News Archive - 2012-12 (December 2012)

2012-12-01 Former PM Condemns Australia for Abandoning Assange and Abdicating Sovereignty

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with WL Central, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has accused the current Gillard government of acting as though Julian Assange "doesn't exist, that he's not an Australian citizen." Mr Fraser slams the existing relationship between Australia and the United States as "far, far too close" and claims Australia is "a strategic colony of the United States, under current circumstances."

Condemning both major parties for doing "everything they can to help the United States and nothing that would offend the United States", Mr Fraser claims that "in many ways our parliament has abdicated Australian sovereignty".

"If we could ever again get a government that would stand up for Australian independence, that government would of necessity have to do a number of things that the United States would not like," said Mr Fraser, citing a range of issues, from US bases to immigration policies, where the government was failing in its duties.

"And nobody is held accountable. Nobody pays the price. Nobody loses their job. Nobody is demoted. Nobody is fined. Now, you have to have accountability."

The former right wing Liberal Party leader says today's supposedly left wing ALP government is "far more right than I was". Defending his own record in government, which included conscription for the Vietnam War, the establishment of "shared" military facilities such as Pine Gap, and rumours of CIA involvement in the dismissal of the Whitlam government, Mr Fraser insisted that even former ALP PM Paul Keating, who recently condemned Australia's' diminishing influence, "underestimates the danger of the current relationship with the United States."

Full transcript below the fold. Audio link here.

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TRANSCRIPT (starting after 1 min chat)


"I've really enjoyed following your tweets. I guess it's interesting to see a person in your position using Twitter as a way to make your voice heard because it's something that the rest of us all struggle to do."


"Well I think it's important that people be heard. The way political parties operate today, you get a great deal of regimentation and not much individuality. There's certainly individuality on Twitter."


"There certainly is - there's no shortage of it! Speaking of individuals, Bradley Manning's finally had his day in court, Julian Assange is still in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. How do feel that the Australian government, in particular, has handled the issues of WikiLeaks, and Assange in particular?"


"The government to me appears to have acted as though Assange doesn't exist, that he's not an Australian citizen. Quite clearly the United States has been very annoyed and put out at what has happened. The government has demonstrated - and the Opposition would be no different - on more than one occasion that they want to do everything they can to help the United States and nothing that would offend the United States. You know in many ways our parliament has abdicated Australian sovereignty. That's something that I think is more than disappointing."

"Assange... Bradley Manning, if he you know did as alleged, took secrets or whatever, and then gave them to WikiLeaks, or for that matter to anyone else, then he is guilty of all sorts of things under American law. It would seem though from some of the reports that he's been pretty harshly treated in the lead-up to the trial. At least now he gets his day in court.

"For Assange, at one level what WikiLeaks has published is no different from any newspaper publishing something that they get told by a public servant. It might be more serious, it might be more wide ranging - it certainly has been - but if you are going to say that if any whistle-blower or any person in the public service who tells something to a newspaper - and then that newspaper publishes it - is guilty of a serious offence, well then that is going to stifle the media in a very, very major way. The person who gives the information might well be, and probably is, guilty of an offence, but so far we have not tried to suggest that the person who publishes it is guilty of an offence."

WLC: "I guess from Bradley Manning's point of view, if you are a witness to war crimes then you have an obligation to speak up for them. So as far as, I guess that's a legal argument in his case."

MF: "Well I guess it is. But the West in recent times - and not only the United States - has been prepared to condone things from their own administrations or from their allies which they would certainly brand as war crimes or terrorist acts if undertaken by an opponent. In other words, you know, double standards most certainly apply. The torturing that went on in American jails in Iraq or Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, the way that 'enhanced interrogation' was approved right at the very top by Rumsfeld and the President himself, and his signatures on documents approving the techniques - I've seen it - that, I think, is really guilty of War Crimes. The other thing about it is -"


"I was just wondering, in your own time as Prime Minister of Australia, how you would have dealt with something like WikiLeaks. Obviously, the technology is totally different, but I was looking through your Wikipedia entry, and you were Minister for the Army in 1966 and actually handling Vietnam conscriptions, and became Minister for Defence in 69, and resigned in 1971 because you thought the Prime Minister was getting too involved in your portfolio, allegedly, which lead to the downfall of Prime Minister Gorton. People would say, especially with regards to the, with the possibile CIA involvement in the overthrow of the Whitlam government, those issues of US involvement with Australian politics go a long way back. So how do you think that things have changed since then?"


"I don't really believe that the CIA has been involved in domestic Australian politics. I didn't at the time, I don't now. There are many faults that we have in the relationship that we have with the United States, including during the Vietnam War. Because while we made a very substantial contribution - about 8,000 troops for Phuoc Tuy Province - we had no say in terms the overall strategy and conduct of the war. And you know I think that's very difficult. And even in those days I said I would never want to be involved in a war with the United States unless I had somebody in the inner councils, with strategy in relation to [the way] that war was undertaken. You know, we've never achieved that.

"But at another level, Americans influence on our defence machine, on the purchase of defence equipment, on the way that equipment operates, joint exercises, joint planning, I think the relationship between Australia and the United States is far, far too close. I am told - I can't prove it but I am told - that when a new White Paper comes out on Defence programs a few years ahead, as happened two or three years ago, that America is almost involved every step of the way. Now this should be an Australian matter. There are many things where we might have interests in common with the United States, but there are certainly Australian interests which we do not share with the United States.

"You know, we live in this part of the world, the United States doesn't. They can ultimately withdraw to the Western Hemisphere. We are part of East South East Asia and this is where our future lies. And what Paul Keating said about it all the other day is totally right, but I think Paul underestimates the danger of the current relationship with the United States."



"I think you have spoken out about, I think you had a letter to the 'White Paper on Australia's Asian Century' where you spoke about US drones coming to the Cocos Islands and troops in Darwin and the possibility of a [US] Naval Base in Perth and again - without trying to have a go at you, I'm just looking back at history - and like, Pine Gap started in the 60s and got underway in the 70s, and then we've got North West Cap and the Geraldton base, which are all part of ECHELON, and that's a history of perhaps conceding sovereignty to the US over time. And again I am just interested, how you think it's come to the point, that the US influence has become so sort of toxic now."


"Well, the relationship has gone far further and is far deeper than it used to be. There'd be, um, Pine Gap, as originally established, was an information gathering operation. It was not something that was integral to American space warfare or nuclear warfare. North West Cape, as I am advised, is now critical in relation to cyber warfare, it's um, well it's again warfare in space. Its purpose has changed very significantly from that which it was in the earlier days.

"But look, a number of things have changed. The Cold War is over. I believe the West needed to show a concerted, if possible, unified, approach to the Soviet Union, which I regarded as an aggressive, outward-thrusting power, looking for opportunities. You know, we forget these days, and it's before most Australians were born: they put down the Hungarian Revolution in 56, they put their tanks into Czechoslovakia for the third time in 1968, there were Communist insurgencies in Thailand, in Malaya, an attempted Communist coup in Indonesia. So it was really a very, very different world.

"But when the Soviet Union blew apart, there was then an opportunity to establish a different kind of world. Instead of having two major Superpowers sort of balancing each other, as the Soviets and the United States did, there was just then one Superpower, absolutely supreme militarily and economically. Now there was a great opportunity to try to make a partner of Russia, for example. But that was blown totally by pushing NATO, whose job had been done - its job was to hold the Soviet Union and not to allow them to take over all of Europe, they only took over half of it, but that half had been freed. Instead of saying NATO's job was done, that's fine, that's great, they pushed NATO to the very boundaries of Russia, including all the countries of Eastern Europe, and trying to include the Ukraine and Georgia. Now, in other terms that would be like trying to include Mexico in an offensive alliance against the United States. If anyone tried to do that, they'd go bananas. So the chance to establish a co-operative relationship with Russia was pushed aside.

"And in addition to those mistakes, I think the United States has changed very significantly. It has become deeply divided ideologically, we've seen the recent debate and the Tea Party's philosophy is deep and strong. The idea of American supremacy, of American Exceptionalism, of America's obligation to spread Christianity and Democracy worldwide, is very deep in a lot of America. And I don't think that existed through the 50s, 60s, 70s. It's a different America, in my book."



