News Archive - 2014-09 (September 2014)

2014-09-03 BBC Horizon: Inside the Dark Web

Twenty-five years after the world wide web was created, it is now caught in the greatest controversy of its existence: surveillance.

Featuring interviews with the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and the co-founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Horizon delves inside the 'dark web'.

2014-09-21 Transcript: Julian Assange at Moment of Truth

Speech given on 15th September 2014 Moment of Truth event in New Zealand.

You might be able to hear as I speak a rather loud banging sound, but someone has acquired, it seems, the flat underneath the Embassy, and are busy tunnelling, believe it or not, right this moment. We actually tried to buy the flat underneath to expand the Embassy, but, it was blocked rather mysteriously.

So, first of all I'd like to thank Glen for an excellent presentation and I am very pleased Edward could make it, I know there were quite some difficulties actually in getting him on, technically, so I am pleased that all came into fruition finally. But, I thought, we should put things into context because a lot of detail has been to into tonight and sometimes it is hard, sometimes, it's hard, we lose our way in seeing what sort of society that we are evolving into and how this development has come about.

First of all, New Zealand has a very important historical contribution to the understanding of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance and mass surveillance. In fact, really, like many other things that happened in the world, New Zealanders were there first and Nicky Hager was in fact a great New Zealand journalist [clapping covers words]... secret power which exposed national security agency and GCSB activities as they were then, in the 1990's, and subsequently, of course, Australians like me, have been taking the credit for this ground breaking work that Nicky has done.

New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes Alliance and it's easy to become confused as to what that means. The Five Eyes Alliance is not a n alliance of nations, it is not an alliance of Christian, English speaking nations of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australian, and United Kingdom. It is an alliance of Intelligence agencies operating within those five nations, that is often presented as if those five nations have come together and decided they want to engage in mass surveillance of the rest of the world in order to empower their citizens the most, geopolitically and in terms of terrorism and foreign intelligence. But, in fact, because as Edward and Glenn have said, there has not been informed connect by those five nations, it is insiders from within the Deep State, as we would call it in political science, collaborating with each other to maximise their own power in this equation and while once we could have considered this significant but not a crucial matter that starts to affect the structure of society, that's no longer true.

The level of mass surveillance, as it has increased over the past 10 years, is something that is now at the level where it must inevitably affect the structure of our society domestically and the structure of our international order.

Glen and Edward and others have revealed abuse after abuse, and lies by John Key and others in that area, but, if we look at simply the scale of the activity, we now have a situation where every single person who has access to the internet, which in New Zealand is essentially every single person, is being affected. Sometimes we think, a claim about a general phenomena is a claim about the air or the sky or the nature of our universe and it is so general that we think we cannot be affected by it. It is a claim that seems there that is nothing we can do about it. You may recall that Stalin once said perhaps apocryphally: 'One man's death is a tragedy but the death of a million men is a statistic', but, I have been one of those people. I have been, and it's in the Edward Snowden documents, a target of the NSA, on the NSA manhunting list. WikiLeaks has been as recently as 2012 a target of GCHQ and it's in those same documents. in New Zealand has been a target of GCSB, unlawfully, and no doubt most of the people presenting on this panel tonight in the run up to this presentation have been some kind of target. How do we know that we are targets? Well we are specialists in this area so we are able to understand and find out this information and see that we are individually targeted. But for people who are not specialists, they rely on information that has come out as a result of journalists and as a result of people like Edward Snowden and is spoken about in generalities. What New Zealand is doing, together with the other Five eyes nations is to attempt to create a new structure of civilisation and I don't think that New Zealanders agreed to take part in such a radical extremist project of putting all their foreign, at least, telecommunications of New Zealanders under a mass surveillance regime which automatically collects information on every single person. I think that is an extreme, bizarre, Orwellian future that is being constructed secretly in New Zealand and so you might say, why is New Zealand doing this and can New Zealand have any influence. Well, I think New Zealand as part of the Five Eyes Alliance is seen as a junior partner in that alliance, but in fact it has an equal status to every other nation except that of the United States.

