News Archive - 2014-05 (May 2014)

2014-05-01 Snowden statement on receiving 2014 Ridenhour Prize

Originally published at Mother Jones 30 April 2014.

A year ago there was no way I could have imagined being here, being honored in this room. When I began this, I never expected to receive the level of support that I did from the public. Having seen what happened to the people that came before, specifically Thomas Drake, it was an intimidating thing. I'd realized that the highest likelihood, the most likely outcome of returning this information to public hands would be that I would spend the rest of my life in prison. I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do.

What's important about this is that I'm not the only one who felt this way. There were people throughout the NSA that I worked with, that I had private conversations with - that I've had conversations with since in public federal agencies - who had the same concerns I did. But they were afraid to take action because they knew what would happen.

I particularly remember a conversation in the wake of James Clapper's famous lie to Senator Wyden, where I asked by coworker, you know, why doesn't anyone say anything about this? He said - do you know what they do to people who do? And at that time I said yes - he didn't understand why. By that time I had read the laws, I knew what would happen. I knew that there were no whistleblower protections that would protect me from prosecution as a private contractor as opposed to a direct government employee.

But that didn't change my calculus of what needed to be done. And the fact that I knew so many others who had the same concerns, who knew that what we were doing had gone too far, had departed from what we were supposed to be doing, had departed from the fundamental principles of what our US intelligence community is all about - serving the public good - meant that I was confident that I could do it. And the fact that it would cost me so much, it would give so much back to others that were struggling with the same problems, it would be worth it.

And because of this, although I have to say I am honoured to be in the company of so many distinguished Ridenhour awardees, this prize is not just for me, this prize is for a cohort: a cohort of so many people. Whistleblowers who came before me - the Binneys, the Drakes, the Wiebes - and the other intelligence officers throughout the intelligence community who remember that the first principle of any American intelligence official is not an oath to secrecy but a duty to the public. A commitment to speak truth to power, to prevent the sort of intelligence failures that lead us to wars, that don't protect our country that don't keep anybody safe and in fact put us all at risk.

This is the same principle underlying the actions of our free press that's brought us here and given so much back to the global community, as well as the American community, over the past year. It's critical that we remember as a democracy people who do so much and people who serve in silence and try to do the right thing and who may not be in a position themselves to change things directly but are still trying. Because they know that they don't serve officials, they don't serve power - they serve the public.

There's been a lot said about oaths and the oath that I remember is James Clapper, raising his hand, swearing to tell the truth and then lying to the American public. I also swore an oath but that oath was not to secrecy: that oath was to protect and defend our constitution.

But what I saw was that the constitution was being violated on a massive scale. And I did report this internally, I told all of my co-workers, I told my superiors. I showed them Boundless Informant, which is a global heat map, an internal heat map that any NSA employee could see, anyone with an internal net account. It shows the precedence, the level of incidence of NSA interception, collection, storage and analysis events around the world. And I asked these people - because this is what the tool showed - do you think it's right that the NSA is collecting more information about Americans in America than it is about Russians in Russia? Because that's what our systems do.

We watch our own people more closely than we watch any other population in the world, despite the protections that are policy-based. Our technical systems ingest and collect everyone in this room's communication. When you pick up the phone, when you make a call, when you make a purchase, when you buy a book - all of that is collected and I could see that at my desk, crossing my screen.

People had questions about whether or not it was true, whether or not it was really possible or whether I was exaggerating when I said that at my desk I could be wiretapping anyone in America, from a federal judge to the President of the United States. And I am telling you: that is not hyperbole. So long as I had an email address, or some other digital network selector - it's true. And what is truly frightening, but has not been reported at all since these disclosures is that it's happened before.

In 2009 the New York Times reported that an NSA analyst inappropriately accessed Bill Clinton's email. We also saw the stories about disclosures to Congress about LOVEINT - that's sort of an internal name - where NSA analysts and military analysts were abusing these tools to monitor their girlfriends, their wives, their lovers.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: when they committed these crimes, when James Clapper committed a crime by lying under oath to the American people, were they actually held accountable? Was anyone tried? Were charges brought? It's been years since these events occurred whereas, within 24 hours of the time I went public, three counts of charges were laid against me personally.

We have to ask ourselves: if we can hold the lowest, most junior members of our community to these high standards of behaviour, why can't we ask the same of our most senior officials?

