News Archive - 2010-12 (December 2010)

2010-12-01 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 4

(Parts 1-3 of this coverage series are available here, here, and here.)

Seumas Milne, The Guardian: WikiLeaks is holding US global power to account

"Official America's reaction to the largest leak of confidential government files in history is tipping over towards derangement. What the White House initially denounced as a life-threatening "criminal" act and Hillary Clinton branded an "attack on the international community" has been taken a menacing stage further by the newly emboldened Republican right.

WikiLeaks' release of 250,000 United States embassy cables – shared with the Guardian and other international newspapers – was an act of terrorism, Senator Peter King declared. Sarah Palin called for its founder Julian Assange to be hunted down as an "anti-American operative with blood on his hands", while former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has demanded that whoever leaked the files should be executed for treason.

Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.[...]

But in any case the United States is the centre of a global empire, a state with a military presence in most countries which arrogates to itself the role of world leader and policeman. When genuine checks on how it exercises that entirely undemocratic power are so weak at home, let alone in the rest of the world it still dominates, it's both inevitable and right that people everywhere will try to find ways to challenge and hold it to account.[...]

By making available Washington's own account of its international dealings WikiLeaks has opened some of the institutions of global power to scrutiny and performed a democratic service in the process. Its next target is said to be the leviathan of the banks – bring it on."
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Glenn Greenwald, Salon: The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics

"I'm not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden. The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of -- and in some cases directly responsible for -- the world's deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade. And they're demanding Assange's imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them. To accomplish that, they're actually advocating -- somehow with a straight face -- the theory that if a single innocent person is harmed by these disclosures, then it proves that Assange and WikiLeaks are evil monsters who deserve the worst fates one can conjure, all while they devote themselves to protecting and defending a secrecy regime that spawns at least as much human suffering and disaster as any single other force in the world. That is what the secrecy regime of the permanent National Security State has spawned.[...]

That abuse of secrecy powers is vast, deliberate, pervasive, dangerous and destructive. That's the abuse that WikiLeaks is devoted to destroying, and which its harshest critics -- whether intended or not -- are helping to preserve. There are people who eagerly want that secrecy regime to continue: namely, (a) Washington politicians, Permanent State functionaries, and media figures whose status, power and sense of self-importance are established by their access and devotion to that world of secrecy, and (b) those who actually believe that -- despite (or because of) all the above acts -- the U.S. Government somehow uses this extreme secrecy for the Good. Having surveyed the vast suffering and violence they have wreaked behind that wall, those are exactly the people whom WikiLeaks is devoted to undermining."
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Amy Davidson, The New Yorker: Banishing WikiLeaks?

"Lieberman may be exaggerating his own role, and Amazon can make choices about what business to be in. Still, is Amazon reporting to a senator now? Is the company going to tell him about “the extent of its relationship” with WikiLeaks—with any customer? He’s free to ask, of course, but in terms of an obligation to answer: Does somebody have a warrant or a subpoena for that? One wonders if Lieberman feels that he, or any Senator, can call in the company running The New Yorker’s printing presses when we are preparing a story that includes leaked classified material, and tell them to stop it. The circumstances are different, but not so different as to be really reassuring.

There are worse things one can do than cut off a server; for example, cut off a head. That seems to be where other WikiLeaks critics are headed. Sarah Palin said that Assange should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden; Newt Gingrich said that he should be treated as an enemy combatant; and Bill Kristol wants the Obama Administration to think about kidnapping or killing Assange “and his collaborators.” (Kristol doesn’t use the word “kill,” but rather “whack” and “neutralize,” as if some combination of slang and clinical talk made everything all right.) Is that where we are? (This isn’t to dismiss Assange’s other, Swedish legal troubles; the characters here are neither supervillains nor superheroes.) One question that came up in the debate about Obama putting Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, on an assassination list without even making a pretense of going through the courts was who else you could kill on the same grounds. It is striking to see how unabashedly that line of reasoning has been pursued. If we can shoot down Julian Assange, how about any investigative reporter who might learn something that embarrasses our government? We seem to have hopelessly confused national security with the ability of a particular Administration to pursue its policies."
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Roy Greenslade, The London Evening Standard: WikiLeaks empowers us all… whatever the critics say

"It might be trite to observe that knowledge is power and that a lack of knowledge means a lack of power. But, trite or not, it remains a valid statement of reality. Journalism was founded precisely to redress the knowledge/power imbalance. It was born from a need among the don't-knows to know. That is why the knowledgeable stifled journalistic inquiry from its inception in Britain and why, in states where democracy is non-existent or very fragile, their authorities continue to harass a nascent journalism.

It is not far fetched to say that the history of democracy is the history of journalism. Freedom of the press does not exist outside of democratic societies. There is no democracy without press freedom.[...]

In the short term, the consequences might be embarrassing, though I doubt if they will ever be as catastrophic as so many government and military spokesmen have contended this week. What we are witnessing is a democratic leap forward, an opportunity for the people of several countries to get a glimpse of what is being said and done in their name.

At the same time, it is changing journalism too. I detect that some journalists are none too pleased about the WikiLeaks phenomenon, questioning the motives of its shadowy movers and shakers. But the critics ought to take note of the essential job done by traditional newspaper journalists to turn the leaked cables into sensible, readable editorial copy.

In essence, journalists in the 21st century are still doing what their forebears did in the 17th century, making sense of scraps of knowledge for the wider public good."
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The Economist: Missing the point of WikiLeaks

"The basic question is not whether we think Julian Assange is a terrorist or a hero. The basic question certainly is not whether we think exposing the chatter of the diplomatic corps helps or hinders their efforts, and whether this is a good or bad thing. To continue to focus on these questions is to miss the forest for the texture of the bark on a single elm. If we take the inevitability of future large leaks for granted, then I think the debate must eventually centre on the things that will determine the supply of leakers and leaks. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals the sense of justice which would embolden them to challenge the institutions that control our fate by bringing their secrets to light. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals ever greater fealty and submission to corporations and the state in order to protect the privileges and prerogatives of the powerful, lest their erosion threaten what David Brooks calls "the fragile community"—our current, comfortable dispensation."
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Charlie Stross: Julian Assange, defending our democracies (despite their owners' wishes)

"Assange has a model of how the abduction of governance by common interest groups — such as corporations and right wing political factions — works in the current age. His goal is to impair the ability of these groups to exert control over democratic institutions without the consent of the governed. By forcing these authoritarian institutions to apply ever-heavier burdens of secrecy to their internal communications, wikileaks aims to reduce their ability to coordinate and, thus, to exert control.[...]

Wikileaks is not attacking the US government; rather, it's acting to degrade the ability of pressure groups to manipulate the US government to their own ends. Those who benefit the most from their ability to manipulate the State Department are the most angry about this: autocratic middle eastern leaders, authoritarian right-wing politicians, royalty, corporate cartels. Those of us who are scratching our heads and going "huh?" about the significance of Muammar Ghadaffi's botox habit are missing the point: it's not about the content, but about the implication that the powerful can no longer count on their ability to lie to the public without being called on it.

In an ideal world, wikileaks wouldn't be necessary. But the US mass media has been neutered and coopted by the enemies of the public interest."
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2010-12-01 Censorship in the (not so free) press

After the British government had issued two Defence Advisory Notices to the UK press last week, which were largely ignored or rebutted by UK media, the Australian attorney general issued his own request for a "voluntary agreement to censor" WikiLeaks information, while China dropped the "voluntary" part altogether. Should we censor WikiLeaks cables on national security grounds?

"Every major news outlet in Australia has received a letter this week from Attorney-General Robert McClelland asking editors to consider a voluntary agreement to censor 'sensitive national security and law enforcement information,'" writes Editor in Chief David Penberthy.

The full letter from Robert McClelland is available here (PDF). is asking its readers to vote on whether the site should censor WikiLeaks information. You can vote here. At the time of this writing, 78.1% of readers had voted "No."
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IDG: China blocks access to WikiLeaks

Michael Kan reports for IDG: "China has blocked Internet access to WikiLeaks' release of more than 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables, with its Foreign Ministry saying that it does not wish to see any disturbance in China-U.S. relations.

"China takes note of the government reports. We hope the U.S. side will handle the relevant issues," Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said at a Beijing news conference on Tuesday. "As for the content of the documents, we will not comment on that."

Access to WikiLeaks' Cablegate page, as well as certain Chinese language news articles covering the topic, have been blocked in the country since Monday. Other articles from the Chinese press that are accessible on the web appear to only concern the U.S. response."
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2010-12-01 Censorship in the US

Amazon has pulled WikiLeaks off its cloud hosting infrastructure, bowing to political pressure from Sen. Joe Lieberman and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Guardian quotes Lieberman's statement: "[Amazon's] decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them."

The department of homeland security confirmed Amazon's move, referring journalists to Lieberman's statement, notes The Guardian.

"I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information," Lieberman said, according to Reuters.

Ryan Calo, a lecturer at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society told Reuters that "It would set a dangerous precedent were companies like Amazon to take down things merely because the senator or another government entity started to ask question about them."

The New Yorker's Amy Davidson writes: "Lieberman may be exaggerating his own role, and Amazon can make choices about what business to be in. Still, is Amazon reporting to a senator now? Is the company going to tell him about “the extent of its relationship” with WikiLeaks—with any customer? He’s free to ask, of course, but in terms of an obligation to answer: Does somebody have a warrant or a subpoena for that? One wonders if Lieberman feels that he, or any Senator, can call in the company running The New Yorker’s printing presses when we are preparing a story that includes leaked classified material, and tell them to stop it. The circumstances are different, but not so different as to be really reassuring."

"This certainly implicates First Amendment rights to the extent that web hosts may, based on direct or informal pressure, limit the materials the American public has a First Amendment right to access," EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston told Talking Points Memo.

TPM reports that "Committee staff had seen news reports yesterday that Wikileaks was being hosted on Amazon's servers. The service, we should note, is self-serve; as with services like YouTube, the company does not screen or pre-approve the content posted on its servers. Staffers then, according to the spokeswoman, Leslie Phillips, called Amazon to ask about it, and left questions with a press secretary including, 'Are there plans to take the site down?' Amazon called them back this morning to say they had kicked Wikileaks off, Phillips said."

It does not appear that Amazon was served with a legal order to take WikiLeaks down, but rather that the decision was based on verbal criticism from Lieberman and other establishment members. The fact that a website can be taken down without any due process in a country which once had a vaunted tradition of free speech should be an alarm call to anyone who understands the importance of a free media.

2010-12-01 Frontline event: First Wednesday: WikiLeaks - The US embassy cables

The Frontine Club has announced a panel discussion on WikiLeaks and the embassy cables as part of the "First Wednesday" event series. The panel will take place on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at the Frontline Club, London:

"Following the release this weekend of 251,287 confidential United States embassy cables, this month's First Wednesday debate will focus on the revelations of this latest leak from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. We will be joined by:

* WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson;
* James Ball a data journalist who has been working with WikiLeaks;
* Nicky Hager, author and Investigative journalist;

Additional panelists to be confirmed."

The debate will be chaired by Paddy O'Connell of BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House.

Event website:

2010-12-01 Greg Barns: Australian complicity in stifling Assange

Greg Barns, director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, writes for ABC News on the Australian government's decision to look into criminal charges against Julian Assange:

"Mr. McClelland’s decision amounts to little more than posturing. This is because Mr. Assange would appear to have committed no crime under Australia’s suite of laws on disclosure of sensitive state information.

The reality is that the Australian Federal Police can do nothing about an Australian citizen who is running a website out of Sweden which is the repository for American diplomatic cables. And Australia, unlike the UK, does not have an official secrets law. It has scattered throughout the Commonwealth statute books provisions relating to the unauthorised disclosure of information that relates to national security by employees, contractors and the like.

In any event, the current legal thinking in the UK and other common law countries is that leaking sensitive information per se is not necessarily an offence. The law respects the right to freedom of expression and simply because the leaked material embarrasses a government does not mean that a criminal offence has been committed.[...] The Gillard government and the Coalition also need to tread carefully in wanting to strip Mr Assange of his passport simply because they do not like the fact that he is embarrassing an ally.[...]

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen who does not deserve to be harassed by the Australian government, he has done nothing wrong."
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2010-12-01 Mark Stephens on BBC


WikiLeaks lawyer and Index on Censorship trustee Mark Stephens was interviewed on BBC about the Cablegate release:

Q: "What do you make of this accusation that it's irresponsible and that it's possibly putting people's lives at risk?"

A: "I think it's fanciful, and the reason I say I think it's fanciful is that the redactions that have been undertaken on this have been done very carefully. A lot of man-hours have been done, they have been cross-checked by the news organizations and the US did also get the opportunity to indicate where they thought that there were problems or lives or operational issues would be put at risk. And indeed, that's the same process that was put in place last time, when the Afghanistan documents were put into the public domain, and the Pentagon spokesman Mr. Lapan, Secretary of State for Defence Gates and NATO officials in Afghanistan all said that they could find not a single example of a person's life being put at risk as a result of that. So I think that the allegations clearly were there, I think, to distract attention from the major issues of huge public importance, which I think ultimately, in the long run, that's what the Americans are concerned about, and that's what many other states who are criticized in these cables [are concerned about], because it would be wrong to say this is anti-American. There are many other state actors, particularly the Russians, who don't come out of this very well at all."

Watch the video

2010-12-01 Opinions on Cablegate: Carne Ross, Max Frankel, Robert Scheer, Amy Goodman

Carne Ross, Huffington Post: The End of Diplomacy As We Know It

Former UK ambassador to the UN Carne Ross writes: "The presumption that governments can conduct their business in secret with one another, out of sight of the populations they represent, died this week. Diplomats and officials around the world are slowly realizing that anything they say may now be one day published on the Internet. Governments are now frantically rushing to secure their data and hold it more tightly than ever, but the horse has bolted. If a government as technically sophisticated and well protected as the US can suffer a breach of this magnitude, no government is safe. Politicians can demand the prosecution of Julian Assange or -- absurdly -- that WikiLeaks be designated as a terrorist organization, but the bellows of anger are tacit admission that government's monopoly on its own information is now a thing of the past.[...]

There is in fact only one enduring solution to the WikiLeaks problem and this is perhaps the goal of WikiLeaks, though this is sometimes hard to discern. That is that governments must close the divide between what they say, and what they do. It is this divide that provokes WikiLeaks; it is this divide that will provide ample embarrassment for future leakers to exploit. The only way for governments to save their credibility is to end that divide and at last to do what they say, and vice versa, with the assumption that nothing they may do will remain secret for long. The implications of this shift are profound, and indeed historic."
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Max Frankel, The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Secrets shared with millions are not secret

Former New York Times editor Max Frankel writes: "Take it from a Pentagon papers hawk: it's OK to regret the WikiLeaks dump, and to deplore the dumpsters even as you defend, indeed admire, our democratic press and its freedom. It's been 40 years since the New York Times had to defend itself against government censors and threats of prosecution under the espionage acts for publishing a top-secret cache of Pentagon documents tracking the duplicitous path to an unwinnable war in Vietnam.[...]

As Justice Stewart shrewdly observed, the checks and balances governing domestic politics are sadly absent in the realm of foreign affairs. Congress is easily browbeaten into patriotic silence when the war drums roll. Even our courts are thoughtlessly deferential to presidential prerogative when the national interest is invoked. That is why Stewart held that "the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government".

A wise government would therefore decide – for moral, political and practical reasons – to insist on avoiding secrecy for its own sake. "For when everything is classified, then nothing is classified, and the system becomes one to be disregarded by the cynical or the careless, and to be manipulated by those intent on self-protection or self-promotion ... Secrecy can best be preserved only when credibility is truly maintained."

And here we are at his predicted destination. Lead us secretly into one war too many, and see how we wallow in one or another disclosure too many."
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Robert Scheer, Truthdig: Hillary Gets Wiki-Served

Robert Scheer writes: "Hillary Clinton should cut out the whining about what the Obama administration derides as “stolen cables” and confront the unpleasant truths they reveal about the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy and her own troubling performance. As with the earlier batch of WikiLeaks, in this latest release the corruption of our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan stands in full relief, and the net effect of nearly a decade of warfare is recognized as a strengthening of Iran’s influence throughout the region.[...]

This material refutes the stated anti-terrorist purposes of the two wars we are fighting, and that is the prime reason it is classified. If any of the information was so sensitive, why was none of it labeled “top secret” as is the practice with content that would risk our nation’s security? And why was this vast trove placed in computer systems to which low-ranking personnel had access? The real problem with the release of the dispatches, particularly the kind labeled “noforn,” meaning it shouldn’t be shared with foreign governments, is that it is politically embarrassing — which is why we, the public, have a right to view it. That is certainly the case with the revelation that Secretary Clinton destroyed the once-sacred line between the legitimate diplomat deserving of universal protection and the spies that governments could be justified in arresting.

Instead of disparaging the motives of the leakers, Hillary Clinton should offer a forthright explanation of why she continued the practice of Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor as secretary of state, of using American diplomats to spy on their colleagues working at the United Nations. Why did she issue a specific directive ordering U.S. diplomats to collect biometric information on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many of his colleagues?"
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Amy Goodman, Truthdig: WikiLeaks and the End of U.S. ‘Diplomacy’

Amy Goodman writes: "Critics argue, as they did with earlier leaks of secret documents regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, that lives will be lost as a result. Rather, lives might actually be saved, since the way that the U.S. conducts diplomacy is now getting more exposure than ever—as is the apparent ease with which the U.S. government lives up (or down) to the adage used by pioneering journalist I.F. Stone: “Governments lie.”[...]

A renowned political analyst and linguist, MIT professor Noam Chomsky helped Daniel Ellsberg, America’s premier whistle-blower, release the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. I asked Chomsky about the latest cables released by WikiLeaks. “What this reveals,” he reflected, “is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership.”"
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2010-12-01 Steven Aftergood: Assange prosecution would be "extremely dangerous"


Speaking with Slate magazine's War Room correspondent Justin Elliott, Aftergood said that the DoJ's legal theory for pursuing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would set "an extremely dangerous precedent."

"This is novel legal territory. Every step involves uncertainty and virgin territory, and ideally it will be left that way," says Steven Aftergood, a secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood, who has been a critic of WikiLeaks in the past, argues that "a prosecution of WikiLeaks would be a horrible precedent that in time would almost certainly be applied to other publishers of controversial information."

Elliott writes that "Many have argued that the law (Espionage Act of 1917) is unconstitutional, and, if it was actually applied broadly, would lead to the prosecution of journalists and newspapers that routinely obtain and publish classified national defense information.

'If a case could be made that WikiLeaks did not simply publish the material as a passive recipient, but that they actually solicited the release of the information, then they would be vulnerable,' Aftergood says. But it's not clear how solicitation would be defined, and it's also not at all clear if the facts of the case would bear this theory out. And, again, if this theory of the law were applied, it's hard to see how it wouldn't ensnare a journalist like Bob Woodward, who asks government officials about classified matters and then publishes the information."
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Photo credit: FAS

2010-12-01 WikiLeaks in today's media: Further Cablegate coverage [Update 3]

Romanian Insider: WikiLeaks runs first confidential cable wire from Romania on adoption cases

"WikiLeaks has published the first confidential document sent from the US Embassy in Bucharest to the US. The document, sent in 2006 by the then US Ambassador to Bucharest Nicholas Taubman refers to adoption cases. “On April 5, Embassy received by mail a letter from Theodora Bertzi, Secretary of State for the Government of Romania,s (GOR) Romanian Office for Adoptions (ROA), dated March 29 and including the final report of the GOR Working Group established in June 2005 to audit pending petitions by foreign families to adopt Romanian orphans and abandoned children,” writes the document. “‘The report shows that none of the 1,092 children identified in the pending petitions will be available for inter-country adoption, ostensibly for the following reasons,” the document goes on, further mentioning the reasons."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables claim Russia armed Georgian separatists

"Russia provided Grad missiles and other arms to separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and carried out a wave of "covert actions" to undermine Georgia in the runup to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, US diplomatic cables say.

The Kremlin's hostile measures against Georgia included missile attacks, murder plots and "a host of smaller-scale actions", the leaked cables said. Russian secret services also ran a disinformation campaign against Georgia's pro-American, pro-Nato president, Mikheil Saakashvili, claiming he suffered from "paranoid dysfunction"."
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The Globe and Mail: France pressed U.S. on Khadr as Ottawa stood silent: WikiLeaks

"France’s foreign minister asked the United States to consider releasing Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay even though the Harper government adamantly refused to intervene, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

The memo, released by WikiLeaks, shows that Bernard Kouchner, who was French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign minister until three weeks ago, personally asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to review the case in a meeting in February of 2009."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Alexander Litvinenko murder 'probably had Putin's OK'

"Vladimir Putin was likely to have known about the operation in London to murder the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, Washington's top diplomat in Europe alleged in secret conversations in Paris.

Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state, questioned whether "rogue elements" in Russia's security services could have carried out the hit without Putin's direct approval."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables condemn Russia as 'mafia state'

"Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a "virtual mafia state", according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables allege Russia bribed Viktor Bout witnesses

"Russia tried to block the extradition of the suspected international arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to America by bribing key witnesses, the US claims.

Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout's "Russian supporters" had paid witnesses to give false testimony during his extradition hearing."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Moscow mayor presided over 'pyramid of corruption'

"The US ambassador to Russia claimed that Moscow's veteran mayor Yuri Luzhkov sat on top of a "pyramid of corruption" involving the Kremlin, Russia's police force, its security service, political parties and crime groups."
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Channel 4: Wikileaks: US memo accuses Sri Lanka President of war crimes

"Channel 4 News uncovers a WikiLeaks cable which appears to show the United States believes responsibility for alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka rests with its leaders, including President Rajapakse.

The cable, released today by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, and unearthed by Channel 4 News, was sent from the US Embassy in Colombo on 15 January this year and is headed: 'Sri Lanka war crimes accountability: the Tamil perspective'."
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The Nation: The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan

Jeremy Scahill writes: "Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct US drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump."
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Newsweek: Never Mind Democracy

"WikiLeaks documents reveal how closely U.S. worked with Mideast autocracies despite lofty rhetoric about freedom.

Julian Assange’s data dump has helped confirm that America’s democracy agenda is over. The project of liberating the Middle East from tyrannical regimes and installing free governments was once a centerpiece of the United States’ post-9/11 strategy, but the latest cables released by WikiLeaks reveal a far different reality."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban

"British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, the Guardian can disclose.

According to leaked US embassy dispatches, David Miliband, who was Britain's foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory."
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The Guardian: Wikileaks: US pressured Spain over CIA rendition and Guantánamo torture

"US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations into Guantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having "an anti-American streak".

"We are certainly under no illusions about the individual with whom we are dealing," they said after he opened an investigation into torture at Guantánamo Bay prison camp. "Judge Garzon has been a storied and controversial figure in recent Spanish history, whose ambition and pursuit of the spotlight may be without rival."
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El País: "Tendremos que ser conscientes de lo que está en juego cuando uno se sienta delante de un funcionario de EE UU"

"Ex diplomáticos españoles celebran que salgan a la luz 250.000 documentos secretos de la mayor potencia del mundo. (Former Spanish diplomats celebrate the coming to lights of 250,000 secret documents belonging to the world's biggest power.)[...]

Máximo Cajal, diplomático retirado que ejerció durante 35 años su oficio, cree que la Casa Blanca, sólo trata de "eludir las muchas responsabilidades que en este tema tiene la Administración Obama, aunque algunas de ellas sean sobrevenidas". "Además, con esas críticas sólo se pretende matar al mensajero". En cuanto a lo que concierne a España, Cajal opina que se deberían extraer algunas lecciones. "Estos documentos ponen al desnudo las presiones confesables y algunas inconfesables a los que están sometidos los llamados países aliados. Los llamados países aliados tendremos que ser más cautos. El jefe de Estado, los ministros, la Magistratura, los fiscales... En el futuro tendremos que ser conscientes de lo que está en juego cuando uno se sienta delante de un funcionario de EE UU. No se trata sólo de que puedan aparecer sus manifestaciones publicadas, como ha ocurrido, sino que uno puede verse sometido a presiones. Hay que ser cauteloso con lo que se dice y con lo que se escucha, porque muchas veces compromete más lo que se escucha que lo que se dice"."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US special forces working inside Pakistan

"Small teams of US special forces soldiers have been secretly embedded with Pakistani military forces in the tribal belt, helping to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaida fighters and co-ordinate drone strikes, the embassy cables reveal.

The numbers involved are small – just 16 soldiers in October 2009 – but the deployment is of immense political significance, described in a cable that provides an unprecedented glimpse into covert American operations in the world's most violent al-Qaida hotbed."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pakistani army chief considered plan to oust president

"Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, considered pushing President Asif Ali Zardari from office and forcing him into exile to resolve a political dispute, the US embassy cables reveal.

Kayani aired the idea during a frantic round of meetings with the US ambassador Anne Patterson in March 2009 as opposition leader Nawaz Sharif rallied thousands of supporters in a street movement that threatened to topple the government."
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Amnesty International: Wikileaks cable corroborates evidence of US airstrikes in Yemen

"A leaked diplomatic cable has corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International showing that the US military carried out a missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009 that killed 41 local residents.

In the secret cable from January 2010 published by the organisation Wikileaks, Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reported as having assured US General David Petraeus that his government would 'continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours'.[...]

Amnesty International provided the media with photographs of the aftermath of the Abyan strike in June this year, including remnants of the US-sourced cluster munitions and the Tomahawk cruise missiles used to deliver them. The organization also requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces in the al-Ma'jalah attack, and what precautions may have been taken to minimize deaths and injuries, but has yet to receive a response.

However, a press report a day after the images were released stated that the USA declined to comment on the strike, saying questions on operations against al-Qa'ida should be posed to the Yemeni government. The US government did not respond to the evidence or comment on the airstrike at the time. In the 4 January cable, General Petraeus is recorded as stating that the attack had only caused two civilian casualties but a subsequent inquiry by Yemeni parliamentarians found that 41 civilians had been killed in the attack."
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2010-12-02 ACLU: Prosecuting WikiLeaks For Publishing Documents Would Raise Serious Constitutional Concerns


The ACLU has released a statement by Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting WikiLeaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA’s secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans. Prosecuting publishers of classified information threatens investigative journalism that is necessary to an informed public debate about government conduct, and that is an unthinkable outcome.

“The broader lesson of the WikiLeaks phenomenon is that President Obama should recommit to the ideals of transparency he invoked at the beginning of his presidency. The American public should not have to depend on leaks to the news media and on whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.”
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2010-12-02 ARTICLE 19 statement: WikiLeaks and the US Embassy Cables


(A PDF version of this statement is available here. The Spanish version is available here.)

The controversy over the latest release of documents by Wikileaks and major
newspapers should not be used by nations as an excuse to limit citizens' rights to access information. ARTICLE 19 calls on governments around the world to fulfil their obligations to transparency and the public's right to know, including the obligation to give full effect to principles of proactive and mandatory disclosure of information.

"Information is the oxygen of democracy," says Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. "Rather than passing more secrecy laws and threatening to prosecute journalists and whistleblowers, governments should focus on making more information available and only protecting that which can cause substantive harm. At the same time, journalists have an obligation to exercise caution when revealing possibly sensitive information."

As ARTICLE 19 highlighted previously, respect for international standards on freedom of information and protection of whistleblowers are paramount to the debates on issues raised by latest releases. ARTICLE 19 maintains that under these standards, any restrictions on access to information must fall within the scope of the limited regime of exceptions. It is public bodies who are obliged to show that disclosure of the information would cause substantial harm and information should still be disclosed if the benefits of disclosure outweigh such harm. States should also adopt and implement a legal and policy framework that protects whistleblowers from
prosecution, and allow for public interest exemptions for revealing information such as corruption or human rights abuses.

ARTICLE 19 notes that much of the information contained in the cables appears to be already available in the public domain. None of the released documents were classified as top secret and most of the information in those six per cent classified as secret was also publically known. Further, these documents would likely be released anyway in the course of requests under the US Freedom of Information Act.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about efforts by the US Government and other countries to prosecute a Wikileaks representative for violating the Espionage Act or other national Officials Secrets Acts. It is an obligation of governments - not of media and private individuals - to protect the confidentiality of official information if necessary under legitimate interests. We also urge the media, government officials, academics, and others to condemn calls for violence against Wikileaks staff and whistleblowers.

ARTICLE 19 also rejects calls and demands to maintain or expand secrecy legislation rather than adopt a comprehensive right to information framework, including the obligation of proactive disclosure. Nations without freedom of information laws such as Singapore have used the Wikileaks revelations as an excuse to justify their current restrictive regimes, while China has blocked internet access to the site. We call on all governments to respect of the right to information and its importance in democratic processes.

ARTICLE 19 does not believe that the leaks are likely to chill the speech of officials and rejects any policy changes that would impact on the free flow of information in this area. Studies of the effects of right to information legislation in numerous countries have found that there has been little impact on the amount of information that is recorded or that opinions are blunted following an increase in transparency. In fact, in some cases, they have found that the quality of documents has improved with the knowledge that it will become public some day, and focus on provision of real political analysis. Officials have a duty to pass on important information and that is not lifted because of fears that it one day may become public. The US FOIA has been in effect for over 40 years so several generations of officials have learned to live with it.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the apparently extensive efforts by the newspapers involved in the release of the embassy cables to review the documents, place them in context and ensure that the release of the information did not cause serious harm. Most of the analysis has been serious and has shone an important light on relations between nations. We also commend the fact that it was the combination and collaboration of electronic and mainstream media that gave strength to the latest release.

For more information please contact: David Banisar, Senior Legal Counsel,
ARTICLE 19, +44 20 7324 2500;
ARTICLE 19's previous statement on WikiLeaks is available at:;
ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech. For more information on ARTICLE 19 please visit

2010-12-02 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 5 [Update 1]

(Please also see parts one, two, and three, and four in this series.)

Richard Ackland, Sydney Morning Herald: WikiLeaks opens the door to a new enlightenment

"The carefully concocted versions of events that we used to swallow are now no longer swallowable.[...]

What is of lasting significance is that politicians and captains of industry and even the courts have lost the power to control the way information is drip-fed in their self-interest. That was the way it was done in the old world. Journalists grasped at snippets and morsels to assist the insider in some undeclared agenda. This new world represents as big a change for journalism as it does for the rest of the established order.[...]

What precisely is so damaging if citizens know some of the truth? If they know that there was a secret arrangement between US and British officials to subvert the plan to ban cluster bombs. If they know that the British government restricted the investigation of the Chilcott inquiry into the Iraq war to minimise embarrassment for the US. To know that China might be willing to accept the reunification of North and South Korea. To know if the governor of the Bank of England had doubts about the economic credentials of Prime Minister David Cameron. To know that their governments undermine international treaties.

No lasting damage to the US or anyone else's national interest will flow from that, just as there was no damage to the US national interest from the Pentagon Papers. Embarrassment, certainly, accompanied by a lot of posturing, but life in a more informed way went on. The New Enlightenment has arrived and there's nothing anyone can do about it - thank god."
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Guy Rundle, Crikey: The GFC, Wikileaks collide - and the world just shifted

"You can feel the change in the air, read it in every report. The more that the fused political-media-administrative elite try to write it off as 'entertaining anecdote' while at the same time mobilising state power to destroy the organisation, the more they reveal that something has happened. The old process of leaks - a document here and there - only served to reinforce the idea that the state had an unquestionable right to control information, and that there could be no other way to organise society or create law.

That legitimacy has had a fatal crack put it in. The whole question of who should know what has been put into play. There will be reversals, but we're used to those. As I may have mentioned, something is happening."
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Tom Hayden, The Nation: WikiLeaks vs. The Empire

"Why is this drama important? Not because of "life-threatening" leaks, as claimed by the establishment, but because the closed doors of power need to be open to public review. We live increasingly in an Age of Secrecy, as described by Garry Wills in Bomb Power, among recent books. It has become the American Way of War, and increasingly draws the curtains over American democracy itself. The wars in Pakistan and Yemen are secret wars. The war in Afghanistan is dominated by secret US Special Operations raids and killings. The CIA has its own secret army in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's entire record in Iraq was classified. And so on, ad nauseam.

And what is the purpose of all the secrecy? As Howard Zinn always emphasized, the official fear was that the American people might revolt if we knew the secrets being kept from us. In Rolling Stone's expose of McChrystal's war this year, one top military adviser said that "if Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular." McChrystal himself joked about sending out Special Forces units to kill at night then having to "scold" them in the morning.

And revolt we should, against those who would keep the affairs of empire shrouded. We should not be distracted by the juicy tidbits that may or may not be better left unreported. The focus of Congressional hearings and journalistic investigation should be on matters of public policy in which the American people are being lied to."
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Alexander Cockburn, The First Post/Counterpunch: Julian Assange: wanted by the Empire, dead or alive

"The American airwaves quiver with the screams of parlour assassins howling for Julian Assange's head. Jonah Goldberg, contributor to the National Review, asks in his syndicated column, "Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?" Sarah Palin wants him hunted down and brought to justice, saying: "He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands."