People within GCSB have become addicted to that relationship with these bigger players and so they are happy to sacrifice the rights of New Zealanders and move the society of New Zealand in a very strange direction, in exchange for membership of this international intelligence agencies club. It is a network of patronage that exists internationally and operates without proper oversight of government, even in the United States as Glen has shown, there is no proper oversight.

So, having a look at the development of the Five Eyes alliance over that long period of time, and of how governments actually behave in practice with our diplomatic cables work, I want to re-iterate what Glen has talked about specifically in relation to John Key that this is how things are done at this level. It is all back room deals about how to construct laws, the place of intelligence agencies and international alliances between intelligence agencies, it is not between countries, in the construction of those laws, how to subvert monitoring of behaviour of intelligence agencies and their functions.

New Zealand historically has shown significant will to be a more independent state. Despite its size, it is an island nation, it is able to have its own political culture and that political culture resulted for example in the banning of nuclear weapons and nuclear power warships coming to Australia [transcriber's correction: New Zealand]. The National Security Agency attempted, was used, as a vehicle to take revenge against New Zealand to coerce New Zealand into coming back into the acceptance of nuclear power in New Zealand by cutting off the flow of information to GCSB or claims of doing that, first as some of you might remember Nicky Hager showed that in fact that secret flow and access to this 'all boys club' of intelligence agencies continued in the background. So, we have a bizarre example where, that, even the desire to punish New Zealand for its nuclear stance was subverted by these very intelligence agencies. So, they will subvert the democratic will in relation to mass surveillance and they will even subvert attempts by US authorities operating in a different dimension, namely end the nuclear policy, to punish the GCSB.

Covert intelligence agencies by definition are designed to operate outside proper scrutiny and outside the law and so they cannot be trusted and the people who get into bed with them in any significant way also cannot be trusted.

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2014-09-22 Transcript: Assange BBC Interview

Interview with John Simpson of the BBC 18 September 2014.

JA: Google's business model is to spy. That is its business model. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behaviours, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others. So the result is that Google, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ.

JS: Why single out Google when most big, really big, US organisations in one way or another have to live alongside the government and work with it?

JA: Google has through its marketing power and through its colourful logo imprinted on people that it is a playful, humane organisation, that it is not a big bad US corporation. But in fact it has become just that. Google is also unlike, say, Coca-Cola. An organisation that does collect the world's information, it is now arguably the world's most influential commercial organisation.

JS: You can't stay here like this for much longer, can you? This is an absolutely crazy existence, you've got to get out, haven't you?

JA: There is a £7.3 million of police surveillance admitted outside this embassy. It is a difficult situation. It is not a situation that is easy for national security reporter. You can't read sources. It is difficult to meet some of my staff etc because of that surveillance. On the other hand, there are no subpoenas, there are no door knocks in the night, unlike other national security reporters. So in some ways there are benefits to the situation.

JS: But that must be bad for you though, isn't it? Physically and mentally to be here?

JA: It's a difficult situation, other people are in more difficult situations. Chelsea Manning for example, was sentenced last year, my alleged co-conspirator, to 35 years in US prison. Here in the UK there is a lot of optimism. Finally, there is a significant section of the UK judiciary, and parliament has seen that this cannot occur again. Early this year the UK passed modifications to ban extradition without charge, to insist on if you want to speak with someone you have to come to the UK or charge them, you can't just say, 'Well I want to speak to that person and I am not willing to use any standard mechanisms'.

JS: You are talking about the Swedish government?

JA: Yes the Swedish government.

JS: But the Swedish government has changed now, I mean it's a left wing government, they're never going to send you back to America, are they?

JA: Well, it is a very interesting situation. The Swedish election was on Sunday. We don't know yet what the formation of the government will be. It will probably be a centre-left government, and there are attitude changes there. We have an appeal in Sweden in just two weeks time. But also here in the UK, the change in law and the recognition that the situation here should never have occurred, I think it means that within say the next year we're going to see a significant change.