"Would you agree with Eisenhower's characterisation of the military-industrial complex, and do you think that those people have perhaps acquired too much power in the US, and that same sort of power is now corrupting Australian policy and politics?"

MF: "Well, it's not power from Australian terms. It's the influence and power of the American Defence machine within Australia. It's influence over our own Defence Department, over our Armed Forces, over the equipment they buy, over their operational procedures. We really, we are a strategic colony of the United States, under current circumstances."


"I know in 2006 you warned against the continued involvement in the Iraq War and the possibility of Islamophobia growing in Australia, and the treatment of David Hicks, and in 2007 you supported a Getup campaign along those lines, and the following year you were being called out by a Liberal MP as a "frothing at the mouth leftie". And after that you resigned from the Liberals. Do you think that Australian politics has moved so far to the right that, like, you were the leader of a right wing government in Australia but looking at Gillard's government today do you feel that they are in some ways more right than you ever were?


"Oh, they're far more right than I was. Because whatever my reputation in terms of - and I suppose I was regarded as leading a right wing government because of my attitude to the Soviet Union, which I did regard as a dangerous force in the world. But if you look at the record of my government in relation to human rights, human rights legislation, the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Freedom of Information legislation - which was stronger then than it is now - the way Vietnamese refugees were treated compared to the way refugees are treated today, the values which I carried out in government are really the values which I still fight for."



"Just going back to what you said about not believing that the CIA was involved in Australian politics. I know that Gough Whitlam in his book, he said, he claims that Warren Christopher, the former US Secretary of State, said to him that "the USA would never again interfere in Australian politics." So I guess his interpretation is that that word "again" implies that they did interfere. And Sir John Kerr was a member of a CIA-backed "Association for Cultural Freedom" before he became Attorney General. Do you have any comment on that?


"Well, you know, what you've said, I know that Association. I think many of its members were good and honourable people and they were determined to oppose Communism and it was their way of doing it. I knew a little of what they were doing and I didn't know of anything that was untoward or that would cause concern. They were certainly very much opposed to Communism. But I was too. I still do not believe that the United States was involved in any way.

"Look, if you look at the record, Gough had many grand ideas, but he could not run a team. And look at his changes of ministers and the arguments he had with his own ministers, look at the scandals that went on for 18 months before the end of 75. The 1974 budget was budgeted for increasing expenditure of 14% in real terms, and you know if anyone tried to do that today they'd be told they had to get out of power very quickly. The next budget was a 22% increase in real terms. So you didn't have to look to any foreign influence, you just had to look to things that Gough did himself.

"One of things I would agree with Gough... No if I could just... Gough had a sense of Australian identity. Keating had a sense of Australian identity. And I think I did. And I would agree with both of them when they stood up for Australia and for Australia's independence. Now, the United States may not like that. If we could ever again get a government that would stand up for Australian independence, that government would of necessity have to do a number of things that the United States would not like. I mean one of them: take troops out of Darwin!"



"One of the interesting things which Gough Whitlam set up which your government overturned was a Ministry of Media. I'm just looking now at what's happened with the media landscape in Australia and round the world, particularly the Leveson inquiry in the UK, and perhaps Rafael Correa's changes to the media in Ecuador, and wondering if others?"


"Well, I think it's an absolute nonsense to say that the media can self-regulate. This is like saying that banks can self-regulate, that you don't need a Reserve Bank. Or it's like saying that the corporate community does not need an ASIC to see that corporations stay within the law and don't rob their shareholders blatantly and openly. So there needs to be an appropriate supervisory structure for banks, er, for the media. It will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds. You know I don't, I wouldn't want a Ministry for Media, I wouldn't want a Minister involved in doing this. It needs to be independent. But I also think it needs to be established by a statute, so that the media itself will have to pay attention to what it does. But once it's established by statute, that's the end of whatever the government does. If the government want to have any influence on it, they are going to have to change the law. And you really need a process which will enable you to put people in charge of that media supervisory body who are totally independent. You know, one way of helping to ensure this may be that the appointment has to have the agreement of both the government and the opposition. But it would not be all that easy to get the balance of such a body right. But I am sure that if it is going to be effective, it would need to be established by legislation."



"Yeah, personally I think if you have corruption in government then it's hard to see how anything that is set up to control the media or the banks is going to be effective. And I guess that's why I'm a strong supporter of WikiLeaks because I think that transparency that WikiLeaks provides is really the key to change in a real sense. For example, the Visa-MasterCard blockade on WikiLeaks is an example of corporate ability to try to silence media. Now we're in a landscape where the media - the mainstream media as it's called - is struggling to make profits, so perhaps that whole media landscape is changing and the way ahead is more to be defending independent voices such as Julian Assange's.


"Well, independent voices certainly need to be defended. Those independent voices though, need to stay within the law as it is. If the law is wrong, then there has to be a campaign or an attempt to get that law changed. Look, I passed the first Freedom Of Information legislation. The major opponents of that legislation were not my own ministers but the Commonwealth Public Service. And a lot of things are classified, at different levels of security, that do not need to be classified. I agree with you that maximum transparency is very important. And people sometimes classify documents for no other reason than to protect themselves.

"Transparency, openness - but for that to work you need something else. You need accountability. And if you take the Palmer and Crowley reports into the Department of Immigration, they reveal great grievances were exposed, wrongs against individuals, an Australian deported and nothing done about it even though it was known that the Australian had been illegally deported. And nobody is held accountable. Nobody pays the price. Nobody loses their job. Nobody is demoted. Nobody is fined. Now, you have to have accountability."



"We've had calls for inquiry into the Iraq War..."


"Well, I've supported that. Because I believe we just followed Britain and America. And I have no doubt that they knew that what they were saying about Weapons of Mass Destruction was false. They just thought they could get everyone's agreement, that's a good reason to have the war."

"I'd like to get back to something you said a while ago, because I think it's not the most malign influence in the United States. You referred to the Military-Industrial Complex. The changes in American ideology which I think have done enormous damage were the changes that were initiated really by the formation really of the Neoconservatives, by their statement of principles which was published in 1999. And by their consequent influence, especially in the second Bush government, their influence in think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. And if you look at that statement of principles clearly, and boiling it all down, it's really saying America will only be safe if the whole world is a Democracy. It's America's job to try and persuade the world to be a Democracy. But if we can't persuade them, then we do it by force of arms. I think that people who probably passed exams with First Class Honours at Yale or Harvard were totally naive, even stupid. They believed that if you get rid of Saddam Hussein, a benign democracy would emerge and Democracy would flow from Iraq throughout the Middle East. Now you might find that far-fetched but I really believe that is what the Neo-".

(APOLOGIES: recording was cut short just before end of interview. I thanked Mr Fraser and said I would urge readers to follow him on Twitter: @MalcolmFraser12)

2012-12-05 Assange to meet with French Left Party politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon

AFP news agency has reported that Julian Assange will meet this Thursday in London with French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, co-Chairman of France's Left Party (PG). A press conference will be held at Ecuador's London embassy after the meeting.

Promoting what he calls a "citizens' revolution," Mélenchon and his Left Front movement advocate a populist approach to governance. In an interview earlier this year, Mélenchon explained:

"The politics of the established order speaks to no one except the powerful. It speaks a dead language in which there are no people, no love, no fraternity, no poetry, no taste of the future, no passion for science. The only thing that counts is the balance sheet, and on the condition that public spending is reduced. We have dared to change all that. We have somehow broken the inhuman law of silence. And reintroduced human questions, by asking how to address them. We came to the realization that the possible was not far from the desirable. And that sometimes the possible can be greater than what people dare to dream. People had been taught to stunt their dreams. We, by contrast, tell them to let them flourish. This is actually another way of doing politics."

The Frenchman proposes a form of politics that would "rid society of fear and of the violence of exploitation".

During his London visit, Mélenchon is also scheduled to participate in a conference at the University College of London regarding alternatives to economic austerity measures in Europe.

2012-12-05 Julian Assange Presentation to EU Parliament on Corruption Revealed in Cablegate

Julian Assange was asked to present at the European Parliament S&D party seminar on Corruption in member states of the European Union. Bivol made a presentation in this seminar entitled Government Level Corruption and Ties to Organized Crime. Julian Assange spoke as part of this presentation on the wider corruption revealed in Cablegate, and legal cases that have used the cables as evidence.

