2011-01-22 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

El País: EE UU retrata la corrupción en Cuba (The United States portraits corruption un Cuba)

"Sobornos, mordidas, comisiones ilegales, tráfico de influencias... Los informes detallan la generalización de prácticas corruptas en un sistema asediado por la penuria. (Bribes, illegal committees, trafic of influences... The informs detail the generalized corruption in a system chased by poverty.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: [Cables:] "La Iglesia ha capitulado" ([Cables:] "The church has capitulated")

"EE UU dibuja una jerarquía resignada a las concesiones del régimen castrista. La Iglesia católica ha renunciado al activismo político en Cuba, e incluso optó por distanciarse de los disidentes católicos, a cambio de que el régimen le permita mantener un espacio para el culto y pueda reconstruir su infraestructura en templos y seminarios. (The United States portraits a hierarchy surrendered to the Castro regime conditions. The Catholic Church has quit the political activism in Cuba and even has chosen to take distance from the catholic dissidents, in exchange for a free spot to worship and infrastructure for temples and seminaries allowed by the Castro regime.)"

Read more (Spanish)

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.

2011-01-22 Which US senator put an anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Act?

On December 22, 2010, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Bill S.372) was killed by an unknown United States Senator, who placed an anonymous hold on the bill (reported here on WL Central).

WNYC, On the Media and the Government Accountability Project have joined forces to uncover the identity of the mystery senator.

WNYC has posted a table, "containing the names, states, and contact information for the 87 [United States] Senators still serving that could have put the anonymous hold on this bill." You can find it here.

They are asking the American public to "call, write, [or] email their Senators and ask them 'did you kill this bill?'” Then, regardless of the Senator's reply, they request you email blowthewhistle@wnyc.org with an update.

Here are some tips about "How To Track Down Anonymous Holds" from Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project

Source: WNYC: Blow the Whistle

2011-01-21 Former Swedish judge Sundberg-Weitman speaks out on the handling of the Julian Assange case

The following summarizes the unfolding of events surrounding the arrest of Julian Assange, as recounted in an article entitled "The European Arrest Order Against Julian Assange," originally published here by Brita Sundberg-Weitman, retired Swedish judge and author in the areas of legal and civil rights. Sundberg-Weitman also expresses concerns about media coverage of the event and about the possible extradition of Julian Assange in this article, which I received via email by a source who also reports that Sundberg-Weitman translated the piece herself. Quotations refer directly to this English translation received.

The article has 3 parts: Background, justification of extradition fears and clarification of related political considerations under Swedish law. Each is summarized here.

Background

2011-01-21 Violent protests in Albania against government corruption

Protests against government corruption in Albania have left 3 people dead and 55 injured, according to an AP report.


Tensions that have been building for months between the government and opposition Socialists came to a head after a top minister was forced to resign this week amid an alleged corruption scandal.

More than 20,000 people hit the streets Friday to demand that Prime Minister Sali Berisha call early elections after the country's deputy prime minister, Ilir Meta, resigned. Opposition supporters battled riot police outside Berisha's office in Tirana, and health officials said three people were shot dead and 30 civilians and 24 policemen and National Guard were injured.

Clashes broke out Friday when several hundred protesters broke away from the main group and started attacking a riot police cordon. Chanting "Get out, Get out!" some protesters overturned and torched cars, smashed paving stones and hurled them at riot police and reached the steps of the government building.

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."

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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

2011-01-21 Julian Assange receives Russian visa

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.

In other news, Moscow Times reports "Russia's Own WikiLeaks Takes Off".
http://wlcentral.org/node/1010/edit

2011-01-20 Welt Online: WikiLeaks cables indicate that Israel believes Turkey is lost to the West

The German language website Welt Online continued publication of WikiLeaks cables critical of Turkey, in their bid to "Break the WikiLeaks Cartel". According to cables cited today, the opening of the PLO Embassy in Turkey was only an excuse for Abbas' visit in 2009, and Israel considers Turkey to be "lost to the west".

The cables document how not only the USA and Israel, but also the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah were concerned with Turkey's silent support for Hamas, which the PLO official quoted in the cable of June 3, 2009 called "very dangerous". Turkey's ambivalent relationship to Hamas, while nothing new, required Turkish officials to "talk out of both sides of their mouth" when dealing with American officials. The U.S. Congress' anger is is clearly visible in the cables. This push-me pull-you continued well into 2009, when U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey reported on February 9th that President Gül and especially Foreign Minister Babacan were taking extra care to deal with the "extremely critical" remarks that Erdogan had made towards Israel in order to repair the "traditionally strong relationship between Israel and Turkey".

The cables document the further deterioration of the relationship, to the degree where the Israeli Ambassador to Ankara, Gabi Levy, called Erdogan a fundamentalist who "hates us with religious fury". Whereupon the Americans soberly confirm that their contacts inside and outside of the Turkish government are of the opinion that Erdogan probably "just hates Israel".

2011-01-20 Breaking: WikiLeaks cables cited by defence lawyers in French Guantanamo Trial

Washington Post: PARIS -- Lawyers for ex-inmates of the Guantanamo prison camp used documents released by WikiLeaks to argue for their acquittal in a French terrorism trial Thursday.

The lawyers for five Frenchmen, originally acquitted of the charges in a 2009 trial, argued that it was inappropriate for French investigators to have discussed the ex-inmates' cases with American authorities after a new trial was ordered. Lawyer Dominique Many said it "shocked" him that investigators would discuss ongoing cases with the U.S. government.

In one March 2005 cable, French investigators told American officials that the cases against two of the ex-Guantanamo inmates, Ridouane Khalid and Khaled Ben Mustafa, "would be much more difficult" than for other French former inmates of the prison. The cable was among many released recently by WikiLeaks.