Assange can survive these theatrical blusters. A tougher question is how he will fare at the hands of the US government, which is hopping mad. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Monday that the Justice Department and Pentagon are conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington's Espionage Act. Asked how the US could prosecute Assange, a non-US citizen, Holder said, "Let me be clear. This is not sabre-rattling," and vowed "to swiftly close the gaps in current US legislation…"

In other words the espionage statute is being rewritten to target Assange, and in short order, if not already, President Obama – who as a candidate pledged "transparency" in government - will sign an order okaying the seizing of Assange and his transport into the US jurisdiction. Render first, fight the habeas corpus lawsuits later.[...]

It's certainly not conspiracism to suspect that the CIA has been at work in fomenting these Swedish accusations. As Shamir reports, "The moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue intelligence sharing with SEPO, the Swedish Secret Service."

The CIA has no doubt also pondered the possibility of pushing Assange off a bridge or through a high window (a mode of assassination favoured by the Agency from the earliest days*) and has sadly concluded that it's too late for this sort of executive solution."
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Jonathan Weiler, Huffington Post: Let Us Now Praise Wikileaks

"We love to tout the liberating powers of technology and the information age, and yet the knee-jerk reaction from many of our news arbiters has been to heap scorn on the entity that is, at the present moment, doing the most to ensure that citizens actually have the tools -- information -- to realize the potential of the information age for human freedom. WikiLeaks, whatever its flaws might be, is filling a dangerous vacuum in our information environment, one created by the dereliction of duty by those entities whose constitutional prerogatives were designed to ensure that they would challenge, not protect, government secrecy and abuse. For that, WikiLeaks deserves our thanks."
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Thomas Knapp, Antiwar: If This Be Treason...

"Forced to choose between truth and power, the Bolsheviks chose power. Their regime and its spinoffs became (pardon the pun) the gold standard for secretive government.

The strength of Wikileaks is that it faces no similar choice. It’s not a state, nor do its principals evince any intention of making it one. Truth is its entire portfolio, and this drives the Hillary Clintons of the world insane. It threatens their aspirations to unquestioned power. It forces them to explain themselves to the rest of us: To the serfs who, as the politicians see things, exist for the sole purpose of footing the bill — in money and in blood — for those aspirations.

Which is exactly how it should be. "Treason" to and "betrayal" of the state is service to humanity. Wikileaks is your friend. Hillary Clinton is your enemy. Never forget that."
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Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy: The assault on WikiLeaks threatens free speech and democracy itself

"Let’s be clear about one simple fact: WikiLeaks is a media organisation.[...] This leads me to one simple conclusion: the attack on WikiLeaks now is not only an attack on free speech itself, but shows how craven and self-serving the traditional media has become.[...]

The traditional media has been cravenly quick to swallow the line that WikiLeaks threatens national security interests and therefor n offensive on Julian Assange is somehow OK. Perhaps they are miffed that WikiLeaks published information they would rather have leaked themselves. It’s a new form of competition and they don’t seem to like it one bit.

WikiLeaks isn’t democratically accountable but neither is the Daily Mail. It isn’t transparent but neither do we know how The Sun gets it’s scoops. These are fatuous arguments to make against the website unless one is also going to argue that most of the media industry be shut down.

You’re either for the right of websites to publish information that national authorities might not like – or you are not. It really is that straightforward.

And with the very existence of WikiLeaks now under serious threat, it is time to unambiguously stand up for its right to publish and be damned."
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2010-12-02 Censorship in the US continued [Update 2]

After Amazon pulled WikiLeaks off its hosting platform following not a legal order but a call from Sen. Lieberman's office, today Tableau Software, which hosted data visualizations created for the Cablegate material, followed suit. A statement on the Tableau website says:

"Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website."

Let us look at this more closely. First, the visualizations contained no classified data at all, but merely described the distribution of the data according to various criteria. Secondly, Joe Lieberman's "public request" carries no more legal authority than the next person's.

As Glenn Greenwald wrote today, "Those are the benign, purely legal documents that have now been removed from the Internet in response to Joe Lieberman's demands and implied threats. He's on some kind of warped mission where he's literally running around single-handedly dictating what political content can and cannot be on the Internet, issuing broad-based threats to "all companies" that is causing suppression of political information.[...]

"If people -- and journalists -- can't be riled when Joe Lieberman is unilaterally causing the suppression of political content from the Internet, when will they be? After all, as Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out in condemning this, the same rationale Lieberman is using to demand that Amazon and all other companies cease any contact with WikiLeaks would justify similar attacks on The New York Times, since they've published the same exact diplomatic cables on its site as WikiLeaks has on its. What Joe Lieberman is doing is indescribably pernicious and if "journalists" cared in the slightest about their own self-interest -- never mind all the noble things they pretend to care about -- they ought to be vociferously objecting to this."

TechDirt notes: "Of course, beyond the problem that the government would be doing this in the first place is a separate concern: the role of corporations in helping make this happen. Some have argued, in the case of Amazon, that as a private company it has the right to refuse service to anyone. That's absolutely true. But if it's refusing service based on political pressure from those in positions of power, that's still censorship."

Tech President points to a Google cache version of a post on Tableau's blog on Sunday boasting that "Wikileaks is using Tableau to show the breadth of the data by subject, country, origin and classification, organization, program and topic." The original post has in the meantime been deleted from the website.

Update 1: In related news, Sens. John Ensign, Scott Brown and Joe Lieberman unveiled a bill which would amend the US Espionage Act and would give US authorities "a tool to prevent something like this (WikiLeaks disclosures) from happening again," said Sen. Brown. According to AFP, "the bill would make it illegal to publish the names of informants serving the US military and intelligence community. It was not immediately clear whether the new rule would also apply to traditional US media."

Dave Weigel at Slate has posted the full text of the SHIELD Act. Weigel notes that "Right now, the information protected is 'any method of secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents, significance, or meanings of communications.' One of the problems for the people who want to nail WikiLeaks is that the information being leaked, while embarrassing, hasn't been highly classified. It's been secret, or marked 'NOFORN,' but it's not classified."

TechDirt commented: "As if to more directly trample the First Amendment, Lieberman has now introduced an anti-Wikileaks bill, which would expand the Espionage Act to make it a criminal act if you publish the name of a US intelligence source. Note that it is already illegal to leak such a name, but this bill seeks to make it illegal to publish the names after they've been leaked. This seems like a classic violation of the First Amendment. As Wired notes, something like this would make it illegal for a newspaper to publish the fact that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noreiga was once a paid CIA intelligence source. Hell, there are claims that Osama bin Laden worked with the CIA decades ago. Should it be illegal to report that?"

Update 2: Amazon now claims that "There have been reports that a government inquiry prompted us not to serve WikiLeaks any longer. That is inaccurate," in a statement quoted by BoingBoing. Rob Beschizza comments: "Does this add up? Amazon just happened to take an interest in the intellectual property status of government documents after being called by the same U.S. Senator who another company reports was explicitly demanding the removal of Wikileaks material? A Senator who was able to make a public statement about Amazon's removal of the material, as the removal occurred?"

2010-12-02 Sweden case update: Supreme Court will not consider appeal [Update 2]

The Sweden Supreme Court has declined today to consider the appeal request filed on behalf of Julian Assange against the arrest warrant previously issued, reports Dagens Nyheter, quoting case handler Kerstin Norman.

This would leave the current warrant standing.

Update 1: The Court's statement says that a review would only be granted if it is essential to the interpretation of the law, or in exceptional circumstances, when there is a "serious reason" for Supreme Court involvement. The Court has not found this to be the case, according to Aftonbladet.

We are to understand that evidence of false charges and prosecutorial misconduct does not constitute a sufficiently serious reason for the Supreme Court to grant a review. The Swedish justice system has failed, again.

WL Central would like to reiterate our support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and we ask you to do the same. Here are some ways to help.

Update 2: Jennifer Robinson, a UK-based lawyer for Julian Assange, gave a live interview on Democracy Now! earlier today. She said that Assange had not been formally charged and that he was not evading arrest, as some had suggested, but that he kept his location confidential because of genuine concerns over his safety. Robinson said that calls for his assassination (see some examples) are outrageous and illegal, and that those making such statements should be prosecuted for inciting violence. She also noted that there were serious due process problems related to the conduct of the Swedish prosecutors, and that in view of statements like those of Sarah Palin, there are real concerns over whether Assange would get a fair trial in the US, should he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Robinson mentioned that US lawyers were involved in consultations over the Espionage Act, but that in her opinion the WikiLeaks disclosures fall under the protection of the First Amendment.

2010-12-02 Sweden case: The lawyers speak up

London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:

"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."

He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.

"We are also investigating whether the prosecutor's application to have Mr Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners – again a unique request – is in any way linked to this matter and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr Assange."

The Guardian also refers to Stephens's statements to The Times arguing that the arrest warrant issued was invalid:

"The arrest warrant has been issued in circumstances where Assange has an outstanding appeal in Sweden," Stephens said in the Times, while a police source was quoted as saying Assange's warrant was "not a properly certified warrant so we can't act on it."

Stephens argued that although Assange was originally wanted on a charge of rape, this had been thrown out after a partially successful appeal and which meant that Swedish law did not allow for another arrest warrant for current allegations.

He said British police had probably not taken any action against Assange because the warrant was issued incorrectly rather than because they didn't know where he was.

"The sole ground for the warrant is the prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning. An appeal against this decision was filed on Monday and is pending," Stephens said.

Separately, Melbourne barrister James D. Catlin wrote in Crikey:

"Apparently having consensual s-x in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for r-pe. That is the basis for a reinstitution of r-pe charges against WikiLeaks figurehead Julian Assange that is destined to make Sweden and its justice system the laughing stock of the world and dramatically damage its reputation as a model of modernity.[...]

That further evidence hasn’t been confected to make the charges less absurd does Sweden no credit because it has no choice in the matter. The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the “crimes”.

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Niether Wilén’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of r-pe.

But then neither Arden nor Wilén complained to the police but rather “sought advice”, a technique in Sweden enabling citizens to avoid just punishment for making false complaints. They sought advice together, having collaborated and irrevocably tainted each other’s evidence beforehand. Their SMS texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen beforehand in order to maximise the damage to Assange. They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them. You can see Wilén on the YouTube video of the event even now.[...]

A great deal more damning evidence is yet to be revealed about what passes for legal process in Sweden, such as Assange’s lawyers having not received a single official document until November 18, 2010 (and then in Swedish language contrary to European Law) and having to learn about the status of investigations through prosecution media announcements but make no mistake: it is not Julian Assange that is on trial here but Sweden and its reputation as a modern and model country with rules of law."

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An appeal against the arrest warrant was filed on Tuesday on behalf of Julian Assange with the Sweden Supreme Court, covered here. Our full Sweden case coverage section can be found here.

2010-12-02 WikiLeaks and the US Espionage Act: legal opinions

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Assange could be charged with a crime, but legal scholars say that such an effort would encounter steep legal and policy difficulties," writes Charlie Savage in the New York Times.

“The government has never brought an Espionage Act prosecution that would look remotely like this one,” law professor Stephen I. Vladeck told Savage. “I suspect that has a lot to do with why nothing has happened yet.”

"A relic of World War I, the Espionage Act was written before a series of Supreme Court rulings expanded the First Amendment’s protection of speech and press freedoms. The court has not reviewed the law’s constitutionality in light of those decisions," continues Savage. He points to a 2005 case which "ended in embarrassment" for the government because it could not prove that the accused "specifically intended to harm the United States or benefit a foreign country."

“If you could show that [Assange] specifically conspired with a government person to leak the material, that puts him in a different position than if he is the recipient of an anonymous contribution. If he’s just providing a portal for information that shows up, he’s very much like a journalist,” said Jack M. Balkin, a Yale professor of constitutional law.
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Reuters' Mark Hosenball writes that "U.S. authorities could face insurmountable legal hurdles if they try to bring criminal charges against" Assange. "Three specialists in espionage law said prosecuting someone like Assange on those charges would require evidence the defendant was not only in contact with representatives of a foreign power but also intended to provide them with secrets. No such evidence has surfaced, or has even been alleged, in the case of WikiLeaks or Assange."

Reuters quotes Mark Zaid, a defense lawyer who specializes in intelligence cases, saying it would be "very difficult for the U.S. government to prosecute (Assange) in the U.S. for what he is doing."

"Joseph DiGenova, a former U.S. Attorney in Washington who prosecuted high-profile espionage cases, said that federal authorities would face "pretty tough" legal obstacles if they tried to bring a prosecution against Assange. But he said officials like Holder had to make threats of prosecution, even if they lack legal substance, to "send a signal" to other would-be leakers."
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Trevor Timm of the New York Law School has already made the case last month that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have committed no crime in publishing such information.

2010-12-02 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage [Update 5]

Romanian Insider: New WikiLeaks document: former EU commissioner Patten says Romania, a “feral nation”

"A recently published WikiLeaks document quotes former EU commissioner Chris Patten saying in 2004 that Romania was a “feral nation.” Patten’s comments were recorded and send to US by the US Embassy in Brussels. “Croatia, Patten said, is probably far more prepared for EU membership than either Bulgaria or Romania, who will likely enter the Union earlier”. Chris Patten is a British Conservative politician who wasEuropean Commissioner for External Relations between 1999 and 2004."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

"The US state department's wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned.[...]

US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11.

The manager of Humint sets out priorities for the coming year and sends them to the state department. The actual form of words used in the diplomatic cables is written by the state department, based on the CIA's list of priorities."
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The Guardian: Germany accuses US over 'missing' Afghan funds, WikiLeaks cables show

"According to a protest to the US from Germany's ambassador to Nato this year, Berlin raised questions about the fate of €50m (£42m) it dispensed last year as the biggest contribution to a "trust fund" for the Afghan national army.

In protests in Berlin, Brussels, and Washington last February the German government demanded to know what was happening to the money, why earmarked projects were not going ahead and why the US military was taking 15%."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Afghan vice-president 'landed in Dubai with $52m in cash'

"Rampant government corruption in Afghanistan – and the apparent powerlessness of the US do to anything about it – is laid bare by several classified diplomatic cables implicating members of the country's elite.

In one astonishing incident in October 2009 the then vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was stopped and questioned in Dubai when he flew into the emirate with $52m in cash, according to one diplomatic report. Massoud, the younger brother of the legendary anti-Soviet resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was detained by officials from the US and the United Arab Emirates trying to stop money laundering, it says. However, the vice-president was allowed to go on his way without explaining where the money came from."
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Der Spiegel: WikiLeaks Cables Fallout: Mole in Germany's FDP Party Comes Forward

"Germany's business-friendly Free Democratic Party has identified the top-level national party employee responsible for passing secret information on to US diplomats during the negotiations to form the current German government in 2009. A worker at the party's headquarters who was chief of staff to the party's chairman and also the head of international relations for the national party came forward and admitted to being the source, an FDP party spokesperson said. The news came after party officials had questioned workers about the issue.

A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper stated that the person in question is the chief of staff to party boss Guido Westerwell, who is also Germany's foreign minister. Helmut M., a 42-year-old has been released of his current duties, but not fired."
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Der Spiegel: Paranoia and Conspiracy: Dispatches Lay Bare Rocky US Relationship with Karzai

"The US dispatches unveiled by WikiLeaks show just how deep the mistrust is between the US and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Saudi Arabia's mediator role between NATO and the Taliban, it also becomes clear, faces several hurdles.[...]

In the southern province of Kandahar, home province of the president and also the region where the Taliban movement was founded, the Popalzai clan, with tribal leader Hamid Karzai at the helm, oversees a "semi-modern aristocracy," according to the cable. Ahmed Wali Karzai, formerly the owner of a restaurant in Chicago, acts as the spider at the center of the web, trying to "increase Karzai political dominance."[...]

These deals concern enormous budgets in the security, construction and transport industries, but also lucrative -- and naturally illegal -- control of the all-important ring road and the development of Ayno Maina, an exclusive housing community on the eastern edge of Kandahar City. "The Popalzai occupy the leadership pinnacle," reads a US Embassy dispatch."
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Harper's: The Madrid Cables

Scott Horton writes: "In Spain, the WikiLeaks disclosures have dominated the news for three days now. The reporting has been led by the level-headed El País, with its nationwide competitor, Público, lagging only a bit behind. Attention has focused on three separate matters, each pending in the Spanish national security court, the Audiencia Nacional: the investigation into the 2003 death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights, including the one which took Khaled El-Masri to Baghdad and then on to Afghanistan in 2003.

These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations. High-ranking U.S. visitors such as former Republican Party Chair Mel Martinez, Senator Greg Judd, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were corralled into this effort, warning Spanish political leaders that the criminal investigations would “be misunderstood” and would harm bilateral relations. The U.S. diplomats also sought out and communicated directly with judges and prosecutors, attempting to steer the cases into the hands of judges of their choosing. The cables also reflect an absolutely extraordinary rapport between the Madrid embassy and Spanish prosecutors, who repeatedly appear to be doing the embassy’s bidding."
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El País: How US worked to get three soldiers off the hook for cameraman's death

"One of the biggest objectives at the US Embassy in Madrid over the past seven years has been trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of the killing of a Spanish television cameraman.[...]

The High Court has charged three soldiers - Sgt. Thomas Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Col. Philip de Camp, all of the Third Infantry Division of the US Army - for the killing of Telecinco cameraman José Couso on April 8, 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the war in Baghdad. Also killed was a Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk of Ukraine.

On May 25, 2007, US Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, who served in Madrid between 2005-2008, wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice days before her visit to Spain to tell her that the Zapatero government "has been helpful behind the scenes in getting the case appealed by the Spanish prosecutor." Aguirre recommended that Rice should express "continued US government concern" about the case when she met with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos. "We want continued vigilance and cooperation by the government of Spain until the case is dropped," Aguirre wrote."
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The Guardian: UK overruled on Lebanon spy flights from Cyprus, WikiLeaks cables reveal

"Americans dismissed 'bureaucratic' Foreign Office concern that Lebanese Hezbollah suspects might be tortured," write David Leigh and Richard Norton-Taylor.

"Labour ministers said they feared making the UK an unwitting accomplice to torture, and were upset about rendition flights going on behind their backs.

The use of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for American U2 spy plane missions over Hezbollah locations in Lebanon – missions that have never been disclosed until now – prompted an acrimonious series of exchanges between British officials and the US embassy in London, according to the cables released by WikiLeaks. The then foreign secretary David Miliband is quoted as saying, unavailingly, "policymakers needed to get control of the military".[...]

At this point Richard LeBaron, charges d'affaires at the London embassy, cabled Washington that human rights concerns could not be allowed to get in the way of counter-terrorism operations. Britain's demands were "not only burdensome but unrealistic", he said, proposing "high-level approaches" to call the British to heel."
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Foreign Policy: Did a U.S. ambassador accuse Sri Lanka's president of war crimes?

"Are we surprised to learn, via WikiLeaks, that American diplomats in Colombo blame Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his top officials for the massacre of tens of thousands (by most estimates) of Tamil civilians during the final months of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war? The goods are in a Jan. 15 cable sent by U.S. Amb. Patricia A. Butenis on the eve of Sri Lanka's presidential elections (which Rajapaksa won handily). Butenis was assessing the country's ability to come to terms with the atrocities committed in the protracted conflict between the government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group, which was defeated in May 2009 after nearly three decades of fighting."
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Foreign Policy has also started a website dedicated to analysing the Cablegate revelations:

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Berlusconi 'profited from secret deals' with Putin

"US diplomats have reported startling suspicions that Silvio Berlusconi could be "profiting personally and handsomely" from secret deals with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, according to cables released by WikiLeaks.

Exasperated by Berlusconi's pro-Russian behaviour, American embassy staff detail allegations circulating in Rome that the Italian leader has been promised a cut of huge energy contracts. The two men are known to be personally close, but this is the first time allegations of a financial link have surfaced."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables link Russian mafia boss to EU gas supplies

"Gas supplies to Ukraine and EU states are linked to the Russian mafia, according to the US ambassador in Kiev.

His cable, released by WikiLeaks, followed statements by the then prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, to the BBC that she had "documented proof that some powerful criminal structures are behind the RosUkrEnergo (RUE) company".

Allegations have long swirled that the Russian crime don Semyon Mogilevich had covert interests in Swiss-registered RUE, which distributes gas from central Asia."
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Der Spiegel: In Russian Hands: US Forced to Change Course in Relations with Ukraine

"When seeking a productive working relationship with an undesired newcomer, it is best to have a plan. On Feb. 23 of this year John Tefft, the American ambassador in Kiev, was preparing a plan for the arrival of US National Security Advisor James Jones. On the occasion of the inauguration of the new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Jones was to convey a generous offer of friendship: The administration of US President Barack Obama "looks forward to working with you across the full range of issues," Tefft's brief suggested Jones tell the new Ukrainian leader.

Jones, who had fought against Moscow's allies in the Vietnam War, was seeking to strike a diplomatic blow against the Kremlin, by making Yanukovych into a US partner."
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Der Spiegel: Cables Track US Diplomatic Efforts to Avert Russian-Georgian Conflict

"The leaked embassy cables show how the US, after spending years helping to build up Georgia's military capabilities, made last-ditch diplomatic attempts to avert the August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.[...]

The Georgians were close allies with the US, while the Abkhazians and South Ossetians were supported by Russia. Neither the Russians nor the Americans wanted a major escalation in the regions -- but they weren't averse to fanning tensions. It was a dangerous approach that eventually backfired."
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Der Spiegel: 'Virtual Mafia States': Russian Mafia an International Concern for US Diplomats

"The secret embassy reports read like descriptions of a small banana republic. The mayor of the capital city allegedly has "connections to the criminal world," a few of his friends, including members of parliament, are said to be little more than "bandits," with city officials supposedly "requiring bribes from businesses attempting to operate in the city." The mayor, US diplomats allege, "oversees a system in which it appears that almost everyone at every level is involved in some form of corruption or criminal behavior."

The US cable, dated Feb. 12, 2010, originated from one of the world's largest capitals, Moscow. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov at the end of September because he is no longer trusted by the government. Nevertheless, the memos documented by the American diplomats show how the mafia appears to be deeply anchored in Russian society and to have ties with the government. US diplomats believe that some criminal masterminds have the blessing of people in the Kremlin and security services."
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The Local: US embassy: 'Sweden no longer neutral'

"Among the wealth of documents that the whistleblower website Wikileaks has exposed include several hundred from the US embassy in Stockholm, showing a close security arrangement with the US, according to the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

In a classified telegram from May 4th 2007, prior to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's visit to the USA, the then US ambassador to Sweden, Michael Wood wrote that Sweden was a "pragmatic and strong" partner. Wood added that even though the official line is non-alignment, Swedish participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace and role as leader of the EU's Nordic Battle Group show that the position is an untruth.

Then US president George W Bush is advised to discuss with Reinfeldt in private, if he wants to praise Sweden's role in the cooperation against terrorism, a formulation which is taken to meant that the ambassador did not believe that the extent of the cooperation is known across the government offices. Wood furthermore wrote that information from Sweden's military and civil security services is an important source of information for the USA for Russian military conditions and for knowledge of Iran's nuclear programme."
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The New York Times: Cables Depict Heavy Afghan Graft, Starting at the Top

"From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.

Describing the likely lineup of Afghanistan’s new cabinet last January, the American Embassy noted that the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, “appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist.”

One Afghan official helpfully explained to diplomats the “four stages” at which his colleagues skimmed money from American development projects: “When contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.” In a seeming victory against corruption, Abdul Ahad Sahibi, the mayor of Kabul, received a four-year prison sentence last year for “massive embezzlement.” But a cable from the embassy told a very different story: Mr. Sahibi was a victim of “kangaroo court justice,” it said, in what appeared to be retribution for his attempt to halt a corrupt land-distribution scheme. "
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The New York Times: Embracing Georgia, U.S. Misread Signs of Rifts

"Throughout the cold war and often in the years since, Western diplomats covering the Kremlin routinely relied on indirect and secondhand or thirdhand sources. Their cables were frequently laden with skepticism, reflecting the authors’ understanding of the limits of their knowledge and suspicion of official Russian statements.

A 2008 batch of American cables from another country once in the cold war’s grip — Georgia — showed a much different sort of access. In Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, American officials had all but constant contact and an open door to President Mikheil Saakashvili and his young and militarily inexperienced advisers, who hoped the United States would help Georgia shake off its Soviet past and stand up to Russia’s regional influence.

The Tbilisi cables, part of more than a quarter-million cables made available to news organizations by WikiLeaks, display some of the perils of a close relationship."
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2010-12-03 Cablegate: Censorship and freedom in unlikely places [Update 1]

France: The French minister for industry, energy and digital economy, Eric Besson, wrote to CGIET, the body governing internet use, to ask that hosting for WikiLeaks in France be terminated, reports Libération. WikiLeaks has been partly hosted by French provider OVH since December 2nd, after Amazon cancelled its hosting service under political pressure from Sen. Lieberman's office.

Besson wrote that "The situation is unacceptable. France cannot host websites that violate diplomatic relations secrecy and endanger persons protected by diplomatic confidentiality. We cannot host sites that have been called criminal and rejected by other countries on the basis of harm to national rights." One would be tempted to ask Mr. Besson whether he is suggesting that Le Monde cannot be hosted in France either, seeing as how the paper has published exactly the same material as WikiLeaks.

OVH however did not bow to the pressure, responding in a letter that it will refer the issue of the legality of hosting WikiLeaks to a judge, and that "it was not up to the politicians or OVH to request or decide the closure of the site."

Pakistan: The Lahore High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking a ban on the Wikileaks website. The petition argued that "since Pakistan had good bilateral relations with a number of countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, the leakage of secret information would adversely affect these ties," reports Pakistan Dawn

High Court Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed dismissed the petition, calling it non-maintainable. "We must bear the truth, no matter how harmful it is," Justice Saeed was quoted as saying.

Russia: While the Washington Times prominently featured an op-ed by Jeffrey T. Kuhner titled "Assassinate Assange," Pravda's legal editor David R. Hoffman argues for transparency and a free press:

"And we see many right-wing commentators demanding that Assange be hunted down, with some even calling for his murder, on the grounds that he may have endangered lives by releasing confidential government documents.

Yet, for the right-wing, this apparently was not a concern when the late columnist Robert Novak "outed" CIA agent Valerie Plame after her husband Joseph Wilson authored an OP-ED piece in The New York Times criticizing the motivations for waging war against Iraq. Even though there was evidence of involvement within the highest echelons of the Bush dictatorship, only one person, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted and convicted of "outing" Plame to Novak. And, despite the fact that this "outing" potentially endangered the lives of Plame's overseas contacts, Bush commuted Libby's thirty-month prison sentence, calling it "excessive."

Why the disparity? The answer is simple: The Plame "outing" served the interests of the military-industrial complex and helped to conceal the Bush dictatorship's lies, tortures and war crimes, while Wikileaks not only exposed such evils, but also revealed how Obama's administration, and Obama himself, are little more than "snake oil" merchants pontificating about government accountability while undermining it at every turn.[...]

And damn the right-wing outrage over the Wikileaks revelations. It is the American people who should be outraged that its government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies.

So savor the Wikileaks documents while you can, because soon they'll be gone. And for the government criminals of the world, and for those who protect them, it will again be business as usual."

United States: We have already covered Amazon, Tableau and EveryDNS dropping WikiLeaks services, and at least the first two clearly linked to political pressure. It had been already reported that the State Department had prohibited its staff from accessing WikiLeaks, but now we learn that it went as far as to warn prospective student interns to "NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter."

And in an even more surprising development, Talking Points Memo reports that the Library of Congress has blocked access to the Wikileaks site on its staff computers and on the wireless network that visitors use.

If something looks wrong with this picture, it probably is.

2010-12-03 Cablegate: Journalists in support of WikiLeaks, part 6 [Update 3]

Martin Kettle, The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Openness against secrecy has a rich history of struggle

"Why WikiLeaks? Or, why these leaked documents and not other ones, and why these documents now? The answers may seem obvious. Because we can. Because they're there. Because we want to. Because it is in the public interest, or at least of interest to the public, even though that's not the same thing. All these are parts of the larger answer. But they aren't the full explanation.[...]

The broad parallels with today are very strong. A war that was widely opposed; a traumatic generational experience; a collective belief that the people were deceived; a conviction that public inquiries and the opening up of documents would reveal the incriminating evidence, and a desire to change the rules, above all by making them more democratically accountable, to avoid the same thing happening again. All these were present in the generation that lived through the first world war. All are present today in the generation that has lived through the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.[...]

Why WikiLeaks? Partly because we can. But, now as in the past, it is about a needless war and the governments that chose to fight it."
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David Samuels, The Atlantic: The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange

"It is dispiriting and upsetting for anyone who cares about the American tradition of a free press to see Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gibbs turn into H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman and John Dean. We can only pray that we won't soon be hit with secret White House tapes of Obama drinking scotch and slurring his words while calling Assange bad names.[...]

But the truly scandalous and shocking response to the Wikileaks documents has been that of other journalists, who make the Obama Administration sound like the ACLU.[...] It is a fact of the current media landscape that the chilling effect of threatened legal action routinely stops reporters and editors from pursuing stories that might serve the public interest - and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying. Every honest reporter and editor in America knows that the fact that most news organizations are broke, combined with the increasing threat of aggressive legal action by deep-pocketed entities, private and public, has made it much harder for good reporters to do their jobs, and ripped a hole in the delicate fabric that holds our democracy together.

In a memorandum entitled "Transparency and Open Government" addressed to the heads of Federal departments and agencies and posted on, President Obama instructed that "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing." The Administration would be wise to heed his words -- and to remember how badly the vindictive prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg ended for the Nixon Administration. And American reporters, Pulitzer Prizes and all, should be ashamed for joining in the outraged chorus that defends a burgeoning secret world whose existence is a threat to democracy."
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Editorial, The Guardian: US embassy cables: Wiki witch-hunt

"There have been various suggestions as to what to do to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, after a week in which his revelations have severely embarrassed US diplomacy. Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Canadian prime minister, called for his assassination, and then regretted his glib remark. Mike Huckabee said that those found guilty of leaking the cables should be executed for putting national security at risk. You would expect a future Republican presidential candidate to say that. But a Democrat administration is close behind. A team from the justice department and the Pentagon are exploring whether to charge Mr Assange under the Espionage Act. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has said this is not sabre-rattling. Are they all about to turn into minions of which Richard Nixon would have been proud?

More insidious than that was the complacent yawn emanating from from sections of the liberal commentariat for which freedom of information is a given. So what's new about the Gulf Arab Sunnis wanting America or Israel to bomb Iran, or Colonel Gaddafi's taste for blonde Ukrainian nurses, or Nicolas Sarkozy being described as mercurial and authoritarian, they sneer. Maybe for them, nothing is new. Would that we all could be so wise. But for large areas of the world which do not have the luxury of being able to criticise their governments, the revelations about the private thoughts of their own leaders are important."
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Jay Rosen on Pressthink (video)

"While we have what purports to be a "watchdog press" we also have, laid out in front of us, the clear record of the watchdog press's failure to do what is says it can do, which is to provide a check on power when it tries to conceal its deeds and its purpose. So I think it is a mistake to reckon with Wikileaks without including in the frame the spectacular failures of the watchdog press over the last 10, 20, 40 years, but especially recently. And so, without this legitimacy crisis in mainstream American journalism, the leakers might not be so inclined to trust Julian Assange and a shadowy organization like Wikileaks. When the United States is able to go to war behind a phony case, when something like that happens and the Congress is fooled and a fake case is presented to the United Nations and war follows and 100,000s of people die and the stated rationale turns out to be false, the legitimacy crisis extends from the Bush government itself to the American state as a whole and the American press and the international system because all of them failed at one of the most important things that government by consent can do: which is reason giving. I think these kind of huge cataclysmic events within the legitimacy regime lie in the background of the Wikileaks case, because if wasn't for those things Wikileaks wouldn't have the supporters it has, the leakers wouldn't collaborate the way that they do and the moral force behind exposing what this government is doing just wouldn't be there."
Watch the video

Simon Jenkins, The Guardian: In this World Cup sewer, we reptiles of British journalism hold our heads high

"Yet journalism's stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed. Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure. As Jefferson remarked, the press is the last best hope when democratic oversight fails, as it does in the case of most international bodies.

I found myself chastised this week for my defence of WikiLeaks, on the ground that thieves should not revel in their crime by demanding that victims be more careful with their property. But in matters of public policy who is thieving what from whom? The WikiLeaks material was left by a public body, the US state department, like a wallet open on a park bench, except that in this case the wallet was full of home truths about the mendacity of public policy.[...]

What is intriguing is the hysteria of power at seeing its inner beliefs and processes revealed. The denunciation of WikiLeaks as an "attack on America" from the political right is similar to the attitude of Britain's football authorities towards the Sunday Times and the BBC. Someone had broken wind in church. Truth briefly swept aside the deceptions of public form and left reality exposed. The players in a once subtle game that had fallen to lying and cat-calling were suddenly told to stop, pull themselves together and look each other in the eye. As the great Donald Rumsfeld said, stuff happens. The air is cleared.[...]

So thank goodness for disclosure. Thank goodness for journalism."
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World Socialist Web Site: The persecution of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Joseph Kishore writes on behalf of WSWS: "The American state, its spokesmen in the mass media, and its allies around the world are engaged in an international campaign of vilification and persecution against WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

This campaign has nothing to do with any supposed crime he has committed, since he has committed none. He is the target of an international manhunt for his role in lifting the lid on the lies and criminal operations of imperialist powers the world over—above all, in the United States.[...]