I'd like to thank our Bulgarian partner Bivol for their courage and meticulous research over the last two years on many important corruption stories. It has been reported by others, but let me say it again, the work of Bivol is impressive and a model to be followed.

Since WikiLeaks was founded in 2007 we have exposed thousands of cases of corruption. But before looking at the specifics I want us to fly up into the sky for a moment to look down on where we are.

The Oxford English dictionary definition of corruption is:

  • dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery: the journalist who wants to expose corruption in high places
  • the action or effect of making someone or something morally depraved
  • the process of decay; putrefaction: the potato turned black and rotten with corruption

We must keep these roots of corruption in our minds in order to see clearly. Corruption involves a knowing betrayal of stated purpose, typically for advantage at the expense of others. It is a type of fraud.

From this we can look at corruption in practice, and see that corruption runs all the way from corrupt ticket inspectors to corruption at the geopolitical level, where false claims are made by a state's leadership in order to justify the invasion and destruction of another state.

We've published a lot about corruption. Corruption hidden by secrecy and corruption hidden by complexity. According to Google, there are more than 1.5 million web pages on WikiLeaks' corruption revelations.

Cablegate revelations have been used in many court cases from the International Criminal Court (the ICC) to domestic appeals courts. The most recent has been running since July and involves geopolitical corruption in which the UK government deported the entire native population of the Chagos Islands, turned it into a secret U.S. military base, Diego Garcia, and then conspired with the U.S. to falsely declare it a Marine park to prevent the native population from claiming a right of return.

What the UK Government said to try to not testify:

Steven Kovats QC, appearing for the UK Government, said: "My clients are not opposing cross-examination because they have anything to hide. We are opposing it because, as a matter of principle, it does not seem right in relation to an improperly leaked document. We, as a matter of principle, do not accept that WikiLeaks can effectively compel the Government to defend something which - absent WikiLeaks - there would be no question of it coming before the court at all."

What the judge said when ordering that the UK Government must testify due to information revealed in WikiLeaks' documents:

On Wednesday 25th July, Mr Justice Stanley Burnton rejected the Government's objections and ordered that cross-examination should go ahead. He ruled: "I do not see how the present claim can be fairly or justly determined without resolving the allegation made by the claimant, based on the WikiLeaks documents."

Many types of corruption in the cables are covered up, under the "our son of a bitch" doctrine, where one type of corruption, institutional corruption, turns into another, geopolitical corruption.

In a September 2009 cable from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. ambassador had lunch with Maxim Bakiyev, the son of President Bakiyev:

"Bakiyev came across as very pro-U.S., well educated, and dedicated to the betterment of his country. Of course, we have information from many other sources suggesting that he is also very dedicated to his own advancement and corrupt financial interests."

The US title of that section of the cable?

"Smart, Corrupt, and a Good Ally to Have"

(Bivol Presentation:

2012-12-05 WikiLeaks documentary to premiere at Sundance film festival

A new WikiLeaks documentary is scheduled to premiere at the Sundance film festival early next year. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks will screen at the Salt Lake City, Utah festival which takes place January 17-27, 2013.

According to the Sundance website:
"The definitive story of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, WE STEAL SECRETS explores the people and events behind the upstart website that rocked the U.S. government, ushered in a new era of transparency and ignited an information war."

Trevor Groth, Sundance Director of Programming states:
"The films in the Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections offer compelling portraits of worlds and people ranging from the beloved to the misunderstood to the unknown. Expertly crafted by some of the most esteemed filmmakers in the world these films have the power to delight audiences at the Festival and impact our culture at large."

The complete Sundance lineup can be viewed here.

2012-12-07 Ecuador's President Correa wins freedom of expression award

ImageControversy erupted earlier this week after the journalism department of Argentina's National University of La Plata awarded Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa the Rodolfo Walsh Prize for freedom of expression. Proponents of media freedom have harshly criticized Correa for his treatment of the Ecuadorean press. But such criticisms fail to acknowledge the reasons underlying the media policies of President Correa, whose government recently granted political asylum to government transparency advocate and WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

In bestowing the award on Tuesday, the university cited the Correa administration's creation of the television network teleSUR and new laws protecting the right of communication –- lauding Correa for opposing the "hegemonic will that aims to restrict speech," for promoting free expression of the "poor and marginalized sectors of society," and for "democratizing access to the media" in Ecuador.

Correa has fielded criticism for the fact that he has responded to press attacks against him with lawsuits, prosecutions, regulation, and confiscations of media outlets. This year the U.S. government granted political asylum to El Universo journalist Emilio Palacio, after Palacio was fined and sentenced to prison time for calling Correa a "dictator". (Correa ultimately pardoned Palacio and others who had received similar sentences.) Reportedly, this year the Ecuadorean government shut down 14 radio and television stations. After seizing a number of media outlets from bankers on grounds of corruption, the government went from controlling one radio station to owning numerous media enterprises. The administration has also tried to pass a new law that would restrict private media ownership to 33% of all media, with the state controlling 33% and community media comprising 34%. Moreover, Ecuador's new Constitution aims to ban bankers from owning business interests in the media, and to ban media corporations from owning business interests in other industries. These actions have generated rebukes from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Inter American Press Association, Unesco, the Organization of American States' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Freedom House, and others.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has recently come under fire for a perceived contradiction between his organization's promotion of government transparency and his acceptance of political asylum from Ecuador. However, these criticisms fail to take into account Correa's stated reasons behind Ecuador's media policy. What his government opposes, the President says, are media corporations that have tried to "destabilize our government to avoid any change in our region and lose ... power ...." Correa, who is said to have faced consistent media defamation and misinformation, has characterized the press as his "greatest enemy" and an obstacle to reform.

In fact, a U.S. embassy cable acknowledged truth to Correa's assertion that his country's media "play a political role, in this case the role of the opposition." Only months after Correa became president, 11 Ecuadorean daily newspapers published the same front-page editorial attacking him. This was described as "an unprecedented example of coordinated press rebuke to a sitting president." In Ecuador, private media have traditionally served the interests of their owners –- powerful groups with economic agendas. These elites, Correa states, fear fair wealth distribution. Correa noted that when he was first elected, five of the seven television channels were owned by bankers, and none owned by the state. A strong WikiLeaks supporter, Correa has also pointed out that Ecuador's media stopped publishing leaks from Assange's organization when the disclosures conflicted with their own interests.

Mark Weisbrot, from the Center for Economic & Policy Research, has stated that the recipients of fines and prison sentences in Ecuador "were convicted of libel because they told very big lies in print, falsely accusing Correa of crimes against humanity. Under Ecuadorian law, he can--like any other citizen--sue them for libel, and the court can and did find them guilty.... Rather than being a heroic battle for freedom of expression against a government that is trying to "silence critics," it is a struggle between two political actors. One political actor is the major media, whose unelected owners and their allies use their control of information to advance the interests of the wealth and power that used to rule the country; on the other side is a democratic government that is seeking to carry out its reform program ..."

President Correa accepted the Rodolfo Walsh Prize "on behalf of the Ecuadorian people," emphasizing that Ecuador is intolerant not of the media but of "lies, deception and corruption."

Prior award recipients include Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian head of state Evo Morales.

2012-12-10 Now on DVD: "The WikiLeaks Tapes"

Directed by teacher and citizen journalist Cathy Vogan, The WikiLeaks Tapes is a new, two-disc DVD of interviews with dozens of prominent personalities on the topic of WikiLeaks. Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, John Pilger, Christine Assange, Julian Morrow, Senator Scott Lundlam, and Mary Kostakidis are just a few of the famous names speaking out on record regarding Western governments' persecution of WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange.

Conducted both in person and via Skype, The WikiLeaks Tapes captures Vogan's laid-back discussions with a range of figures -- from renowned linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; to Australian TV personalities Julian Morrow (The Chaser) and SBS news anchor Mary Kostakidis; to the producers of the popular Juice Rap News and Clark Stoeckley, the artist behind the WikiLeaks truck. Julian Assange's parents, Christine Assange and John Shipton, also make appearances. Vogan has said of her project:

"'The WikiLeaks Tapes' is a labour of love and it was a very unexpected adventure which began the day I met Christine Assange. She had been consulting my blog at and I guess she trusted that I was willing and able to do something strong for Julian. So she asked people to give me the time of day ... and I gave it my 110%."