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."

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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”

2011-01-20 Bloomberg discloses FBI Contractor admits to Spying on Swedish [UPDATE]

In a report on Wikileaks, Bloomberg disclosed on January 20 that U.S. authorities may now be using contractors to spy on Swedish servers looking for creative ways to prosecute Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

Bloomberg reports that Robert Boback, Chief Executive Officer of Tiversa, Inc., a spying and surveillance firm that contracts with the FBI, declined to say who his company's client was when his firm surveilled four unidentified Swedish servers.

According to Boback, during a 60 minute period on February 7, 2009:

"Tiversa’s monitors detected four Swedish computers engaged in searching and downloading information on peer-to-peer networks. The four computers issued 413 searches, crafted to find Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and other information-rich documents among some of the 18 million users the company estimates are on such file-sharing networks at any given moment."

Tiversa also claims that:

2011-01-20 Three reasons why WikiLeaks is dangerous to corporations

Corporations are being pressured to behave more ethically and transparently as a result of the increasing influence of Julian Assange's scientific journalistic enterprise, WikLeaks. Public relations professionals in Germany say that trying to sit out the storm is no longer a strategy for success in a post-cablegate world.

In the wake of the removal of Galileo CEO Berry Smutny and Rudolph Elmer's handover of banking data to Wikileaks, the German public relations portal PR Professional defines three reasons why WikiLeaks is dangerous for corporations, and advises them on how to avoid coming into difficulties resulting from potentially damaging disclosures.

According to Jörg Forthmann of Faktenkontor, WikiLeaks is dangerous to corporations because:

2011-01-20 Cablegate: Ireland and US predator drones

State department cable reveals possible use of Irish IT infrastructure to pilot unmanned drones in Afghanistan. A recent article in Phoenix Magazine (behind paywall) conjectures that undersea fibre-optic cables channeled through sites in Ireland, revealed in Wikileaks release of 09STATE15113, are in fact part of the U.S. military infrastructure for piloting Predator Drones in Afghanistan from a military base in Nevada. If true, this could be illegal under Irish constitutional commitments to neutrality.

2011-01-20 Cablegate: Statement on rendition by Irish Labour spokesperson for Foreign Affairs

Irish Labour politician calls out Irish government on rendition: A senior member of the Irish Labour party and spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Michael D Higgins, has criticized the Fianna Fáil government for apparent collusion with the US government on suspected rendition flights from Shannon airport in County Clare, indicated in US diplomatic cables from the Dublin Embassy.

In a statement made on January 17, Higgins referred to 04DUBLIN1739 and 07DUBLIN916 in support of his claim that the Irish government had knowingly conspired against popular and legal opinion in the use of Shannon airport by the U.S. military, while secretly harbouring a strong suspicion that it was being used for extraordinary rendition flights.

Labour.ie

2011-01-20 Former Quantico HQ company commander questions Manning's treatment

Pardoned Felon Lt. Colonel Oliver North - Image Courtesy of Life.com

 

From DAVID C. MACMICHAEL

General James F. Amos
Commandant of the Marine Corps
3000 Marine Corps Pentagon
Washington DC 20350-3000

Dear General Amos:

As a former regular Marine Corps captain, a Korean War combat veteran, now retired on Veterans Administration disability due to wounds suffered during that conflict, I write you to protest and express concern about the confinement in the Quantico Marine Corps Base brig of US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

2011-01-20 Cablegate, Ireland, and extraordinary rendition

Cablegate reinforces suspicions of Irish government complicity in US rendition: US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks are gradually adding to a picture wherein the government of Ireland ignored public opposition to suspected US rendition flights through its territory, and looked for ways to co-operate with alleged US abuses while avoiding liability and political fallout.

What is the context?

The Shannon airport has a history of use as a military stopover point for foreign militaries. Post-9/11, the US military had been allowed to use Shannon as a conduit for "War on Terror" flights involving munitions, supplies, and the transport of vehicles and troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. This move was unpopular since the status of the Iraq war under international law was controversial, and the Shannon stopover was perceived by the Irish anti-war community as a violation of the principle of Irish neutrality.

2011-01-20 Jacob Applebaum detained again

Jacob Appelbaum has once again been detained at US customs, as his Twitter feed indicates. Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing reports that Applebaum was

2011-01-19 Self-immolation protest spreads to Yemen

Awaasat.com reports

A 25 year old Yemeni youth set himself on fire in the Radaa province to the south of the capital city Sanaa today, alluding to the "stick of security" being used to deal with any demonstrations in the country.

Yemini sources say that he is now in intensive care in a hospital in Sanaa, where his condition remains critical.

Sanaa saw popular demonstrations for the fourth consecutive day in support of the popular Sidibouzid movement in Tunisia. Demonstrations were mostly peaceful escept at Sanaa Unniversity, where the campus was turned into a military barracks after hundreds of students participated in demonstrations there. The Yemini Ministry of Interior has declared any marches or demonstrations illegal, according to a security source in the ministry, declaring that such bans are not inconsistent with Yemen's constitution.

Clashes with the government have continued now for more than a week in the cities of Habilayn, Radfan and Lahj.

Previously on WL Central:Unrest in Arab States

2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]

"The lesson from what's happening in Tunisia is that (Arab leaders) won't be able to hide any more behind the Islamist threat argument."

-Amel Boubekeur

If Tunisians are protesting for freedom, not religion, what role did Wikileaks and online social networks play in mobilizing Arab populations to throw off the shackles of authoritarian, repressive, and corrupt regimes? Are our western institutions responsible for the waves of protest threatening to drown capitals in the Middle East?.

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