Interview covered here:

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2014-09-23 Press release: Known Unknowns Fund by Courage

  • New fund will be the first to aid suspected sources before they face charges
  • An alleged source under investigation by the US government has already reached out to Courage for assistance
  • Courage Advisory Board members Daniel Ellsberg and Thomas Drake underline the importance of the new fund
  • Donations can be made online at

Courage, the international organisation dedicated to the protection of truthtellers, today announces the launch of the Known Unknowns Fund to support suspected sources under investigation. The Fund is the first specifically designed to assist individuals who are alleged to have disclosed information of significant public value but do not yet face formal charges. The name of the fund, a play on former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's notorious defence of inadequate sourcing, acknowledges that many who find themselves in this situation will not be in a position to confirm their identity to the public.

Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower and a member of Courage's Advisory Board said:

In the US, the administration of injustice against whistleblowers under President Obama serves to intimidate potential truth-tellers by the prospect of ruinous legal costs defending themselves under investigation, even if no indictment follows. The Known Unknowns Fund will benefit not only those who may earn suspicion of telling wrongly-withheld truths; it also serves the public interest in being so informed.

By providing support at the pre-indictment stage, Courage hopes to limit the number of cases that proceed to prosecution. The organisation has already received a request for assistance for an alleged source who is currently under investigation by the US government.

Courage's Acting Director Sarah Harrison explained:

Courage has decided to launch the Known Unknowns Fund because there is a real and pressing need that no one else is in a position to fulfill. We have already received a request regarding someone who needs our help, as they are under investigation by the US government for being the alleged source of some important stories in the US media regarding botched counter-terrorism programmes. Up to this point, Courage has advocated for whistleblowers the public already knows about and who have been wrongly retaliated against. Alleged sources who haven't yet been charged are in a different situation and a really difficult one – they are often in desperate need of financial and other support, but requesting it publicly can harm their legal situation. Even speaking about an investigation in public can put an individual at risk of additional prosecution. Courage's Known Unknowns Fund aims to help those who can't ask openly. We want to make sure that the public has an opportunity to support and protect alleged sources ahead of time, so they can get legal advice and prepare a legal team before potential charges are brought.

The experience of whistleblowers shows a clear need for this new initiative. NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake was charged under the 1917 Espionage Act and faced 35 years in prison. By the time the US government's case fell apart, Drake had spent several years under investigation and another awaiting trial. At the sentencing hearing Judge Richard D. Bennett said that the conduct of the investigation against Drake had been 'unconscionable', likening the experience to 'four years of hell.'

Thomas Drake, who is also a member of the Courage Advisory Board, said:

During my pre-trial criminal proceedings, I was advised by private counsel that my criminal defense prior to public trial would cost at least a million dollars and perhaps as much as three million. I had to prepare a legal defense from my own resources against a government criminal investigation and prosecution which had no such limitations. I went virtually bankrupt, emptied all my liquid assets, took out a second mortgage on my residence and went into severe debt paying for my private attorney over two years. I ended up declared indigent before the Court and represented for criminal defense by public defenders and by attorney Jesselyn Radack, who represented me in the court of pubic opinion as well as whistleblower advocacy and media outreach. She was my voice when I had none. If something like the Known Unknowns Fund had existed before I was indicted, I'd have been in a much better position to defend myself.

Donations to the Known Unknowns Fund can be made at

The following people are available for interview and comment by emailing

Daniel Ellsberg, Courage Advisory Board Member and whistleblower
Thomas Drake, Courage Advisory Board Member and whistleblower
Ray McGovern, Courage Advisory Board Member, veteran intelligence analyst and whistleblower champion
Sarah Harrison, Courage Acting Director

2014-09-24 Transcript: Assange Interview with Sky News

Interview with Sarah Hewson 18.09.2014.

JA: Google has now spread to every country, every single person, who has access to the Internet, billions of people, giving their information over to Google. Google has become in its behaviour a privatised version of the NSA. It is not that it is doing things that are illegal, it's not. But, what it is doing legally, it's collecting as much information about people as possible, storing it, indexing it, using it to create profiles of people to predict their interests and behaviours and then selling that to advertisers and others. And, that is the same procedure that the National Security Agency or GCHQ goes through and that's why the National Security Agency has then latched on top of what Google is collecting.