The persecution of Assange in an effort to silence this exposure is not simply a threat to one individual. The methods employed against WikiLeaks will be used against all opposition to the policies of the corporate and financial aristocracy.[...]

In the final analysis, the hysterical witch-hunt against Assange and WikiLeaks is not any sign of strength on the part of the American ruling elite and its state, but rather of fear and weakness. Intensely conscious of the crisis and instability of the political and economic system, they fear that revelations of state crimes will only fuel the inevitable eruption of mass working class opposition to their reactionary policies in the US and around the world. It is this emerging movement of social struggles on a global scale that must undertake an implacable defense of Assange, WikiLeaks and all those who seek to drag the crimes and conspiracies of imperialism into the light of day."
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Robert Niles, Online Journalism Review: Wikileaks challenges journalists: Whose side are you on?

"I hope that Wikileaks, at the very least, encourages reporters to be more aggressive in challenging authority and working with sources to get information that officials, in government or industry, would prefer to keep from the public's eyes.

Sources with government and industry want the truth to get to the public. If journalists do not provide the means to make that happen, alternate media such as Wikileaks will do it instead. Personally, as a citizen, I'm thankful for that.[...]

Reporters' reaction to Wikileaks divides us into two camps: Those who want to see information get to the public, by whatever means, and those who want to control the means by which information flows. While it's fine to want to be the reporter who always gets the scoop, I can't support journalists who imply that the public's better served by having stories go unreported than going through "Journalism-approved" channels.

If you're upset with the way that Wikileaks is getting information to the public, then you'd better try harder to gather and publish that information yourself. (As Rosen suggested yesterday, we wouldn't have Wikileaks if we had a functioning watchdog press.) And if you think that the public shouldn't have information that the government wishes to withhold, might I suggest that you are in the wrong line of work?"
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Nikki Usher, Nieman Journalism Lab: Why WikiLeaks’ latest document dump makes everyone in journalism — and the public — a winner

"Imagine this: Look at what happens when mainstream news and whatever we want to call WikiLeaks work together. The forces are not in opposition but are united with a common goal — again, informing the public — and the result is that mainstream news can do what it does best thanks to the help of the information WikiLeaks provides. (But, of course, it couldn’t do it without WikiLeaks.) This is a moment of glory for all those who talk about crowdsourcing, user-generated content, and the like. Perhaps this is the ultimate form of users helping to create and shape the news. And the result is a better-informed public.

The takeaway here: Everyone in journalism — from its practitioners to its recipients — emerges from this data drop as a winner."
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Dominique Cardon, Le Monde: En finir avec le culte du secret et de la raison d'Etat (End the cult of secrecy and reasons of state)

"Under the pretext of a tyranny of transparency, the affair WikiLeaks has reanimated in some the cult of secrecy and of reasons of state. One more revelation, and it will be the virtues of Machiavellian politics that will be rehabilitated, and, with them, this habit of protecting any and all acts on behalf of the discretionary "secret defence" power.[...]

It is however less the risk of transparency than that of opacity that threatens the communication of the economic and political powers today. The demand for inside information appears thus as a countereffect to the hypertrophy of communication strategies that clothe the discourse of power in a language increasingly artificial.

Whatever its origin, the abundance of data does not constitute a "conter-democracy" without the mobilization of communities of interpreters who can give it context, sense, narrative and visibility. Societal conversation demands greater and easier access to data, but it demands above all that the politics create a desire for conversation."
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Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN: WikiLeaks, Amazon and the new threat to internet speech

"While Amazon was within its legal rights, the company has nonetheless sent a clear signal to its users: If you engage in controversial speech that some individual members of the U.S. government don't like -- even if there is a strong case to be made that your speech is constitutionally protected -- Amazon is going to dump you at the first sign of trouble.

Let's hope that there will always be other companies willing to stand up for our rights as enshrined both in the U.S. Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- and by extension their right to do business with us.

The future of freedom in the internet age may well depend on whether we the people can succeed in holding companies that now act as arbiters of the public discourse accountable to the public interest."
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Sofia Mirjamsdotter, Metro: Bara en diktatur kan förbjuda Wikileaks (Only a dictatorship would ban WikiLeaks)

"Either you believe in democracy and freedom of speech, or you do not. There is no middle position.

The internet allows for the collection and dissemination not only of innocent status updates from private individuals, but also, as in the case of WikiLeaks, of document addressing issues directly linked to world peace and war.

Every friend of democracy must appreciate this. Any person who believes in and advocates freedom of speech should encourage and cheer for this kind of use of the internet.

Democracy is back. And one of its tenets is that we must abide by the majority, even when the majority are wrong. Another is that we must allow all kinds of opinions, even those we disagree with. The alternative is that a few should be placed above all others, and that they should decide what is acceptable to say. Another word for that is dictatorship."
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2010-12-03 Censorship watch, continued [Update 3]

(Parts 1-4 of this coverage series can be found here, here, here, and here.)

United States: The Office of Management and Budget today directed all federal agencies to bar employees from accessing the Wikileaks web site. Talking Points Memo obtained a copy of letter sent out by OMB, which "directed the agencies to immediately tell their employees to 'safeguard classified information' by not accessing Wikileaks over the Internet.

Classified information, the OMB notes, 'remains classified ... until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority.' Employees may not view classified info over a non-classified system (i.e., the Internet), the OMB says, 'as doing so risks that material still classified will be placed onto non-classified systems.'"
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AFP, The Guardian and CNN have more on the story.

Update 1: Gawker reports that "U.S. soldiers in Iraq who try to read about the Wikileaks disclosures—or read coverage of them in mainstream news sites—on unclassified networks get a page warning them that they're about to break the law.[...]

A tipster wrote to tell us that 'the Army's unclassified, NIPRNET network in Iraq has blocked every major news website because of the Wikileaks issue,' going on to say that,,, the Huffington Post, and a variety of other sites are blocked on the Army's unclassified network."

Update 2: US corporations are getting in on the censorship game too. We are informed that HP sent out a letter to all employees warning them not to visit the WikiLeaks website. Will HP censor The New York Times as well?

Canada: The Montreal Gazette reports that "Defence Department staff have been warned against using government computers to sift through secret documents released by WikiLeaks. An email dubbed 'Wikileaks Notice' in the subject line says military computers are 'not to be used to visit the Wikileaks site or any other websites containing such information.'"

Update 3: Australia: We were also informed that a letter was sent out on the Australian defence network yesterday, warning employees not to access WikiLeaks, which would be considered a security breach.

2010-12-03 Daniel Ellsberg calls for Amazon boycott

Daniel Ellsberg has posted an open letter to Amazon at

"I’m disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating today its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers. I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.[...]

I understand that many other regular customers feel as I do and are responding the same way. Good: the broader and more immediate the boycott, the better. I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business."
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2010-12-03 Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance statement


The Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance issued an official statement on WikiLeaks:

Alliance condemns WikiLeaks backlash

The Alliance condemns the political attacks being made against whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and says the vital role of the press in reporting matters in the public interest and holding the powerful to account must be respected. ceased to host WikiLeaks after United States officials condemned the torrent of revelations about political, business and diplomatic affairs that has given the public unprecedented access to detailed information from United States sources, much of it embarrassing to leading public figures.

“Amazon’s decision is extremely disappointing,” said Alliance federal secretary, Christopher Warren. “We need to take a step back from the hysteria. It is not known whether WikiLeaks has broken any law. It has – via a free media – upheld the public’s right to know. ”

The Alliance welcomes the decision of WikiLeaks to collaborate with respected publications, including Der Spiegel, The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and El Pais.

“These publications have given assurances that the material published does not put the lives of individuals or sources at risk or reveal material that compromises ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.” said Warren

The Alliance is concerned that the Australian Government has signalled that it may attempt to pressure Australian media outlets not to report some of the WikiLeaks information. “Given that WikiLeaks is working with five leading media organisations around the world to publicise the Cablegate material, any attempt to muzzle the Australian media in this instance would ultimately prove pointless,” Warren said.

The Alliance is concerned about the welfare and well-being of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning, the United States soldier who is under arrest and suspected of leaking the information.

“This is a time for calm. The leaks are astonishing in their volume, and what they reveal. But this is not the first time that government or diplomatic material has been leaked.” said Warren.

The Alliance says attacks on Assange and Manning point to a dangerous atmosphere of intolerance and persecution not just for the two men, but for all journalists investigating public affairs.

2010-12-03 Rep. Ron Paul defends WikiLeaks


While some of his colleagues are calling for Julian Assange to be prosecuted as a terrorist or assassinated, in an interview on Fox News' Freedom Watch on Thursday, Republican Rep. Ron Paul said that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks should get the same kind of protections as the mainstream media when it comes to releasing information.

"In a free society we're supposed to know the truth," Paul said, quoted by Politico. "In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it."

"This whole notion that Assange, who's an Australian, that we want to prosecute him for treason. I mean, aren't they jumping to a wild conclusion?” he added. “This is media, isn't it? I mean, why don't we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?"

"What we need is more WikiLeaks about the Federal Reserve," he added. "Can you imagine what it'd be like if we had every conversation in the last 10 years with our Federal Reserve people, the Federal Reserve chairman, with all the central bankers of the world and every agreement or quid-pro-quo they have? It would be massive. People would be so outraged."

In a Twitter post on Friday, Ron Paul wrote: "Re: WikiLeaks — In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble."

Read more at Politico, CBS News and Raw Story

2010-12-03 TIME cover story


TIME magazine's December 13 edition features Julian Assange on the cover and a number of WikiLeaks-related articles, including Massimo Calabresi's cover story, WikiLeaks' War on Secrecy: Truth's Consequences, and an additional feature by Fareed Zakaria: WikiLeaks Shows the Skills of U.S. Diplomats.

Further TIME WikiLeaks coverage includes an interview with Julian Assange, features on the US relationship with Germany and Pakistan, and deception in Mideast diplomacy. TIME also spoke with Julian Assange's lawyer Björn Hurtig about the Sweden case.

We would like to remind you that you can still vote for Julian Assange in TIME's Person of the Year reader poll.

2010-12-03 The Guardian: Live Q&A with Julian Assange 13:00 UTC [Update 2]

Via The Guardian and WikiLeaks:

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is at the centre of intense media speculation and a hate campaign against him in America, following the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

He will be live online to answer Guardian readers' questions at 1pm today, subject to his access to an internet connection - which is very much a live issue. His online interview comes at the end of a week of shocking revelations from the cables and on a day when WikiLeaks has been fighting US attempts to take its website down.

Assange will answer your questions in the comments section below. From 1pm you will need to navigate to the latest comments for his replies."

The Guardian page is here.

Update 1: The Q&A page proved so popular that it crashed the Guardian website. "...please be patient: the Guardian site is under *huge* load because of the #Wikileaks Julian Assange Q+A," tweeted @guardiantech.

Update 2: The Guardian has posted Julian Assange's answers here:

"The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archive is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you."

2010-12-03 WikiLeaks domain dropped by EveryDNS [Update 2: New domain up]

DNS provider has dropped the domain, apparently after DDoS attacks, WikiLeaks has said on Twitter.

EveryDNS explained its decision: "The interference at issue arises from the fact that has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites."

You can still reach WikiLeaks via, or at as of the time of this update.

You can support WikiLeaks via , , or

Cablegate releases are reachable at or via torrent search.

Update: WikiLeaks is now accessible at

2010-12-03 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Conservatives promised to run 'pro-American regime'

"Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election to promise that they would run a "pro-American regime" and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year, the leaked American embassy cables show.[...]

The incoming Conservatives appear to have made some wide-ranging offers of political co-operation with the US. The cables detail a series of private meetings with Tory frontbenchers, many of whom are now in the cabinet.

Liam Fox, now the defence secretary, promised to buy American military equipment, while the current foreign secretary, William Hague, offered the ambassador a "pro-American" government. Hague also said the entire Conservative leadership were, like him, "staunchly Atlanticist" and "children of Thatcher"."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord

"Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.

The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009."
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Der Spiegel: "'Operation Scorched Earth': A US Hand in Yemen's Civil War"

"Yemen is becoming an important refuge for al-Qaida terrorists, but authorities in the country are more interested in pursuing its war against Shiite rebels in the north. American weapons are used in the fight -- and the US secretly pursues terrorists on their own.

His Excellency Ali Abdullah Saleh, the first and so far only president of the Republic of Yemen, ruler over 23 million inhabitants and 50 million firearms, is not a good man to have as an enemy -- but having him as a friend is even worse. In Yemen he is called "The Boss."

Since 2004, the boss has been fighting a ruthless war against the Houthi rebels in the north. They are Shiites -- and politically marginalized. In August 2009, this conflict entered a new phase when the Yemeni army launched a new offensive designed to wipe out all Houthi resistance. The president categorically rejects negotiations with the rebels: "The war will never stop no matter how much money or martyrs it costs," he said a year ago."
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El Pais: The US executed a plan to create a law against downloads in Spain

"La Embajada de Estados Unidos en Madrid convirtió la lucha contra la piratería en Internet en una de las prioridades de su agenda en el periodo 2004-2010. Según se deduce de la lectura de más de 35 cables dedicados a la protección de los derechos de propiedad intelectual, las presiones empezaron a intensificarse a partir del año 2004, tras la llegada al Gobierno del socialista José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y se vertebraron en torno a una lista negra, la Lista Especial 301 que elabora la oficina de Comercio estadounidense.

Ante la falta de resultados en esos primeros años, diseñaron en 2007 una minuciosa hoja de ruta que incluía encuentros con ministros, secretarios de Estado y mandos intermedios de los departamentos de Cultura e Industria."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : les Etats-Unis en première ligne dans la lutte contre Al-Qaida au Yémen

"Qui mène la guerre contre Al-Qaida pour la péninsule arabique (AQPA), cette "filiale" créée au début de l'année 2009 et retranchée dans les confins du Yémen ? Officiellement, ce sont les forces de sécurité yéménites en coopération avec les Etats-Unis qui s'inquiètent depuis 2000 et l'attaque meurtrière à Aden contre un bâtiment de guerre de leur marine, le Cole, de la présence de djihadistes aguerris dans les camps afghans.

Le rôle américain est cependant bien plus important, comme en témoignent les notes diplomatiques obtenues par WikiLeaks et révélées par Le Monde, même s'il est tenu secret compte tenu de l'animosité que suscitent les Etats-Unis dans le pays."
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The Guardian: Diplomatic cables: Gaddafi risked nuclear disaster after UN slight

"A potential "environmental disaster" was kept secret by the US last year when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The incident came after the mercurial Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, suddenly went back on a promise to dispose of the weapons-grade uranium, apparently out of pique at a diplomatic slight received in New York when he was barred from pitching a tent outside the UN."
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Der Spiegel: America's 'Iran Watchers': A Coordinated Effort to Get Information about Tehran

"In 2006, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice realized that Washington needed to know a lot more about Iran. Since then, observation posts in surrounding countries have been supplying information, including rumors of a slap for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In no other country in the Middle East were US diplomats as well sourced as they were in Iran -- yet in no other country were they as off target. The fact that they didn't see the Islamic Revolution coming in 1979 -- that they didn't even see it as a possibility -- surely ranks among the biggest intelligence misjudgements in the history of US foreign policy. Even today, the painful effects of this failure can still be felt."
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El Pais: Chavez buys loyalty inside the Bolivian government

"Venezuela ha creado una estructura de asesores y lealtades compradas en Bolivia que provoca los recelos de los círculos más fieles a Evo Morales. En el mismo sentido, algunos jefes del Ejército dudan de la verdadera lealtad de las tropas, según informan los diplomáticos estadounidenses en La Paz a Washington.

El principal punto de fricción viene de los intentos del Gobierno de emplear al Ejército como fuerza policial, algo a lo que los uniformados se oponen. En sus informaciones internas Washington cree posible que en el caso de que el Ejército recibiera una orden de Morales en este sentido, podría dividirse con una facción, que recibe pagos de Caracas, que no obedecería a sus mandos. "Aunque los bonus venezolanos han cimentado algunas lealtades, también han creado mucho resentimiento entre los rangos medios y bajos al costo significativo de legitimidad para el alto mando", subraya un texto."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Yemen offered US 'open door' to attack al-Qaida on its soil

"The president of Yemen secretly offered US forces unrestricted access to his territory to conduct unilateral strikes against al-Qaida terrorist targets, the leaked US embassy cables reveal.

In a move that risked outraging local and Arab opinion, Ali Abdullah Saleh told Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, John Brennan, in September 2009: "I have given you an open door on terrorism. so I am not responsible," according to a secret dispatch back to Washington

In reality, despite the offer of an "open door", Yemen has restricted access for US forces in order to avoid playing into the hands of Saleh's domestic critics."
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El Pais: Van Rompuy: "Copenhagen was a disaster. The climate treaty won't work."

"La frustración por el fracaso de la Cumbre del Clima de Copenhague recorrió las Embajadas de toda Europa. Pese a que el discurso oficial de los delegados europeos era que el acuerdo alcanzado allí tenía elementos positivos, los cables confidenciales de la diplomacia de EE UU obtenidos por Wikileaks y analizados por este diario revelan lo contrario: decepción por el pacto, enfado con EE UU y con China y poca fe en que la negociación internacional contra el cambio climático en la ONU llegue algún día a buen puerto. El más claro es el presidente del Consejo Europeo, el belga Herman Van Rompuy. Este, según un cable confidencial de la Embajada de Bruselas a Washington fechado el pasado 4 de enero, confesó al embajador en Bruselas que Copenhague fue "un desastre increíble", y añadió: "Las cumbres multilaterales no funcionarán"."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : la loi Hadopi intéresse au plus haut point Washington

"L'ambassade des Etats-Unis à Paris s'est intéressée de très près à la loi Hadopi (qui sanctionne les internautes coupables de téléchargements illicites), car en France, comme ailleurs, la majorité de la musique et des films piratés sont américains.
Les diplomates ont d'abord suivi les diverses péripéties parlementaires autour du projet de loi avec étonnement, qualifiant le comportement des députés français de "théâtre de l'absurde". Ils sont alors entrés en relation avec un conseiller juridique du ministre de la culture, qui leur racontait le cheminement du projet et tentait de les rassurer sur la victoire finale.

L'ambassade travaillait aussi en liaison constante avec les grandes associations de l'industrie américaine du show business, notamment la MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) et la RIA (Recording Industry Association). Le vote de la loi Hadopi était pour elles une "priorité très importante", d'autant qu'elle pourrait servir d'exemple aux autres pays européens."
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2010-12-04 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks part 7 [Update 1]

(Please also see parts one, two, three, four, five and six in this series.)

Ryan Gallagher, Open Democracy: Wikileaks: the truth is not treason

"As international reaction testifies, the repercussions of Cablegate are massive. Wikileaks is changing the world without invitation, and the political establishment does not approve.[...]

“You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea,” as the civil rights activist Medgar Evers once said. And an idea is precisely what Wikileaks has become. It is no longer simply a website – it is a pure expression of democratic ideals, a philosophy realised by the force of technology. The powerful may condemn and attempt to repress Wikileaks and all it represents, but the situation has long since spun far from their control. Facilitated by the internet, a new battleground has been established. All traditions now hang in the balance and all bets are off."
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Matthew Down, National Journal: To Tell the Truth

"Everyone in Washington claims to support transparency and government openness during campaign season and when it’s popular to do so. They castigate the other side when it does things in secret and suggest that its intentions must be nefarious if it is unwilling to make its deliberations public. But when an organization discloses how our foreign policy is conducted, some of these same people claim that the release will endanger lives or threaten national security, or that the founder of WikiLeaks is a criminal.

When did we decide that we trust the government more than its citizens? And that revealing the truth about the government is wrong? And why is the media complicit in this? Did we not learn anything from the run-up to the Iraq war when no one asked hard questions about the justifications for the war and when we accepted statements from government officials without proper pushback?[...]

If we want to restore trust in our government, maybe we can start by telling the truth, keeping fewer secrets, and respecting the privacy of average citizens a little more. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both.”"
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Guy Rundle, Crikey: WikiLeaks -- time for a register

"The first four stories on the UK news tonight were all either created by, or transformed by, the WikiLeaks Cablegate releases.

The governor of the Bank of England has been revealed as no benign public servant, but a player, trying to push the incoming government towards a harsher, more purely Thatcherite economic policy, and worried that they lacked the guts to do it; the Sri Lankan President was greeted with a huge demonstration supercharged with revelations of government involvement in massacres of Tamils; the "special relationship" is being battered by revelations of non-reciprocity on extradition, spy flyovers and the like; and even the separate news of Russia's winning the 2018 World Cup was set in the context of its utter corruption -- something that many people now felt they knew as much about as the elite, dictating the policy we should take towards them.

How long this will go on no-one knows. But while it does, power relations are being subtly transformed in ways that may have effects for some time to come. Once WikiLeaks manage to secure service, and eventually place the Cablegate logs online, there will be three huge volumes -- the Iraq logs, the Afghan logs and Cablegate -- which effectively constitute an alternative history of the present."
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Jim Naureckas, FAIR: WikiLeaks Hasn't 'Leaked' Anything

"Actually, Julian Assange didn't leak anything--he can't, because he didn't have access to classified documents. Someone (or someones) who did have such access leaked those documents to Assange's WikiLeaks, which, as a journalistic organization, made them available to the world, both directly and through other media partners.

This distinction, which is widely ignored in commentary on WikiLeaks, is actually quite important, because the ethical obligations of a government official with a security clearance are quite different from those of a media outlet.[...]

To treat Assange as a leaker when he is, in fact, a journalist is not only morally confusing, it's quite dangerous to journalists in general. If the government can declare Assange to be spy or a terrorist because he's published classified documents he's received, every investigative journalist who does the same thing is in deep trouble."
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John Naughton: What the attacks on WikiLeaks tell us

"Like most people, I’ve only read a fraction of what’s been published by WikiLeaks, but one thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they comprehensively expose the way political elites in Western democracies have been lying to their electorates. The leaks make it abundantly clear not just that the US-Anglo-European adventure in Afghanistan is doomed (because even the dogs in the street know that, as we say in Ireland), but more importantly that the US and UK governments privately admit that too.

The problem is that they cannot face their electorates — who also happen to be the taxpayers who are funding this folly — and tell them this.[...]

What WikiLeaks is exposing is the way our democratic system has been hollowed out. Governments and Western political elites have been shown to be incompetent (New Labour and Bush Jnr in not regulating the financial sector; all governments in the area of climate change), corrupt (Fianna Fail in Ireland, Berlusconi in Italy; all governments in relation to the arms trade) or recklessly militaristic (Bush Jnr and Tony Blair in Iraq) and yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted in a really effective way, their reaction is to try to silence the messenger — as Noam Chomsky pointed out."
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Bernard Keane, Crikey: Missing the point on WikiLeaks

"This rolling series of releases — and WikiLeaks has barely begun to release the amount of material it has — is raising fundamental issues not merely about statecraft and diplomacy but information, power and the role of the media. Guy Rundle spotted this immediately, and while I would say that, wouldn’t I, his analysis has been the best you’ll see in an Australian publication. This is about far more than a simple matter of leaking sensitive cables, or newspaper coverage of those leaks.

Instead we’re given an uncomprehending coverage by the Australian media, as if it simply can’t process what’s happening, and needs to keep trying different narratives to see if they fit what’s being observed, sticking with whatever seems to temporarily do the trick.[...]

It’s not entirely fair to blame the media, though, because the Australian government is doing exactly the same thing. The response of the federal government has been… I was going to say “instructive”, but it’s more accurately, and sadly, affirmative of what you suspected, that politicians and bureaucrats can’t see this through any other than a rather 20th century, Cold War-style lens."
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James Moore, The Huffington Post: WikiLeaks and the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity

"There is a very simple reason WikiLeaks has sent a furious storm of outrage across the globe and it has very little to do with diplomatic impropriety. It is this: The public is uninformed because of inadequate journalism. Consumers of information have little more to digest than Kim Kardashian's latest paramour or the size of Mark Zuckerberg's jet. Very few publishers or broadcasters post reporters to foreign datelines and give them time to develop relationships that lead to information. Consequently, journalism is atrophying from the extremities inward and the small heart it has will soon become even more endangered.

So, long live WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. And if Pfc. Bradley Manning is the leaker, he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Good government, if such a thing exists, is the product of transparency. Americans have very little idea of the back-stories that lead to the events they see on the nightly news or read about on the net. How did such messes end up being such messes? If journalism were functioning at appropriate levels, there would have been stories that reported some of the information contained in the cables now published around the globe."
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Nils Molina, The Tech: WikiLeaks serves the global community by keeping governments in check

"WikiLeaks helped expose the looting of Kenya, the corruption of a banking system and sloppy killings committed by the U.S. military. WikiLeaks should be lauded for using truth to pressure these institutions to re-evaluate themselves. Thinking that the U.S. military does not need outside scrutiny to effectively serve the public is as foolish as thinking that the MIT administration can by itself design a good undergraduate dining plan. The entrenched bureaucracy that generates military decisions can fail spectacularly, with history providing examples ranging from the Vietnam War to the often irrational Soviet military build-up. Leaking information that changes how one evaluates a war is free press doing its job. Transparency matters.[...]

Just like a business, the government should respond to the leaks by becoming more open and honest, better hiding the little information that must remain secret and re-evaluating its bureaucratic activities. WikiLeaks is a resilient and powerful organization of journalists. Designating it as a terrorist group, as the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has suggested, or engaging in an expensive international chase, as Keith Yost recommends, would be a public relations nightmare."
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2010-12-04 Cablegate: Roundtable discussions


Frontline Club: WikiLeaks - The US embassy cables

This event, held on December 1st, featured WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson and data journalist James Ball in a discussion with Colleen Graffy, former deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy (US State Department), and Sir Richard Dalton, associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. The discussion was moderated by author and broadcaster Tom Fenton.

The video recording of the event is now available on the Frontline website.


NECN Broadside: WikiLeaks and espionage

Jim Braude interviewed civil rights attorney Harvey A. Silverglate on December 1st about the DoJ statements that they will seek to prosecute Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, potentially under the US Espionage Act. Silverglate, who participated in the Pentagon Papers case and served as the EFF's first litigation counsel, expounded on the difficulties that the US government would face in arguing such a case, and questioned whether it was in the best interests of the government to attempt to bring charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

He argued that it would be very hard to prove that the United States was harmed by the disclosures, and also that the government could not prosecute charges without having to divulge even more classified information in the process. In Silverglate's opinion, this is a reason why the US government would prefer to see Assange prosecuted in Sweden instead.

The video is available on the NECN website.

BBC HardTalk: WikiLeaks - Open Secrets

In this December 3rd panel show, Host Stephen Sackur speaks with former UK ambassador Carne Ross, former US deputy secretary of state John Negroponte, and WikiLeaks data journalist James Ball about the Cablegate disclosures.

The video is available on the BBC website until December 10th.


Democracy Now!: Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales hosted a debate between Glenn Greenwald of Salon and Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News on December 3rd.

Glenn Greenwald: "If you look at the overall record of WikiLeaks—and let me just stipulate right upfront that WikiLeaks is a four-year-old organization, four years old. They’re operating completely unchartered territory. Have they made some mistakes and taken some missteps? Absolutely. They’re an imperfect organization. But on the whole, the amount of corruption and injustice in the world that WikiLeaks is exposing, not only in the United States, but around the world, in Peru, in Australia, in Kenya and in West Africa and in Iceland, much—incidents that are not very well known in the United States, but where WikiLeaks single-handedly uncovered very pervasive and systematic improprieties that would not have otherwise been uncovered, on top of all of the grave crimes committed by the United States. There is nobody close to that organization in terms of shining light of what the world’s most powerful factions are doing and in subverting the secrecy regime that is used to spawn all sorts of evils."

The video and full transcript are available on the Democracy Now! website.


Democracy Now!: U.N. Special Rapporteur Juan Méndez: Instead of Focusing on Assange, U.S. Should Address WikiLeaks’ Disclosures of Torture

Democracy Now! interviewed Juan Méndez, the new U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on December 2nd. The interview focused on Cablegate revelations regarding US spying on UN officials and torture committed under the Bush administration.

Juan Méndez: "What I am really worried about is that we seem to be focusing on whether disclosing these cables is legal or illegal, whether it merits some kinds of action against Mr. Assange. We’re not really discussing the merits, the substance of what some of these things reveal. And in my case, for example, I’m very concerned about the documents that show that literally thousands of people were first imprisoned by American forces and then transferred to the control of forces in Iraq and perhaps even in Afghanistan, where they knew that these people were going to be tortured. That’s a very clear violation of a standard that applies to the United States as a signatory of the Convention Against Torture, and I want to know what’s being done about getting to the bottom of that."

The full video is available on the Democracy Now! website.

2010-12-04 Censorship watch: PayPal terminates WikiLeaks services

PayPal joined Moneybookers, Amazon, Tableau and EveryDNS in cancelling services for WikiLeaks.

In a statement posted on its website, the company wrote: "PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action."

Daniel Ellsberg and many WikiLeaks supporters have called for a boycott of Amazon. PayPal may be next.

There are many other ways for supporters of truth and free speech to contribute to WikiLeaks, and we would like to encourage you to do so:

2010-12-04 NSW Supreme Court Solicitor Peter Kemp: Letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

By Peter Kemp, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, on 2010-12-04

Dear Prime Minister
From the Sydney Morning Herald I note you made a comment of "illegal" on the matter of Mr Assange in relation to the ongoing leaks of US diplomatic cables.

Previously your colleague and Attorney General the Honourable McClelland announced an investigation of possible criminality by Mr Assange.

As a lawyer and citizen I find this most disturbing, particularly so when a brief perusal of the Commonwealth Criminal Code shows that liability arises under the Espionage provisions, for example, only when it is the Commonwealth's "secrets" that are disclosed and that there must be intent to damage the Commonwealth.

Likewise under Treason law, there must be an intent to assist an enemy. Clearly, and reinforced by publicly available material such as Professor Saul's excellent article:
...Julian Assange has almost certainly committed no crime under Australian law in relation to his involvement in Wikileaks.

I join with Professor Saul also in asking you Prime Minister why has there been no public complaint to the US about both Secretaries of State Condaleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton being in major breach of International law ie UN Covenants, by making orders to spy on UN personnel, including the Secretary General, to include theft of their credit card details and communication passwords. Perhaps the Attorney General should investigate this clear prima facie evidence of crime (likely against Australian diplomats as well), rather than he attempts to prosecute the messenger of those crimes.

It is also disturbing that no Australian official has castigated Sweden for the shameful treatment Mr Assange has received ie his human rights abused, in that he has not been charged and served with papers in the English language regarding the evidence against him of alleged sexual offences. This is contrary to Article 6 of the European Covenant on Human Rights to which Sweden is a signatory nation.

Those offences remain unclear and the Swedish prosecutor Ms Ny appears to be making up the law as she wants. It appears now, by Ms Ny's interpretation that when consensual sex occurs but if a condom breaks, the male party is liable to 2 years imprisonment for sexual assault. All this information is publicly available.

An Australian citizen is apparently being singled out for "special treatment" Prime Minister. There are legitimate concerns among citizens here that his treatment by the Swedes is connected to US interests which are against the activities of Wikileaks, and you will note the strident, outrageous (and illegal) calls inciting violence against him in the US in demands for his assassination, by senior influential US politicians.

Granted that in western political circles, Mr Assange is not flavour of the month, but what he is doing in my opinion, and in the opinion of many here and abroad, is vitally necessary to expose American foreign policy failures and potential war crimes and crimes against humanity--not for the purpose of damaging US interests but to make them accountable.

While we have close and a good relationship with the US, there is no doubt that US influence and power is declining. That we appear to be still posturing, (given that declining power and a new paradigm of privately enforced accountability) to the US on the issue of Wikileaks is, Prime Minister, deeply disappointing.

Yours Faithfully
Peter Kemp.

(Readers are encouraged contact the Australian Prime Minister here:

Update: Darren Bailey, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia, has written a letter to the Australian Prime Minister in support of Peter Kemp's argument.

2010-12-04 New York Times T Magazine: Julian Assange: The Gift of Information


The New York Times' T Magazine features a short profile on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:

"Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been jettisoned to fame or notoriety (choose your noun, please) not because of a passing political battle but for reasons much deeper: the desire to possess, distribute and devour information. Ever since the release in July this year of some 92,000 documents relating to America’s involvement in Afghanistan, an old joke from Communist times keeps spinning around my head. ‘‘We cannot predict the future,’’ announces the newsreader of Soviet radio reporting on the Politburo’s deliberations, ‘‘but the past is changing before our very eyes.’’ Now our understanding of the nature of the intervention in Iraq has also changed radically with the publication of a still more astonishing collection of 391,832 secret United States military field reports from the kaleidoscopic theaters of battle.[...]

Assange understands full well the significance of these documents and their surreptitious transmission, and that knowledge translates into power and influence. For most of history, government has enjoyed an easy superiority in adjusting the ebb and flow of information. Now the rules of the contest have changed. In contrast to the petabytes of data flotsam, half-truths and speculation that drift daily around the Internet, WikiLeaks spews forth unvarnished, sensitive truths. Assange’s extraordinary project provides transparency unbridled. Historians, journalists and civic activists will continue to fish in these rich informational waters for some time if the organization does not collapse."
Read more

Photo credit: Max Vadukul, The New York Times

2010-12-04 Reporters Sans Frontières statement on WikiLeaks


RSF: WikiLeaks hounded?

Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) issued an official statement on WikiLeaks and Cablegate. The French version is available here.

"Reporters Without Borders condemns the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at, the website dedicated to the US diplomatic cables. The organization is also concerned by some of the extreme comments made by American authorities concerning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

Earlier this week, after the publishing several hundred of the 250.000 cables it says it has in its possession, WikiLeaks had to move its site from its servers in Sweden to servers in the United States controlled by online retailer Amazon. Amazon quickly came under pressure to stop hosting WikiLeaks from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and its chairman, Sen. Joe Lieberman, in particular.

After being ousted from Amazon, WikiLeaks found a refuge for part of its content with the French Internet company OVH. But French digital economy minister Eric Besson today said the French government was looking at ways to ban hosting of the site. WikiLeaks was also recently dropped by its domain name provider EveryDNS. Meanwhile, several countries well known for for their disregard of freedom of expression and information, including Thailand and China, have blocked access to

This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.

Meanwhile, two Republican senators, John Ensign and Scott Brown, and an independent Lieberman, have introduced a bill that would make it illegal to publish the names of U.S. military and intelligence agency informants. This could facilitate future prosecutions against WikiLeaks and its founder. But a criminal investigation is already under way and many U.S. politicians are calling vociferously for Assange’s arrest.

Reporters Without Borders can only condemn this determination to hound Assange and reiterates its conviction that WikiLeaks has a right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to publish these documents and is even playing a useful role by making them available to journalists and the greater public.

We stress that any restriction on the freedom to disseminate this body of documents will affect the entire press, which has given detailed coverage to the information made available by WikiLeaks, with five leading international newspapers actively cooperating in preparing it for publication.

Reporters Without Borders would also like to stress that it has always defended online freedom and the principle of “Net neutrality,” according to which Internet Service Providers and hosting companies should play no role in choosing the content that is placed online."


2010-12-04 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables blame Chinese government for Google hacking

"The hacking of Google that forced the search engine to withdraw from mainland China was orchestrated by a senior member of the communist politburo, according to classified information sent by US diplomats to Hillary Clinton's state department in Washington.

The leading politician became hostile to Google after he searched his own name and found articles criticising him personally, leaked cables from the US embassy in Beijing say.

That single act prompted a politically inspired assault on Google, forcing it to "walk away from a potential market of 400 million internet users" in January this year, amid a highly publicised row about internet censorship."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Spanish PM helped GE beat Rolls-Royce to helicopter deal

"Rolls-Royce lost a lucrative contract to supply helicopter engines to the Spanish military because of a personal intervention by Spain's prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, following vigorous lobbying from US diplomats, according to a secret cable from the US embassy in Madrid.

Eduardo Aguirre, the departing US ambassador to Spain, recounts behind-the-scenes diplomatic machinations that helped General Electric snatch a deal away from Rolls-Royce to provide engines for a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters bought by the Spanish armed forces, a contract estimated by industry experts to be worth more than £200m.

Details of how Britain's best-known engineering company lost out to the Americans will fuel concerns that the so-called UK-US special relationship does not always deliver results."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton's question: how can we stand up to Beijing?

"Hillary Clinton revealed America's deep anxiety over China's growing economic power and hold on US finances by asking Australia's then prime minister: "How do you deal toughly with your banker?"

The question, at a lunch with Kevin Rudd last March and reported in a US Department of State cable, underscores the evolving and often difficult relationship between the world's superpower and an increasingly mighty China. It is the largest holder of US treasury bonds, with around $870bn. Tensions are also highlighted in an economic dispatch, written by the US ambassador to Beijing last January, warning of a "rough" year for relations between the two countries and accusing China of hubris."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over Chinese cyber warfare

"The US fears China is plotting internet warfare via private companies that are known to have recruited top hackers.

According to leaked cables, the state department is concerned about Beijing's close working relationship with two major providers of information security in China. The companies have hired experienced hackers, who include Lin Yong, aka Lion, who founded the Honker Union of China, a Chinese hacker group that emerged after the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and launched a series of cyber attacks on US government-related websites."
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The New York Times: U.S. Aided Mexican Drug War, With Frustration

"More than a year ago — before drug cartels killed a gubernatorial candidate and began murdering mayors, before shootings and kidnappings in Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, surged to the point that the State Department ordered children of American diplomats there to leave the country — a Mexican official admitted that the government feared it could lose control of parts of the nation.[...]

In the account of the meeting, which was included in the American diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks and posted on Mexican news Web sites, Mr. Gutiérrez was quoted as saying: “We have 18 months and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.” "
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The New York Times: Cables Discuss Vast Hacking by a China That Fears the Web

"As China ratcheted up the pressure on Google to censor its Internet searches last year, the American Embassy sent a secret cable to Washington detailing one reason top Chinese leaders had become so obsessed with the Internet search company: they were Googling themselves.[...]

But the cables also appear to contain some suppositions by Chinese and Americans passed along by diplomats. For example, the cable dated earlier this year referring to the hacking attack on Google said: “A well-placed contact claims that the Chinese government coordinated the recent intrusions of Google systems. According to our contact, the closely held operations were directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level.”"
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The New York Times: Yemen Sets Terms of a War on Al Qaeda

"One Obama administration security official after another was visiting to talk about terrorism, and Yemen’s redoubtable president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, seemed to be savoring his newfound leverage.

The Americans are “hot-blooded and hasty when you need us,” Mr. Saleh chided one visitor, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, but “cold-blooded and British when we need you.” [...]

Mr. Saleh said coyly that while he was “satisfied” with the military equipment the United States was supplying, he “would like to be more satisfied in the future,” according to an account of the meeting sent to Washington."
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2010-12-05 Cablegate: News from the infowar front [Update 2]

"The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops," wrote John Perry Barlow on Twitter.

The censorship vs. free speech battle is escalating. This week has seen Amazon, Tableau, EveryDNS and PayPal dropping WikiLeaks services in quick succession, DDoS attacks that caused the site to go offline multiple times, and mounting political pressure from the US (2), Australian and French governments.

The US government went so far as to warn Switzerland against granting Julian Assange political asylum, reports 20 Minuten. In an open letter in Der Sonntag, the US ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, wrote that "Switzerland will have to consider very carefully whether to provide shelter to someone who is a fugitive from justice." However Swiss politicians including Cédric Wermuth, president of the Young Socialist Party, Bastien Girod, president of the Greens National Council, and the Swiss Pirate Party have reiterated their support for Assange and willingness to grant him asylum.

The onslaught is creating growing resistance. "American pressure to dissuade companies in the US from supporting the WikiLeaks website has led to an online backlash in which individuals are redirecting parts of their own sites to its Swedish internet host," writes The Guardian. "At the same time, scores of sites "mirroring" WikiLeaks have sprung up – by lunchtime today, the list was 74-strong and contained sites that have the same content as WikiLeaks and – crucially – link to the downloads of its leaks of 250,000 US diplomatic cables." The mirror list counts now hundreds of domains.

WikiLeaks' Swiss host, Switch, said that there was "no reason" why the site should be forced offline, despite demands from France and the US, in a statement released by the Swiss Pirate Party. French host OVH declared that it was up to judges, and "not up to the politicians or OVH to request or decide the closure of the site," in a response to the French government.

Jon Karlung, the CEO of WikiLeaks's Swedish host, Bahnhof, told The Daily Beast that "The service is provided in Sweden — where Swedish law applies. We are not subject to American law, Chinese laws or Iranian laws either, for that matter. WikiLeaks is just a normal business client. We do not treat them any different than any other client." He said that the US had not contacted the company to ask it to cancel hosting for WikiLeaks, and when asked whether Bahnhof would comply if such a request were made, he answered "Of course not."

Evgeny Morozov has cautioned in The Financial Times that the US backlash against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange may have unintended consequences: "WikiLeaks could be transformed from a handful of volunteers to a global movement of politicised geeks clamouring for revenge. Today’s WikiLeaks talks the language of transparency, but it could quickly develop a new code of explicit anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism and anti-globalisation.[...] An aggressive attempt to go after WikiLeaks – by blocking its web access, for instance, or by harassing its members – could install Mr Assange (or whoever succeeds him) at the helm of a powerful new global movement able to paralyse the work of governments and corporations around the world."

Update: Internet activist group Anonymous has joined the fight, with a manifesto in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

The New York Times reports: "Gregg Housh, a prominent member of the group, said by telephone from Boston that an orchestrated effort was under way to attack companies that have refused to support WikiLeaks and to post multiple copies of the leaked material.[...] “The reason is amazingly simple,” Mr. Housh said of the campaign. “We all believe that information should be free, and the Internet should be free.” "

2010-12-05 El País: Interview with Julian Assange


Julian Assange: "Geopolitics will be separated into pre and post 'Cablegate'"

El País features an interview with Julian Assange in the December 5th edition. He talked about the numerous death threats he has been receiving, the attacks against WikiLeaks, the significance of the Cablegate release, and fighting the Swedish case allegations.

On death threats: "We have hundreds of specific death threats from US military militants. That is not unusual, and we have become practiced from past experiences at ignoring such threats from Islamic extremists, African kleptocrats and so on. Recently the situation has changed with these threats now extending out to our lawyers and my children. However it is the specific calls from the elites of US society for our assassination, kidnapping and execution that is more concerning. These range from a US senate bill by John Ensign which seeks to declare us a "transnational threat" to assassination calls from former Bush speechwriters such as Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News."

On the consequences of Cablegate: "It is too early to say yet. The ripples are just starting to flow throughout the world. But I believe geopolitics will be separated into pre and post Cablegate phases."

On the Swedish charges: "We will fight them and expose them, naturally. That there is something "wrong" with this case is now obvious to everyone."

Read the full interview in English or Spanish

Photo credit: AFP

2010-12-05 International Federation of Journalists statement


IFJ Condemns United States "Desperate and Dangerous" Backlash over WikiLeaks

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the political backlash being mounted against the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks and accused the United States of attacking free speech after it put pressure on the website's host server to shut down the site yesterday.

The website's host blocked access to WikiLeaks after United States officials condemned the torrent of revelations about political, business and diplomatic affairs that has given people around the world unprecedented access to detailed information from United States sources, much of it embarrassing to leading public figures.

"It is unacceptable to try to deny people the right to know," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "These revelations may be embarrassing in their detail, but they also expose corruption and double-dealing in public life that is worthy of public scrutiny. The response of the United States is desperate and dangerous because it goes against fundamental principles of free speech and democracy."

The IFJ has taken no position on the justification for the release of hundreds of thousands of internal documents which have made headlines around the world in the last few days, but it has welcomed the decision of WikiLeaks to use respected channels of journalism including Der Spiegel, The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and El Pais to filter the information.

"This information is being processed by serious, professional journalists who are well aware of their responsibilities both to the public and to people implicated in these revelations," said White. "It is simply untenable to allege as some people have that lives are being put at risk here. The only casualty here is the culture of secrecy that has for too long drawn a curtain around the unsavory side of public life."

The IFJ is also concerned about the welfare and well-being of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and Bradley Manning, the United States soldier in Iraq who is under arrest and suspected of leaking the information. Both men are the target of a growing political campaign mounted by government officials and right-wing politicians.

Assange has been forced into hiding and is the subject of an international police investigation over allegations concerning sexual offences in Sweden. The IFJ says that calls by right wing commentators for Manning to be executed and that Assange be hunted down as a spy, as demanded by former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, show a mood of intolerance and persecution that is dangerous not just for the two men but for all journalists engaged in investigating public affairs.

"The IFJ and its members support the rights of whistle-blowers and the responsible reporting of information in the public interest," said White. "This over-reaction by politicians and their allies illustrates that they have not understood the historical significance of these events. The people's right to know is not something that can any longer be willfully ignored. They have to adjust to the fact journalists have a duty to report, fairly and accurately and with due respect for the rights of all parties in the public interest."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries


2010-12-05 SA Supreme Court Solicitor Darren Bailey: Letter to Australian Prime Minister

By Darren Bailey, Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia

Submitted on 04 December 2010

Subject: Julian Assange

Dear Prime Minister,

I wish to strongly associate myself with the letter addressed to you from NSW Supreme Court solicitor Peter Kemp, dated 4 December 2010, concerning the treatment of Mr Julian Assange.

His rights as an Australian citizen are clearly being infringed and should be vigorously protected "though the heavens may fall". As this nation's Prime Minister, and as a lawyer yourself, you ought to know this fact far better than your official statements would indicate.

Please address this issue as a matter of urgency. Demonstrate that to be an Australian citizen actually counts for something.


Darren Bailey
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia

2010-12-05 Sweden case updates [Update 1]


In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, lawyer Mark Stephens said:

"In Sweden it's quite bizarre though, because the chief prosecutor, the director of public prosecution in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to face, back in September. And then, a few weeks ago, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm, where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case, which of course has resulted in these warrants and of course the Interpol red notice being put out across this week.

It does seem to be a political stunt, I mean, I have, and his Swedish lawyer, have been trying to get in touch with the prosecutors since August. Now, usually, it's the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued. And in this particular case, Julian Assange has tried to vindicate himself, has tried to meet with the prosecutors, to have his good name restored."

He remarked that "A warrant was issued on Thursday by reports. We've asked for it. We've been ignored at this point," adding that "He's only wanted for interview, why not have that interview by consent, rather than this show trial?"

He also talked about the calls for assassination coming from "credible sources around the world," and particularly the United States, including people as high up as Sarah Palin. He said that Julian Assange would certainly fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.

Stephens added: "I'm really rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this (the Sweden case). It doesn't escape my attention that Sweden was one of those lickspittle states which used its resources and its facilities for rendition flights."

(You can watch part of the BBC interview here. The full interview is available on BBC's iPlayer for UK audiences only.)

Swedish attorney Björn Hurtig echoed the same concerns: Reuters: "I have seen the documents, and I can't say that I think it is a set-up by the CIA or something. But I suspect that there is someone else who is pushing Sweden to (take) these most unproportional measures that they are doing right now, and is pushing Sweden to push Interpol to make this arrest warrant public. I think somebody has an interest in getting Julian to Sweden and maybe asking for him to be extradited to another country (from there)."

In an earlier statement to the press, Mark Stephens wrote:

"Mr. Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the Prosecutrix - both in Sweden and subsequently - in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr. Assange sought permission from the Prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr. Assange has continued to seek meetings with the Prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

"Bizarrely, the Prosecutrix - having ignored or rejected those offers of voluntary cooperation - instead sought an arrest warrant to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without giving his Swedish lawyer sufficient notice, access to evidence or information to take proper instructions from Mr. Assange. This action is all the more peculiar as she has not even issued a formal summons for his interrogation or brought charges against Mr. Assange," the statement added.

"Since the rape charge has been dropped, the current allegation he faces does not - as a matter of Swedish law - justify an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange. The sole ground for the warrant is the Prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning," Stephens said.

"At this point in time we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation - indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations," Stephens’ statement concluded.

"We are also investigating whether the Prosecutor's application to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners - again a unique request - is in any way linked to this matter and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr. Assange."

In an interview with Sweden's TV4, prosecutor Marianne Ny has categorically refused to meet with Julian Assange in the UK, despite repeated offers from Assange's lawyers, reports Expressen.

Update 1: Jennifer Robinson and Mark Stephens told The Guardian that they had been watched by people parked outside their houses for the past week.

"I've noticed people consistently sitting outside my house in the same cars with newspapers," said Robinson. "I probably noticed certain things a week ago, but mostly it's been the last three or four days."

Stephens said he, too, had had his home watched. Asked who he thought was monitoring him, he said: "The security services."

Robinson said the legal team was also experiencing "other forms of pressure" from Washington," including an inappropriate attempt by the State Department to "elide client and lawyer" in correspondence: "It's quite a serious situation," she said, adding that, according to the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments should ensure that lawyers "are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference" and that "lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions."
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For our full Sweden case coverage, please click here.

2010-12-05 Umberto Eco on WikiLeaks and Cablegate


(This article originally appeared in Libération)

"So why so much ado about these leaks? For one thing, they say what any savvy observer already knows: that the embassies, at least since the end of World War II, and since heads of state can call each other up or fly over to meet for dinner, have lost their diplomatic function and, but for the occasional ceremonial function, have morphed into espionage centres. Anyone who watches investigative documentaries knows that full well, and it is only out of hypocrisy that we feign ignorance. Still, repeating that in public constitutes a breach of the duty of hypocrisy, and puts American diplomacy in a lousy light.[...]

But let’s turn to the more profound significance of what has occurred. Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects’ every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker’s grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker – the citizens’ self-appointed avenger – can pry into the state’s every secret.[...]

One last observation: In days of yore, the press would try to figure out what was hatching sub rosa inside the embassies. Nowadays, it’s the embassies that are asking the press for the inside story."
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2010-12-05 WikiLeaks domain move under way

The Swiss Pirate Party, who was hosting the domain, has told The Associated Press that their main server in France has gone offline. Dennis Simonet, speaking for the Swiss Pirate Party, was unable to confirm the cause of the server problems.

The domain is being redirected to Bahnhof servers. The move is expected to take a few hours.

In the meantime, the site is accessible at

A list of mirrors is available at

2010-12-05 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists

"Saudi Arabia is the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

"More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," she said. Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates."
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The Guardian: Brazil denied existence of Islamist militants, WikiLeaks cables show

"Brazil's government covered up the existence of Islamist terrorist suspects in São Paulo and border areas in an apparent bid to protect the country's image, according to secret US documents released by WikiLeaks.

The administration of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva publicly denied that militant Islamists were active in Brazil, even while its law enforcement agencies co-operated closely with the US in monitoring suspects.

"Despite publicly expressed sentiments of high-level officials denying the existence of proven terrorist activity on Brazilian soil, Brazil's intelligence and law enforcement services are rightly concerned that terrorists could exploit Brazilian territory to support and facilitate terrorist attacks, whether domestically or abroad," said a US embassy cable."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables claim al-Jazeera changed coverage to suit Qatari foreign policy

"Qatar is using the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera as a bargaining chip in foreign policy negotiations by adapting its coverage to suit other foreign leaders and offering to cease critical transmissions in exchange for major concessions, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks claim.

The memos flatly contradict al-Jazeera's insistence that it is editorially independent despite being heavily subsidised by the Gulf state."
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Der Spiegel: At Sea in the Desert: US Diplomats Bewildered and Bamboozled in Baghdad

"Roughly 5,500 classified cables from the US Embassy in Baghdad paint a grim picture of why America's stunning military victory over Iraq devolved into disaster: The Americans allowed themselves to get entangled in the Sunni-Shiite conflict while being systematically outmaneuvered by the Iranians.[...]

Indeed, America's relations with the liberated Iraq have been anything but "friendly" and "constructive." Within just five years, the State Department went through five ambassadors and an army of analysts and consultants. And what made them fail can be gleaned from over 5,500 secret and confidential dispatches from the embassy in Baghdad."
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Der Spiegel: 'Redder than Red': An American Portrait of China's Next Leader

"It is thought that Xi Jinping will become China's next president. But who is he? A source close to Xi has provided US diplomats with a detailed portrait of the up-and-coming functionary -- and says he is neither corrupt nor a fan of democracy.

He isn't corrupt, and money seems unimportant to him. He apparently has enough. He likes the United States, and was at one time fascinated by the mysteries of Buddhism and Asian martial arts.

On October 18, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party appointed 57-year-old Xi Jinping vice-president of the powerful Central Military Commission. This makes it all but certain that he has been chosen to succeed Hu Jintao as Communist Party leader and Chinese president in 2012 and thus become one of the most powerful men in the world, if not the most powerful.

But who is Xi Jinping?"
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Der Spiegel: US Dispatches from Beijing: 'True Democracy' Within China's Politburo?

"Is there any place in dictatorial China where votes are taken and discussions held -- rather than orders given and decrees issued? Indeed there is. And it is where one would least expect it: In the heart of Chinese power.

If one is to believe US diplomatic sources in Beijing, "true democracy" prevails in the Politburo of all places, within that little-known group of top apparatchiks consisting of 24 men and one woman.

No one outside China's ruling cadre knows who at the top of China's power structure decides what and why. No one knows who thinks what, who is allied with whom and who really has influence. Public debates are rare. But by talking to leading functionaries, experts from the US Embassy in Beijing managed to get a glimpse inside of China's inner circle."
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Der Spiegel: Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal on WikiLeaks: 'People Will No Longer Speak to American Diplomats Frankly'

"The United States has suffered serious political damage as a result of the WikiLeaks publication of secret documents, says Prince Turki bin Faisal, 65, the former intelligence chief and ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington. "America's credibility and honesty are the victim of these leaks," Turki said in an interview with the news magazine DER SPIEGEL. "People, including officials, will no longer speak to American diplomats frankly.""
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : l'Arabie saoudite et le financement du terrorisme

"Le financement des activités terroristes ou des groupes considérés comme tels constitue une cible pour les experts américains dans la région du Golfe, tout particulièrement en Arabie saoudite.

Autant ils se félicitent de la réaction saoudienne contre ces groupes après les attentats d'Al-Qaida perpétrés dans le royaume, à partir de 2003, autant ils se plaignent des difficultés rencontrées pour convaincre le régime saoudien de la "priorité stratégique" que représentent les circuits de financement, selon une note de 2009 obtenue par WikiLeaks et consultée par Le Monde, pour Al-Qaida, les talibans afghans et leurs homologues pakistanais."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Les ingérences de l'Iran en Irak tracassent les Etats-Unis

"Menaces et promesses, aide financière, manipulations politiques, espionnage tous azimuts, tentatives d'influence religieuse, fournitures d'armes et d'explosifs à des milices "pro" ou "anti" gouvernementales selon les périodes, incidents sporadiques plus ou moins provoqués sur les frontières communes, contacts et visites multipliées entre les deux pays…

A en croire les télégrammes diplomatiques écrits entre 2004 et février 2010 par l'ambassade américaine de Bagdad, obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde, la stratégie iranienne en Irak a usé, au fil des ans, de tous les instruments possibles et imaginables pour influer sur les affaires intérieures de son voisin."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : France-Brésil, le couple, le sous-marin nucléaire et le Rafale

"La diplomatie américaine cherche à décortiquer les ressorts de la relation France-Brésil. Les évolutions du géant d'Amérique latine ne peuvent laisser Washington indifférent, pas plus que les transferts de technologie, notamment militaire, vers cette partie "émergente" du monde. En novembre 2009, dans un télégramme intitulé "la France et le Brésil : le début d'une histoire d'amour", l'ambassade américaine à Paris se penche sur le duo formé par Nicolas Sarkozy et le président du Brésil, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Le constat le plus saillant est que derrière l'affichage très médiatisé d'amitié personnelle entre les deux chefs d'Etat, se nichent des enjeux stratégiques en termes de défense, avec une aide majeure apportée par la France au Brésil en matière de capacités militaires. Car au-delà du suspense – qui dure toujours – sur les perspectives de vente d'avions Rafale, une affaire plus discrète a été négociée : la livraison au Brésil du premier sous-marin à propulsion nucléaire du continent sud-américain."
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El Pais: Cómo nos ven los estadounidenses: "Zapatero lleva mal que le den clases de algo"

"José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y los políticos españoles más poderosos del momento son descritos descarnadamente en los documentos secretos y confidenciales de la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Madrid, que dedican especial atención al presidente del Gobierno y a los integrantes de sus dos círculos más próximos. En el primero, la legación estadounidense sitúa al vicepresidente Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba; al ministro de Fomento, José Blanco; al portavoz socialista en el Congreso de los Diputados, José Antonio Alonso, y al secretario general de la Oficina del Presidente, Bernardino León, al que llaman "el chico de oro del Gobierno". En el segundo mencionan al "impredecible" Miguel Ángel Moratinos, ex ministro de Exteriores, a la "inmadura" Carme Chacón, ministra de Defensa, y al embajador en Estados Unidos, Jorge Dezcallar."
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El Pais: Los lugares estratégicos de la Tierra

"Los cables secretos de la diplomacia estadounidense atestiguan el poderoso esfuerzo ejercido por la superpotencia en los rincones más lejanos y aparentemente insignificantes de la Tierra para proteger sus intereses y garantizar su seguridad, estabilidad y desarrollo. Uno de los ejemplos más esclarecedores del alcance de esa actitud global es la lista que el Departamento de Estado redacta cada año seleccionand o las infraestructuras civiles y recursos naturales del mundo que considera estratégicamente más relevantes.

La selección de 2008 contenía unos 300 elementos. Los puntos de interés suelen ser puertos, gasoductos, minas y empresas del sector químico, farmacéutico o de defensa. En España, por ejemplo, EE UU seleccionó tres elementos: el estrecho de Gibraltar, el gasoducto que une a la Península con Argelia y el laboratorio catalán Grifols. La importancia de los lugares es valorada por el grado de dependencia de ellos de EE UU, por el impacto que su eventual destrucción o alteración en el funcionamiento tendría sobre "la salud pública, la estabilidad económica y/o la seguridad nacional" estadounidense."
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El Pais: EE UU acusa a donantes saudíes de financiar el terrorismo islamista

""Los donantes en Arabia Saudí constituyen la fuente más significativa de financiación de los grupos terroristas suníes en todo el mundo", asegura un despacho diplomático enviado hace un año por la Secretaría de Estado a sus embajadas en Riad, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Islamabad y Doha (documento 242073). El texto, uno de los más claros exponentes de la preocupación de EE UU por el dinero del terrorismo, les pide que recaben la cooperación de esos Gobiernos para poner coto a la recaudación de fondos de Al Qaeda y los talibanes. Pero en los 1.110 cables que tocan el asunto se vislumbra que las prioridades de algunos de sus aliados van por otros derroteros. Las menciones al progreso llevado a cabo por éstos no logran eclipsar la frustración estadounidense por la lentitud de sus avances."
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El Pais: EE UU y Brasil colaboran en secreto contra los islamistas

"El Gobierno brasileño mantiene un doble discurso sobre la lucha antiterrorista en su propio país. Por un lado, niega que exista esa amenaza y protesta airadamente cuando se le menciona la triple frontera (entre Argentina, Paraguay y Brasil) como posible foco de apoyo a la organización islámista Hezbolá o de financiación de grupos extremistas, y por otro, colabora plenamente en el campo operativo con las agencias antiterroristas de Estados Unidos, no solo para investigar los indicios que le proporcionan, sino para intercambiar información propia. Así se desprende de los telegramas enviados por la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Brasil a lo largo de los últimos años."
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2010-12-06 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 8

(If you missed the previous installments in this series, please click here.)

New Zealand Herald: Editorial: Red alert over WikiLeaks unnecessary

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has suggested the disclosure "puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems". Such language does not bode well for a cogent and calculated response. In fact, the intelligence information released so far contains nothing to substantiate Mrs Clinton's claims.[...]

Obviously, Washington is embarrassed. But, so far, that is all. There has, contrary to the Secretary of State's view, been no irresponsible naming and endangering of individual lives or national security.

Much of the credit for this must go to WikiLeaks' decision, as with military documents released this year, to rely on three major newspapers - the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel - for a reasoned analysis of the cables. This has been no anarchic exercise, based on a naive view that it is right and proper for all information to be in the public domain.[...]

The cork is out of the bottle. If WikiLeaks is silenced, others will pick up its ideas."
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Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch: What the Wiki-Saga Teaches Us

"The reaction to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange tells us all we need to know about the total corruption of our “modern” world, which in fact is a throwback to the Dark Ages.

Some member of the United States government released to WikiLeaks the documents that are now controversial. The documents are controversial, because they are official US documents and show all too clearly that the US government is a duplicitous entity whose raison d’etre is to control every other government.

The media, not merely in the US but also throughout the English speaking world and Europe, has shown its hostility to WikiLeaks. The reason is obvious. WikiLeaks reveals truth, while the media covers up for the US government and its puppet states."
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Guy Rundle, Crikey: Bob Brown supports WikiLeaks, is Phillip Adams in the frame?

"Greens leader Bob Brown has spoken out in support of WikiLeaks, following its Cablegate document release to major media that began last week. While urging the global whistleblowing website to be "diligent" in ensuring that its released documents do not put lives at risk, Brown told Crikey that "the documents have caused increased scrutiny on often controversial aspects of US foreign policy. Such scrutiny is a good thing."

Brown's statement comes as the Gillard Labor government, which remains in power with the support of Green MHR Adam Bandt, continues to explore ways in which it can prosecute Julian Assange. Attorney-General Robert McClelland stated yesterday that "... the Australian Federal Police are looking at whether any Australian laws have been breached," a repeat of earlier statements. However, he is yet to specify any crimes with which Assange might be charged.

McClelland has also raised the possibility of cancelling Assange's Australian passport, though again no grounds on which this might occur have been raised.[...] The move is reminiscent of actions by the Menzies government at the height of the Cold War, when passport cancellation or refusal to issue was one of several techniques of political censorship and repression."
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Jeff Jarvis, The Huffington Post: Transparency: The New Source of Power

"Government should be transparent by default, secret by necessity. Of course, it is not. Too much of government is secret. Why? Because those who hold secrets hold power.

Now WikiLeaks has punctured that power. Whether or not it ever reveals another document -- and we can be certain that it will -- Wikileaks has made us all aware that no secret is safe. If something is known by one person, it can be known by the world.

But that has always been the case. The internet did not kill secrecy. It only makes copying and spreading information easier and faster. It weakens secrecy. Or as a friend of mine says, the internet democratizes leaking. It used to be, only the powerful could hold and uncover knowledge. Now many can.[...]

Now, in WikiLeaks, we see a new concern: that secrecy dies. It does not; secrecy lives. But it is wounded. And it should be. Let us use this episode to examine as citizens just how secret and how transparent our governments should be. For today, in the internet age, power shifts from those who hold secrets to those who create openness. That is our emerging reality."
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Micah L. Sifry, Tech President: After Wikileaks: The Promise of Internet Freedom, For Real

"So, while I am not 100% sure I am for everything that Wikileaks has done is and is doing, I do know that I am anti-anti-Wikileaks. The Internet makes possible a freer and more democratic culture, but only if we fight for it. And that means standing up precisely when unpopular speakers test the boundaries of free speech, and would-be censors try to create thought-crimes and intimidate the rest of us into behaving like children or sheep.

And, as Mark Pesce argues brilliantly, it's not like we can make this all go away. The potential for a Wikileaks moment--where a dissenter with the genuine goods of how an imperial organization actually carries out its business leaks that information into the global communications grid--has been inherent for years; now it has arrived. We are all living in a new age. And it does feel like radical changes in how the world works may again be possible."
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Chris O'Brien, Mercury News: Why we should applaud Wikileaks

"The reaction has been fierce. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security, said this week that WikiLeaks should be labeled a terrorist organization. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the disclosures an "attack on America's foreign policy interests."

But the reaction is misguided. Our government is undermining its own credibility with this overheated rhetoric. And this lashing out says more about our politicians than it does about Assange or WikiLeaks.[...]

The proper response to WikiLeaks should be a national conversation about what material should be kept secret -- and to keep that at an absolute minimum. No one is arguing that there aren't some secrets the government needs to keep. Even WikiLeaks has held back some of the documents it received. But the circle around the stuff that falls into this category should be drawn as small as possible.[...]

But there should be no doubt that WikiLeaks' efforts to expose government secrets have done a great public service by puncturing a hole in the government's arguments that it needs to keep expanding its bubble of secrecy to keep us safe."
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2010-12-06 News from the infowar front, continued [Update 2]

Today, PostFinance, the banking arm of SwissPost, announced that it closed the account created for the Julian Assange Defence Fund, on the grounds that he provided a Geneva address while not being a Swiss resident. WikiLeaks has clarified that the address provided belonged to his lawyer. PostFinance Alex Josty told AP that "That's his money, he will get his money back. We just close the account and that's it." However, Marc Andrey, another PostFinance spokesman, told The New York Times that "efforts to contact Mr. Assange to arrange for the funds in the account to be transferred had been unsuccessful." The status of the funds appears unclear.

Australia Post has announced on Friday that it would be closing the University of Melbourne Post Office on December 17, and, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, insisted that the closure "has nothing to do with the fact that Box 4080 is the Australian postal address for submissions to the whistleblower website." The post pox has long been used by WikiLeaks for submissions and donations via postal mail. "Coincidence? Or has the ever-closing security net around WikiLeaks been tightened a notch further?", asks the Herald's Daniel Flitton. "The architecture and planning building, where the post office is located, is to be demolished soon. But plans are not yet fixed and insiders expressed 'surprise' Australia Post had decided to close so early."

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the BBC reports that a new European Arrest Warrant from Sweden has reached SOCA on Monday afternoon and will be sent to the Metropolitan Police. This may be a good point at which to remind the reader that the charges for which Julian Assange faces an EAW and has been placed on the Interpol's wanted list carry a normal fine of 5,000 kronor, or 715 US dollars.

In the United States, Attorney General Eric J. Holder said that "there are other statutes, other tools at our disposal," besides the Espionage Act, that could be used to prosecute WikiLeaks, reports Reuters. "'I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable,' Holder said. He repeatedly refused to elaborate whether that would include search warrants. 'I personally authorized a number of things last week and that's an indication of the seriousness with which we take this matter and the highest level of involvement at the Department of Justice,' he said."