2012-12-10 President Correa of Ecuador says asylum possible for Syria's President Assad

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa stated in an interview this month that his government would consider granting political asylum to Syrian head-of-state Bashar al Assad. President Assad is reportedly mulling asylum for himself, his family members, and close associates, in the event that he is forced to flee Damascus as the bloody civil war in his country escalates.

Sources state that, in a bid to explore the possibility of asylum, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal al Miqdad, recently traveled to Ecuador, Venezuela, and Cuba, bearing letters from Assad to the President of each country.

Correa confirmed that Miqdad visited Quito in late November, but said that the purpose of the trip was to thank Correa's administration for its "objective stance" regarding the conflict in Syria. Both Ecuador's President and his Foreign Minister denied reports that Assad had requested political asylum. However, since then Correa has spoken out regarding the possibility of hosting Assad, saying:
"Any person that requests asylum in Ecuador, obviously we are going to consider as a human being whose basic rights we have to respect … Can we believe all those news stories on violence, the dictator? Let's remember what was said about Iraq."

In August of this year, Correa's government granted political asylum to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who remains a refugee in Ecuador's London embassy, in an attempt to resist extradition to Sweden.

More than 42,000 deaths are said to have resulted so far from Syria's civil war, which has stretched on for nearly two years. Although Assad has resisted international pressure to abdicate power, violence has spiked close to Damascus. Stating its belief that the fall of the Assad regime is "inevitable," the U.S. State Department has expressed hope that the Syrian President and members of his administration will voluntarily step down. According to officials, the U.S. has been training Jordanian security personnel and taking other measures to prepare for "the day after Assad." In the words of State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland: "We want to get him out of there so we can move on."

The Syrian Foreign Minister also delivered a letter from Assad to President Hugo Chávez, which the Venezuelan head-of-state received before traveling to Cuba for cancer treatment. Chávez has been a vocal supporter of Assad since the start of Syria's civil war, and Venezuela has frequently sent fuel and oil to Syria. In addition to Venezuela, Cuba, and Ecuador, experts have cited Iran as another possible destination for Assad if he steps down. According to reports, Iran has backed Assad's efforts to retain power, and Syria remains Iran's main ally in the Arab region.

Assad's departure, however, could spark further turmoil within Syria; analysts note that, due to the fury of the Sunni opposition regarding Assad's purported campaign of military strikes against civilians, the President's exit might lead to revenge killings against the Alawite sect, to which Assad belongs. Moreover -- as with the Assange case -- the difficulties in successfully leaving the country could complicate an attempted escape by Assad.

2012-12-12 Assange confirms Senate run, announces formation of WikiLeaks Party

ImageJulian Assange has reportedly confirmed his candidacy for the Australian Senate in the 2013 federal election. The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief has also announced the imminent formation and registration of a WikiLeaks political party, which would promote government transparency and oppose recent erosions of individual privacy.

Describing the process of forming of the WikiLeaks party as "significantly advanced," Assange has stated that "a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public" have offered to stand for election on a party ticket. Reportedly, a draft party constitution is undergoing legal review, and Assange has consulted journalists, legal experts, and other WikiLeaks supporters regarding his Senate candidacy. Assange's biological father, John Shipton, is said to have handled the beginning phase of the party's formation.

Although not yet registered to vote, Assange asserts his ability to meet the requirements in order to register in New South Wales (NSW) or Victoria as an overseas voter, and will soon make a "strategic decision" as to which state he selects for his Senate run. Pundits have speculated that Assange would be in competition with the Australian Greens party for half a dozen contested seats in NSW or Victoria, and have identified Greens Senate candidates Cate Faehrmann (NSW) or Janet Rice (Victoria) as Assange's likely opponents.

Some opine that Assange's candidacy is complicated by the fact that, for the past six months, he has been ensconced within the London embassy of Ecuador. Earlier this year, Assange sought and received asylum from the South American country, in a bid to resist extradition to Sweden and prosecution in the U.S. for the activities of WikiLeaks. Others have characterized WikiLeaks as currently "broken" and "moribund," in part due to multiple protracted legal campaigns against Assange and his organization. Assange himself has expressed the belief that it is "inevitable" that the U.S. Department of Justice will ultimately abandon its espionage investigation against him, but fears that this result could be "several years away." In the event that Assange was elected but could not return to Australia to assume office, the second-ranked candidate on a WikiLeaks Senate ticket would presumably take his seat.

Nevertheless, Assange has cited "increasingly positive" developments for himself and his organization lately -- pointing to polls published during the past two years showing "consistently high" support for WikiLeaks. Surveys this year indicate that Assange could be a strong contender in NSW or Victoria Senate contests. Multiple "Friends of WikiLeaks" organizations have formed in recent months, the WikiLeaks Twitter account boasts more than 1.5 million followers, and the organization's Facebook page has more than 2 million "likes." According to Assange, WikiLeaks published 1 million secret documents in 2012, and will release more confidential material in the year ahead. The WikiLeaks founder further points to progress that his group has made in fighting an extrajudicial blockade imposed by Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and other financial corporations.

WikiLeaks supporter and former SBS journalist Mary Kostakidis says of Assange's Senate run:
"I think he would have widespread support in the cyber community, which is not just populated by the young. He has a forensic mind, is driven by a passion for truth and justice and attracts people around him who are similarly motivated. He is resourceful and resilient. He doesn't lack perseverance."

2012-12-14 Julian Assange to give Christmas speech from Ecuador's London embassy

Sources have announced that on the evening of Thursday, December 20, 2012, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief and Australian Senate candidate Julian Assange will deliver a Christmas speech from the Ecuadorean embassy in London. The December 20 speech marks six months of Assange's stay at the embassy, where he has sought refuge since June in order to resist extradition to Sweden and to the U.S. This will also be Assange's first public address since he confirmed his candidacy for the Australian Senate earlier in the week.

Assange presented a speech from the embassy's balcony on August 19, 2012, just days after receiving Ecuador's formal grant of asylum. On September 27, he gave an address to the United Nations via Skype.

Wise Up Action, a solidarity network for Assange and alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, has asked Assange supporters to attend the event, to arrive at the embassy by 6:30 p.m. for songs of solidarity, and to bring candles and food.

The Ecuadorean embassy is located at 3 Hans Crescent, SW1X 0LS London, United Kingdom. Assange is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. GMT.

2012-12-16 WikiLeaks declares war on banking blockade

Press release from WikiLeaks and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Sunday 16th December, 23:00 GMT

Today sees the launch of the Freedom of the Press Foundation − a new initiative inspired by the fight against the two-year-long extra-judicial financial embargo imposed on WikiLeaks by U.S. financial giants including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the Bank of America.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, an initiative of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Perry Barlow, former Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, the actor John Cusack and others, will crowd-source fundraising and support for organizations or individuals under attack for publishing the truth. It aims to promote "aggressive, public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption and law-breaking in government".

Over the last two years the blockade has stopped 95 per cent of contributions to WikiLeaks, running primary cash reserves down from more than a million dollars in 2010 to under a thousand dollars, as of December 2012. Only an aggressive attack against the blockade will permit WikiLeaks to continue publishing through 2013.

The new initiative, combined with a recent victory in Germany, means contributions to WikiLeaks now have tax-deductible status throughout the United States and Europe.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' publisher, said: "We've fought this immoral blockade for two long years. We smashed it in the courts. We smashed it in the Treasury. We smashed it in France. We smashed it in Germany. And now, with strong and generous friends who still believe in First Amendment rights, we're going to smash it in the United States as well."

The Foundation's first 'bundle' will crowd-source funds for WikiLeaks, the National Security Archive, The UpTake and MuckRock News. Donors will be able to use a slider to set how much of their donation they wish each organization to receive and can donate to WikiLeaks using their credit cards. The Foundation holds 501(c) charitable status, so donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. Other courageous press organizations will be added as time goes by. It will not be possible to see by banking records what portion of a donor's contribution, if any, goes to WikiLeaks.

It is admitted by Visa, MasterCard and others that the blockade is entirely as a result of WikiLeaks' publications. In fact, the U.S. Treasury has cleared WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks has won against Visa in court, but the blockade continues.

John Perry Barlow, a board member of the new Foundation, says the initiative aims to achieve more than just crowd-sourced fundraising: "We hope it makes a moral argument against these sorts of actions. But it could also be the basis of a legal challenge. We now have private organizations with the ability to stifle free expression. These companies have no bill of rights that applies to their action - they only have terms of service."