Since that time, thanks to the work of our free press, thanks to the work of our elected representatives, thanks to the work of our civil society - these policies, this abuses, the collect-it-all mentality, these systems that have been aggregating the haystack of our human lives are changing. And though we're not finished yet, we haven't won the day, we have to continue to press for reforms, we will get there so long as we try. Our republic, if we can keep it - as they say.

The world is changed, the way we live is changed: our values have not changed. And though we need reforms from the courts and the Congress - we'll get Supreme Court decisions, we'll get laws passed - hopefully we'll see the USA Freedom Act, which is the only act that really starts to address these concerns, get passed - we'll also see contributions, we'll see changes made by principled, skilled technologists throughout the US academic community and around the world, working to enshrine our values of privacy and the commitment to freedom and to liberty, into the very fabric of our global infrastructure around the world.

And not only do we protect American citizens, but we protect the freedoms of citizens everywhere, whether they're in Russia, whether they're in China. So it doesn't matter whether somewhere some government passes terrible laws. Our technology can enforce our rights, even where governments fail to do so.

This is the way forward, it's cooperation, it's working together, it's thinking and having a public dialogue. It's getting government out from behind closed doors and restoring the public's seat at the table of government. And together, we can restore the balance of our rights to what our constitution promises and in fact guarantees. Thank you.

2014-05-06 Sarah Harrison at RP14

WikiLeaks investigation editor Sarah Harrison has coordinated the publication of millions of documents. She also saved Edward Snowden's life. She is currently not returning to the UK for reasons revealed in this interview with Alexa O'Brien at re:publica 14.

2014-05-09 Solidarity Vigil in Support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks 19 June

What: Solidarity Vigil in Support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
When: Thursday 19 June 2014 6-8pm
Where: Ecuadorian Embassy in London, No 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge

The second anniversary of Julian Assange, Editor in Chief of WikiLeaks, entering the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to seek political asylum is upon us on the 19th of June 2014.

As members of the daily vigil in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, we would like to invite you to a special commemoration of this anniversary, outside No 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, London on the 19th of June 2014.

We send a call out to all individuals, human rights groups and organisations, members of the public, to join us in marking the anniversary, show solidarity and thank brave Ecuador for protecting Julian Assange's human rights by granting him political asylum.

We shall gather between 6-8pm outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, make short speeches, hold banners and posters, distribute flyers and engage with the passing public, informing them about our solidarity campaign.

There is nothing more uplifting than joining together in action for what we believe is just. It is the only way civil society climbs up the moral ladder. Let's take another step together.

If you have never participated in our vigil before and need more information please text us at 07817 255785 and we will get in touch.

In solidarity, Free Assange!

2014-05-15 Opinion: The Same Carl Bildt

Sweden will soon hold the Stockholm Internet Forum to discuss global development and global surveillance. The forum will open on 26 May and will be held in the famed Stadshuset, site of the annual Nobel banquet. The motto of the conference will be 'Internet Freedom for Global Development'.

Sweden is also host to I.ROOT-SERVERS.NET, the first Internet DNS root server to be established outside the US. The group administering this root server, initially through the Royal Institute in Stockholm, although not formally a participant or sponsor, were asked to assemble a list of luminaries to be invited to the conference. At the top of the list: Edward Snowden, who made the conference necessary and gave it its current meaning.

Other candidates included Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Alan Rusbridger, and Jacob Appelbaum.

They won't be coming.

According to German Cicero Online, Snowden's name on the list was highlighted in red, indicating 'do not invite'. Carl Bildt's ministry were contacted for clarification, but of course refused to comment, stating only that they intend to 'represent a wide array of backgrounds, cultures, and opinions'.

'We would also like to point out that those who haven’t been invited are able to follow the entire conference online and give opinions and raise questions during the discussions', the ministry added.

Cicero's Petra Sorge comments.

'Indeed, Edward Snowden would not have been able to escape his Russian asylum in order to go to Stockholm. However, his invitation would have been a symbol. With a little imagination the hosts could have included him anyway. The German NSA parliamentary committee is currently discussing a video interrogation. Snowden has already answered questions posed by the European Council via a live broadcast; that was also the way he chose to [speak] to participants of a tech festival in Texas.'

'Sweden could also have allowed Snowden's confidantes to speak for him. That's what other hosts of large computer and internet conferences have recently done. The Net Mundial in São Paulo, Brazil chose a live broadcast with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hacker Jacob Appelbaum was there personally. The Chaos Communication Congress had Glenn Greenwald speaking via video. Appelbaum and Harrison spoke there too, as well as at Berlin's re:publica.'

