2013-07-05 WikiLeaks and DataCell sue Visa/Valitor for 9 billion ISK

Now that the extralegal financial blockade of WikiLeaks is collapsing, with an Icelandic supreme court ruling on its illegality and both MasterCard and Visa ending their legal fights, WikiLeaks and payment processor DataCell are turning the tables and suing Visa and Valitor for damages. The amount sought is Íkr (Icelandic krónur) 9,000,000,000.



Milestone Supreme Court Decision for WikiLeaks Case in Iceland

Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks. Iceland's Supreme Court upheld the decision that Valitor (formerly VISA Iceland and current Visa subcontractor) had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks donations processor DataCell. This strong judgement is an important milestone for WikiLeaks' legal battle to end the economic blockade that has besieged the organisation since early December 2010. Despite the effects of the blockade having crippled WikiLeaks resources, the organisation is fighting the blockade on many fronts. It is a battle that concerns free speech and the future of the free press; it concerns fundamental civil rights; and it is a struggle for the rights of individuals to vote with their wallet and donate to the cause they believe in.

2011-03-11 Denial of 'Twitter 3' Request to Throw Out Twitter Order Renews Government War on Internet Freedom, Whistleblowing

ImageFederal Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan ruled the “Twitter 3,” who have become ensnared in a WikiLeaks investigation, cannot keep the US government from looking at their Twitter information and the information they would like to be public cannot be disclosed. With support from the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jacob Appelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp, the three, will appeal the decision.

The “Twitter 3” sought to convince the court the Twitter Order violated First and Fourth Amendment rights. The Court found there was no First Amendment violation because the three had “already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available.” The Court memo on the decision explains:

The Twitter Order does not seek to control or direct the content of petitioners’ speech or association. Rather, it is a routine compelled disclosure of non-content information which petitioners voluntarily provided to Twitter pursuant to Twitter’s Privacy Policy. Additionally, the Court’s §2703(d) analysis assured that the Twitter Order is reasonable in scope, and the government has a legitimate interest in the disclosures sought.

On the Fourth Amendment argument, the Court finds no “privacy interest” in protecting “IP addresses” and argued, “The Court is aware of no authority finding that an IP address shows location with precision, let alone provides insight into a home’s interior or a user’s movements.”

2011-02-09 Motions on Twitter Order Unsealed & the February 15 Grand Jury in Alexandria

ImageNews broke last night on February 8 as a court unsealed three motions filed on behalf of Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last month. The motions were filed in response to the U.S. government’s targeting of Twitter accounts as part of an investigation related to WikiLeaks.

Additionally, it was reported that a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia will be held on February 15 on whether there is legal justification for the Justice Department to request Twitter account details and whether the Justice Department order for Twitter turn over account information should be kept under seal.

Federal prosecutors are and have been seeking to obtain information on Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Dutch hacker and entrepreneur Roy Gonggrijp and US computer programmer and known WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum as well as “subscriber account information” for Bradley Manning, who has been charged with leaking classified information, and WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange.

2011-02-03 Greg Mitchell on being held hostage by WikiLeaks—and revisiting 'Collateral Murder'

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.

Iceland, Guantanamo and the Economic Crisis. (This day in Cable History)

Framing is a fundamental tool of understanding. It is in the action of framing, or providing a narrative that context is created and understanding promoted. As with all "big" news stories and the embassy cables in particular, the various news outlets reporting on the cables have provided the context in which understanding is created, gained. The Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegel and others have to a greater or lesser degree provided the political framing much needed to understand these cables. But, what of the social framing? What was the state of culture during the writing of these cables? And for that matter what were some of the economic indicators at the time?

2011-01-11 TVOntario: The Agenda: Livestream interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the Icelandic parliament and former WikiLeaks volunteer, in Toronto to speak at the first Samara/Massey journalism seminar, will be interviewed by Steve Paikin of Television Ontario's The Agenda at 2 p.m. EST today. The interview will be livestreamed and will be archived on the program's website.

From Samara:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, now a member of Iceland’s Parliament, has led a movement in her country to take the most far-reaching steps towards advancing free speech, freedom of the press and transparency in government of any country in the world. This initiative, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) aims to bring together transparency laws from multiple jurisdictions to create the strongest media freedom laws in the world, with the goal of improving democracy and Iceland's standing in the international community.