The WikiLeaks banking blockade showed how devastating such extra-judicial measures can be for not-for-profit investigative journalism and free press organizations. Initiatives such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation are vital to sustain a truly independent free press.

In heavily redacted European Commission documents recently released by WikiLeaks, MasterCard Europe admitted that U.S. Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King were both directly involved in instigating the blockade.

As journalist Glenn Greenwald − also on the FPF board − recently wrote: "What possible political value can the internet serve, or journalism generally, if the U.S. government, outside the confines of law, is empowered − as it did here − to cripple the operating abilities of any group which meaningfully challenges its policies and exposes its wrongdoing?... That the U.S. government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode: nobody, regardless of one's views on WikiLeaks, should want any government to have that power."

But what of the chance these U.S. companies will blockade the FPF like they did WikiLeaks? "Let Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and all the rest block the independent Freedom of the Press Foundation. Let them demonstrate to the world once again who they really are," said Mr Assange.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks spokesman, is available for interviews on this topic: Contact Kristinn

Freedom of the Press Foundation
Other ways to donate

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2012-12-19 The people of the Freedom of the Press Foundation: Profiles

Earlier this week, a group of high-profile journalists and free-speech activists announced the launch of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), an initiative intended to thwart a two-year financial blockade against WikiLeaks and to fund-raise for similar nonprofit organizations.

Designed to fund journalism institutions that are dedicated to "aggressive, uncompromising journalism in the vein of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers," FPF collects donations for media outlets that expose "mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government." As WikiLeaks puts it, FPF "will crowd-source fundraising and support for organizations or individuals under attack for publishing the truth."

FPF's co-founders include legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; John Perry Barlow, who co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and for decades wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead; EFF writer and activist Trevor Timm, who is also FPF's Executive Director; and Rainey Reitman, who co-founded the Bradley Manning Support Network and serves as FPF's Chief Operating Officer. Also on the board of directors are Guardian columnist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald; actor and activist John Cusack; award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras; Boing Boing co-founder and co-editor Xeni Jardin; and Josh Stearns of Free Press. EFF web developer Micah Lee is FPF's Chief Technology Officer.

Daniel Ellsberg - FPF co-founder and board member

Best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, FPF co-founder Daniel Ellsberg is also the author of the books Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers; Papers on the War; and Risk, Ambiguity and Decision. Ellsberg has been awarded the Gandhi Peace Award, the Right Livelihood Award (referred to as the "Alternative Nobel Prize"), and the Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize.

Born in Chicago, Ellsberg holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University, also studying at Cambridge. Ellsberg served in the U.S. Marine Corps, the Pentagon, and in the State Department. But it was Ellsberg's work as an analyst with the RAND corporation that precipitated his legacy; while at RAND in 1967, he contributed to a top-secret study on the Vietnam War. The documents resulting from this study later became known as the Pentagon Papers. "There was no question in my mind that my government was involved in an unjust war that was going to continue and get larger. Thousands of young men were dying each year," Ellsberg stated. "I felt that ... as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public."

With the help of the staff of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, in 1969 Ellsberg secretly photocopied the classified documents, which showed that President Johnson's administration had consistently lied to Congress and the general public; that the government knew early in the Vietnam conflict that the war could most likely not be won; and that the war would result in massive casualties. Ellsberg gave his 7,000-page collection of documents to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous other newspapers. After the Times published a few excerpts, the Nixon administration obtained a court order that briefly barred further publication - an order that the Supreme Court reversed in the landmark case New York Times Co. v. United States.

In the words of former White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, the Pentagon Papers showed "that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong, and the president can be wrong." The Nixon administration targeted Ellsberg for a smear campaign that included a failed 1971 "covert operation" to discredit the whistleblower by committing burglary to access his psychiatric records. Ellsberg also faced Espionage Act, conspiracy, and theft charges; however, his case was tossed out of court amid revelations of prosecutorial misconduct and evidence that Ellsberg had been subjected to illegal wiretapping. Multiple sources further reported a government plot to have a dozen Cuban-American waiters working as CIA assets to dose Ellsberg's food with LSD before the activist was due to speak at a public rally. Reportedly, this plan was aborted for logistical reasons.

Ellsberg has said: "The public is lied to every day by the President, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can't handle the thought that the President lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn't stay in the government at that level ... The fact is Presidents rarely say the whole truth-essentially, never say the whole truth-of what they expect and what they're doing and what they believe and why they're doing it and rarely refrain from lying, actually, about these matters."

The whistleblower has continued his activism over the years. In 2005 he was arrested while protesting the Iraq War, and in 2011 Ellsberg camped out in support of the Occupy movement. Last year he was arrested during a protest of Manning's detention at Marine Corps Brig, Quantico; a strong WikiLeaks supporter, he has referred to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning as two of his new "heroes."

Regarding FPF, Ellsberg has stated: "We're definitely trying to resuscitate WikiLeaks," which in his view "serves a legitimate and necessary function in exposing an administration that is completely lacking in transparency." Ellsberg further explained: "Whistleblowing leaks-exposing governmental lies, errors, illegality-are the lifeblood of a republic. Publishing wrongly-kept government secrets in the public interest is clearly protected by the First Amendment, and is crucial to our democracy ... WikiLeaks is not only a legitimate journalistic enterprise but an essential one... and we don't want to see it go down under government pressure. I think it is now an indispensable part of journalism." But, Ellsberg added, FPF is "also emphasizing that we'd like other organizations to furnish the same kind of capability ... Let a thousand flowers bloom."

John Perry Barlow - FPF co-founder and board member

FPF co-founder and Wyoming native John Perry Barlow is also a board member of internet freedom and civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, and a retired rancher. A founder of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Barlow was first to use the term "cyberspace" as it is now applied. The Guardian has called Barlow one of the most influential champions of the Open Internet. Barlow belongs to the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and serves on the advisory boards for the Marijuana Policy Project and several other companies. He is currently working with a startup that aims to turn sewage into jet fuel. Time Magazine has ranked Barlow -- a Wesleyan graduate in comparative religous studies -- among the "School of Rock: 10 Supersmart Musicians."

While a student in Colorado, Barlow met Bob Weir; Weir later joined the Grateful Dead, whom Barlow introduced to Timothy Leary. For more than two decades, Barlow wrote lyrics for the band, including the songs "Cassidy," "Estimated Prophet," "Black-Throated Wind," "Hell in a Bucket," "Mexicali Blues," "Let It Grow," "Saint of Circumstance," and others. He has also collaborated with members of the musical groups The String Cheese Incident and Mr. Blotto.

Barlow co-founded EFF in 1990. He serves as vice-chairman of the board of EFF, which strives "to build a legal wall that would separate and protect the Internet from territorial government." He has asserted that cyberspace law should reflect the community ethics, rather than "the coercive power that characterized real-space governance." Barlow, who penned "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," has written for The New York Times, Wired, Nerve, and other publications.

Barlow describes FPF as an effort to "crowd-fund the right to know": "This isn't just a way to support WikiLeaks. It's a way to support a principle ... We feel there will be more groups like WikiLeaks, and we want to inspire them as quickly as possible, because there's a lot the public needs to know. ... We now have private organizations with the ability to stifle free expression. These companies have no bill of rights that applies to their action -- they only have terms of service." Referring to the financial blockage of WikiLeaks as "censorship," Barlow adds: "When a government becomes invisible, it becomes unaccountable. To expose its lies, errors, and illegal acts is not treason, it is a moral responsibility. Leaks become the lifeblood of the Republic. ... Whatever one's opinion of WikiLeaks, every American should be offended that two elected officials, merely by putting pressure on corporations, could financially strangle necessary expression without ever going to court. What happened to WikiLeaks is completely unacceptable in a democracy that values free speech and due process. ... We intend to assure that it can't happen again."