SH: But Google has said that any spying by the NSA is outrageous.

JA: Well, they eventually came late to that position, but they've been involved since at least 2002, working with the NSA in terms of contracts. They are formally listed as part of the defense industrial base since 2009. They have been engaged in the PRISM system, where nearly all information collected by Google is available to the National Security Agency. People do not know what Google is, I mean, Google had been reasonably successful in the US debate, shifting its collaboration with the NSA towards the NSA itself. Google was intimating something like it was unknowingly partook in or was forced into, and that's not true. It might have been forced in there, later on down the track, there are coercive movements that are used against these high tech companies, but at the institutional level, Google is deeply involved in US foreign policy.

SH: You talk in the book about your pride in the role that WikiLeaks played in the Arab Spring. When you look at the Middle East now, we have a power vacuum out of which has emerged Islamic State ISIS. ISIS is very sophisticated in its use of the Internet and particularly social media as a propaganda tool, as a tool for radicalisation, recruitment. Is there a case there where we should see some degree of censorship.

JA: That is an interesting question. The answer is 'not yet'. Censorship is a very slippery slope, yes of course it is putting out propaganda to try to provoke the West. Why do they want to provoke the West? They want to provoke the West in order to unify the disagreements the rest of the Sunni population has in Iraq with ISIS.

SH: You've been here for two years, Chelsea Manning has been jailed for 35 years, there has been a lot of collateral damage, I suppose, has it been worth it?

JA: Amnesty International has formally found that Chelsea Manning is a prisoner of Conscience, there up for Appeal at the US Army Criminal Court of Appeal, later this year, so hopefully, there will be a recognition, that that was an unjust act. For me, when I have been involved in those kind of publications for a long time, when we started publishing the US diplomatic cables, I predicted that it would take five to seven years, to be clear of this process. I think that that is going to be correct, I think the, in fact, I am sure that the view of what has happened historically, will be favourable and the organisation, WikiLeaks the publisher, the organisation is on the black, unlike many publishers.

SH: What is the end game for you, you talk recently about leaving soon, how, when?

JA: Something really important has happened, here in the UK. There has been a recognition, inside judicial circles and inside the Tory back bench that what has happened here was wrong, and should not happen to anyone else. I haven't been charged. I haven't been charged with an offence in any country, and so as a result it is an absurd situation that someone should be extradited, before they have even been charged. And, new legislation has been drafted and has been put into law earlier this year to reflect that concern and a number of other concerns. So, we believe, it is now inevitable that my Asylum will cease to be obstructed.

SH: So, where will you go, because you are wanted for questioning by the Swedish Authorities.

JA: I am for the past four years, since the very beginning, I have been saying, 'please ask me questions, let us submit a statement, let me do a video interview, let me do a telephone call' etc, and there has been a refusal, and there has been a refusal to give a proper explanation as to even why there is a refusal.

SH: What has the last two years been like. What has the impact been on you personally, and on WikiLeaks.

JA: On WikiLeaks, in some ways, it has been positive. That is [to say] an Embassy is a protected environment, that is to a degree a national security reporter's dream. You cannot be subpoenaed from an Embassy, you cannot be arrested in the middle of the night from people investigating our publications. On the other hand, there is extensive surveillance outside this embassy. So, that makes, yes, a difficult situation for me to meet with people I would normally meet with, in the course of my work.

SH: And personally, you dedicate the book to your family which you say you love and miss very much. What impact has it had on them?

JA: The impact on my family is severe. My family didn't ask for such a situation. Perhaps, by the nature of my work, I did but my family didn't.

SH: And what next?

JA: There is a lot of interesting things happening to the Internet. The Internet, because it has merged with society, is now the future destiny of human society. Unlike our nation states, the Internet is a global phenomenon , so, the laws and standards that we all erect on the Internet, we are erecting for the whole world at once, so, if we get them wrong, it will affect everywhere at once. So, those are the stakes.

This interview has been covered here:

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