationals who use banking secrecy to hide possibly criminal activities such as tax evasion.

"What I am objecting to is not one particular bank, but a system of structures, I have worked for major banks other than Julius Baer, and the one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes, and other things such as money-laundering – although these cases involve tax evasion."

"I agree with privacy in banking for the person in the street, and legitimate activity, but in these instances privacy is being abused so that big people can get big banking organisations to service them. The normal, hard-working taxpayer is being abused also.

2011-01-15 Julian Assange & Mens Rea, Sweden & Doli Incapax: Extradition Part 4

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.

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

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

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

Cable

Read more (French)

2010-12-31 The Guardian: Ministers must 'wise up not clam up' after WikiLeaks disclosures

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is interviewed by the Guardian:


We are strongly of the view that things should be published. Where you're open things will not be WikiLeaked. Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks – right or wrong – it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that. ...

One response is that they will clam up and not write anything down, which is nonsense, you can't run any organisation that way. The other is to be even more open. The best form of defence is transparency — much more proactive publication of what organisations do. It's an attitude of 'OK. You want to know? Here it is'.

2010-12-29 Pirate Parties condemn violence against employees of WikiLeaks

The following Pirate Parties of Europe have issued a joint statement condemning all attacks on the infrastructure of Wikileaks and employees of Wikileaks.

- Pirate Party of Germany
- Pirate Party of France
- Pirate Party of Italy
- Pirate Party of Austria
- Pirate Party of Russia
- Pirate Party of Switzerland
- Pirate Party of Luxembourg
- Pirate Party of the United Kingdom

2010-12-27 Notes on the persecution of Julian Assange

There is no doubt that Wikileaks is under continuous attack: threats from the Pentagon; calls by the old Republican right and the recently empowered Tea Party for a direct attack on what they have called a “terrorist threat”; the renowned boycotts by Paypal, Moneybookers, Amazon and now even Apple; the Australian government’s reticence to defend its citizen (Julian Assange); the rejection of Mr. Assange’s residence in Sweden for unexplained causes, and the list grows.

Now even though many voices have hinted, or even openly declared, that the rape charges against him are just another part of this campaign, because of its sensitive nature it is wiser not to hurry in our conclusions. What is clear though is that the constant irregularities at the heart of the case can make it questionable, which is why many of those voices are worried about the real motivation behind the accusations. Last August, in the middle of the political storm unleashed by the leak in July related to the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Assange was casually dating the liberal politologist and Swedish activist, Anna Ardin. According to her version of the story, he would have forced her sexually on the night of the 14th of that month, pressing charges around a week later.

Extradition Part 3

Extradition 3

Backtracking a little from the UK’s Extradition Act (in the Extradition 1 post) it is necessary to understand that the origin of that legislation comes from the European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”) regime in turn based on the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States.(Pdf)

It is also necessary to understand that where interpreting legislation like the UK’s Extradition Act (that will be applied in Assange's hearing) and if finding ambiguity or uncertainty, resort can be made--ordinarily to parliamentry second reading speeches in countries like Australia for example
—to examining, in this case, that very document of the Council Framework Decision.

The Preamble to the Council Framework Decision states in part:

2010-12-24 Huffington Post: Bianca Jagger - Trial by Newspaper

Bianca Jagger has written a long and detailed article in the Huffington Post condemning Nick Davies' recent article for the Guardian.

I object to the Guardian's decision to publish selective passages from the Swedish police report, whilst omitting exculpatory evidence contained in the document. ...

Assange has been criticized for not being willing to return to Sweden to prove his innocence. It is hardly surprising he has reservations, given Sweden's human rights record. ...

In the Today Show on December 21st, Assange revealed that Sweden has requested that if he returns and is arrested, he is to be held incommunicado, and his Swedish lawyer is to be given a gag order. ...

I suspect that what is on trial here is not Julian Assange's alleged sexual misconduct, but freedom of speech ....