Glenn Greenwald - FPF board member

FPF board member Glenn Greenwald is a lawyer, journalist, and author who writes about civil liberties for The Guardian. He has written four books, including the three New York Times bestsellers How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values From a President Run Amok, A Tragic Legacy, and With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. The Atlantic named Greenwald one of the most influential political commentators in the U.S. Greenwald has won the I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism and the Izzy Award; he received the Online Journalism Association Award for his work regarding Bradley Manning's detention. This year Newsweek dubbed Greenwald one of America's Top 10 Opinionists Having appeared as a political pundit on the ABC show "This Week,"National Public Radio, C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," "Democracy Now!", Fox News, "The Colbert Report", and numerous other media outlets, Greenwald has also contributed to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and more.

A New York City native, Greenwald earned a J.D. from New York University Law School, and later litigated constitutional and civil rights cases. Soon after its launch, his blog "Unclaimed Territory" received the 2005 Koufax Award. Greenwald became a contributor soon after, and this year left to write for The Guardian.

Greenwald strongly supports Manning, whom he describes as "a national hero similar to Daniel Ellsberg." Of the WikiLeaks financial blockade Greenwald has said: "What possible political value can the internet serve, or journalism generally, if the U.S. government, outside the confines of law, is empowered ... to cripple the operating abilities of any group which meaningfully challenges its policies and exposes its wrongdoing? ... That the U.S. government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode ... Secrecy is the linchpin of abuse of power. Few priorities are more important ... than supporting and enabling any efforts to subvert the ability of the US government and other factions to operate in the dark. It's particularly vital to undercut the US government's ability to punish and kill groups that succeed in these transparency efforts. Those are the goals to which this new press freedom foundation are devoted, and I hope that anyone who believes these goals are important will find ways to support this effort."

John Cusack - FPF board member

John Cusack is an actor, director, screenwriter, and producer who has appeared in more than 60 films, including Being John Malkovich, The Grifters, Hot Tub Time Machine, Say Anything, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Sixteen Candles. During the 1980s he had a cameo in a music video for the band Suicidal Tendencies. Cusack played Edgar Allen Poe in this year's release The Raven. Also a political activist, Cusack is vocal on civil liberties and government transparency issues. During the recent U.S. war in Iraq, he blogged at The Huffington Post about his opposition to the conflict and to the Bush administration. Cusack has criticized Barack Obama's government for its policies regarding drones and the NDAA. Born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, Cusack is reportedly a fan of local sports teams, and has led a Wrigley Field crowd in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." He holds a black belt in kickboxing.

Trevor Timm - FPF Co-founder and Executive Director

Attorney, writer, and EFF activist Trevor Timm has contributed to The Guardian, The Atlantic, Harvard Law and Policy Review, and Al Jazeera. Before his work with EFF, Timm assisted New York Times General Counsel James Goodale in authoring a book about the First Amendment. Also a former employee of The New Yorker, Timm holds a J.D. from New York Law School. His Twitter account @trevortimm tracks developments regarding WikiLeaks and other civil liberties issues; he also contributes to the Twitter account @drones, which reports on the global and domestic use of drones.

"Since WikiLeaks became a front-page news story, secrecy has gotten worse in the U.S," said Timm recently. Of FPF, he explains: "WikiLeaks was the inspiration for it, but we wanted to make the mission much broader than WikiLeaks ... We want to encourage other developers to start working on WikiLeaks-like submission systems." Acknowledging that "there's no magic bullet for solving the problem of government secrecy," Timm says, those at FPF "want to tackle it with death by a thousand cuts." But he also speaks of FPF's role in ensuring survival for independent writers, and of his hope that the organization will serve as a "Red Cross for journalism": "If someone's in trouble, we want to be able to come save them."

Laura Poitras - FPF board member

Documentary filmmaker and producer Laura Poitras lives in New York City. Her 2003 documentary Flag Wars received a Peabody Award, won Best Documentary at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and was nominated for an Emmy. Poitras received an Academy Award nomination for her 2006 film My Country, My Country (about the U.S. occupation of Iraq); her 2010 film The Oath -- about the U.S. "war on terror" -- won a Sundance Film Festival award and snagged annother Emmy nomination. In 2012 Poitras received a MacArthur Fellowship and was included in the Whitney Biennial. Reportedly, she is working on a documentary about WikiLeaks, government surveillance, and internet freedom. Poitras has been detained and interrogated at the U.S. border regarding her work more than 40 times; she reports that agents have seized her computer, her notes, and her cell phone, and once threatened to deny her entry back into the U.S.

Xeni Jardin - FPF board member

Xeni Jardin is a co-founder and co-editor of the collaborative blog Boing Boing, a tech culture journalist, and a digital media commentator. A Wired contributor and a correspondent for the National Public Radio show "Day to Day," Jardin has made appearances on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC World News Tonight, BBC Radio 5, and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She has also written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian. Of her involvement with FPF Jardin says: "We're supporting many organizations dedicated to transparency ... and who are attacking unnecessary government secrecy in a variety of innovative ways ... We want to crowd-fund a new generation of independent media which will be more resistant to corporate and government influence."

Rainey Reitman - FPF co-founder and Chief Operations Officer

Reitman acts as Activism Director for the EFF; she is also a founder and steering committee member for the Bradley Manning Support Network, sits on the board of the directors for the civil liberties organization Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and serves as a steering committee member of the online rights group Internet Defense League. She opines that the blockade on WikiLeaks was censorship not only of the organization, but also of those individuals "who wanted to express their opinions by making donations." Reitman, who has expressed interest in privacy issues relating to technology, states that FPF will safeguard donors' privacy by not maintaining records showing who has given funds to WikiLeaks.

Josh Stearns - FPF board member

Josh Stearns is a journalist and organizer for press freedom and tech policy. He is the Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press, and has won awards for tracking U.S. media suppression. His articles have appeared in Mother Jones and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Stearns states that his interest in FPF springs from the organization's emphasis on "support structures" for independent journalism. "There is a range of threats facing journalism in the digital age," he says. "At the same time as the Internet and technology have democratized the tools of media making, our rights to use those tools are increasingly coming under threat. The evidence is in the stunning number of journalists arrested in the past year, the debates over whistleblowers and leaks, as well as the credit card companies blocking Wikileaks funding, and the spike in government surveillance of citizens and journalists." Meanwhile, Stearns adds: "As the landscape of journalism is changing, increasingly the people on the front lines, in the halls of power, or digging up dirt behind the scenes don't have the backing or protections of traditional journalism institutions. We desperately need to build new networks of support that can adapt to the changing structures and demographics of journalism."

Micah Lee - FPF Chief Technology Officer

Micah Lee is EFF's web developer; his work has appeared in 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. A GNU/Linux enthusiast, Lee has spent more than ten years writing code in numerous languages and for different platforms. He is especially interested in cryptography, computer privacy and security, Free Software, and web freedom.

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2012-12-20 Statement by Julian Assange after Six Months in Ecuadorian Embassy

Thursday December 20th, 19:00 GMT

(Not checked to delivery)

Six months ago - 185 days ago - I entered this building.

It has become my home, my office and my refuge.

Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorian government and the support of its people I am safe in this Embassy and safe to speak from this Embassy.

And every single day outside, people like you have watched over this embassy - rain hail and shine.

Every single day. I came here in summer. It's winter now.

I have been sustained by this solidarity and I'm grateful for the efforts of people all around the world supporting the work of WikiLeaks, supporting freedom of speech and freedom of the press, essential elements in any democracy.

While my freedom is limited, I am still able to communicate this Christmas, unlike the 232 journalists who are in jail tonight.

unlike Godfried Svartholm in Sweden tonight

unlike Jeremy Hammond in New York tonight

unlike Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain tonight

unlike Bradley Manning who turned 25 this week, a young man who has maintained his dignity after spending more than 10% of this life in jail, some of that time in a cage, naked and without his glasses.

and unlike the so many others whose plights are linked to my own.

I salute these brave men and women. And I salute those journalists and publications that have covered what has and continues to happen to these people, and to journalists and publications that continue publishing the truth in the face of persecution, prosecution and threat - who take journalism and publishing seriously.

Because it is from the revelation of the truth that all else follows.

Our buildings can only be as tall as their bricks are strong.

And our civilization is only as strong as its ideas are true.

When our buildings are erected by the corrupt. When their cement is cut with dirt. When pristine steel is replaced by scrap-our buildings are not safe to live in.

And when our media is corrupt. When our academics are timid. When our history is filled with half truths and lies. Our civilization will never be just. It will never reach the sky.

Our societies are intellectual shanty towns. Our beliefs about the world and each other have been created by same system that has lied us into repeated wars that have killed millions.