In her talk, Birgitta Jónsdóttir will describe how and why she decided to help transform Iceland into the world’s safe haven for transparency, and what the impact has been to date, including her reflections on WikiLeaks’ ongoing revelations.

2011-01-09 Birgitta Jónsdóttir Speaking at Canadian journalism seminar January 11

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who has recently been the subject of a US Department of Justice subpoena to Twitter for her online information, will be flying to Canada tomorrow. Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson has called the subpoena “very odd and grave.” Jónsdóttir herself says she wants clear answers on whether she can stay on as a member of the Foreign relations committee of Althingi and whether it is safe for her to travel abroad. “I don’t know if I can go to the US without risking that my phone or computer will be confiscated.”

She will be speaking about IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative) at the first Samara/Massey journalism seminar, of the year. IMMI brought to Iceland the most extensive free speech, freedom of the press and transparency laws of any country in the world, and Jónsdóttir was its chief parliamentary sponsor.

In a new study of the effectiveness of freedom of information laws in five parliamentary democracies, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada, Canada placed last.

2011-01-07 Twitter Details & Messages of Birgitta Jónsdóttir Subpoenaed

The US Department of Justice has issued a subpoena on Twitter for material related to Birgitta Jónsdóttir, including her personal details and, it can be assumed, all her private direct messages.

Ms Jónsdóttir twittered thus:
department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info - i got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.

usa government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. do they realize i am a member of parliament in iceland?

While this is not in any way confirmed, it appears that while the subpoena is from the DOJ it may actually emanate from the Grand Jury so far held in secret (but often mentioned or alluded to in the mainstream media) to examine whether or not Wikileaks people in general and Julian Assange in particular can be charged with an offence.

Subpoenae are a normal part of a criminal justice system and ordinarily there are restrictions against abuse, for both prosecution and defence.

The normal common law test for subponae is the "legitimate forensic purpose" test. Arguable for and against (with respective case law in mind in whatever jurisdiction one happens to be in), the test is for the purpose of eliminating or significantly reducing "fishing expeditions: to reduce waste of a court's time and to eliminate the speculative and wide subpoena that would require truckloads of documents to satisfy it.

2010-12-13 Visa, Mastercard, PostFinance under investigation

The Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee met yesterday to discuss the ban that Visa and Mastercard placed on donations to WikiLeaks, reports The Reykjavik Grapevine. In attendance were representatives of Icelandic electronic payment companies Valitor and Borgun, which work with Visa and Mastercard, The Consumers' Alliance, Amnesty International, and WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, who joined via video link.

Róbert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said that "People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it. They said this decision was taken by foreign sources." The committee has asked for more information from the companies, to prove that there were legal grounds for such a ban. Marshall added that it was the committee's opinion that Visa and Mastercard's operating licenses be "seriously reviewed," reports The Reykjavik Grapevine.

Datacell, the company handling credit card donations for WikiLeaks, has already declared that it would file legal action against Visa and Mastercard.

PostFinance, the banking arm of the Swiss Post, found itself under investigation as well for potentially breaching secrecy laws by publicly disclosing that it has closed Julian Assange's bank account, reports AFP. "We are investigating if, in relation to the Postfinance press statement, there has been punishable action," Hermann Wenger, examining magistrate of the Bern-Mittelland region, told Sonntags Zeitung.

As previously reported, the Wau Holland Foundation also initiated legal action against PayPal, resulting in PayPal agreeing to release the blocked funds. In an interview with Der Spiegel today, Hendrick Fulda, a board member of the foundation, said that "Every new publication by WikiLeaks has unleashed a wave of support, and donations were never as strong as now. More than €80,000 was contributed in one week via PayPal alone. We will have to see what impact the removal of PayPal has on our incoming funds."

2010-11-16 WikiLeaks registers company in Iceland

(AFP) REYKJAVIK — Whistleblower WikiLeaks has registered in media-friendly Iceland its first known legal entity -- a business that so far has no office or activity, the website's spokesman said Friday.

Wikileaks is now mulling whether to use the firm to fundraise or for information gathering, Kristinn Hrafnsson told AFP.

"We want WikiLeaks to have a global presence and having a business in Iceland is part of this plan," said Hrafnsson of the new entity, called Sunshine Press Productions.

Read the full article here

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