2010-12-24 WikiLeaks in today's media: Extradition coverage

Guardian

The Guardian reports on Julian Assange's views on a prospective extradition request from the USA while he is in the UK in an ongoing Swedish extradition process.

Julian Assange said today that it would be "politically impossible" for Britain to extradite him to the United States, and that the final word on his fate if he were charged with espionage would rest with David Cameron.

In an interview with the Guardian in Ellingham Hall, the Norfolk country mansion where he is living under virtual house arrest, the founder of WikiLeaks said it would be difficult for the prime minister to hand him over to the Americans if there was strong support for him from the British people.

"It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.

Read more

2010-12-21 Ekklesia: Why conscientious objector Michael Lyons deserves support

Ekklesia asks for support for twenty-four year old medic Michael Lyons. On 17 December he lost his appeal to be allowed to leave the Royal Navy on grounds of conscience.

When he heard reports about civilian casualties, including children, he made an effort to find out more about the situation. ''I was unable to find a real, just and noble cause to go out but I still had a sense of duty to my country,'' he explained at his hearing.

Then WikiLeaks revelations alerted him to the fact that civilian casualties were far greater than had originally been reported. “'Examples included a convoy of marines tearing down a six-mile highway, firing at people with no discrimination.”

What is more, despite being a medic, he might not be allowed to treat everyone needing his help, and might even be called on to kill: “It seems from previous testimony and courses I've done that even going out as a medic with all good intention, if you're at a patrol base or forward operating base, it's likely you'll have to use your weapon and will have to turn civilians away who are in need of medical aid."

For those wondering why data previously in a system which allowed close to one million authorized users, currently in a world where the citizens of almost every country can view it, is being blocked only from the people serving in the military it concerns, this could be the reason. Please support Michael Lyons.

2010-12-16 Sweden case updates: Bail appeal hearing [Update 5]

Following the Crown Prosecution Service's decision to appeal the bail granted on Tuesday by the Westminster Magistrates' Court, another hearing will take place today at 11:30 GMT at the High Court.

Peter Alexander of NBC News noted on Twitter that "Assange lawyer says defense has collected $315K bail. He's free if appeal's denied." The court had requested on Tuesday that the full bail amount be presented in cash.

Journalists present at the court, including a team from The Guardian, report that Julian Assange and his legal team have already arrived at the court for the hearing, which is expected to take two hours. It is unclear at this point whether live updates via Twitter will be allowed from the courtroom, as was the case at Tuesday's hearing.

In the meantime, please don't miss Peter Kemp's continued legal analysis of the bail and extradition arguments: Extradition Part 2--Bail, and Bail Arguments and the Appeal.

Update 1: Justice Ouseley has ruled that no Twitter updates will be allowed from the courtroom today, reports The Guardian's Luke Harding.

Update 2: The Guardian's Luke Harding quoted Justice Ouseley as saying, "The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial." According to Mr Harding, "the case is looking good" for Julian Assange.

Update 3: The prosecution's appeal has been denied, reports Channel 4. Julian Assange has been granted bail, on slightly modified conditions compared to those specified at Tuesday's hearing, namely additional sureties, reports Guy Rundle for Crikey.

The next extradition hearing will take place on January 11.

According to testimony at Tuesday's hearing, Julian Assange will stay at the estate of Captain Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club. You can read Mr Smith's exclusive piece in yesterday's Independent, explaining his support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, concluding: "If to fight for this country we will have to fight for its fundamental principles of justice then I declare my position in the ranks."

Update 4: Guy Rundle reports that hearing costs have been awarded against the Crown Prosecution Service.

Update 5: After the formalities were completed, Julian Assange was released today at 6pm London time. He gave a short speech on the steps of the High Court, thanking supporters, his lawyers, members of the press "who were not all taken in," and the British justice system. He called on people to support those facing conditions harder than he did in prison, and promised to continue his work and reveal the evidence behind the allegations.

A video of the statement is available via the New York Times.

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