Carl Bildt did approve of Laura Poitras. Poitras has kept a low profile in the current debate, despite being at the epicentre of the actual revelations. But Poitras isn't interested in attending Carl Bildt's special party. 'Of course I would boycott any conference with a blacklist', she told Cicero.

Jake Appelbaum was under consideration a while. The ministry's notes included 'has been discussed, has to be discussed further'. Applebaum is naturally outraged.

'It is unacceptable that I am the target of retribution for attempting to discuss the issues of mass surveillance and the chilling effect it has on society.'

Bildt's heavy-handedness also seems to be behind the informal withdrawal of support from the root server organisation. Petra Sorge speculates innocently that perhaps Carl Bildt doesn't want to sour relations with the US, scratching the surface of a national wound long since festering and rotting the country and now the world at large. A single despot has in this manner been able to sidetrack another important meeting on NSA surveillance at a time when it is needed most.

The Same Carl Bildt

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 17, attempted to break the teachers strike by appointing himself interim school rector (!) at his high school, condemning fellow students who sympathised with their teachers, stating 'we have been directed by Swedish law to be in school'.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 18, when students at Stockholm University occupied the student union to protest legislative proposals which would have curbed their rights, organised an oppositional movement to sabotage the occupation.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 23, was approved for a CIA-supervised exchange programme to the US, reportedly including an exclusive visit to the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 26, and while personal secretary to right-wing political party leader Gosta Bohman and therefore privy to ultra-secret deliberations to create the first conservative government in Sweden in over 40 years, a government which must have pleased the US immensely, snuck away to the US embassy to reveal secrets to his CIA contact, who then forwarded them to Henry Kissinger, secrets no one in the country was privy to, not other politicians, not the Swedish people, not the king himself. When this was later revealed through the WikiLeaks PlusD ('Kissinger') cables, the political leaders of the day, long since retired, understandably expressed outrage.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 32, was appointed by the conservative government to head the 'submarine commission' to appraise the affair of the Russian U-137 which had run aground in Karlskrona; sometime later, when the conservatives had lost the general election and Olof Palme was again in power, the commission completed their report, and Carl Bildt took a copy of that confidential report to his contacts in Langley, causing outrage on the part of the new government.

This is the same Carl Bildt who is suspected of having concocted a plan, together with his CIA contacts, for 'false flag' operations in the Swedish archipelago designed to bring suspicion on Russia for repeatedly violating Swedish territorial waters with sundry undersea craft, a theory long since debunked by the military themselves. Carl Bildt repeatedly used the 'false flag' incidents to condemn the sitting government from the podium of the parliament for 'going soft' on Russia, and even sent an unapproved, and rather hostile, letter to the Kremlin in that regard. Despite the fact that Carl Bildt's theory of supposed Russian intrusion into Swedish waters has long since been debunked, he holds to his story to this day.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the age of 41, became prime minister of Sweden for a mandate period of three years, and immediately cut off the country's legendary aid and support for Nelson Mandela and the ANC, further refusing to take part in sanctions against Apartheid.

This is the same Carl Bildt who personally profited off the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and was somehow appointed by the UN as a mediator in the conflict, which to this day has made him a 'persona non grata' in several regions.

This is the same Carl Bildt who joined the board of directors of the scandal oil company Lundin Oil, who was often found in the horn of Africa on official visits as a result, but who, before Sweden's constitutional committee, blankly denied knowing anything about the genocide underway in areas of Sudan controlled by Lundin.

This is the same Carl Bildt who was recruited by the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a lobby group trying to garner support for a US invasion of the country, and who even went so far as to defend the idea of a preemptive strike against the country. This same Carl Bildt, through investments in holding companies, profited in the millions by the invasion he helped bring about.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, aware of the strategic importance of Turkey in the eyes of the US, had done all he could to promote NATO membership for the country and to silence and thwart objections from other member states.

This is the same Carl Bildt who is essentially allowed to dictate Swedish foreign policy on his own, and to use Twitter for official announcements of that policy.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, on New Year's Day 2014, published the ultimate Orwellian op-ed in tabloid Expressen, explaining that NSA mass surveillance was not only good, but Sweden's embrace of NSA mass surveillance made the country a 'model for democracy'.