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Pirate Party servers used to mirror WikiLeaks came under a DDoS attack, announced vice president Anna Troberg.

Coming on the heels of the Amazon, PayPal, Tableau, EveryDNS actions and political pressure from the US, French and Australian governments previously covered, are these supposedly unrelated actions just coincidences? This is a war. Where will you stand?

Update 1: Mastercard has now cut off payments to WikiLeaks, reports CNET. "MasterCard is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products," spokesman Chris Montero said. He said the reasons was that "MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal." Let us remember that WikiLeaks has not been convicted of any illegal activity in any country, and that neither the US government nor the Australian government have been able to say which laws, exactly, WikiLeaks might have broken, despite calling the group's activities "illegal."

The Sydney Morning Herald titled its latest report PM can't say what law WikiLeaks has broken: "Prime Minister Julia Gillard has again been unable to name any Australian laws broken by the controversial WikiLeaks website or its founder Julian Assange.[...] But asked directly what Australian laws had been broken by either WikiLeaks or Mr Assange, Ms Gillard said the Australian Federal Police were investigating. "The foundation stone of it is an illegal act," Ms Gillard told reporters today.
But the "foundation stone" was the leaking of the documents to the website, not the publishing of the cables," noted the Herald.

In the meantime, Internet activist group Anonymous has temporarily taken down both PayPal's blog site, for more than eights hour, and PostFinance. PandaLabs reports.

In France, AFP reports that "A French judge declined to force web provider OVH to shut down the WikiLeaks site, OVH said on Monday, after the government called for the whistleblower website to be kicked out of France. The legal challenge came after French Industry Minister Eric Besson called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers after the site took refuge there on Thursday, having been expelled from the United States."

Update 2: The French Data Network has decided to host its own WikiLeaks mirror. In a long statement on its website, the provider noted: "There is a strong government commitment, strong pressure, to censor this website, without court order, even without justice having pronounced on whether the site is legal in France or not. Censorship via technical means and intermediaries, bypassing the law and courts, is precisely what FDN fights against. This is precisely the heart of our fight, to defend an open and neutral network. So, naturally, this is where we work. Wikileaks has network-related problems, and we know how to handle them."

And in the middle of all this, Julian Assange is back in the lead in TIME's Person of the Year reader poll, where you can still cast your vote.

2010-12-06 Sweden case update

The Guardian reported that, after the new European Arrest Warrant had been received by SOCA, Julian Assange's lawyers were in talks with the police to arrange a meeting:

"Jennifer Robinson, a solicitor with Finers Stephens Innocent which represents the Australian freedom of information campaigner, told the Guardian: 'We have a received an arrest warrant [related to claims in Sweden]. We are negotiating a meeting with police.'

Another lawyer representing Assange, Mark Stephens, added: 'He has not been charged with anything. We are in the process of making arrangements to meet the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer that is needed ... It's about time we got to the end of the day and we got some truth, justice and rule of law.'"

While there have been reports that Julian Assange would appear before a UK court tomorrow in order to negotiate bail, The Australian quotes Mark Stephens saying: "I haven't arranged any court hearing for tomorrow. I'm still in the midst of my discussions about how this is going to work. Nothing has been agreed definitively. There is discussion of meeting up with police but we haven't got to that point yet. Schedules have to be worked out. Their team has to be ready and we have to be ready. They have ten days to act on this warrant so there is time."

Stephens went on to reiterate that "Their request is to interview Julian Assange - he's not been charged with anything - and we are in the process of making arrangements to meet with the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer."

2010-12-06 WikiLeaks press release: Julian Assange Defense Fund frozen

Tue 7 Dec 15.55 GMT

Julian Assange Defense Fund frozen.

The Swiss Bank Post Finance today issues a press release stating that it had frozen Julian Assange's defense fund and personal assets (31K EUR) after reviewing him as a "high profile" individual.

The technicality used to seize the defense fund was that Mr. Assange, as a homeless refugee attempting to gain residency in Switzerland, had used his lawyers address in Geneva for the bank's correspondence.

Late last week, the internet payment giant PayPal, froze 60Keur of donations to the German charity the Wau Holland Foundation, which were targeted to promote the sharing of knowledge via WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks and Julian have lost 100Keur in assets this week.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Cablegate exposure is how it is throwing into relief the power dynamics between supposedly independent states like Switzerland, Sweden and Australia.

WikiLeaks also has public bank accounts in Iceland (preferred) and Germany.

Please help cover our expenditures while we fight to get our assets back.


(Via @wikileaks. Source: )

2010-12-07 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 9

Dan Gillmor, Salon: Defend WikiLeaks or lose free speech

"Journalists cover wars by not taking sides. But when the war is on free speech itself, neutrality is no longer an option.

The WikiLeaks releases are a pivotal moment in the future of journalism. They raise any number of ethical and legal issues for journalists, but one is becoming paramount.

As I said last week, and feel obliged to say again today, our government -- and its allies, willing or coerced, in foreign governments and corporations -- are waging a powerful war against freedom of speech.

WikiLeaks may well make us uncomfortable in some of what it does, though in general I believe it's done far more good than harm so far. We need to recognize, however, as Mathew Ingram wrote over the weekend, that "Like It or Not, WikiLeaks is a Media Entity." What our government is trying to do to WikiLeaks now is lawless in stunning ways, as Salon's Glenn Greenwald forcefully argued today.[...]

Media organizations with even half a clue need to recognize what is at stake at this point. It's more than immediate self-interest, namely their own ability to do their jobs. It's about the much more important result if they can't. If journalism can routinely be shut down the way the government wants to do this time, we'll have thrown out free speech in this lawless frenzy."
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The Hindu: Editorial: Digital McCarthyism

"The campaign against WikiLeaks is a clear move to censor political material on the Internet and, potentially, on other media. The first moves made by lawmakers such as Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, have no legal foundation and yet have succeeded with Amazon and PayPal. What has followed is shockingly repressive and obscurantist. The Library of Congress blocked access to WikiLeaks across its computer systems, including reading rooms, and Columbia University students aspiring for diplomatic careers have been advised not to comment on, or link to, the whistleblower website's revelations. It is doubly tragic that such concerted attacks are securing support from countries with a progressive legacy such as France. The intolerant response to WikiLeaks is a potential threat to all media and must be fought. Senator Lieberman and other lawmakers have introduced legislation that proposes to make the publication of an intelligence source a federal crime. Already, U.S. law allows the shutting down of some Internet domains managed in that country on grounds of infringement of copyright. The threat to the publication of inconvenient material, even with responsible redactions, is all too real."
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John Naughton, The Guardian: Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It's your choice

"Western political elites obfuscate, lie and bluster – and when the veil of secrecy is lifted, they try to kill the messenger.[...]

The response has been vicious, co-ordinated and potentially comprehensive, and it contains hard lessons for everyone who cares about democracy and about the future of the net. There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down.[...]

One thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they expose how political elites in western democracies have been deceiving their electorates.[...] What we are hearing from the enraged officialdom of our democracies is mostly the petulant screaming of emperors whose clothes have been shredded by the net.

Which brings us back to the larger significance of this controversy. The political elites of western democracies have discovered that the internet can be a thorn not just in the side of authoritarian regimes, but in their sides too. It has been comical watching them and their agencies stomp about the net like maddened, half-blind giants trying to whack a mole. It has been deeply worrying to watch terrified internet companies – with the exception of Twitter, so far – bending to their will.

But politicians now face an agonising dilemma. The old, mole-whacking approach won't work. WikiLeaks does not depend only on web technology. Thousands of copies of those secret cables – and probably of much else besides – are out there, distributed by peer-to-peer technologies like BitTorrent. Our rulers have a choice to make: either they learn to live in a WikiLeakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet. Over to them."
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Glenn Greenwald, Salon

"Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them -- all without any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority. They've blocked access to their assets, tried to remove them from the Internet, bullied most everyone out of doing any business with them, froze the funds marked for Assange's legal defense at exactly the time that they prepare a strange international arrest warrant to be executed, repeatedly threatened him with murder, had their Australian vassals openly threaten to revoke his passport, and declared them "Terrorists" even though -- unlike the authorities who are doing all of these things -- neither Assange nor WikiLeaks ever engaged in violence, advocated violence, or caused the slaughter of civilians.[...]

People often have a hard time believing that the terms "authoritarian" and "tyranny" apply to their own government, but that's because those who meekly stay in line and remain unthreatening are never targeted by such forces. The face of authoritarianism and tyranny reveals itself with how it responds to those who meaningfully dissent from and effectively challenge its authority: do they act within the law or solely through the use of unconstrained force?"
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Andrew Gavin Marshall, Global Research: Wikileaks and the Worldwide Information War: Power, Propaganda, and the Global Political Awakening

"There is a new and unique development in human history that is taking place around the world; it is unprecedented in reach and volume, and it is also the greatest threat to all global power structures: the ‘global political awakening.’ The term was coined by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and refers to the fact that, as Brzezinski wrote:

'For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.'[...]

We are under a heavy propaganda offensive on the part of the global corporate and mainstream media to spin and manipulate these leaks to their own interests. We, as alternative media and voices, must use Wikileaks to our advantage. Ignoring it will only damage our cause and undermine our strength. The mainstream media understood that; so too, must we.[...]

We are on the verge of a period of global social transformation, the question is: will we do anything about it? Will we seek to inform and partake in this transition, or will we sit and watch it be misled, criticizing it as it falters and falls? Just as Martin Luther King commented in his 1967 speech, Beyond Vietnam, that it seemed as if America was “on the wrong side of a world revolution,” now there is an opportunity to remedy that sad reality, and not simply on a national scale, but global.[...]

Make no mistake, this is an opportunity for the spread of truth, not a distraction from it. Treat it accordingly."
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Clay Shirky: Wikileaks and the Long Haul

"I am conflicted about the right balance between the visibility required for counter-democracy and the need for private speech among international actors. Here’s what I’m not conflicted about: When authorities can’t get what they want by working within the law, the right answer is not to work outside the law. The right answer is that they can’t get what they want.[...]

The key, though, is that democracies have a process for creating such restrictions, and as a citizen it sickens me to see the US trying to take shortcuts. The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”

Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow."
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2010-12-07 Julian Assange arrested on Swedish warrant [Update 9]

The London Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Julian Assange was arrested this morning on behalf of the Swedish authorities, reports The Guardian: "Julian Assange, 39, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30am."

The statement notes that he is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.

"As of last night Assange had still not been told of the full allegations against him, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson explained in a Guardian video to be released soon," notes The Guardian.

WL Central would like to ask all of our readers to support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. You can donate to WikiLeaks to help with legal costs, speak up in support, contact your elected representatives and ask them to uphold Julian Assange's rights, join a protest.

If Julian Assange can be silenced, so can every one of us. Stand up, speak up: for him, for yourself, for all of us. Before it's too late.

Update 1: Jennifer Robinson's video statement is now available on the Guardian site.

Update 2: Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Associated Press that Julian Assange's arrest is an attack on media freedom and that it won't prevent the organization from spilling secrets on the web.

The ITV's Keir Simmons said on Twitter that Julian Assange will appear in court at 2pm London time according to a court source.

Update 3: Supporters are planning a protest in front of the Westminster Magistrates' Court at 13:30: .Flashmob calls are going out on Twitter. Court address: Horseferry Road, SW1

Update 4: Mike Hitchen reported on Twitter that "Sydney Morning Herald human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, has cut short his annual summer holiday in Sydney to represent Mr Assange."

Update 5: The Guardian reports that US Defense Secretary Gates, on a visit to Afghanistan, "smirked on hearing the news. 'I hadn't heard that, but that sounds like good news to me,' he said."

Update 6: Julian Assange will not consent to extradition to Sweden. From the court proceedings, Sky News' Neal Mann and The Guardian report that John Pilger, Ken Loach and Jemima Khan were all present to offer surety if Julian Assange is granted bail.

Update 7: The court has denied bail. Julian Assange will be remanded in custody till 14 December, according to reports from the court proceedings. "Surprising ruling coming after judge waxed long on lack of evidence," noted Heather Brooke on Twitter. The Times' Sean O'Neill tweeted that "Assange refused bail because of nomadic life, refusal to give address and no record of his entry to the UK"

Update 8: Crikey reports on Twitter that the three "sexual integrity" charges are "one unsafe sex, one sex while sleeping, one uninvited tackle rub." (Emphasis ours. Please do read that again.) "The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner," reported the Press Association (via The Guardian), referring to statements by Gemma Lindfield on behalf of the Swedish authorities.

John Pilger made a few statements to the media present at the court. AFP reports: "Mr Pilger says the rape allegations against Assange are 'absurd' and if Assange goes to Sweden he will enter a 'chaotic legal system'. "Anyone who looks thorugh the details of the case in Sweden will see that this is an innocent man ... and he has done some extraordinary journalism on behalf of all of us," Mr Pilger said."

Update 9: The Guardian reports: "We are in the rather exotic position of not seeing any of the evidence against him [Assange]," the WikiLeaks founder's lawyer, Mark Stephens, has said. "This is going to go viral," he added. Many people believe these charges are politically motivated, he said.

Assange could have been safely released today, Stephens told reporters. These allegations are very thin indeed, he said. He confirmed that further bail applications will be made. Stephens claimed that Assange will be vindicated."

Mark Stephens added that a renewed bail application will be made: "We have heard the judge today say that he wishes to see the evidence himself. He was impressed by the fact that a number of people were prepared to stand up on behalf of Mr Assange. In those circumstances I think we will see another bail application."

2010-12-07 Julian Assange: "The truth will always win"

The Australian has posted today an op-ed written by Julian Assange. In it, he talks about the ideas that inspired WikiLeaks, the concept of scientific journalism, the role of the media in a democratic society, the threats that he and WikiLeaks have been receiving and the Australian government's failure to respond to them. Also addressed are the contradictory and false accusations that on the one hand WikiLeaks disclosures are very dangerous but on the other hand that they are "nothing new," some of the most significant revelations in the Cablegate documents, and the reasons why the media's right to report the truth must be defended.

A few excerpts are reproduced below:

"Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes.[...]

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth."

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2010-12-07 Open letter to Australian Prime Minister re: Julian Assange

A number of prominent Australian and international personalities have drafted an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in protest of the government's treatment of Julian Assange. We are taking the liberty of reproducing the letter below. Please visit the ABC site to see all the signatories and add your support:

"Dear Prime Minister,

We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

“We should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him,” writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.

William Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, asks, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”

“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” writes the prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg.

“The CIA should have already killed Julian Assange,” says John Hawkins on the Right Wing News site.

Sarah Palin, a likely presidential candidate, compares Assange to an Al Qaeda leader; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and potential presidential contender, accuses Assange of “terrorism”.

And so on and so forth.

Such calls cannot be dismissed as bluster. Over the last decade, we have seen the normalisation of extrajudicial measures once unthinkable, from ‘extraordinary rendition’ (kidnapping) to ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture).

In that context, we now have grave concerns for Mr Assange’s wellbeing.

Irrespective of the political controversies surrounding WikiLeaks, Mr Assange remains entitled to conduct his affairs in safety, and to receive procedural fairness in any legal proceedings against him.

As is well known, Mr Assange is an Australian citizen.

We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange, and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states.

We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange's passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.

A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial – it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

We believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.

In this crucial time, a strong statement by you and your Government can make an important difference.

We look forward to your response."

The letter was drafted by Jeff Sparrow and Lizzie O'Shea and has been signed by a more than 200 prominent lawyers, authors, journalists and politicians, including Noam Chomsky, Guy Rundle, Helen Garner, Bob Brown, Julian Burnside, Stephen Keim and many others. Read more

2010-12-07 Statement by Civil Liberties Australia

CLA released an official statement today:

Civil Liberties Australia unreservedly supports Julian Assange's right to operate as a journalist/blogger, and to post leaked material online. By doing so, he commits no legitimate offence we're aware of in the USA or Australia*.

In fact, he is following in a proud US tradition, along the lines of Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with leaker 'Deep Throat' in the Nixon era, and the now-revered leaker Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers at the time of the Vietnam war.

If the person who leaked the material to Assange has broken a US law, it would be the same law that leaker Ellsberg would have broken in the case of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 during Vietnam...and Ellsberg is now a US hero.

If Assange himself has broken a US law, it would be the same law that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke in the Watergate – Deep Throat case which led to the impeachment and departure in disgrace of President Richard Nixon. Both journalists are American heroes, with at least one movie and many books about them and their leaking/reporting ways.

What was the problem in both the Pentagon Papers and Watergate cases? US military and Administration officials were caught lying.

Plus ca change...

As regards Assange and the Australian Government, CLA is alarmed that a government can so readily abandon an Australian citizen as Prime Minister Gillard and Attorney-General McClelland appeared to do at the outset of this matter.

CLA recalls how even extremely conservative Australians eventually rebelled and forced the Howard Liberal Government to do something to help David Hicks, whom that government had abandoned to fabricated American laws and prison-without-reason at the Guantanamo Bay hellhole in Cuba.

Now, it seems, the Gillard Labor Government is going one better, and refusing to stand up for an Australian citizen whose only proven crime is being a good journalist/blogger. It makes you wonder what is the value of an Australian passport if the Australian Government's first response is to try to help a foreign power find a charge to lay against an Australian passport holder.

CLA would prefer the Australian Government spent its resources assisting Assange defend possibly-fabricated sex crime charges being made against him. Remember, they were made once, then dropped by a Swedish prosecutor, and only recently re-instated by another prosecutor at the time of the latest leaks.

CLA would like to nominate Julian Assange for Australian of the Year 2011: he has done more to eliminate lies, deceit, humbug and hubris in international affairs than anyone in the Gillard (or, for that matter, Howard) Governments…or in the US Government.

* The US might decide to charge him with sedition – historically a charge laid at the whim of English kings – which is a political ‘offence’ not used in the USA for half a century and one formally and officially discredited in Australia by a change of legislation in 2010.

– released by Bill Rowlings, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia, 7 Dec 2010


2010-12-07 Visa suspends payments to WikiLeaks

Visa became today the fifth financial institution to suspend payments to WikiLeaks, after Moneybookers, PayPal, Mastercard, and PostFinance. A spokesman said: "Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks' website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules," reports the Press Association.

The Guardian wrote: "Charles Arthur, the Guardian's technology editor, points out that while MasterCard and Visa have cut WikiLeaks off you can still use those cards to donate to overtly racist organisations such as the Knights Party, which is supported by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Ku Klux Klan website directs users to a site called Christian Concepts. It takes Visa and MasterCard donations for users willing to state that they are 'white and not of racially mixed descent. I am not married to a non-white. I do not date non-whites nor do I have non-white dependents. I believe in the ideals of western Christian civilisation and profess my belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God.'"

Probably no further comment is needed. (You can still donate to WikiLeaks via other methods.)

2010-12-07 [Alert] Protest at Westminster Magistrates' Court, 13:30

A demostration to protest Julian Assange's arrest is being organized today at 13:30 London time in front of the Westminster Magistrates' Court. Please join if you can!

Address: 70 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AX (More details)

Map: Google maps


2010-12-08 Avaaz petition in support of WikiLeaks


Global activist organization Avaaz has launched a petition titled Wikileaks: Stop the crackdown. The text reads:

"Whatever we think of WikiLeaks, the massive campaign of intimidation against it is sending a chill through free speech and media advocates everywhere. Top US politicians has even gone as far as calling WikiLeaks a terrorist organization and suggested assassination of its staff, and the organization has come under massive corporate attack to shut it down.

Right now, dozens of governments and corporations are being heavily pressured to join the crackdown -- we urgently need the public to take a stand and make sure our governments protect our democracies and rule of law.

Sign the petition to stop the crackdown below and forward this email to everyone -- let's get 1 million voices against the crackdown this week!"

"To the U.S. government and corporations linked to Wikileaks:

We call on you to stop the crackdown on Wikileaks and its partners immediately. We urge you to respect the democratic principles and laws of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. If Wikileaks and the journalists it works with have violated any laws they should be pursued in the courts with due process. They should not be subjected to an extra-judicial campaign of intimidation."

Please join us in signing the petition here.

2010-12-08 Cablegate: News from the infowar front, part 3 [Update 3]

The Bolivian government is now hosting WikiLeaks Cablegate documents on its official servers:, under the banner of the Vice President's office and the office of the President of the Legislative Assembly. The statement reads:

"The Vice President of the State of Bolivia and the President of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, seeking to democratize access to information available to the public, are making available the documents of the Department of State of the United States, published by Wikileaks, which refer to Bolivia. All of them are available in their original language (English) and those that contain information relevant to the country, beyond simple references are translated into Castilian or being in the process of being translated, a situation in which we ask for your patience.

The search engine offers search alternatives according to the relevance of the document, its creation date, language of the source institution, etc. We firmly believe that this site will expand access to this vital information and facilitate the work of many citizens."

In a reversal from the Australian government's previous pronouncements on Julian Assange, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said today in a declaration to Reuters that "Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network. The Americans are responsible for that." He added that the leaks raised questions about the "adequacy" of US data security, and that "Maybe 2 million or so people having access to this stuff is a bit of a problem," referring to the number of personnel who had access to the SIPRNET network.

The Independent reports that "Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources." Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has denied the report to AFP.

In the United States, Senator Joe Lieberman raised the prospect of prosecuting media organizations such as The New York Times for publishing WikiLeaks information, in a interview with Fox News. The New York Times reports: “I certainly believe that WikiLeaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it?” Mr. Lieberman said, adding: “To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.”

Much of the media reported with ironic amusement on the State Department's announcement of World Press Freedom Day: "Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, in jail; World Press Freedom Day announced," is the title of a Washington Post report. Marissa Bell writes: "The same day that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said the New York Times and WikiLeaks may be investigated for espionage, the State Department announced it would be hosting the World Press Freedom Day in 2011."

In the meantime, various media outlets are reporting on the Swedish case allegations against Julian Assange and the background on the case, including a special report from Reuters, The Guardian and The Daily Mail. Their conclusions are the same ones that we came to months ago: "The more one learns about the case, the more one feels that, unlike the bell in Enkoping, the allegations simply don’t ring true," writes The Daily Mail.

Anonymous group's Operation Payback has in the meantime taken down the websites of PostFinance, Senator Joe Lieberman's office, the Swedish prosecution office, and Mastercard. The group has vowed to "fire at anyone or anything that tries to censor WikiLeaks, including multi-billion dollar companies." Panda Labs has a good running update of the attacks so far.

In TIME's Person of the Year poll, Julian Assange is in first place, with a 92% rating and 315,403 votes as of the time of this writing, eleven percentage points and nearly 100,000 votes above the second-place holder, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

TIME also carries an article by Massimo Calabresi, titled Why WikiLeaks Is Winning Its Info War: "There was a time when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's voluntary surrender to the British authorities might have put an end to the crisis created by the Internet provocateur's dissemination of tens of thousands of state secrets. But in the upside-down world of transnational crowdsourcing unleashed by WikiLeaks, in which thousands of activists around the globe can be rallied to defend and extend its work, Assange's arrest is a win, not a loss, for his organization."

"The asymmetrical info war initiated by the WikiLeaks dump of diplomatic cables is all about spectacle — the more Assange is set up by world powers, the more powerful his own movement becomes. "The field of battle is WikiLeaks," wrote John Perry Barlow, a former Grateful Dead lyricist and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the First Amendment advocacy group, in a message to his followers. "You are the troops." WikiLeaks admiringly forwarded the post to 300,000 of its own followers. As the U.S. and other governments attempted to close down WikiLeaks over the past week, those "troops" have fought back. And so far, it doesn't look like much of a contest."

Update 1: At the Le Web conference in Paris today, PayPal vice president Osama Bedier was asked why PayPal closed the WikiLeaks account. Bedier answered "State Dept told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward." "The answer was met with boos from the mostly European audience," reports TechCrunch.

Update 2: The Wau Holland Foundation has filed a legal action against PayPal for blocking its account used for WikiLeaks payments and for libel due to PayPal's allegations of "illegal activity." The Foundation's official statement can be found here.

Update 3: Datacell, the company handling WikiLeaks's credit card donations, has said that it will take legal action against Visa Europe and Mastercard. The BBC reports: "IT firm Datacell said it would move immediately to try to force the two companies to resume allowing payments to the whistle-blowing website. Iceland-based Datacell had earlier said the move by Visa and Mastercard could harm its own business."

2010-12-08 EFF Call to Action


Join EFF in Standing up Against Internet Censorship

December 7, 2010

Call to Action by Shari Steele

"Over the past few weeks, we here at EFF have watched as whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has fueled an emotionally charged debate about the secrecy of government information and the people's right to know. We have welcomed this debate, and the fact that there have been myriad views is the embodiment of the freedom of expression upon which this country was founded.

However, we've been greatly troubled by a recent shift in focus. The debate about the wisdom of releasing secret government documents has turned into a massive attack on the right of intermediaries to publish truthful information. Suddenly, WikiLeaks has become the Internet's scapegoat, with a Who's Who of American and foreign companies choosing to shun the site.

Let's be clear — in the United States, at least, WikiLeaks has a fundamental right to publish truthful political information. And equally important, Internet users have a fundamental right to read that information and voice their opinions about it. We live in a society that values freedom of expression and shuns censorship. Unfortunately, those values are only as strong as the will to support them — a will that seems to be dwindling now in an alarming way.

On Friday, we wrote about Amazon's disappointing decision to yank hosting services from WikiLeaks after a phone call from a senator's office. Since then, a cascade of companies and organizations has backed away from WikiLeaks. A public figure called for the assassination of Assange. PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa axed WikiLeaks’ accounts. pulled Wikileaks’ DNS services. Unknown sources continue to cripple WikiLeaks with repeated denial of service attacks. Even the Library of Congress, normally a bastion of public access to information, is blocking WikiLeaks.

There has been a tremendous backlash against WikiLeaks from governments around the world. In the United States, lawmakers have rashly proposed a law that threatens legitimate news reporting well beyond WikiLeaks. We expect to see similar efforts in other countries. Like it or not, WikiLeaks has become the emblem for one of the most important battles for our rights that is likely to come along in our lifetimes. We cannot sit this one out.

Join EFF in standing up against Internet censorship.

Download our No Censorship button to display on your websites and social networking profiles. Show the world that you are committed to free expression and denounce censorship."


2010-12-08 Statement by WL Central

On November 13th 2010, Burma's most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released from house arrest. She had been confined to her house for almost 15 years. The event provoked an outpouring of feeling across the world. People rejoiced because she had been set free, and her great spirit of endurance was celebrated. And under this all, a great sigh, at the loss of hours and days and years of a life. She had done nothing wrong. Hers was the plight of a political prisoner.

On Tuesday 7th of December, Julian Paul Assange, after willingly meeting with the British police, was placed under arrest, and remanded in custody for a week, pending an extradition hearing.

On December 14th, almost exactly a month to the day from the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from Burmese house arrest, a court of the United Kingdom will decide whether it is going to play its own role in an expeditious slide by Western democracies, increasingly visible in the last two weeks, into the habits of authoritarian rule.

The allegations from Sweden provide the veneer of legality for a political imprisonment. In truth, Julian Assange is not being accused of "rape," no more than Socrates was accused of "corrupting the youth of Athens." The two women who are alleged victims did not allege rape - their story has been co-opted by the Swedish prosecutor to pursue Assange. At every single stage of this Swedish case there has been absurd and frightening departures from the norms of criminal procedure. A cursory examination of the history of the case reveals abundant and suspicious oversights.

Isolated, these irregularities might be attributed to incompetence. In aggregate, that explanation becomes less credible. They point resolutely towards the abuse of the Swedish criminal justice system for a political end: the suppression of Julian Assange at all costs.

As for Socrates, so for Julian Assange. His real crime, which is not a crime in any Western jurisdiction, is to have embarrassed the powerful, by revealing not only the crimes of corporations and governments, but a political culture of complicity, deception and veiled contempt for the peoples of our democracies. He has done this entirely within the law. WikiLeaks is a non-violent organization, whose strategy is to harnass the right of free speech to expose secret misconduct. There are no legal grounds for the suppression of WikiLeaks. And so the powerful must seek other means.

Sweden is not alone. The American position will not have escaped anyone in the past few weeks. And European and Commonwealth governments have fallen over themselves to capitulate to American wishes. Assange's own sovereign government, the Australian government, has, in an unforgivable desertion of its duty to its own citizens, vocally presumed his guilt and backwardly conducted its police to find those laws by which he might be guilty.

It is apparent, also, that French, Swiss and American officials have abused their positions, exerting pressure well beyond the remit of their offices on private companies, to deny services vital to the free speech of WikiLeaks. Assange has broken no law; the closure of his Swiss bank account, and the denial of service by Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and Amazon have no legal justification, and are therefore assaults by private companies on the freedom of speech in our democracies.

These actions have not gone unnoticed. Over the past two weeks, WikiLeaks' global support has grown until WikiLeaks' supporters were numbered in the millions, as the citizens of Western states were alerted to the accelerated decay of our democracies. The seriousness of the past two weeks' events has not been lost on us. Assault has been openly conducted on the founding ideals of our political cultures, by the very officials elected to defend those ideals. In their rush to suppress WikiLeaks by persecuting Julian Assange, our governments have made it clear that they are now hostile to their own people, and enemies of the sacred institutions and offices they now occupy. The constitutional rights established to protect us from the abuses of state power have been brushed aside.

We, at WL Central, condemn in the most serious terms this concerted assault on our democracies, carried out in the persecution of Julian Assange. Our support for WikiLeaks has always been pursuant to our greater support for the ideals of a single standard of justice, and freedom from tyranny, towards which Julian Assange has worked with tireless dedication and at great personal risk. The persecution of Julian Assange is not the persecution of one man, but the persecution of us all. It is not a single injustice, but an injustice to end all pretence of justice. It is an emergency of historical significance.

We therefore address the governments and legislatures of the United States, of the European Union Member States, and the governments and parliaments of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations, including, and especially, the government of Australia.

We affirm

  • That WikiLeaks is now an integral pillar in the international fourth estate.
  • That WikiLeaks' work since its foundation demonstrates exigent flaws in the political cultures of our democracies, with dire consequences for domestic and global justice.
  • That WikiLeaks is therefore of critical importance to the cause of reform in our societies, and of critical importance to the maintenance of our freedoms.
  • That WikiLeaks is in fact insuppressable, and that any attempts to suppress it will not attain their goal, but cause further harm to our legal orders, and to the relationship between the governments and their peoples.
  • That therefore any attack on WikiLeaks or its staff or supporters is to be interpreted as an attack on our political cultures themselves.
  • We urge

    • That the Australian government will meet its duty of advocacy for one of its own citizens and defend Julian Assange to the limits of its means.
    • That governments will recognize WikiLeaks as enjoying the same freedoms to communicate information as do we all, as well as those freedoms particular to the press.
    • That governments will react to WikiLeaks, not by further compounding their mistakes, but by resolving to act so as to be beyond reproach.

    Finally, we urge that no perversion of justice occurs on December 14th and that the court meet the requirements of justice free from political influence. Julian Assange must not become a hostage to political convenience or expediency. Only a month on from the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the West must not plunge its own freedoms into the disrepute it so roundly and justly condemns in other parts of the world. This is important, and it involves us all. Proceed with great care. The world is watching.

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks Statement: "We will not be gagged"

STATEMENT: "We will not be gagged"

Following the detention of Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assangem, Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said:

“Today, Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange was refused bail by a UK court. While we are troubled by this bizarre decision, we know Julian is grateful for the support of both his legal team and prominent figures such as Ken Loach, Jemima Khan and John Pilger.

“However, this will not stifle Wikileaks. The release of the US Embassy Cables – the biggest leak in history – will still continue. This evening, the latest batch of cables were released, and our media partners released their next batch of stories.

“We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship. Today Visa joined Mastercard, Paypal, Amazon, EveryDNS and others in cutting off their links.

“Wikileaks is still online. The full site is duplicated in more than 500 locations. Every day, the cables are loaded more than 50 million times.

“US Senator Joe Lieberman today attacked the New York Times for its decision to publish the cables, just days after calling for companies to boycott Wikileaks.

“Just minutes later, the State Department announced the US will host next year’s UNESCO Press Freedom day. The irony is not lost on us. We hope in future, UNESCO celebrates press freedom somewhere where it exists.”

Visit the Cablegate site at

(via @wikileaks| Source:

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks events and protests [Update 5]


Please note: This news post is not being updated anymore. For a list of current WikiLeaks events, please click here.