You can't build a sky scraper out of plasticine. And you can't build a just civilization out of ignorance and lies.

We have to educate each other. We have to celebrate those who reveal the truth and denounce those who poison our ability to comprehend the world we live in.

The quality of our discourse is the limit of our civilization.

This generation has come to its feet and is revolutionizing the way we see the world.

For the first time in history the people affected by history are its creators.

As for other journalists and publications - your work speaks for itself, and so do your war crimes.

I salute those who recognize that freedom of the press and the publics right to know- recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the 1st Amendment in the US - is in danger and needs protection like never before.

WikiLeaks is under a continuing criminal investigation and this fact has been recognized by Ecuador and the governments of Latin America as one that materially endangers my life and work.

Asylum is not granted on a whim but on facts.

The US investigation is referred to in testimony under oath in US courts, is admitted by Department of Justice and by the District Attorney of Virginia as a fact. It's subpoenas are being litigated in the courts. The Pentagon reissued its threats against me in September and claimed the very existence of WikiLeaks is an ongoing crime.

My work will not be cowed. But while this immoral investigation continues, and while the Australian government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks, I must remain here.

However, the door is open - and the door has always been open - for anyone who wishes to speak to me. Like you I have not been charged with a crime. If you ever see spin that suggests otherwise, note this corruption of journalism. Then goto for the full facts. Tell the world the truth.

Despite the limitations, despite the extra judicial banking blockade which circles WikiLeaks like the Cuban embargo, despite an unprecedented criminal investigation and campaign to damage and destroy WikiLeaks, 2012 has been a huge year.

We have released nearly a million documents, made significant releases - relating to events unfolding in Syria.

We have exposed the mass surveillance state and hundreds of thousands of documents from private intelligence companies.

We have released information about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo bay and elsewhere.

We've won against the blockade in the courts and the European Parliament.

And after a two year fight, contributions to WikiLeaks have gone from being tax deductible nowhere to being tax deductible across the entirety of the European Union and the United States.

And last week information revealed by WikiLeaks was vital in determining what really happened to El Masri, an innocent European kidnapped and tortured by the CIA.

Next year will be equally busy. WikiLeaks already has well over a million documents to release. Documents that affect every country in the world. Every country in this world.

And in Australia an unelected Senator will be replaced by one that is elected.

In 2013 we continue to stand up to bullies. The Ecuadorian government and the governments of Latin America have shown how cooperating through shared values can embolden governments to stand up to bullies and support self-determination. Their governments threaten no one, attack no one, send drones at no one. But together they stand strong and independent.

The tired calls by Washington power brokers for economic sanctions against Ecuador, simply for defending my rights, are misguided and wrong. President Correa rightly said, "Ecuador's principles are not for sale". We must unite to defend the courageous people of Ecuador against interference in its economy and interference in its elections next year.

The power of people speaking up and resisting together terrifies corrupt undemocratic power. So much so that ordinary people in the West are now the enemy of governments, an enemy to be watched, controlled and impoverished.

True democracy is not the White House. It is not Canberra. True democracy is the resistance of people armed with the truth, against lies, from Tahrir to London. Every day ordinary people teach us that democracy is free speech and dissent.

For once we the people stop speaking out and stop dissenting, once we are distracted or pacified, once we turn away from each other, we are no longer free. For true democracy is the sum of our resistance.

If you don't speak up, if you give up what is uniquely yours as a human being, you surrender your consciousness; your independence, even your sense of what is right and wrong. In other words, perhaps without knowing it, you become passive and controlled, unable to defend yourself and those you love.

People often ask, "What can I do?" The answer is not so difficult.

Learn how the world works. Challenge the statements, actions and intentions of those who seek to control us behind the facades of democracy and monarchy.

Unite in common purpose and common principle to design, build, document, finance and defend.

Learn, challenge, act.


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2012-12-22 Swedish military reportedly shuts down pro-WikiLeaks transparency websites

Earlier this month, the pro-WikiLeaks Swedish transparency websites Under Mattan and Corruptio were shut down by their web host, allegedly at the request of Sweden's armed forces. Without prior warning or explanation, the ISP pulled the plug on Under Mattan (translation: "Under the Rug") soon after the site posted documents that indicated Swedish military involvement in the Assange case, and that also showed possible allegiances between Sweden's media and armed forces in connection with the Assange investigation.

One source apparently affiliated with Under Mattan stated that, when the site's owners tried to contact after the shutdown, "The people at the ISP refuse{d} to take our calls or reply to our inquiries." However, Crikey now reports that, according to Under Mattan, the ISP has stated that it took down the site at the behest of the Swedish Army's Special Intelligence unit.

Active for 15 months, the website Under Mattan published copious amounts of Swedish government documents obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Recently, many of the published files addressed Sweden's handling of the investigation of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. Under Mattan released communications supporting the Assange legal team's assertions that Swedish prosecutors had repeatedly refused attempts by Assange's lawyers to have the WikiLeaks publisher interviewed in Sweden regarding sexual assault allegations. The site had also published the police interrogations relating to the investigation, as well as numerous files that were unavailable elsewhere on the internet. According to Rixstep, Under Mattan had recently published "transcripts of SMS messages to and from the office of {Swedish prosecutor} Marianne Ny that might have been the last straw".

Moreover, before the takedown, the website allegedly revealed "suspicious and possible criminal activity by Swedish intelligence and the Swedish ... foreign affairs department". Rixstep's source at Under Mattan stated that those at the site had discovered that the Swedish government had censored it "for at least a half year through Swedish intel. Our estimation is that throttling access to the site eliminated between 50% and 90% of all traffic. The site was shut down a couple of days after this information was made public." This source concluded that the Swedish government - including its military intelligence agency and its foreign office - had the site closed, as these agencies "were ... exposed in the documents uploaded immediately prior to the shutdown." A web tool that Under Mattan used to track its site traffic revealed that Sweden's parliament, military, national police, and court authority ranked among the transparency website's most frequent visitors.

In a press release after the shutdown, Under Mattan pointed out:

"When websites and blogs in China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are shut down by totalitarian regimes, the media often react with revulsion at such undemocratic measures...

"As we all know, censorship is common when dictatorships want to keep 'dangerous' information from the people - information that the dictatorships feel threatened by. The opposite of censorship is freedom of information. And many people believe we have freedom of information in Sweden.

"But our site has just demonstrated that we have censorship in Sweden. Swedish authorities shut down our site and refuse to say why - just like they do in China."

This month also reportedly closed down the Swedish leaks site Corruptio. Both Corruptio and Under Mattan published files on Sweden's military and on the country's engagement in Afghanistan.

Under Mattan has issued the following statement:

"Press Statement from 'Under Mattan'

"Swedish Government Behind Shutdown of Pro-Assange

" International shut down the famous Swedish free political investigative website and blog without any explanation or prior notice.

"The site went dark shortly after it revealed the Swedish army's involvement and their possible connection to the Swedish media in the Julian Assange case.

"The shutdown came as the above topic was being discussed at the Flashback forum. Independent sources say the shutdown was carried out at the behest of Swedish authorities acting on behalf of the government.

"Similar behaviour by Swedish authorities had been observed and documented in both 2011 and 2012.

"The shutdown was carried out in a manner normally associated with Middle Eastern regimes - without prior notice and in the middle of the night. Now no one is willing to answer questions or to reveal the reasons for the action.

"So far there have been no arrests.

"Under Mattan hosts a large amount of public information obtained through freedom of information requests regarding the Swedish government's handling of the Julian Assange case. The site had amongst other things published documents related to Anna Ardin, Julian Assange, Björn Hurtig, Erika Leijnefors, Marianne Ny and Sofia Wilén, many of which had not been found elsewhere on the web.

"Before the shutdown, the website also revealed some suspicious and possibly criminal activity by Swedish intelligence and the Swedish foreign office where minister for foreign affairs Carl Bildt is in charge."

Rixstep reported that the individuals affiliated with Under Mattan "continue to work behind the scenes".

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2012-12-24 Several WikiLeaks movies in production, more planned

Following on the heels of Underground: The Julian Assange Story - a 2012 biopic on the WikiLeaks founder's teen years - several major Hollywood studios are in various stages of planning or producing feature films about Assange and his organization.