This is the same Carl Bildt who has used his power to block all European inquiries into the nature and extent of NSA mass surveillance. He has since been appointed to head an official inquiry by the European Union into the NSA, something being already compared to the Warren Commission.

This is the same Carl Bildt who has been suggested to head the 'five' in Norway who annually select the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and who is also being considered for further assignments with the UN once he goes into retirement.

This is the same Carl Bildt who has rerouted official foreign ministry correspondence away from the ministry's mail servers and into Gmail accounts, in order to thwart FOI requests and to make it possible for the NSA to know every Swedish secret.

This is the same Carl Bildt who has received official correspondence from the government of Ecuador concerning Julian Assange but has decided to deal with matters himself without informing the Swedish prosecution authority.

This is the same Carl Bildt who, at the political week in Almedalen a few years ago, told Assange legal counsel Jennifer Robinson that her client cannot be interrogated at the embassy in London as it's against the 'Swedish constitution', even though Sweden does not, per se, have a constitution.

This is the same Carl Bildt who recently chastised his own prime minister on national television for suggesting one take a more 'nuanced' approach to the crisis in Ukraine, and who consistently refuses to address the issue of the strong fascist and neo-Nazi representation in that country's unelected interim government.

Here's a photo of Carl Bildt from his school days. Carl's on the left.

Here's a more recent photo of Carl Bildt.

They're the same Carl Bildt.

In memory of the talented and melodic Gena Mason, who, were she with us today, would have herself written the above, and would have done it far better as well.

2014-05-23 WikiLeaks statement on mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by NSA

Friday 23 May 2014, 05:00 GMT

The National Security Agency has been recording and storing nearly all the domestic (and international) phone calls from two or more target countries as of 2013. Both the Washington Post and The Intercept (based in the US and published by eBay chairman Pierre Omidyar) have censored the name of one of the victim states, which the latter publication refers to as country "X".

Both the Washington Post and The Intercept stated that they had censored the name of the victim country at the request of the US government. Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimisation, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations.

We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency's mass interception system is a key component in the United States' drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state's identity directly assists the killing of innocent people.

Although, for reasons of source protection we cannot disclose how, WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs (see

We do not believe it is the place of media to "aid and abet" a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population.

Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan.

The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a 'rise in violence'. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

While one might seriously question the moral exceptionalism which would deny another nation and its people the right to react to a mass rights infringement in a manner of its own choosing, such claims of risk by the US government have in any event consistently fallen short.

WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.

In 2010, the US State Department falsely claimed that WikiLeaks' release of diplomatic cables would "place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals." The Pentagon also repeatedly made such false claims.

To this day we are not aware of any evidence provided by any government agency that any of our eight million publications have resulted in harm to life.

In 2013 US officials admitted under oath that they had been unable to find any such evidence. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted that the US government's reaction to our publications had been "significantly overwrought".

The United States government's claims to the media lack credibility. Not only has it not bothered to contact WikiLeaks pre-publication in this matter, it has been aware of the material obtained by Edward Snowden for almost a year. Almost every office in Washington DC has specifically been aware of the material relating to the censored victim country since at least March 18, 2014, when the Washington Post issued a front page story on the subject (with the identity of Afghanistan censored). It is the US government's "responsibility" to protect its assets. It has had an egregious amount of time to do so. Given the above we believe any ongoing perceived risks to be fanciful or willfully embraced by the US government. But we also reject the implication that it is the role of the international press to protect US assets from arrest for the mass infringement of the rights of another nation's people.

Julian Assange
Editor in Chief

2014-05-30 WikiLeaks Everywhere - Cornwall

@greekemmy took this photo only hours ago on the coast of Cornwall. She wished to convey the fact that WikiLeaks is truly everywhere: that no conspirator can be safe if people have the courage to 'blow the whistle' and stand up to abusive power.

Cornwall is coincidentally the home of award-winning author David Cornwell (John le Carré) who has often spoken out against abuse of power and the need to speak truth to it. See his conversation with Amy Goodman of Democrary Now! here.

Cornwall is also the home of the notorious GCHQ Bude installation where three full days of transatlantic web traffic at a go are continually harvested, analysed, and then shared with the other surveillance partners in the 'Five Eyes' alliance ('Six Eyes' if counting Sweden's FRA).

Take WikiLeaks into the wild this summer! Take a snap of a scenic landmark when out on your travels, put in something about WikiLeaks, and send it here - and make people understand that WikiLeaks is truly everywhere.

Planning on being in London this summer? Then click here.