AUSTRALIA: Discussion: Julian Assange, Law & Politics

Melbourne: A meeting to discuss Wikileaks' Julian Assange's legal and political position
Speakers: Julian Burnside AO QC, Peter Gordon, John Faine and Professor Spencer Zifcak
Date: Thursday 9 December 2010
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: the Law Institute of Victoria, 470 Bourke St, Melbourne

AUSTRALIA: National rallies to defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Media release:


Brisbane: Thursday, December 9, 5.30pm
Location: Brisbane Square CBD
Event page:

Sydney: Friday, December 10, 1pm
Location: Sydney Town Hall
Media contacts: Antony Loewenstein 0402 893 690; Simon Butler 0421 231 011. Rally information: [contact details redacted on request]
Event page:

Melbourne: Friday, December 10, 4:30pm
Location: State Library Lawns, Melbourne
Contact: Vashti Jane 0423 407 910.
Event page:

Brisbane: Friday, December 10, 12:00 noon
Location: Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 295 Anne Street, Brisbane CBD
Rally information: Liam Hanlon 0435 266 613. Media contact: Jim McIlroy 0423 741 734
Event page:

Hobart: Saturday, December 11, 12:00 noon
Location: Hobart Parliament Lawns
Event page:

Adelaide: Sunday, December 12, 1:00pm
Location: Parliament House
Event page:

Perth: Friday, December 10, 6:00pm
Location: Wesley Church, corner of William & Hay Streets, Perth City

Canberra: Thursday, December 16, 5:30pm
Location: Garema Place, Civic
Event page:


London: Saturday, December 11: 11:00am - 6:00pm Location "Cumberland Gate" at Marble Arch Hyde Park. Nearest tube station - Marble Arch
Event page:


Washington, DC: Thursday, December 16, 10:00am
Location: In front of the White House
Event details:

New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 6:30pm - 0:30am
Location: New York Times Bldg, New York, NY 10018
Event page:

New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 5:00pm
Location: Federal Building, Broadway between Worth and Duane St, NY, NY
(A, C, E, R, 4, 5, 6 Trains to Chamber and/or Brooklyn Bridge stops)
Event page:
Facebook page:
Organized by: International Action Center, 212-633-6646

Olympia, WA: Saturday, December 18, 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Heritage Park (5th Ave and Water St)
Event page:


Hamburg: Saturday, December 11, 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: To be announced
Event page:


Montreal: Sunday, December 12, 1:00pm
Location: 1155 St-Alexandre Street (US consulate)
Event page:


Vienna: Wednesday, December 22, 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: In front of the Parliament
Event page:


Lisbon: Saturday, December 11, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: Largo do Chiado
Event page:


Amsterdam: Saturday, December 11, 2:00pm
Location: De Dam

WikiLeaks protest group on Facebook:

Are you organizing an event? Please contact us at and we will be happy to promote it!

(Image Credit: Dali Rau)

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Consult us before using intelligence to commit war crimes, US tells Uganda

"The US told Uganda to let it know when the army was going to commit war crimes using American intelligence – but did not try to dissuade it from doing so, the US embassy cables suggest.

America was supporting the Ugandan government in its fight against rebel movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), providing information and $4.4m (£2.8m) worth of military hardware a year.[...]

[US Ambassador Jerry] Lanier continued: "Uganda understands the need to consult with the US in advance if the [Ugandan army] intends to use US-supplied intelligence to engage in operations not government [sic] by the law of armed conflict. Uganda understands and acknowledges that misuse of this intelligence could cause the US to end this intelligence sharing relationship."

Nowhere, though, does it appear that the ambassador directly told the Ugandans to observe the rules of war."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

"The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US 'lobbied Russia on behalf of Visa and MasterCard'

"The US lobbied Russia this year on behalf of Visa and MasterCard to try to ensure the payment card companies were not "adversely affected" by new legislation, according to American diplomats in Moscow.

A state department cable released this afternoon by WikiLeaks reveals that US diplomats intervened to try to amend a draft law going through Russia's duma, or lower house of parliament. Their explicit aim was to ensure the new law did not "disadvantage" the two US companies, the cable states.

The revelation comes a day after Visa – apparently acting under intense pressure from Washington – announced it was suspending all payments to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website. Visa was following MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon, all of which have severed ties with the site and its founder, Julian Assange, in the past few days."
Read more

The New York Times: Pirates’ Catch Exposed Route of Arms in Sudan Conflict

"It was September 2008 and a band of Somali pirates made a startling discovery. The Ukrainian freighter they had just commandeered in the Gulf of Aden was packed with weapons, including 32 Soviet-era battle tanks, and the entire arsenal was headed for the regional government in southern Sudan. The Ukrainian and Kenyan governments vigorously denied that, insisting that the tanks were intended for the Kenyan military.

“This is a big loss for us,” said Alfred Mutua, a spokesman for the Kenyan government, at the time.

But it turns out the pirates were telling the truth — and the Kenyans and Ukrainians were not, at least publicly. According to several secret State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks, the tanks not only were headed to southern Sudan, but they were the latest installment of several underground arms shipments."
Read more

The New York Times: Officials Pressed Germans on Kidnapping by C.I.A.

"American officials exerted sustained pressure on Germany not to enforce arrest warrants against Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in the 2003 kidnapping of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist, diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks show.

John M. Koenig, the American deputy chief of mission in Berlin, issued a pointed warning in February 2007 urging that Germany “weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.” in the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent. Mr. Masri said he was held in a secret United States prison in Afghanistan and tortured before his captors acknowledged their mistake and let him go."
Read more

Sydney Morning Herald: Yank in the ranks

"THE federal Labor minister and right-wing powerbroker Mark Arbib is one of the US embassy's valued confidential contacts, providing inside information and commentary on the workings of the government and the ALP.

Secret embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to this website reveal that Senator Arbib has been in regular contact with US embassy officers. His candid comments are incorporated in reports to Washington with requests that his identity as a ''protected'' source be guarded.[...]

Last June Senator Arbib threw his hand in with other Labor Right figures moving to depose Mr Rudd from the leadership, thereby precipitating the events that led to Ms Gillard's becoming prime minister. In recent months there have been media reports that Senator Arbib has been undermining Ms Gillard but Labor insiders deny this."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Lockerbie bomber freed after Gaddafi's 'thuggish' threats

"The British government's deep fears that Libya would take "harsh and immediate" action against UK interests if the convicted Lockerbie bomber died in a Scottish prison are revealed in secret US embassy cables which show London's full support for the early release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, made explicit and "thuggish" threats to halt all trade deals with Britain and harass embassy staff if Megrahi remained in jail, the cables show. At the same time "a parade of treats" was offered by Libya to the Scottish devolved administration if it agreed to let him go, though the cable says they were turned down."
Read more

Sydney Morining Herald: Missile defence language aimed to deceive Labor Left

"The federal Labor Left faction was deliberately ''deceived'' by the language used in last year's Defence White Paper to describe Australia's position on missile defence co-operation with the United States, a secret US embassy cable reveals.

The cable, obtained by the WikiLeaks website and released to the Herald, quotes the then Defence Department deputy secretary and white paper co-ordinator, Mike Pezzullo, as telling US embassy officials how the language in the missile defence section had been ''governed by [former defence minister Joel] Fitzgibbon's desire to avoid party divisions at the ALP's national conference'' in May last year."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Whitehall told US to ignore Brown's Trident statement

"Two senior Whitehall officials assured US diplomats that the renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent would go ahead, apparently contradicting then prime minister Gordon Brown's public statements proposing some disarmament by the UK, according to leaked US embassy cables.

The London embassy sent a secret cable back to Washington last autumn reporting conversations with the two civil servants, Richard Freer and Judith Gough, in which they cast doubt on the significance of Brown's announcement at the UN general assembly that Britain might cut the number of planned new Trident submarines from four to three."
Read more

El País: Uribe buscó en secreto el diálogo directo con las FARC (Uribe secretly sought a direct dialogue with FARC)

"El estruendo de los ataques aéreos y de los coches bomba ocultó los movimientos de aproximación entre las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) y el Gobierno de Álvaro Uribe, que en los últimos meses de su mandato intensificó los contactos para establecer un diálogo directo con la guerrilla. Así se desprende de los cables de la Embajada de EE UU en Bogotá, que dan cuenta, además, de la reunión mantenida con el enviado de uno de los máximos comandantes guerrilleros, que quiere entablar "una relación" con los diplomáticos norteamericanos."
Read more

El País: Rusia vendió a Chávez al menos 100 sistemas antiaéreos muy sofisticados (Russia sold Chavez at least 100 highly sophisticated anti-air missiles)

"Altos funcionarios del Gobierno de Rusia confesaron el año pasado a una delegación de Estados Unidos que habían vendido a Venezuela, hasta ese momento, 100 misiles antiáereos de manejo individual, una de las armas que Washington considera más desequilibrantes en la región, según prueban los cables del Departamento de Estado. Aunque Hugo Chávez anunció personalmente la adquisición de ese armamento, nunca se había revelado la cifra ni se sospechaba que fuese tan alta."
Read more

2010-12-08 [Admin notice] Migration complete

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2010-12-09 Brisbane rally reports


As we announced yesterday, a rally in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks was held today in Brisbane, the first of numerous events organized by WikiLeaks supporters worldwide.

Hundreds rally for WikiLeaks founder, reported the Sydney Morning Herald today. "We're here to defend WikiLeaks, to defend our right to freedom of information, to defend our right to know what our elected representatives are up to," Jessica Payne, the event organizer, said. "We are all Assange, and if they want to take down Assange, they have to take down all of us."

Speakers at the event included former Australian Democrats senator and now Greens member Andrew Bartlett, and Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope. "It's entirely inappropriate that people be extradited simply to be questioned as appears to be happening in this case," Mr Cope said. He added that government attempted to restrict freedom of speech "to protect themselves from being exposed to their dishonesty, their corruption and their mistakes," reported the Herald.

A statement from prominent investigative journalist John Pilger was also read at the rally. "The defence of Julian Assange is one of the most important issues of my lifetime," Mr Pilger's letter said. "There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents."

The Brisbane Times quotes one of the rally participants, John Jiggens, a veteran of independent media in Brisbane:

"We identify with what's happening to Julian Assange. Independent media in Queensland played a very valuable part during the Bjelke-Petersen regime while most of the mainstream media just went along with the corruption," he said. "So we see the value of independent media and its importance to society and Julian Assange sort of demonstrates that. I identify with him and I think a lot of other people also identify with him."

The rally was followed by a march through the Brisbane CBD.

A larger rally will be held tomorrow, Friday, in Brisbane at noon. You can find information about the rally here and further details at Rally 4 WikiLeaks.

Getty Images has a photo gallery from today's event.

Photo credit: Marc Grimwale, Getty Images News

2010-12-09 Get Up! Action for Australia: Petition in support of WikiLeaks


Get Up! is hosting a petition in support of WikiLeaks. The campaign organizers also plan to take out ads in The New York Times and Washington Times. The petition reads:

"Dear President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder:

We, as Australians, condemn calls for violence, including assassination, against Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or for him to be labeled a terrorist, enemy combatant or be treated outside the ordinary course of justice in any way.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "information is the currency of democracy." Publishing leaked information in collaboration with major news outlets, as Wikileaks and Mr. Assange have done, is not a terrorist act.

Australia and the United States are the strongest of allies. Our soldiers serve side by side and we’ve experienced, and condemned, the consequences of terrorism together. To label Wikileaks a terrorist organisation is an insult to those Australians and Americans who have lost their lives to acts of terrorism and to terrorist forces.

If Wikileaks or their staff have broken international or national laws, let that case be heard in a just and fair court of law. At the moment, no such charges have been brought.

We are writing as Australians to say what our Government should have: all Australian citizens deserve to be free from persecution, threats of violence and detention without charge, especially from our friend and ally, the United States.

We call upon you to stand up for our shared democratic principles of the presumption of innocence and freedom of information."

Please join us in signing the petition here.

2010-12-09 Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 10

John Pilger: Statement in support of Sydney rally

"The defence of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is one of the most important issues of my lifetime. There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents.

If the Australian prime minister doesn’t understand this, we Australians need to remind her that she may head a mercenary government but we are not a mercenary people.

Those of us in London who are working to free Julian, knowing that the Swedish prosecution is a political stunt that would never produce a fair trial, will be at his side, and we call on the support of every decent Australian."
Read more

Robert Scheer, TruthDig: From Jefferson to Assange

"All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”[...]

Feinstein represents precisely the government that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said, in defense of unfettered freedom of the press, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”[...] [T]he inconvenient truths she has concealed in her Senate role would have indeed shocked many of those who voted for her. She knew in real time that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, yet she voted to send young Americans to kill and be killed based on what she knew to be lies. It is her duplicity, along with the leaders of both political parties, that now stands exposed by the WikiLeaks documents.

That is why U.S. governmental leaders will now employ the massive power of the state to discredit and destroy Assange, who dared let the public in on the depths of official deceit—a deceit that they hide behind in making their claims of protecting national security.[...]

It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange’s defense on this issue, as distinct from what increasingly appear to be trumped-up charges that led to his voluntary arrest on Tuesday in London in a case involving his personal behavior. Abandon Assange and you abandon the bedrock of our republic: the public’s right to know."
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Jack Hunter, The American Conservative: The Conservative Case for WikiLeaks

"No one questions that governments must maintain a certain level of secrecy, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told Time that “Secrecy is important for many things … [but it] shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses.”[...] To say that government must keep secrets is not to say that all government secrets must be kept.[...]

But the worst hypocrisy throughout this controversy has been in conservatives reflexively defending the government and attacking WikiLeaks. Since when have conservatives believed that Washington should be able to shroud any action it likes in secrecy and that revealing government’s nefarious deeds is tantamount to treason? Isn’t it government officials who might secretly work for corporate, ideological or transnational interests — and against the national interest — who are betraying their country?

Interestingly, Wikileaks’ founder espouses the traditionally conservative, Jeffersonian view that America’s constitutional structure limits and lessens government corruption. [...]

Decentralizing government power, limiting it, and challenging it was the Founders’ intent and these have always been core conservative principles. Conservatives should prefer an explosion of whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks to a federal government powerful enough to take them down. Government officials who now attack WikiLeaks don’t fear national endangerment, they fear personal embarrassment. And while scores of conservatives have long promised to undermine or challenge the current monstrosity in Washington, D.C., it is now an organization not recognizably conservative that best undermines the political establishment and challenges its very foundations."
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Glenn Greenwald, Salon: Democracy Now! interview (video)

"Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they’ve never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. And yet, look at what has happened to them. They’ve been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his—for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund. They’ve had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off. Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization.

What’s really going on here is a war over control of the internet and whether or not the internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions. That’s what this really is about. It’s why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that’s what really is at stake here. If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means. But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power."
Watch the video

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda: Assange, Pinochet, Wikileaks: Prosecution or Persecution?

"However, this is not just a simple case of extradition to Sweden (which under current laws in practice in the EU, would be difficult for Assange and his team to fight against). Basically, he has already been judged by the public through media reports. It could indeed be argued under English law that the case was now null and void.

His right to anonymity has been denied him, his right to a fair and free trial has been violated, due to the fact that as we saw in the Wikileaks, extreme pressure is borne by certain governments against the judicial systems of certain states. Therefore any decision to extradite Mr. Assange comes outside the normal jurisdictional decisions arising out of European law. Read Wikileaks, and we see the full dimension of this monster.

Coupled with this, is the specter of an eventual extradition to the USA, due to what his website has been responsible for, and we see that the British justice system is once again caught up in a Pinochetgate case. If the dictator Augusto Pinochet was released by British justice, after what he did, then Mr. Assange is going to be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of two "ladies" who shared a bed with him, as a pretext to be then shipped over to the USA, the Queen of waterboarding, torture and mass murder in medieval-style concentration camps?

Maybe it is time for the people of the world to pull together, because what is at stake here is more than a simple accusation. It is where we are, where we are going and what our rights are, as humankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a case. It is a cause. And let us all inform ourselves as to what we can do, and how far we have to go to ensure that the right to free information remains available to all.

Take down Julian Assange, and others will take his place."
Read more

Evan Hansen, Wired: Why WikiLeaks is good for America

"A truly free press — one unfettered by concerns of nationalism — is apparently a terrifying problem for elected governments and tyrannies alike.

It shouldn’t be.[...]

WikiLeaks is not perfect, and we have highlighted many of its shortcomings on this website. Nevertheless, it’s time to make a clear statement about the value of the site and take sides:

WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it.

The greatest threat we face right now from WikiLeaks is not the information it has spilled and may spill in the future, but the reactionary response to it that’s building in the United States that promises to repudiate the rule of law and our free speech traditions, if left unchecked."
Read more

Mark Lee Hunter, Open Democracy: If Assange is a spy, then so am I

"This is the real secret that Wikileaks has so stunningly recalled to view: Some of the people in our own governments are so disgusted by what they must know, see and do to keep their jobs that they will tell someone else about it. They want certain ways of doing business to stop, and they don't believe that any other means can be effective.[...]

There is no doubt in my mind that a good number of the people screaming for Assange's head would like the news media either to go away, or to function as a docile servant of the powers that be. Of course a society can exist without watchdog media, and many do. But those are generally awful places to live, except for the people who own them.[...]

Hounding Assange and criminalizing whistleblowers will do far more damage to democracy than a pack of scribes and hackers ever could. You don't need to be a spy to guess that secret. The people screaming for Assange's blood are the architects and allies of disastrous policies that are being rejected even within the government. They are trying to conceal their failure, and Wikileaks is the proof that they failed. It must not be silenced, and journalists should be the first to know it."
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Oliver Broudy, Mother Jones: Has Assange Turned Me Into An Anarchist?

"We usually accept this just as we accept partisan gridlock and corporate lobbying: This is the way the system works. We take it for granted that very little can be done about it. Right up to the moment, that is, when someone plants himself, like the Tianamen Square tank man, squarely before the government juggernaut, and refuses to step aside. Then we're treated to an amazing spectacle: This is what it looks like when power squirms. When the US government warns its employees to steer their eyes away from the WikiLeaks documents even though they're on every front page and news site. When Sweden and Interpol, possibly in response to US pressure, pursue trumped up charges against the WikiLeaks founder. When Mike Huckabee calls for alleged leaker Bradley Manning's execution, Sarah Palin says Assange should be "hunted down," and Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) declares that WikiLeaks should be designated a terrorist organization.[...]

But here's where a final distinction between the anarchist and WikiLeaks revolution reveals itself: Thanks to the internet, where more than 1,200 copies of the WikiLeaks site are currently mirrored, this revolution might actually succeed.

It was precisely this kind of revolution that the internet once promised. In the '90s, we thought it was going to change everything by ushering in a new age of democracy, of equality, of access. Instead, it became just another way to buy shoes. How gratifying, then, to see that promise renewed. And how tempting to finally be able to say: Screw Joe Lieberman."
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Boston Globe editorial: Don't use archaic spy law

"While WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange damaged America’s relations with other countries by releasing some 250,000 diplomatic cables, any attempt to prosecute him under an archaic antispying law would do more harm than good.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this week, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California called for Assange to be “vigorously prosecuted’’ under the Espionage Act of 1917. While Assange has not been accused of breaking into the government’s leaky computer networks to steal the cables, his organization was the conduit in making the documents public.[...]

The law is a relic of World War I anxieties, and its very breadth helps explain why it has been used so rarely. It could all too easily be exploited to trample rights Americans take for granted — especially freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The law is vague enough that it could have been used against the journalists who exposed the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, or similar instances of wrongdoing."
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Ian Welsh: Why Assange and Wikileaks have won this round

"Wikileaks and Assange have now been made in to cause celebres. If corporations and governments can destroy someone’s access to the modern economy as they have Wikileaks, without even pretending due process of the law (Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, etc… were not ordered by any court to cut Wikileaks) then we simply do not live in a free society of law, let alone a society of justice.

Ironically the Wikileaks files reveal that the British fixed their inquiry into the war, and that the US pressured the Spanish government to stop a war crimes court case against ex-members of the Bush administration. Assange and Wikileaks are subject to extreme judicial and extrajudicial sanctions, but people who engaged in aggressive war based on lies, tortured people and are responsible for deaths well into the six figures, walk free.[...]

It has proved that the West is run by authoritarian thugs with completely twisted priorities. Kill hundreds of thousands of people and engage in aggressive war? No big deal. Cause the greatest economic collapse of the post-war period sending millions into poverty? We couldn’t possibly prosecute the people who did that, but we will give them trillions! Reveal our petty secrets and lies, and that we know the war in Afghanistan is lost, have known for years and continue to kill both Afghanis and our own soldiers pointlessly? We WILL destroy you, no matter what we have to do."
Read more

2010-12-09 New WikiLeaks global support rallies announced [Update 2]

New events in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been announced as below. Our current list of events is available here. Note to event organizers: please email us at with updated event information, such as event pages.


Perth: Friday, December 10, 6:00pm
Location: Wesley Church, corner of William & Hay Streets, Perth City
Event page:

Canberra: Thursday, December 16, 5:30pm
Location: Garema Place, Civic
Event page:


New York City, NY: Saturday, December 11 at 12:00 noon
Location: British Consulate-General at 845 Third Ave.

Minneapolis, MN: Monday, December 13, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: Senator Klobuchar's Minneapolis Office, 1200 Washington Ave S., Minneapolis, MN
Event page:


Amsterdam: Saturday, December 11, 2:00pm
Location: De Dam
Event page:


London: Tuesday, December 14, 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, 70 Horseferry Rd, Westminster, London SW1P
Directions: Google maps
Nearby stations: St. James Park, Victoria and Pimlico

2010-12-09 Sweden case updates

Jennifer Robinson, one of Julian Assange's lawyers, was interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now!. Regarding the charges, she clarified that "the first thing to note is that no formal charges have yet been brought" and that the warrant is "in relation to the allegations, not formal charges, and is for the purposes of having him give his interview and answers to the questions of the prosecutor."

She reiterated that Julian Assange had cooperated with the investigation throughout, and that there was absolutely no need for an arrest warrant to be issued for an interview. He had remained in Sweden for more than a month and a half to answer the allegations and police questions, and he left the country with the prosecutor's permission. She added: "Since leaving the country, he has been in touch with her. And indeed, the judge noted yesterday that I had written to the police to notify them here in Britain that we were aware that an arrest warrant may be communicated and that we were willing to cooperate. The judge noted that this was a very positive sign. Julian has, at all stages, cooperated. We have volunteered cooperation to the prosecutor."

Julian Assange and his legal team have not been presented yet with any of the evidence of the allegations against him, she noted, despite the fact that this contravenes the European Convention. "The first document we have received in English, which is her obligation under that convention, with respect to Mr. Assange, was Monday, when we received the arrest warrant, and there was a very short notation of the offenses and the basic facts underlying those offenses. So, as to any earlier correspondence between the complainants and Julian and their motivation for going to the police, we only know what we’ve been able to read in the press, which is a highly unsatisfactory position to be in."

Robinson pointed out that the evidence has been requested, but the prosecution failed to present it, which was also noted by the presiding judge yesterday: "the judge showed great concern for the apparent lack of evidence provided, and indeed he even referred to the weakness of the evidence that underlies this arrest warrant and specifically directed the prosecutor to instruct him on that evidence. So, we are very keen to get to the bottom of this. And we note, too, that demands to the Swedish prosecutor for evidence have been denied. She is out of time on a demand that we put for all of the evidence in this matter, including text messages between the two women after the alleged incidents and before they went to the police. These are critical matters that we need to get to the bottom of, and we are reviewing those and pressing those requests to the prosecutor at present."

You can watch the full interview on the Democracy Now! website.

Mark Stephens was separately interviewed by The Voice of Russia. He mentioned that the next court hearing will be on December 14, but he was not permitted a legal visit until December 13. He explained that the December 14 hearing is not the extradition hearing, but "it’ll be the hearing when the issues are identified and then once they are identified we’ll have an idea of how long the hearing will take place and the date will be scheduled, probably the end of January or the beginning of February."

He also referred to the fact that no evidence has been presented by the prosecutor ("perhaps one would even say ‘persecutor’"), who has been "playing hide-and-seek" since August. He explained that the case had been dropped by the Chief Prosecutor, only to be reinstated after "a politician got involved and he took these women out of Stockholm to Gothenburg and on the same facts started another prosecution with another prosecutor. I know that in most countries that would be an abuse of process. It appears though that in Sweden this is what the Prosecutor is doing."

Stephens also expounded on the various attacks on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, such as "organizations like MasterCard and Visa have shut down their access although it is worth pointing out that these organizations are quite happy to take money from pornographers and racist organizations like the Ku-Klux-Klan and a legal organization like Wikileaks doesn’t seem to be able to garner their attention." He mentioned that it was "really quite unusual" for PostFinance to close Julian Assange's account, and that despite the vaunted Swiss bank secrecy, "for some reason on this occasion they not only froze his account but they also made it public."

"And again you to look and ask yourself why is it that all these things are happening in the week that cables are going ahead. One can therefore conclude that the proceedings are politically motivated," he continued.

You can read the full interview here.

Guy Rundle reports in Crikey that Anna Ardin, one of the complainants, has left Sweden and "may have ceased actively co-operating with the Swedish prosecution service and her own lawyer, sources in Sweden told Crikey today."

He also notes that "One source from Ardin’s old university of Uppsala reported rumours that she had stopped co-operating with the prosecution service several weeks ago, and that this was part of the reason for the long delay in proceeding with charges — and what still appears to be an absence of charges."

Crikey asked Flinders University sex crime law expert Dr Mary Heath to go over the charges, as they were presented at the hearing, and concluded that "Even if the case comes to trial, the prospects of conviction look slim." The lack of evidence and the fact that the Swedish prosecutor has not officially pressed charges "has added to speculation that the Swedish moves, which have coincided with the release of the Cablegate stories, are politically motivated as stalling tactics, allowing Assange to be detained while the US “prepares an extradition/rendition request”, according to Assange’s UK lawyer Mark Stephens."

Informal extradition talks between the US and Sweden had been reported yesterday by The Independent, although Sweden Foreign Minister had denied the report to AFP.

The Guardian spoke with Raj Joshi, an extradition specialist and former head of the European and International Division at the Crown Prosecution Service. He said: "On what we know so far, it is going to be very difficult to extradite. The judge has to be satisfied that the conduct equals an extraditable offence and that there are no legal bars to extradition. Assange's team will argue, how can the conduct equal an extraditable offence if the [Swedish] prosecutor doesn't think there is enough evidence to charge, and still has not charged." Joshi said other bars to extradition would be Assange's rights under the European human rights legislation.

Katrin Axellson of Women Against Rape wrote in a letter to The Guardian that "Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued" for these allegations, considering among others that bail is routinely granted for people officially charged, and his request was denied despite there being no chages pressed. She added that "There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women's safety."

In the meantime, the global WikiLeaks supporter community is quickly mobilizing to protest Julian Assange's arrest, and to affirm support for WikiLeaks in the face of mounting political pressure and threats. Our current list of events comprises no less than 22 rallies in eight countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Canada and Portugal.

2010-12-09 UN, international officials in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern at a press conference today over political pressure aiming to discourage provision of hosting and other services to WikiLeaks.

Ms Pillay said: "I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website."

"This can be interpreted as at attempt to censor the publication of information, and potentially constitutes a violation of WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression," she said, according to Le Monde.

The UN rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said in an interview with that he did not think the US government had grounds to charge Julian Assange or request his extradition. "If there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of the media that publish it," he said. When asked whether he agreed that Assange is "a martyr for free speech," he said "It certainly is (true)."

Mr La Rue said that "in reference to what has been published in WikiLeaks I think there is no criminal responsibility for being the medium." He noted that there are cases that have to be looked at, but "having said that just the fact that the information is embarrassing information to a government does not make it subject to be blocked or filtered or reprisals to the director/founder of the service." He added: "I have made it clear that just the fact that the information is leaked should not be the excuse to pressure any of the enterprises that are serving that information."

(Read the full interview.)

Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday expressed solidarity with Julian Assange, criticising his arrest as a blow against freedom of expression, reports AFP. "Assange has 'exposed a diplomacy that had appeared unreachable,' said Lula, who criticised of a failure of other governments to challenge Assange's detention. 'They have arrested him and I don't hear so much as a single protest for freedom of expression,' he said."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, also on Thursday, that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange showed the West was hypocritical in its criticism of Russia's record on democracy, reports Reuters.

According to a report by The Guardian, Kremlin officials are urging NGOs to nominate Julian Assange for the Nobel Prize: "'Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him,' the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev's office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: 'Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate.'"

2010-12-09 [Reminder] Global WikiLeaks support rallies today

We would like to remind you that a few events are taking place today, Thursday, December 9:


Melbourne: A meeting to discuss Wikileaks' Julian Assange's legal and political position
Speakers: Julian Burnside AO QC, Peter Gordon, John Faine and Professor Spencer Zifcak
Date: Thursday 9 December 2010
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: the Law Institute of Victoria, 470 Bourke St, Melbourne

Brisbane: Rally in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Date and time: Thursday, December 9, 5.30pm
Location: Brisbane Square CBD
Event page:


New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 6:30pm - 0:30am
Location: New York Times Bldg, New York, NY 10018
Event page:

New York, NY: Thursday, December 9, 5:00pm
Location: Federal Building, Broadway between Worth and Duane St, NY, NY
(A, C, E, R, 4, 5, 6 Trains to Chamber and/or Brooklyn Bridge stops)
Event page:
Facebook page:
Organized by: International Action Center, 212-633-6646

Please spread the word and attend if you can! For details on other upcoming global WikiLeaks support events, please click here.

2010-12-10 Libération hosts WikiLeaks mirror: Statement


Prominent French newspaper Libération is now hosting a WikiLeaks mirror at . Please find below a translation of the media group's statement:

"We have chosen to help prevent the asphyxiation of WikiLeaks at a time when governments and companies try to block its operation without even a legal order. Like thousands of other sites, Libé decided to participate in the support movement that is being put into place on the internet, replicating WikiLeaks content fully. These sites, called mirrors, can be hosted by anyone who has server space available. This is what we did, in order to prevent the disappearance from the public record of WikiLeaks documents selected with partner media organizations. We have therefore opened this site:"

2010-12-10 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced [Update 2]

For the complete list of current events, please click here.


Wikileaks National Rally for Transparency

Washington DC, other locations: Saturday, January 15
Location: To be announced
Event page:

Miami FL:: Monday, December 13, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: U.S. Attorney's Office Building, 99 Northeast 4th Street, Miami, FL
Event page:

San Jose, CA: Friday, December 10, 2010, 12pm - 3pm
Location: In front of San Jose City Hall
Event page:

San Jose, CA: Thursday, December 16, all day
Location: San Jose State University


London:, Monday, December 13, 4pm
Location: Swedish Embassy, 11 Montagu Place, London W1H 2AL
Topic: Against extradition to Sweden ( Campaign)
Event page:
Campaign website:


For freedom, say no to state terrorism

Madrid: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada británica en Madrid (British Embassy), Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid
Event page:

A Coruña: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada de Suecia en A Coruña (Swedish Embassy): Sale del Cantón Grande a las 18.00 en el Obelisco hacía la Avenida de Linares Rivas 18-21, A Coruña, Spain
Event page:

Barcelona: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Consulado General Británico en Barcelona (British General Consulate), Edificio Torre de Barcelona, Avenida Diagonal, 477, 13º, 08036 Barcelona
Event page:

Sevilla: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, Plaza Nueva 1, Sevilla, Spain
Event page:

Valencia: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Consulado de Suecia en Valencia (Swedish consulate), Plaza Porta de la Mar 4, pta 8, Valencia, Spain
Event page:

Zaragoza: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Diputación de Zaragoza, Plaza de España 2, Zaragoza, Spain
Event page:


Buenos Aires: Saturday, December 11, 1pm
Location: Embajada Británica en Argentina (British Embassy), Dr. Luis Agote 2412, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Event page:


Lima: Saturday, December 11, 1pm
Location: Embajada Británica en Perú (British Embassy), Torre Parque Mar piso 22, Lima, Perú
Event page:


Melbourne: Monday, December 20, 7.00 p.m.
Location: Conference Room, Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne
Getting there: Melway Reference: 2B A9
Organizer: SEP Australia public meetings
Tickets: $4/$2 concession
Event page:

Sydney: Tuesday, December 21, 7.00 p.m.
Location: Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills
Getting there: Close to Central Station
Tickets: $4/$2 concession
Event page:


Ciudad de México: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada Británica en Mexico (British Embassy): Río Lerma 71 (esquina con Rio Sena), Del. Cuauhtemoc, Mexico DF.
Event page:


São Paulo: Saturday, December 11, 11am
Location: Consulado Geral Britânico (British Consulate), Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 741 – Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brasil
Event page:


Amsterdam: Location for December 11 rally has been changed from De Dam to Museum Square.

2010-12-10 SVT: WikiRebels - The Documentary

SVT documentary

SVT, Sweden's national television broadcaster, has made available an "exclusive rough-cut" of its one-hour, in-depth documentary on WikiLeaks. The video, in its current format, will be available on the SVT Play website until Monday, December 13.

From the description:

"From summer 2010 until now, SVT has been following the secretive media organization WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist have traveled to key countries where WikiLeaks operates, interviewing top members, such as Assange, new Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, as well as people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg who now is starting his own version -"

The documentary also includes interviews with Ian Overton from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, James Ball of TBIJ and WikiLeaks, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, former WikiLeaks collaborators Herbert Snorrason and Smári McCarthy, and PRQ CEO Mikael Viborg.

The documentary looks at WikiLeaks' philosophy and operations, some of its famous disclosures including the Kenya report, the Guantanamo manuals, Kaupthing, Trafigura, the Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, the US administration's reactions, and the lead-up to the Cablegate release.

2010-12-10 WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act, part 2 [Update 1]

(Part one of this series is available here. Please also see WikiLeaks v. United States: The Pentagon Papers redux?)