One full-length feature, tentatively titled The Man Who Sold the World, is slated to start production in January, 2013. Directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2) the drama is reportedly produced by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media. TV writer Josh Singer (The West Wing, Fringe) is said to have based his screenplay for the film on the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, by former WikiLeaks associate Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy by the journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding.

Sources state that the film will focus on Assange and the first few years of WikiLeaks, depicting Assange as "an idealist who becomes corrupted by power"; notably, Singer's source material consists of works by individuals who have portrayed the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief in a negative light.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, (Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness) will reportedly star as Assange, while Inglourious Basterds actor Daniel Bruhl is cast as Domscheit-Berg. "Downton Abbey" star Dan Stevens has reportedly signed on in the role of a hacker friend of Domscheit-Berg who joins the WikiLeaks organization. Stevens is currently starring with Jessica Chastain (The Help) in the Broadway show The Heiress, and is producing and starring in the forthcoming independent drama Summer in February. Swedish actor Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina, A Royal Affair) is also said to have joined the Man Who Sold the World cast. Media sources project a release date of late 2013 or early 2014.

Meanwhile, details have emerged regarding We Steal Secrets, a WikiLeaks/Assange documentary scheduled to premiere during the Sundance Film Festival in January. According to a recent New York Times article, We Steal Secrets is directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), produced by former Universal Pictures Chair Marc Shumger, and set for general release by Focus Features after the film's Sundance debut. The Times states that the feature-length documentary largely tracks Assange's biography, from his teenage days as a hacker in Australia to the present day. Although the Times describes We Steal Secrets as "not friendly toward those who would see Sweden’s pursuit of Mr. Assange as cover for a supposed American agenda to prosecute or smear him," it also reports that the film criticizes the "shabby treatment of Mr. Assange by The Times, which cooperated with him in publishing many WikiLeaks revelations, but later described him with what Mr. Gibney called 'derision.'"

Reportedly, the documentary gives special attention and sympathy to alleged WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, exploring his "loneliness and confusion over sexual identity, and his unease with conduct and incidents he saw described in secret documents," as well as his eventual betrayal by government informant Adrian Lamo. The Times further reveals that, with a view toward an eventual biopic about the soldier, Gibney and Shmuger Gibney recently acquired the rights to a Manning biography by Denver Nicks, and are seeking a screenwriter for that project.

Additionally, Zero Dark Thirty writer and producer Mark Boal is said to be seeking a screenwriter for a possible Assange drama based on a New York Times story by Bill Keller (Keller reportedly declined an offer for the gig). Sources have also reported that HBO is planning a movie on Assange, but has delayed production.

The biopic Underground: The Julian Assange Story was screened at Toronto's International Film Festival and premiered on Australian television this fall.

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2012-12-26 More pro-WikiLeaks Swedish organizations financially blockaded, shut down

On Monday Torrent Freak reported that, after three years of service to the organization, PayPal has frozen the funds of PRQ, an ISP founded by The Pirate Bay's Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm. Earlier this month, sources also reported the suspension of the Twitter account of Anonymous Sweden (@AnonOpsSweden). Anonymous, which supports WikiLeaks, is allegedly responsible for numerous high-profile computer hacks.

Since the Stockholm-based web host PeRiQuito AB, or PRQ, was created in 2004, it has had a public policy that it will host and defend any website that is legal in Sweden. Boasting "no-questions-asked" customer service, PRQ even accepts cash payments to ensure the anonymity of website operators. "Generally we don't know who our customers are," says PRQ's owner Mikael Viborg. "By Swedish law, we're not required to." Viborg adds: "We don't cooperate with the authorities unless we absolutely have to." This approach has garnered the ISP the business of many controversial websites, including WikiLeaks. It has also attracted the attention of authorities. PRQ has been repeatedly raided by Swedish law enforcement -- most recently this October, when authorities confiscated four of the company's servers and took down dozens of sites. In 2006 police took 180 servers in an investigation of The Pirate Bay (reportedly, The Pirate Bay is no longer hosted by PRQ).

Now, according to PRQ, twice this month PayPal froze the ISP's primary account without notice or explanation. After contacting the company upon the first freeze, PRQ explained to PayPal that it needed to receive funds pending resolution of any account issue, and asked PayPal for an alternative means of processing payments. According to PRQ, in response, "PayPal stated that we just had to open a new account to receive funds until the primary account problem was resolved, and once it was resolved they would merge the two accounts ... So we started a second account, and that got frozen too so that we could not withdraw the funds ..." Then PayPal advised PRQ that it would block all funds in the primary account for up to six months. At that point, the ISP decided to "discontinue PayPal forever." Currently the company is establishing a Visa/Mastercard merchant account; meanwhile, the ISP is accepting payments via Bitcoins and bank wire transfers.

Sources also reported the suspension in December of the Twitter account of Anonymous Sweden.

Stating that it only disseminates news, Anonymous has characterized the closure as censorship. The group asserted:
"Anonymous is ... a strong voice for free speech globally. ... The AnonOpsSweden twitter account is a highly regarded and earnestly followed news account thus there is no valid reason for a twitter suspension, either now or in past! Reporting events that have taken place is not a crime. The account was not, and has not to date, been used for any criminal purposes. ... This is a matter of free press as well as free speech."

According to company policy, Twitter does not comment on individual account suspensions. However, as noted by the newspaper Expressen: "It is relatively common that Twitter shut down the accounts, but then it is usually for those that are considered spam. It is less common to close accounts that can be considered subversive or politically sensitive."

The following is an excerpt from a statement by AnonOpsSweden in response to Twitter's suspension of the group's account:

"Twitter's arbitrary censorship threatens free speech

"On November 24th our twitter account was suspended by twitters support. On November 27th, the day Swedish media wrote about this event, we got the first email from twitter in response to our suspension. Their answer to the reason for our suspension is confusing to say the least. They refer to a tweet whereby we shared a link to a hacked website. The twitter account which tipped us off about the hack has also been suspended.

"What we do is report to our followers about injustices in the World. We spread news about the Anonymous collective and other related news that may be of interest. We have done this and it is now also why we have been suspended.

"The alleged breach of contract is to have shared information from a third party, in this case, a link to a hacked Spanish right-wing website. ...

"The only thing that was done was to forward events from a third party, which reasonably is covered by the right to freely notify media, or equivalent in each country with good journalistic practice. The problem is not that we have been suspended, but the incredible power that Twitter has on the public debate. Sure, we have accepted twitter TOC but when a private company has such power over the public debate another part of society has failed.

"Twitter has proven to be a very good platform for the dissemination of news around the World and the subsequent debate. This is something we strongly support, but as the owner of this platform, they must take the responsibility that comes with it and ensure any reports of abuse are handled in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable time frame. ...

"See also, 'UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights' Article 9, paragraph 2?, which guarantees that, if arrested, you are to be immediately informed of the reason for this. Suspension from internet platforms such as Twitter, in that they now have to be considered as part of the public sphere is essentially the same results as an arrest as well as arbitrary censorship. ...

"The fact that even our backup account was blocked with no links to hacked websites published is reminiscent of censorship."

Anonymous has called for a tweetstorm against Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Meanwhile, the international group still has a Twitter presence, including the Swedish account @AnonNewsSweden and the global account @YourAnonNews.

2012-12-28 Assange leads in online vote for Pericles Prize

Julian Assange is currently the lead contender in an online voting contest for the Pericles Prize. Votes for the WikiLeaks leader and others have been cast in answer to the question "Who of all politicians was most sincere in his fight for social progress in 2012?"

In the "Global" category, Assange is easily beating out other nominees, including the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, and Ron Paul.

Its Facebook page describes the Pericles Prize as an "annual international" award that is conferred on politicians, national and international leaders, and other public figures "for integrity in fighting for ... social progress" and in furthering the "development of civil society". Some of the progressive policies espoused by the award's founders include "freedom of access to ... information, civil rights, fight against ... national chauvinism."

Place your vote here.

2012-12-28 Julian Assange essay wins "Russian Pioneer" Magazine's Grand Prix

This month, Russian Pioneer magazine reportedly awarded WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange the "Grand Prix" in the publication's second annual literary competition.

Assange received the prize for his essay "Washington vs. Mankind".

Winners were said to receive bicycles and bottles of cognac during an award ceremony held at a gallery in Gorky Park.