Today, Jennifer Robinson, one of the lawyers for Julian Assange, told The Guardian that the US government may be about to press charges against Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. She said that the legal team had heard from "several different US lawyers rumours that an indictment was on its way or had happened already, but we don't know". Ms Robinson told ABC News that "Our position of course is that we don't believe it (the Espionage Act) applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he's entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S."

Rumours about the possibility of Julian Assange having been indicted by a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret, have been circulating for a while. The Christian Science Monitor had a few days ago quoted Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University, who said that an empaneled grand jury could have already been considering the case. "We wouldn’t know what they’re doing until the whole thing is concluded," he said. The Monitor also quoted CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin, who said "I would not be at all surprised if there was a sealed arrest warrant currently in existence."

Prominent civil rights attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, who worked on the Pentagon Papers case, also raised the possibility in an interview with NECN, while also pointing out that prosecution would be extremely difficult, and for many reasons not in the interest of the United States government.

As we previously covered, the legal consensus appears to be that a prosecution under the Espionage Act would be both difficult and dangerous for the United States, notably with regards to First Amendment protections (also see: EFF, ACLU.)

The US Congressional Research Service published on December 6 a report titled "Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information":

"This report identifies some criminal statutes that may apply, but notes that these have been used almost exclusively to prosecute individuals with access to classified information (and a corresponding obligation to protect it) who make it available to foreign agents, or to foreign agents who obtain classified information unlawfully while present in the United States. Leaks of classified information to the press have only rarely been punished as crimes, and we are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it. There may be First Amendment implications that would make such a prosecution difficult, not to mention political ramifications based on concerns about government censorship. To the extent that the investigation implicates any foreign nationals whose conduct occurred entirely overseas, any resulting prosecution may carry foreign policy implications related to the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction and whether suspected persons may be extradited to the United States under applicable treaty provisions." (emphasis ours)

The report's conclusion states: "Thus, although unlawful acquisition of information might be subject to criminal prosecution with few First Amendment implications, the publication of that information remains protected."

Various US government officials have recently been attempting to make the case that WikiLeaks is not a media organization, and that Julian Assange is not a journalist. It needs to be pointed out that Julian Assange is a member of the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which has issued a statement of support. Also, as many journalists and legal experts have made the case, WikiLeaks, as a publisher, is, in fact, a media organization (e.g., Mathew Ingram: Like it or not, WikiLeaks is a media entity. Please also see our archives for the ten-part "Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks" coverage series and statements from various media organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontières).

Celebrated Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed earlier today on Democracy Now! about WikiLeaks, the possible use of the Espionage Act, and calls for prosecution and extra-judicial action against Julian Assange. "If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and calls would be made about me," Mr Ellsberg said. "I would be called not only a traitor — which I was then, which was false and slanderous — but I would called a terrorist.[...] Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are no more of a terrorist than I am, and I am not."

Mr Ellsberg noted that "We have an act of free speech, of free press, of informing the public, an act in search of a crime, in search of a law that would call it criminal. No one had ever been prosecuted for what I had done then, revealing top secrets. There had been many leaks in the past, then as now, and no one had ever been prosecuted. I was the first. The act they found was the Espionage Act, which was passed in 1917, was never intended to work as an Official Secrets Act, as in England, which would criminalize any release of classified information. But they tried it on me."

He continued: "Well, in this case, as in the Pentagon Papers, I do give the New York Times credit for working with these materials and presenting material to their readers. And in fact, there really—if they find a crime, or if they invent a crime or pass a crime—criminal law that would cover WikiLeaks, it will cover the New York Times, and you, Democracy Now!, and anyone who presents news that in part reflects leaks, unauthorized disclosures from within the government. Actually, the wording of the Espionage Act, which, as I say, was not intended for this purpose, but the wording of it is so broad that it applies to readers of this classified information.[...] We’re in an absurd position here with a close down of public discussion of official matters, very similar to that of China. In fact, I even wonder whether there’s a rule that absurd in China. And that’s the kind of information system, I think, that our leaders aspire to, and have for a long time."
(Watch the video.)

Former federal prosecutor Baruch Weiss wrote an analysis for The Washington Post, titled Prosecuting WikiLeaks? Good luck. He makes his argument in four points:

1. There is no general law making disclosure of classified information a crime.
"What law did Assange violate? It will surprise many that there is no statute making it illegal to reveal classified information. There are statutes that criminalize the disclosure of very specific types of classified information, such as the identity of a covert operative (think Valerie Plame) or 'codes, ciphers or cryptographic systems.' But there is no catch-all law that simply says, 'Thou shalt not disclose classified information.'"

Mr Weiss also argues that Julian Assange "can make the department's case especially difficult" because of the correspondence he initiated with the State Department regarding document redactions, before the documents were made public, and the State Department's reply.

2. The First Amendment still matters.
"The First Amendment, of course, protects both freedom of the press (yes, WikiLeaks is the press) and freedom of expression. That is one reason Holder is not investigating this newspaper or the New York Times, even though both are publishing extensive details from the cables: It is the Justice Department's practice to refrain from bringing leak indictments against traditional media outlets.

Holder may feel emboldened to move against WikiLeaks because it does not have the look or feel of traditional news media. Still, Assange can rely on the courts to be vigilant in protecting his First Amendment rights and affording him the same protection that traditional media enjoy."

3. More secrets would have to be disclosed at trial.
"It is very difficult to prosecute a leak without disclosing additional classified information in the process. After all, how does the government convince a jury that releasing a cable's contents damaged national security?"

4. The damage is hard to assess.
"In a prosecution of Assange, his defense would argue vigorously that prior assessments of harm due to leaks have proven over time to be wrong." Mr Weiss goes on to quote Defence Secretary Gates on the Cablegate impact: "Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest."

He concludes: "If Assange is ultimately charged with disclosing information that is potentially damaging to national security, Eric Holder now knows who Assange will call as his first witness: the secretary of defense."
(Read the full article.)

2010-12-10 WikiLeaks support rally in Sydney this Friday [Update 1]


Support WikiLeaks rally called

Supporters of the website Wikileaks will mobilise on Friday (10/12/10) to protest against the backlash it has faced for its release of more than 250,000 US government cables.

The protest will hear from independent journalist Antony Loewenstein, award-winning author of My Israel Question. Pirate Party spokesperson Simon Frew will also speak. Other speakers will be announced soon.

The rally date coincides with International Human Rights Day. Rally organisers say the Australian government has failed to uphold the human rights of Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.

“The Australian government should be ashamed for its attacks on Wikileaks, which has been charged with no crime”, spokesperson Simon Butler said.

“Australia should not join the campaign to censor Wikileaks. Wikileaks has released evidence of government lies and duplicity — information that, as citizens, we have a right to know.

“We want the Gillard government to make sure Julian Assange has the same basic rights as every other Australian citizen. Threats have been made against Assange’s life, the Australian government has a duty to protect him, not threaten him.”

Butler said community support for Wikileaks was very high. “We expect a good turnout to the rally. There is a great deal of anger at what’s happening. The bid to silence Wikileaks threatens the rights of everyone.”

The rally will take place at Sydney Town Hall @ 1pm, Friday December 10.

Rally information: [contact details redacted on request]

Media contact: Simon Butler 0421 231 011

(via @antloewenstein)

Update: Our editor, Wolf, will speak at the rally on behalf of WL Central. Please join us at this event in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Show the world that we will not be silenced.

The Facebook group for the rally is available at:

Spread the word, and meet us there!

2010-12-11 Des activistes Québécois prennent la défense de WikiLeaks (et Assange)

Le Devoir

Cyberguerre au nom de la liberté d'expression. Près de 200 activistes québécois auraient pris part dans les derniers jours aux attaques informatiques lancées contre les détracteurs du site de coulage d'information WikiLeaks et son créateur, Julian Assange. C'est du moins ce qu'a indiqué hier au Devoir un de ces pirates informatiques engagés, membre d'un groupe international baptisé Anonymous.

2010-12-11 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced

Further rallies in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will take place in The Hague, next Saturday, and Melbourne on Tuesday:


Den Haag: Saturday, December 18, 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Binnenhof
Event page:


Melbourne: Tuesday, December 14, 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Location: State Library
Event page:

Please be reminded that there are upcoming rallies scheduled as follows:

December 11 (Sat): London, Hamburg, Lisbon, New York, Amsterdam, Madrid, A Coruña, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Zaragoza, Buenos Aires, Lima, Ciudad de México, São Paulo

December 12 (Sun): Adelaide, Montreal

December 13 (Mon): London, Minneapolis, Miami

December 14 (Tue): London, Melbourne

December 16 (Thu): Washington, Canberra, San Jose

December 18 (Sat): The Hague, Olympia

Please see the events list for further dates and rally details.

2010-12-11 Personal Democracy Forum: A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom


Personal Democracy Forum presents:

A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom

Saturday, December 11, from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM (ET), New York City

  • In the digital age, should all information be free?
  • Does good government require secrecy, or more openness?
  • Can we trust private internet service providers to defend free speech?
  • Is Wikileaks a terrorist organization, or the beginning of a new kind of transnational investigative journalism?

Join us to explore these questions with:

Emily Bell, Director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School
Esther Dyson, EDventure
Allison Fine, Co-author, The Networked Nonprofit
Charles Ferguson, Director, Inside Job and No End in Sight
Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post
Jeff Jarvis, Professor, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
Andrew Keen, Author of the forthcoming book, Digital Vertigo: An Anti-Social Manifesto
Gideon Lichfield, Deputy digital editor, The Economist
Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior fellow, New America Foundation and author of the forthcoming book, Consent of the Networked
Mark Pesce, Author and futurist
Andrew Rasiej, Co-founder, Personal Democracy Forum
Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism School and
Jack Rosenthal, Senior fellow, Atlantic Philanthropies
Carne Ross, Director, Independent Diplomat and former UK Diplomat
Douglas Rushkoff, Author, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
Micah L. Sifry, Co-founder, Personal Democracy Forum
Katrin Verclas, Principal, New Rights Group
Tom Watson, Author, CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World
Dave Winer, Editor, Scripting News and Visiting Scholar, NYU
and more...

Space is limited. Tickets will not be available at the door.
Event hashtag: #pdfleaks
Press inquiries only: Contact Justin Kazmark (, 646-483-3700)

Saturday, December 11, 10am-2pm*
Riverpark: A Tom Colicchio Restaurant
450 East 29th Street (east of 1st Ave just before the FDR & East River)
New York, NY 10016

Event tickets: Eventbrite

*Please note, breakfast and lunch will not be served, but coffee and light refreshments will be available.

2010-12-11 Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane rally reports


Yesterday's Australian rallies saw thousands of people take to the streets in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Some 1,500 participants attended the Sydney rally at Town Hall. "Julian Assange is an Australian. That makes me and I'm sure it makes you feel very proud," Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon told the crowd, to loud cheers. Independent journalist Antony Loewenstein also addressed the rally, noting that it was necessary "to say to the Australian government, the Gillard Government ... (their) behaviour in the last two weeks has been utterly outrageous, outrageous," reported Al Jazeera.

Our WLCentral editor Asher Wolf also addressed the rally: "Wikileaks is an important public institution. Without transparency there can be no accountability and without accountability there can be no democracy," she said, quoted by IT News Simon Skew, Pirate Party spokesman, said whistleblowers were essential to democracy: "Public disclosure is in the public interest and it's completely legitimate," reports SBS.

Channel 10 has a video report from the Sydney rally. The Age has another video available online.

Our editor JLo has a photo gallery from the Sydney rally: ZDNet gallery:

In Melbourne, criminal lawyer Rob Stary told the audience that the Australian government was a "sycophant" of the US. Mr Stary told the rally of hundreds of people outside the Victorian state library that the treatment of Mr Assange was proof of the "subservience of the government in bowing to the US," reports Nine MSN. He added that "What we need to do is continue to agitate publicly, we need to agitate with our so-called political representatives, to expose the sham of all this, to support WikiLeaks, to support Julian Assange, to show greater transparency and greater accountability," as quoted by ABC.

The crowd chanted "shame" and cheered another lawyer and Greens politician Brian Walters SC, who urged the government to uphold the rule of law and freedom of speech.

In Brisbane, at the second WikiLeaks rally in two days, lawyer Peter Russo told the rally that it was important to understand that the real issue at stake in the WikiLeaks case was freedom. "It's not only the freedom of the individual, it's the freedom of all of us," he said, as quoted by The Australian. Greens candidate Andrew Bartlett said: "We do not accept and we do not support governments using their power to persecute individuals, using corporate power, abusing and misusing the law, calling publicly for individuals who've not even been accused of any crime to be assassinated, to be called a terrorist," reports ABC..

Messages from London-based Australian journalist John Pilger and US dissident academic Noam Chomsky were also read at the event. Professor Chomsky said that Julian Assange was performing a civic duty. "Systems of power wish to protect themselves from citizens, while at the same time sparing no effort to intrude into private lives so as to better establish their control," the letter said, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

After a series of speeches outside the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the protesters marched through central Brisbane.

Further rallies and protests are scheduled worldwide in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Please see our current event list, spread the work and participate if you can!

(Photo credit: Luke Hopewell,

2010-12-11 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Der Spiegel: Copenhagen Climate Cables: The US and China Joined Forces Against Europe

"Last year's climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world's top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement.[...]

The cooperation began under the last US president, George W. Bush. In 2007 Bush's senior climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, organized a 10-year framework agreement with China on cooperation on energy and the environment. The two countries also agreed to hold a "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" -- backroom talks that neither the Americans nor the Chinese were willing to admit to at first.

Bush's successor, President Barack Obama, and the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, continued this dialogue. During Clinton's inaugural visit to China, Beijing agreed to the formation of a "new partnership on energy and climate change," according to a US embassy dispatch dated May 15, 2009. Here too the aim was to ensure the outcome of the climate talks in Copenhagen would be favorable to Washington and Beijing."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

"The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating the clerical abuse of children and was angered when they were summoned from Rome, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks reveal.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy "offended many in the Vatican" who felt that the Irish government had "failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations", a cable says."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU

"The pope is responsible for the Vatican's growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU, previously secret cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome claim.

In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, spoke out against letting a Muslim state join, although at the time the Vatican was formally neutral on the question.

The Vatican's acting foreign minister, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, responded by telling US diplomats that Ratzinger's comments were his own rather than the official Vatican position.

The cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Ratzinger was the leading voice behind the Holy See's unsuccessful drive to secure a reference to Europe's 'Christian roots' in the EU constitution. The US diplomat noted that Ratzinger 'clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe's Christian foundations'."
Read more

Le Monde: Wikileaks : les Américains se demandent où se trouve le cœur du pouvoir en Algérie (Americans ask who holds real power in Algeria)

"Qui détient le pouvoir en Algérie? Les militaires ou les civils? Une poignée de généraux qui ont la haute main sur l'armée et les services de renseignements ou le président de la République élu au suffrage universel, Abdelaziz Bouteflika?

La question continue à diviser les chancelleries étrangères tant le cœur du pouvoir à Alger est impénétrable depuis des décennies. Pour le chef de l'Etat algérien, la réponse est évidente : l'armée algérienne respecte "absolument" l'autorité d'un président qui est un civil et non un militaire. "Ça n'est pas du tout comme en Turquie", assure-t-il lors de sa première entrevue avec le général William Ward, le chef de l'Africom, la structure de commandement américaine pour l'Afrique, en novembre 2009."
Read more

The New York Times: China Resisted U.S. Pressure on Rights of Nobel Winner

"It was just before Christmas 2009, and Ding Xiaowen was not happy. The United States ambassador had just written China’s foreign minister expressing concern for Liu Xiaobo, the Beijing intellectual imprisoned a year earlier for drafting a pro-democracy manifesto. Now Mr. Ding, a deputy in the ministry’s American section, was reading the riot act to an American attaché.

Mr. Ding said he would try to avoid “becoming emotional,” according to a readout on the meeting that was among thousands of leaked State Department cables released this month. Then he said that a “strongly dissatisfied” China firmly opposed the views of the American ambassador, Jon Huntsman, and that Washington must “cease using human rights as an excuse to ‘meddle’ in China’s internal affairs.”"
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout'

"The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996."
Read more

Der Spiegel: 'No and No Again': The Rocky US Relationship with Little Austria

"Austria may be small, but according to US Embassy dispatches from Vienna, the country causes big headaches in Washington. Not only are Austrian leaders seen as disconnected from international affairs, the country's neutrality means it is willing to do business with America's enemies.

The tone used by the US envoys in their reports to Washington ranges from resigned to openly hostile. Is it possible, they ask in bewilderment, for a tiny Alpine republic only half the size of the US state of Washington to ignore the primary objectives of American foreign policy? It would seem that it is."
Read more

El Pais: EE UU considera Cataluña el "mayor centro mediterráneo del yihadismo" (The US considers Catalonia the "biggest mediterranean center for jihadism")

"La Embajada de EE UU en Madrid cree que Cataluña es el punto más caliente del islamismo radical en España , un escenario que debe vigilar y controlar como puente hacia el Mediterráneo. La fuerte implantación de la comunidad paquistaní y marroquí en Barcelona y la efervescente actividad de islamistas en localidades como Tarragona, Hospitalet, Badalona y Reus preocupan a los servicios de inteligencia estadounidenses que han convertido a esa comunidad en su primer objetivo de investigación. Los documentos secretos del departamento de Estado definen Cataluña como el principal centro mediterráneo de los islamistas."
Read more

Le Monde: Guinée : Comment France et Etats-Unis ont écarté le chef de la junte (Guinea: How France and the US neutralized the chief of the junta)

"L'occasion était trop belle pour neutraliser un chef de l'Etat devenu très embarrassant. Français et Américains cherchaient à écarter le capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara depuis le massacre par des militaires de la garde présidentielle d'au moins 156 opposants à Conakry, en Guinée, le 28 septembre 2009.

Les événements du 3 décembre vont forcer le destin. Ce jour-là, le chef de la junte militaire au pouvoir depuis moins d'un an est victime d'une tentative d'assassinat. Grièvement blessé à la tête, le chef de la junte est envoyé d'urgence vers le Maroc pour y être hospitalisé. Dans la foulée, un diplomate américain en poste à Ouagadougou écrit : "La communauté internationale est d'une façon générale sur la même position. L'absence de Dadis a ouvert une fenêtre d'opportunité pour faciliter une transition démocratique."

"Bien qu'il ait été chassé de la scène violemment plutôt que par des moyens constitutionnels, il serait mieux pour la Guinée qu'il ne rentre pas dans son pays", ajoute l'ambassadrice américaine en poste à Conakry, Patricia Moller, dans un des télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Former Croatia PM flees over corruption claims

"The former prime minister who dominated Croatian politics for most of the past decade fled the country today as state prosecutors moved to have him arrested in connection with a major sleaze investigation.

According to cables from the US Zagreb embassy released by WikiLeaks, Ivo Sanader, the centre-right politician who stood down suddenly as prime minister in summer last year, features in several of the corruption cases currently terrorising the Croatian political class.

The country's chief prosecutor told US diplomats in Zagreb this year he had evidence that Sanader had arranged a bank loan for a business crony in return for a kickback."
Read more

Der Spiegel: The Nigeria Report: A Cesspool of Corruption and Crime in the Niger Delta

"The leaked US diplomatic cables reveal just what multinational oil companies are up against in the Niger Delta. Security forces are ineffective and involved in dubious oil deals. The government demands millions in bribes. Even university students have earned pocket money by working as kidnappers.

Bombs used against civilians; millions paid to corrupt officials; and a kidnapping industry that employs students during university vacations: The US diplomatic cables from the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos paint an unusually bleak picture of the situation in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Hardly any of the international oil companies active in the delta publishes production figures, kidnappings and hostage-taking are a daily occurence and the civilian population is suffering -- not least because they too are occasionally targets of the Nigerian Army's special forces."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Serbia suspects Russian help for fugitive Ratko Mladić

"Russia may be withholding vital information about the whereabouts of the fugitive Bosnian Serb general and genocide suspect, Ratko Mladić, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague, senior Serbian government officials have privately told American diplomats in Belgrade.

In discussions detailed in a diplomatic cable marked "secret" and sent to Washington by US chargée d'affaires Jennifer Brush in September 2009, Miki [Miodrag] Rakić, chief of staff to the Serbian president, Boris Tadić, tells Brush it remains likely Mladić is hiding somewhere in Serbia.

But Rakić also suggests the fugitive is being assisted by "foreign sources" and hints darkly that Moscow may have better information about Mladić's exact situation than does the Serbian government."
Read more

El Pais: Palomares: 50.000 metros contaminados con plutonio (50,000 sq.meters contaminated with plutonium)

"España y Estados Unidos tienen un problema enquistado desde 1966: el accidente nuclear en Palomares, en el que cuatro bombas atómicas cayeron en la pedanía almeriense. España decidió en 2004 descontaminar la zona e insiste en que EE UU pague parte de la limpieza y se lleve la tierra contaminada con plutonio. Así se lo transmitió el 14 de diciembre de 2009 el entonces ministro de Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, a la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, en Washington. Moratinos reclamó, según un cable confidencial, que Clinton hiciera lo posible "para ayudar desde el punto de vista de la opinión pública española, de la que temió que se volviera en contra de EE UU si se divulgaran los resultados de un reciente estudio sobre la contaminación". Clinton no contestó. El estudio, a cuyas conclusiones ha tenido acceso EL PAÍS pero que no ha sido hecho público, concluye que en Palomares queda medio kilo de plutonio que ha contaminado unos 50.000 metros cúbicos de tierra -el volumen de 27 piscinas olímpicas-."
Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables cast Hosni Mubarak as Egypt's ruler for life

"Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's long-serving president, is likely to seek re-election next year and will "inevitably" win a poll that will not be free and fair, the US ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, predicted in a secret cable to Hillary Clinton last year.

Scobey discussed Mubarak's quasi-dictatorial leadership style since he took power in 1981; his critical views of George Bush and American policy in the Middle East; and the highly uncertain prospects for a succession."
Read more

2010-12-11 [Reminder] Personal Democracy Forum: WikiLeaks symposium today


As previously announced, the Personal Democracy Forum will be hosting an event titled "A Symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet Freedom" today from 10am - 2pm ET in New York City.

You can tune in live to the event via

The discussion will feature Emily Bell, Esther Dyson, Charles Ferguson, Jeff Jarvis, Arianna Huffington, Gideon Lichfield Rebecca McKinnon, Marc Pesce, Jay Rosen, Carne Ross, Micah L Sifry, Dave Winer and more.

2010-12-12 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks part 11

The Washington Post editorial: Don't charge WikiLeaks

"Such prosecutions are a bad idea. The government has no business indicting someone who is not a spy and who is not legally bound to keep its secrets. Doing so would criminalize the exchange of information and put at risk responsible media organizations that vet and verify material and take seriously the protection of sources and methods when lives or national security are endangered. The Espionage Act is easily abused, as shown by a criminal case that dragged on for years, before being closed last year, of two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who did nothing more than pass along to colleagues and a reporter information they gleaned from conversations with U.S. officials. The act should be scrapped or tightened, not given new and dangerous life."
Read more

Sydney Morning Herald editorial: Julian Assange and the public's right to know

"Men such as Ellsberg and Assange, who are prepared to face the consequences of revealing information authorities would prefer to hide, help keep our system of government healthy and strong. Unfortunately, those in power tend to take a different view. The 250,000 confidential American diplomatic cables are the latest documents published by WikiLeaks. Previous documents on WikiLeaks have exposed how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been fought. These leaks have been embarrassing to the governments involved - particularly the US government.[...]

WikiLeaks, acting with newspapers around the world including The Age and The Sunday Age, is publishing information that makes governments uncomfortable. This action affirms the role of the media, which have a duty to expose the secret machinations of those who wield power. In the US, the chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, Joe Lieberman, has suggested that because it published some of the leaked information The New York Times might be subject to criminal investigation. This would breach the First Amendment protecting freedom of the press.

The Australian government's condemnation of WikiLeaks is also deeply troubling. Attempts to silence Mr Assange and those who work with him threaten the free flow of information that makes democracy possible. Such attempts are dangerous and must be resisted."
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The Nation editorial: First, They Came for WikiLeaks. Then...

"As a magazine that champions free speech, The Nation defends the rights of leakers and media organizations to disclose secrets that advance a public interest without fear of retribution — or murder. If the Justice Department goes after Assange as an enemy of the state, what's next? The arrest of the editors of the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País, the news outlets that collaborated with WikiLeaks?

By and large WikiLeaks has come to embrace the ethics that guide traditional news organizations' disclosure of secrets, and it should be afforded the same protections.[...]

What's really at stake here is not individual privacy, the safety of sources or America's diplomatic leverage — it's the secret state. Over the past decade, our leaders have come to see secrecy as a casual right instead of a rare privilege. The cables released so far illustrate this corruption: routine, even banal, matters of diplomatic correspondence are labeled "NOFORN" (not for release to foreign nationals), "Confidential" or "Secret."

Beyond revealing the unprecedented scale of secrecy, WikiLeaks has also brought to light the antidemocratic actions secrecy protects. In Yemen, for example, the United States conducted secret airstrikes on suspected Al Qaeda targets, then conspired with Yemeni leaders to pretend that Yemen's military had done it (see Jeremy Scahill, "WikiLeaking Covert Wars," in this issue). Here is an instance where America's standing in the world was put at risk. But it's not WikiLeaks that did it. It's the policy of covert action and the lies told to cover it up."
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Javier Moreno, editor-in-chief, País: WikiLeaks cables had a huge impact in Spain

"The impact within Spain and in Latin America has been huge. This has been especially so in Spain, because of our four-part series on the national court, looking at some high-profile cases in which the US embassy in Madrid has tried to influence judges, the government, and prosecutors in cases involving US citizens. One involved a detainee in Guantánamo, another covered secret rendition flights in Spain, and another was about the murder of a Spanish journalist by US fire in Baghdad.

The last was the most complicated because the cables revealed the double speak of government and prosecutors. Our stories showed that they told US diplomats they would try to hinder or even close down the case while telling the family of the dead journalist that they would do everything they could to advance it. This has been difficult for the Socialist government to explain.[...]

All in all, it's been the biggest story I've had in my five years as editor of El País, without any doubt. And measured by its international impact, it's probably the biggest story this newspaper has ever been involved with."
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Henry Porter, The Observer: WikiLeaks may make the powerful howl, but we are learning the truth

"I have lost count of the politicians and opinion formers of an authoritarian bent warning of the dreadful damage done by the WikiLeaks dump of diplomatic cables, and in the very next breath dismissing the content as frivolous tittle-tattle. To seek simultaneous advantage from opposing arguments is not a new gambit, but to be wrong in both is quite an achievement.

Publication of the cables has caused no loss of life; troops are not being mobilised; and the only real diplomatic crisis is merely one of discomfort. The idea that the past two weeks have been a disaster is self-evidently preposterous. Yet the leaks are of unprecedented importance because, at a stroke, they have enlightened the masses about what is being done in their name and have shown the corruption, incompetence – and sometimes wisdom – of our politicians, corporations and diplomats. More significantly, we have been given a snapshot of the world as it is, rather than the edited account agreed upon by diverse elites, whose only common interest is the maintenance of their power and our ignorance."
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Suelette Dreyfus, Sydney Morning Herald: The geek who shook the world

"If you want to improve the lot of the poorest, most oppressed people in the world, you can go to a destitute, corrupt African country and work in a community-aid program. It is a noble and self-sacrificing choice. But it only saves one village. Therefore, although it works towards greater justice (in this case economic justice) it is not optimal. A computer geek would consider it sub-optimal. To be optimal, it must be on a much larger scale. Larger than one village, larger than one country, even than one continent. The only way to do that is to use information which can be replicated endlessly – and cheaply – to promote change for the better. But it must be good information, not trashy information or PR spin. It must be the kind of information that plucks at those little threads of curiousity we all have in one measure or another.

It must be the kind of information news media organisations would publish for their readers.[...]

In person, Assange is remarkably calm. He is sometimes dedicated to the cause of free speech in a pointed way that that affronts Americans, which is surprising, really, given their dedication to the right of free speech.

What matters is that WikiLeaks is changing the balance of power between average citizens and their governments like nothing else has this century. For the past decade the pendulum has swung towards government. WikiLeaks is pulling the pendulum back towards towards the citizens."
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Manuel Castells, La Vanguardia: The WikiLeaks cyberwar

"As documented in my book 'Communication and Power,' power resides in the control of communication. The hysterical reaction of the U.S. and other governments against Wikileaks confirms it. We are entering a new phase of political communication. Not so much because it reveals secrets or gossip, but because it is broadcast on a channel that is beyond the reach of the power controls.[...]

Security is not at stake for the states (nothing in the revelations endangers world peace). At issue is the right of citizens to know what their leaders do and think. And the freedom of information in the new conditions of the Internet era. As Hillary Clinton said in her statement of January 2010: "The Internet infrastructure is iconic of our time ... As in the dictatorships of the past, some governments aim against independent thinkers who use these tools. " Do you apply that reflection to yourself, now?

Because the key issue is that governments can spy, legally or illegally, on their citizens. But citizens are not entitled to information about those acting on its behalf except in the censored version that governments provide. In this great debate are going to take sides the self-proclaimed free communication platforms of internet companies and traditional media so jealous of their freedom. Cyberwar has started. Not a cyberwar between states as expected, but between states and the internet civil society. Governments may never again be confident that they can keep their citizens in ignorance of their dealings. Because as long as there are people willing to provide leaks and an internet populated by wikis, new generations of Wikileaks will emerge."
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Jemima Khan, The Guardian: Why did I back Julian Assange? It's about justice and fairness

"I was there because I believe that this is about censorship and intimidation. The timing of these rehashed allegations is highly suspicious, coinciding with the recent WikiLeaks revelations and reinvigorated by a rightwing Swedish politician. There are credible rumours that this is a holding charge while an indictment is being sought in secret for his arrest and extradition to the US. An accusation of rape is the ultimate gag. Until proved otherwise, Assange has done nothing illegal, yet he is behind bars.

There is a fundamental injustice here. There are calls for the punishment (execution even) of the man who has reported war crimes, but not for those that perpetrated or sanctioned them.[...]

If WikiLeaks is a terrorist organisation, as New York congressman Pete King stated, and if its founder, Julian Assange, is prosecuted for espionage, the future of investigative journalism everywhere is in jeopardy, as is our right as citizens to be told the truth."
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Míriam Leitão, O Globo: The Sphinx

"Everything is intense in relation to Wikileaks. There are many questions, some still unanswered. But the answers will come. WikiLeaks is a form of journalism, has subsidized the press with documents that can not fail to be published, and in this respect, also became a source.[...] But that does not replace not relieve the press of its responsibility.[...]

What is scary about the Wikileaks case are the threats made by the US government, which has always prided itself on its First Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing the right to information, and the mobilization of the apparatus that formed to prosecute Julian Assange. The pretext seems to be sexual allegations. And a pretext it is."
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Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy: Should Bob Woodward be arrested?

"I keep thinking about the Wikileaks affair, and I keep seeing the double-standards multiplying. Given how frequently government officials leak classified information in order to make themselves look good, box in their bureaucratic rivals, or tie the President's hands, it seems a little disingenuous of them to be so upset by Assange's activities.[...]

And I suspect it mostly comes down to this. Elites like the idea of being in charge, and they don't really trust "the people" in whose name they govern, even though it is the latter that pays their salaries, and fights their wars.[...] Their view of the public's right to information is akin to the view expressed by Col. Nathan Jessep (memorably played by Jack Nicholson) in the film A Few Good Men. When defense attorney Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) says "I want the truth!," Jessep retorts: "You can't handle the truth!" Unless, of course, it is filtered by establishment journalists like Woodward, and not by some unsympathetic upstart like Assange."
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Scott Horton, Harper's: Knowing a terrorist when you see one

"The Secretary of State does not have carte blanche in this process. To qualify as an FTO, an organization must have been engaged in “terrorist activity” or “terrorism,” which are defined to include multiple acts of violence threatening U.S. persons or the national security of the United States. An organization cannot plausibly qualify as a “terrorist organization” simply by publishing documents that embarrass the government or particular politicians.

Pete King’s idea, though, is hardly original. Over the last decade the world has witnessed an explosion of cases in which the term “terrorist” has been applied to domestic political adversaries, journalists, lawyers, and others who present governments and hyperventilating politicians with unpleasant facts.[...]

A government’s determination that its critics or political adversaries are “terrorists” must be subject to review by courts on the facts involving objective criteria. And the media and the public must be on the guard against political rhetoric that seeks to turn the concept of “terrorist organization” into a weapon against democracy itself."
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Medb Ruane, The Irish Independent: Where's the democracy in hunting Wikileaks off the Net?

"In January, Hillary Clinton celebrated the power of new technologies to challenge tyrants. Speaking soon after China's alleged cyber attack on Google, the US Secretary of State championed the internet as "the iconic infrastructure of our age" and warned about attempts to target "independent thinkers who use these tools".[...]

Clinton had clearly intended her remarks about targeting independent thinkers to be heard by repressive regimes outside the United States. Sadly, her own administration risks being counted as an offender.[...]

Hunting Assange off the Net serves no one except opponents of democracy. I don't know what precise balance can be struck between greater accountability and securing legitimate interests, between respecting classified sources and honouring freedom of expression. But there's something craven in the way online servers have capitulated to who-knows-what pressure behind the scenes.

Should there be a global convention? Who would negotiate it, if stakeholders got together? Silencing WikiLeaks and its tools forever would cripple this 'iconic infrastructure' at the ankles, something like those flat-earth proponents who tried to stop sailors crossing the Atlantic because they believed there was nothing on the other side. A brave new world will be lost if boundaries aren't set."
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2010-12-12 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks part 12

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism,WikiLeaks prosecution ‘will set a dangerous precedent’

"But while we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks’ methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Any prosecution of Wikileaks’ staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity.

The U.S. and the First Amendment continue to set a world standard for freedom of the press, encouraging journalists in many nations to take significant risks on behalf of transparency. Prosecution in the Wikileaks case would greatly damage American standing in free-press debates worldwide and would dishearten those journalists looking to this nation for inspiration.

We urge you to pursue a course of prudent restraint in the Wikileaks matter."
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WikiLeaks and the public interest?

But the question that has been overlooked in all of this is: just how valuable is the information revealed for leading members of civil society - public interest lawyers, human rights investigators, foreign policy analysts and critics? And has WikiLeaks helped or hindered their cause?

Al Jazeera put these questions to members of civil society in the US and beyond.

Legal experts and litigators have described the information revealed by WikiLeaks as "extraordinarily useful" in terms of providing evidence for legal pursuits and government accountability. Human rights analysts, meanwhile, explained that the Iraq and Afghanistan document dumps "present an unvarnished and often compelling account of the reality of modern war" - noting how a number of previously unknown details helped to further their work by "putting more meat on the bare bone". And, for their part, foreign policy analysts and critics have praised the releases for exposing the foreign policy failings of the Obama administration.

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What Would I.F. Stone Think of WikiLeaks?

While Stone cherished his iconoclast's independence, joking that "establishment reporters undoubtedly know a lot that I don't know. But a lot of what they know isn't true," he also felt that, in standing up the Nixon administration and printing the Pentagon Papers, the Washington Post and the New York Times had vindicated the honor of his profession. I have no doubt he would feel the same debt to the editors of today's Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El País. "To suppress the truth in the name of national security is the surest way to undermine what we claim to be preserving," he wrote in 1966. "There is a is a Latin legal maxim—justitia fiat, ruat coelum: Let justice be done though the heavens fall. I would paraphrase it for newspapermen and say: Let the truth be told as we see it though officials claim the disclosure would cause the heavens to collapse upon them.

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WikiLeaks as This Century’s Upton Sinclair

I find it interesting, though not surprising, that most discussions in the media about WikiLeaks focus on the suitable form of punishment for its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, rather than the nature of the diplomatic correspondence he and his organization have shared with the public. None of the documents were top secret—as they were either labeled secret, confidential or classified— and arguably they should be a part of the public domain. Some people are calling for the arrest and prosecution of Assange for espionage, and the branding of WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization. Rather than condemn Assange, we should commend him for doing all of us a great service.

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Adam Westbrook: Goodbye mainstream media. It’s been fun.

At first I was unsure about whether Wikileaks was a good thing. Then I watched the footage from the Apache gunship circling over the streets of an Iraqi town, and mowing down more than a dozen people, including two Reuters cameramen, a father and his two children.

The film, made public by Wikileaks – and not by journalists – revealed the value the US military puts on a human life and, in stark black and white, how our governments have lied repeatedly to our faces. And worst of all, how our mainstream media have served but to amplify those lies.

So I’m sorry mainstream media. It’s been fun; but me, I’m done.
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2010-12-12 Further WikiLeaks support rallies announced

New rallies in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been announced as follows. Please see our Events and protests section for a list of all current rallies.


Berlin: Thursday, December 16th, 7:00pm
Location: Technical University Berlin, Room EB 407 (Erweiterungsbau),
Straße des 17. Juni 145, 10623 Berlin
Event page:


Manchester: Wednesday, December 15, 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Piccadilly Gardens, M60 1HX
Event page:


Adelaide: Tuesday, December 14, 4:30pm
Location: Parliament House


Please note that the date for the Montreal protest has been changed to December 18. Also, the time for the London protest at the Swedish Embassy on December 13 has been changed from 4pm to 2pm.

2010-12-12 Sweden case updates: Key new evidence

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig, said that he had seen police documents that prove Mr Assange is innocent, and that the accusers had a "hidden agenda" when they went to the police:

"From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place. It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian."

He has asked for the Swedish prosecutor's permission to disclose the evidence: "If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade," he said. "If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point. But at the moment I'm bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country. For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred."

Mr Hurtig added that he was ready to fly to London and present the evidence at the court hearing this Tuesday, if he was given permission. "That said, I’m convinced that as soon as the case is heard in Sweden it will be thrown out," he added.

You can read the full interview here.

Also, please do not miss Australian lawyer Peter Kemp's new post on the Swedish law and its implications in this case: Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse, But...., and part one of his analysis of the extradition case: Extradition Part 1.

2010-12-13 Article 19 Statement - WikiLeaks and Internet companies

ARTICLE 19 is extremely concerned by the political pressure governments and elected officials are exerting on internet companies, to force them to deny provision of services to WikiLeaks without prior authorisation from a court. Recent actions by a number of internet companies against WikiLeaks raise several issues about the rights of free expression on the internet, which is largely controlled by private companies but still subject to state threats.

Intermediaries, such as internet companies, facilitate connections between the providers of information and the users of that information. Increasingly, they are the subject of legal and other actions whose actual end targets are their service-users. Where these companies can do so lawfully, they should resist such interference.

Any removal of information on internet, or blocking of internet access to information should be authorized only by a court. Actions that seek to limit freedom to donate to their service-users should only be allowed after a finding by a court that a service-user has violated the law. Internet companies in turn should be transparent in actions affecting users of their services.

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2010-12-13 Australian media figures in support of WikiLeaks


The Walkley Foundation has initiated a letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, signed by members of the board, editors of major Australian newspapers and news sites, and news directors of the country's commercial and public broadcasters. The letter reads:

Dear Prime Minister,


The leaking of 250,000 confidential American diplomatic cables is the most astonishing leak of official information in recent history, and its full implications are yet to emerge. But some things are clear. In essence, WikiLeaks, an organisation that aims to expose official secrets, is doing what the media have always done: bringing to light material that governments would prefer to keep secret.

In this case, WikiLeaks, founded by Australian Julian Assange, worked with five major newspapers around the world, which published and analysed the embassy cables. Diplomatic correspondence relating to Australia has begun to be published here.

The volume of the leaks is unprecedented, yet the leaking and publication of diplomatic correspondence is not new. We, as editors and news directors of major media organisations, believe the reaction of the US and Australian governments to date has been deeply troubling. We will strongly resist any attempts to make the publication of these or similar documents illegal. Any such action would impact not only on WikiLeaks, but every media organisation in the world that aims to inform the public about decisions made on their behalf. WikiLeaks, just four years old, is part of the media and deserves our support.

Already, the chairman of the US Senate homeland security committee, Joe Lieberman, is suggesting The New York Times should face investigation for publishing some of the documents. The newspaper told its readers that it had ‘‘taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security.’’ Such an approach is responsible — we do not support the publication of material that threatens national security or anything which would put individual lives in danger. Those judgements are never easy, but there has been no evidence to date that the WikiLeaks material has done either.

There is no evidence, either, that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have broken any Australian law. The Australian government is investigating whether Mr Assange has committed an offence, and the Prime Minister has condemned WikiLeaks’ actions as ‘‘illegal’’. So far, it has been able to point to no Australian law that has been breached.

To prosecute a media organisation for publishing a leak would be unprecedented in the US, breaching the First Amendment protecting a free press. In Australia, it would seriously curtail Australian media organisations reporting on subjects the government decides are against its interests.

WikiLeaks has no doubt made errors. But many of its revelations have been significant. It has given citizens an insight into US thinking about some of the most complex foreign policy issues of our age, including North Korea, Iran and China.

It is the media’s duty to responsibly report such material if it comes into their possession. To aggressively attempt to shut WikiLeaks down, to threaten to prosecute those who publish official leaks, and to pressure companies to cease doing commercial business with WikiLeaks, is a serious threat to democracy, which relies on a free and fearless press.

Yours faithfully

Clinton Maynard, news director, 2UE
David Penberthy, editor-in-chief,
Eric Beecher, chairman, Crikey, Smart Company, Business Spectator, The Eureka Report
Gay Alcorn, editor, The Sunday Age
Garry Bailey, editor, The Mercury (Hobart)
Garry Linnell, editor, The Daily Telegraph
Ian Ferguson, director of news and programs, Sky News Australia/New Zealand
Jim Carroll, network director of news and public affairs, Ten Network
Julian Ricci, editor, Northern Territory News
Kate Torney, director of news, ABC
Mark Calvert, director of news and current affairs, Nine Network
Melvin Mansell, editor, The Advertiser (Adelaide)
Megan Lloyd, editor, Sunday Mail (Adelaide)
Michael Crutcher, editor, The Courier Mail,
Mike van Niekerk, editor in chief, Fairfax online
Paul Cutler, news director, SBS
Paul Ramadge, editor-in-chief, The Age
Peter Fray, editor-in-chief, The Sydney Morning Herald
Peter Meakin, director of news and public affairs, Seven Network
Rick Feneley, editor, The Sun-Herald
Rob Curtain, news director, 3AW
Rod Quinn, editor, The Canberra Times
Sam Weir, editor, The Sunday Times
Scott Thompson, The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Simon Pristel, editor, Herald Sun
Tory Maguire, editor, The Punch

Walkley Advisory Board

Gay Alcorn
Mike Carlton
Helen Dalley
John Donegan
Peter Meakin
Laurie Oakes
Jeni O'Dowd
Alan Kennedy
Malcolm Schmidtke
Fenella Souter

2010-12-13 Danish media group Politiken hosts Cablegate documents


Prominent Danish newspaper Politiken has joined Owni and Libération as one of the major media organizations to officially mirror WikiLeaks. Politiken is mirroring the curently released Cablegate documents here.

In an interesting twist, the Danish Computer World site reports that Politiken's WikiLeaks mirror is currently hosted on Amazon's cloud infrastructure. Per Palmkvist Knudsen, CIO at the JP / Politiken Hus media group, said that there was no political statement behind it, Amazon being selected only on the basis on its service. "Amazon was fast and easy. But I can see that it would be a great story, if we were expelled from Amazon's services again, although that's not our intention," he added "with a wry smile," reports Computer World.

2010-12-13 Der Spiegel: WikiLeaks donations still flowing, but not to Assange legal fund

Der Spiegel published a Q&A with the Wau Holland Foundation about WikiLeaks funding.

  • Some permanent WikiLeaks employees now get a salary.
  • The foundation has contributed nothing to Assange's bail or legal defence.
  • Since October 2009 more than €900,000 has been amassed, of which more than €370,000 has been disbursed.

2010-12-13 Julian Assange: Readers' Choice for TIME's Person of the Year 2010


TIME magazine has just closed the Person of the Year readers' poll. Megan Friedman summarized the results: "Readers voted a total of 1,249,425 times, and the favorite was clear. Julian Assange raked in 382,020 votes, giving him an easy first place. He was 148,383 votes over the silver medalist, Recep Tayyip Ergodan, Prime Minister of Turkey."

TIME editors' official choice for Person of the Year will be announced on Wednesday morning on the Today show.

WL Central would like to thank all of you who chose to make a statement by voting for Julian Assange.

2010-12-13 New WikiLeaks rallies announced: Sydney, Dublin, Atlanta [Update 1]

New rallies in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been announced as follows. Please see our Events and protests section for a list of all current rallies.


Sydney: Tuesday, December 14, 5:30pm
Location: Sydney Town Hall
Rally contact: Patrick on 0422 028 113
Event page:


Dublin: Saturday, December 18, 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: Central Bank of Ireland, Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland
Directions: Outside the main gates.
Event page:


Atlanta GA: Wednesday, December 15, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Location: in front of the CNN Center
Directions: Centennial and Marietta St.
Event page:

2010-12-13 PEN International statement on WikiLeaks


PEN International, a global writers' organization with special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations, has released an official statement on WikiLeaks:

"PEN International champions the essential role played by freedom of expression in healthy societies and the rights of citizens to transparency, information and knowledge.

The Wikileaks issue marks a significant turning point in the evolution of the media and the sometimes conflicting principles of freedom of expression and privacy and security concerns. The culture of increasing secrecy in governments and the rise of new technology will inevitably lead to an increasing number of transparency issues of this sort. PEN International believes it is important to acknowledge that while the leaking of government documents is a crime under U.S laws, the publication of documents by Wikileaks is not a crime. Wikileaks is doing what the media has historically done, the only difference being that the documents have not been edited.

PEN International urges those voicing opinions regarding the Wikileaks debate to adopt a responsible tone, and not to play to the more extreme sections of society. In a world where journalists are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned and killed with impunity, calling for the death of a journalist is irresponsible and deplorable.

PEN International is also concerned by reports that some web sites, fearing repercussions, have stopped carrying Wikileaks, and that individuals, under threat of legal action, have been warned against reading information provided by the organization. PEN International condemns such acts and calls upon corporations and states to avoid breaches of the right to free expression. Governments cannot call for unlimited internet freedom in other parts of the world if they do not respect this freedom themselves.

The Wikileaks matter is a dynamic issue which we shall continue to monitor closely and on which we will refine our position as the situation requires. We welcome this debate and look forward to further discussion with the worldwide PEN membership."

(WL Central note: The statement that "the documents have not been edited" is incorrect. All Cablegate documents published by WikiLeaks on its website have been redacted by the media partners. Please see this report by the Associated Press on the redaction process. Please also see our report on the redaction of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010-12-13 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US keeps Uzbekistan president onside to protect supply line

"The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of 'rampant corruption', organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.

But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN)."
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Der Spiegel: 'Bridges to Nowhere': America's Unsavory Friends in Central Asia

"The US is anxious to broaden its influence in Central Asia -- and limit that of Russia. The result, however, are questionable alliances with some of the strangest despots in the world.

The secret country assessment from the US Embassy in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe, prepared for General David Petraeus on Aug. 7, 2009 ahead of his visit later that month, described a country on the brink of ruin. Tajikistan, a country of 7.3 million people on the northern border of Afghanistan, is a dictatorship ruled by Emomali Rakhmon, a former collective farm boss and notorious drunkard. "Parliament acts as a rubber stamp, barely discussing important legislation such as the national budget," the dispatch noted.

Some of the state's revenues were from criminal sources: "Tajikistan is a major transit corridor for Southwest Asian heroin to Russia and Europe." The country had "chronic problems with Uzbekistan," its neighbor, and the impoverished former Soviet republic faced the prospect of civil war fomented by Islamists in the east of the country."
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Le Monde: Le Pérou face à ses démons : le terrorisme et la corruption (Peru faces its demons: terrorism and corruption)

"A en croire des télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde, le Pérou n'arrive pas à conjurer ses vieux démons, le terrorisme et la corruption. La menace représentée par la guérilla maoïste du Sentier lumineux (SL) "a été contenue mais pas éliminée, et elle pourrait s'épanouir à nouveau", estime une note confidentielle de novembre 2009.

Pendant les années 1980 et 1990, le conflit armé interne provoqué par le SL avait fait 70 000 morts. Le principal dirigeant maoïste, Abimael Guzman, est emprisonné depuis 1992. En dépit de bons résultats macro-économiques, les causes sous-jacentes – la pauvreté, la corruption et les inégalités – n'ont pas disparu, reconnaissent les diplomates américains."
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El País: La retirada de Kosovo desató una crisis entre España y EE UU (The withdrawal from Kosovo sparked a crisis between Spain and the U.S.)

"Cuando las relaciones entre España y Estados Unidos parecían recuperadas tras la llegada de Obama a la Casa Blanca, una intempestiva retirada militar, esta vez de Kosovo, provocó la mayor crisis que han vivido los dos países en mucho tiempo. Los primeros resquemores comenzaron cuando Madrid se negó a reconocer la independencia de este territorio, bajo control de la comunidad internacional desde los bombardeos de la OTAN de 1999. Washington no aprobaba pero comprendía la posición española: la independencia en Europa de un territorio por motivos étnicos es un precedente preocupante. Pero, cuando la ministra Carme Chacón anunció el 19 de marzo 2009 la retirada de las tropas españolas sin haber consultado con los aliados, de resquemor se pasó a la crisis. Aunque en público se mantuvieron las formas, los despachos del Departamento de Estado muestran que la procesión iba por dentro: el vicepresidente Joseph Biden reprendió la retirada en su primer encuentro con el presidente Zapatero mientras que Hillary Clinton no dudó en hablar de "irritación" ante el ex ministro Moratinos."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: MI5 offered files on Finucane killing to inquiry

"MI5 has said that it is prepared to hand over sensitive files on one of the most high-profile murders during the Northern Ireland Troubles carried out by loyalist gunmen working with members of the British security forces.

The offer in the case of the Pat Finucane, the well-known civil rights and defence lawyer murdered in front of his wife and three young children in 1989, is contained in confidential US embassy cables passed to WikiLeaks.

Supporters of Finucane welcomed the revelation of the offer as "highly significant" and believe it could pave the way for a fresh inquiry into the killing that would be acceptable to the family."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: IRA used Irish boom to turn 'respectable'

"The IRA used the Celtic Tiger economic boom in the Irish Republic to diversify into "more sophisticated business enterprises" by buying up properties in London, Dublin and Spanish resorts, according to leaked US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

A senior Irish police officer told the American embassy in Dublin that the IRA used the booming Irish economy to move on from 1970s-style racketeering as it turned to "apparently respectable businessmen" to raise funds.

The cables also show that the growth of the Celtic Tiger was so admired in Washington that the US treasury secretary travelled to Dublin in 2004 to discover the "secrets" of Ireland's success.

The IRA's changing business practices are revealed in a cable by Jonathan Benton, the then deputy chief of mission at the American embassy in Dublin, which reported on meetings with senior Irish police officers and senior officials from the department of justice."
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Der Spiegel: 'Boys and Their Toys' The US Befriends Azerbaijan's Corrupt Elite

"Azerbaijan is rife with corruption and comparisons to European feudalism in the Middle Ages are hardly a stretch. But with vast reserves of oil and natural gas at stake, the US is willing to risk the embarrassment that comes with courting the country.[...]

Azerbaijan, which lies in the Caspian basin and has a population of 9 million, is one of the US's strategic energy partners, despite being located within Russia's sphere of influence. The country boasts proven energy reserves of roughly 7 billion barrels of oil and 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Millions of barrels of these natural resources flow to the West each year via a pipeline connecting the Azerbaijani capital with Ceyhan, a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea.[...]

The American documents leave no doubt that the diplomats know exactly who they are courting. Cables bear titles like 'Who owns what?' in which they provide portraits of the country's most powerful families. 'Observers in Baku often note that today's Azerbaijan is run in a manner similar to the feudalism found in Europe during the Middle Ages,' one such cable reads. 'A handful of well-connected families control certain geographic areas, as well as certain sectors of the economy.'"
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Russia 'was tracking killers of Alexander Litvinenko but UK warned it off'

"Russia was tracking the assassins of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko before he was poisoned but was warned off by Britain, which said the situation was "under control", according to claims made in a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The secret memo, recording a 2006 meeting between an ex-CIA bureau chief and a former KGB officer, is set to reignite the diplomatic row surrounding Litvinenko's unsolved murder that year, which many espionage experts have linked directly to the Kremlin."
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El País: Perú pide ayuda a EE UU ante el rebrote de Sendero Luminoso (Peru asks for US help, facing the resurgence of the Shining Path)

"Estados Unidos prestará asistencia militar a Perú para acabar con el terrorismo de Sendero Luminoso, que causó buena parte de los más de 69.000 muertos registrados en las décadas de los ochenta y noventa, según muestran los cables del Departamento de Estado. Esa guerrilla colocó al Estado contra las cuerdas, y ha resurgido en el Alto Huallaga y Valles del Apurímac y Ene, donde cobra peaje al narcotráfico y adoctrina a los empobrecidos habitantes de esas regiones andinas.

El salvajismo de la milicia maoísta fue tan intenso, y los nuevos ataques, tan alarmantes, que la Embajada norteamericana ha pedido a Washington más colaboración con el Ejército peruano y un programa contra las minas detonadas por Sendero Luminoso en las rutas transitadas por el Ejército, según un cable del pasado año. La prioridad del Gobierno es liquidar a Sendero en el Apurímac y para ello firmó un contrato de nueve millones de dólares con un especialista israelí, según otro despacho."
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Le Monde: Washington s'inquiète d’un possible programme nucléaire birman (Washington worried about a possible nuclear programme in Burma)

"Depuis 2002, les diplomates américains en poste à Rangoun reçoivent des indications sur la construction possible d'une installation nucléaire près de Minbu, dans la division de Magway, sur le fleuve Irawaddy. Plusieurs télégrammes diplomatiques, obtenus par WikiLeaks et consultés par Le Monde, font état de témoignages dans ce sens, émanant tantôt d'un homme d'affaires expatrié, tantôt d'un collaborateur birman ayant recueilli les confidences d'un proche.

Il a d'abord été question d'une coopération russe, puis, plus récemment, de la présence de "300 Nord-Coréens" pour participer à cette tâche. Chaque fois, l'ambassade prend les plus grandes précautions en rapportant ces témoignages, précisant qu'elle n'est pas en mesure de les confirmer de manière indépendante, ou que le chiffre de 300 lui paraît excessif."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables paint bleak picture of Tajikistan, central Asia's poorest state

"Tajikistan is losing the battle against the flow of drugs from neighbouring Afghanistan and is characterised by "cronyism and corruption" emanating from the president downwards.

A series of leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks paint a bleak picture of Central Asia's poorest state. They note that it suffers from 'earthquakes, floods, droughts, locusts and extreme weather' and is situated next to 'obstructive Uzbekistan', 'unstable Afghanistan' and the 'rough, remote' Pamir mountains next to western China.

But Tajikistan's worst obstacle is the country's venal president Emomali Rahmon, diplomats say. A secret cable dated 16 February 2010, from the US embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital, describes how Rahmon runs the ex-Soviet republic's economy for his own personal profit: 'From the president down to the policeman on the street, government is characterized by cronyism and corruption.'"
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks: dictatures et mafias d'Asie centrale (Dictatorships and mafias in Central Asia)

"L'Asie centrale: ses ressources naturelles, ses régimes autoritaires, ses aéroports essentiels pour le transit vers l'Afghanistan. Pas évident, pour les Etats-Unis – après étude par Le Monde des télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks – de défendre ses intérêts nationaux dans cette zone sensible, arrière-cour traditionnelle de la Russie."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables name UK banker as middleman in Kazakh corruption ring

"A British tycoon is identified by US diplomats as the man at the centre of one of America's worst recent corruption scandals, in which large bribes were allegedly handed over in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan.

Robert Kissin, a UK banker and commodity trader, is alleged to be the key middleman who handled a $4m (£2.5m) secret payment.

According to leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks, the cash was moved through a Barclays bank account set up in London on behalf of an offshore shell company registered in the Isle of Man, where true ownerships are easier to conceal.

The money was designed to help Texas oil services company Baker Hughes make corrupt payments to Kazakh state oil chiefs in return for a lucrative $219m contract, according to the company's subsequent admissions."
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2010-12-14 Foreign Policy: WikiFailed States

Foreign Policy provides a summary by country of US state policy for Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, including what the state cables have so far revealed.

By now, you've read the WikiLeaked headlines, illuminating the inner workings of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, or detailing the intractable regimes in Iran and North Korea. But what does Cablegate have to say about the world's forgotten conflicts -- the dimmer outposts of U.S. influence where Washington arguably has even bigger messes to confront? FP went through the archives with an eye to our 2010 Failed States issue to see what light the cables shed on these benighted places -- and whether the cables themselves may disrupt the often delicate balancing act of diplomacy.

2010-12-14 Julian Assange in Court

Julian Assange Bail Appeal Trial

Julian Assange appeared in court this morning to appeal the court's decision last week to deny him a release on bail. Live updates were provided by The Guardian. and live tweeting in the court on the #wikitrial hashtag. It was apparently the first time a UK judge had allowed live tweeting during a trial (according to tweets).

An earlier article in The Guardian stated:

Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens visited him in Wandsworth prison yesterday afternoon and said his client was being held under harsher conditions than last week. He claimed Assange was being confined to his cell for all but half an hour a day, and denied association with others prisoners, access to the library or TV.

"He's subject to the most ridiculous censorship," Stephens said. "Time magazine sent him a copy of the magazine with him on the cover and they censored it not just by ripping off the cover but by destroying the whole magazine."

Stephens also claimed a number of letters to Assange from media organisations have not reached him. He said Assange was under 24-hour video surveillance and had complained that a tooth which broke off while he was eating had later been stolen from his cell.

According to Stephens, Assange's UK legal team had still not seen the prosecution evidence against him. "His Swedish lawyers have some of the material but not all and it's in Swedish so we can't take proper instructions."

Besides the lack of evidence provided by the Swedish prosecution, a key point is the fact that the crime Assange is accused of is not a crime in the UK. For extradition to go forward, the crime must be of a serious nature in both countries. This time, Assange's lawyers also offered a permanent address in England and suggested electronic monitoring, a curfew and travel restrictions as alternatives to incarceration. Over £200,000 was offered in surety for bail and ten international public figures also offered surety.

The appeal was granted with the following conditions:

  • Surety of £240,000, according to BBC News
  • Curfew from 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am
  • Assange must report to the police station at 6pm every day
  • Assange's counsel pointed out that it was a huge bail amount to be paid in cash, and Assange did not have the option of using Mastercard or Visa. The prosecution immediately appealed the decision, so Assange was taken back to jail to await the appeal trial which must be held within 48 hours. More information can be found here.

    2010-12-14 Legal Opinions on WikiLeaks

    Lawfare: Problems with the Espionage Act

    The law also has two additional problems that receive relatively little attention but which are important in contemplating its use. The first is that it contains no limiting principle in its apparent criminalization of secondary transmissions of proscribed material. ...

    By its terms, it criminalizes not merely the disclosure of national defense information by organizations such as Wikileaks, but also the reporting on that information by countless news organizations. It also criminalizes all casual discussions of such disclosures by persons not authorized to receive them to other persons not authorized to receive them–in other words, all tweets sending around those countless news stories, all blogging on them, and all dinner party conversations about their contents. Taken at its word, the Espionage Act makes felons of us all. As long as this deficiency remains, it will be a poor instrument against an outlet like Wikileaks, precisely because there will be no way in principle to distinguish between the prosecution of Assange and the prosecution of just about anyone else–from the New York Times to the guy on the street who reads the newspaper and talks about it. That will make Espionage Act prosecutions seem like far more of a menace to legitimate speech than would a prosecution under a better-drawn law. There are ways to fix this problem–an intent element and a clear limitation to material not already made public would be a start–but as long as it goes unfixed, I oppose any prosecutions under it for secondary transmissions.

    The second problem is that the statute, by its clear terms, does not cover the overwhelming bulk of the material that Wikileaks disclosed. The Espionage Act is not a general bar against leaking or publishing classified information. It covers only material “relating to the national defense.”

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    Lawfare: Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks

    But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated. It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch.

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    The Hill: Judiciary panel to take up Espionage Act, legal options against WikiLeaks

    The Judiciary Committee will be looking at the World War I-era Espionage Act and the "legal and constitutional issues raised by WikiLeaks," as directed by Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.).

    It will be the first congressional hearing on WikiLeaks since the Nov. 28 publication of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, some of which have proven embarrassing to the U.S. government because of their frank tone. The witness list was not yet available.

    Incoming Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) also vowed to conduct hearings when he takes the gavel in the new Congress.

    But the Justice Department is proceeding with caution: Most experts agree the case crosses into new legal territory where there is little certainty.

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    2010-12-14 Melbourne Rally: Defend Julian Assange & WikiLeaks

    Date: Tuesday 14 December
    Time: 5:30pm - 7pm
    Location: State Library, cnr Swanston St & Latrobe St, Melbourne

    Message from the organizers:

    There is another protest to defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to coincide with Julian Assange's next court hearing of his application to be released from detention in Britain on bail.

    We need to keep the pressure up and voice our outrage at this assault on freedom of speech and democratic rights.

    Details of speakers will follow.

    For more information, please call Colleen on 0449 678 621 or Sue on 0413 377 978.

    2010-12-14 Michael Moore's Support of WikiLeaks


    (CJ Act 1967, s.9 MC Act 1980, ss.5A(3)(a) and 5B
    Criminal Procedure Rules 2010, Rule 27)

    Aged: Over 18

    This statement (consisting of 2 pages each signed by me) is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have willfully stated anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.

    I, MICHAEL MOORE, care of Finers Stephens Innocent, 179 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5LS make this statement and say as follows:

    1. I am a filmmaker, author and political commentator and I produce as my exhibit [MM/1] evidence of my identity in the form of a photocopy of my passport/driving license. I am an American citizen.
    2. I am aware of the various allegations Julian Assange faces in Sweden. I am willing to act as security for Julian in the sum of twenty thousand dollars USD $20,000.
    3. I am the director and producer of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story, four of the top nine highest-grossing documentaries of all time. In September 2008, I released my first free movie on the Internet, Slacker Uprising, documenting my personal crusade to encourage more Americans to vote in presidential elections. These experiences underpinned my conviction that it is the duty of a free press to probe, and hold government and the powerful to account – and that citizens must be properly informed and have access to information in order to exercise their democratic rights.
    4. Governments have always been discomfited by a probing press. With the hollowing out of newsrooms, in large part as a consequence of the new digital world, old media have largely abandoned the territory of investigative journalism.
    5. I support Julian, whom I see as a pioneer of free speech, transparent government and the digital revolution in journalism. His commitment to exposing the follies of government and business offers the greater society a chance to protect itself from these follies. Some aren't just follies. Some are crimes. What do we do with someone who informs the authorities -- and in this case it is the free people in a democracy who are the "authorities" -- that a crime has been committed? Do we arrest HIM? Do we try to shut his mouth? Do we hound him, threaten him, track him down and hunt him as if HE is the criminal? He bravely informed the citizenry of what was being done in their name and with their tax monies. That is no crime. That is an act of patriotism. He should be thanked and honored, not abused and jailed. It dishonours this court to be used in this way, holding this man without bail. Julian has made the world, and my country in particular, a safer place. His actions with WikiLeaks have put on notice those who would take us to war based on lies that any future attempts to do so will be met by the fierce bright light provided by WikiLeaks and intended to expose those who commit their war crimes. His actions will make them think twice next time -- and for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
    6. I believe that Julian takes pride in his reputation and as any journalist would understands that if he were to abscond he would ruin his reputation in the media and journalism industries.
    7. I regret that I am out of the country and therefore I am unable to attend court and explain in person that I expect Julian to observe his bail conditions. I am offering to stand and provide security for him abiding by his bail conditions to the value of USD $20,000.
    8. I understand that by acting as security for Julian I risk forfeiture of the aforementioned sum to the crown if he breaches his bail conditions by absconding or by not attending Court as and when required.
    9. The money which I will pay to the Court, to be held as security, is my own. As I am abroad I am unable to produce any statement as evidence of these funds. However I have already transferred the sum of USD $20,000 into the client account of FSI.
    10. I have not been indemnified against the loss of this money in the event of Julian breaching his bail conditions, and understand that if I were to be so indemnified it would amount to a separate criminal offense for which I could be imprisoned.
    11. I have been advised by Julian’s solicitors that it would be prudent to obtain independent legal advice in relation to my liabilities as security.
    12. I have no previous convictions.

    Michael Moore Posts Bail Money for Julian Assange


    Michael Moore has donated $20,000 for Assange's bail. Moore is publicly offering the assistance of his website, servers and domain names, as well as "anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars."

    Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange: Michael Moore

    WikiLeaks: Michael Moore aide à payer la caution de Julian Assange


    Il s'en explique dans un édito publié, mardi, sur le Huffington Post...

    Michael Moore est remonté, et il le fait savoir. Dans l'édito «Pourquoi j'ai payé une partie de la caution de Julian Assange» publié mardi sur le Huffington Post, il livre un long plaidoyer en faveur de WikiLeaks.

    «J'ai versé 20.000 dollars (15.000 euros, sur une caution de 240.000 euros, ndr) et j'offre mon site Internet, mes serveurs, mon nom de domaine et tout ce qui pourra être utile à WikiLeaks pour rester en vie et continuer à révéler les crimes concoctés en secret et perpétrés en notre nom avec l'argent du contribuable», explique le cinéaste. Il indique que le réalisateur Ken Loach a fait de même. La libération sous caution a dans un premier temps été acceptée par le juge, mais le parquet a fait appel, au nom des autorités suédoises.

    Selon Moore, la raison invoquée par George W. Bush pour aller en Irak (la présence d'armes de destruction massive) était «un mensonge», et «des centaines de milliers de personnes sont mortes». Il demande: «Imaginez si WikiLeaks avait existé à l'époque.»
    La transparence, rempart contre la corruption

    Le réalisateur de Fahrenheit 9/11 va même plus loin. Il estime que le 11-Septembre aurait eu une chance d'être évité si les mémos remis à Bush trois mois avant, alertant de «la détermination de Ben Laden à frapper les Etats-Unis», notamment via «des détournements d'avion», avaient été rendus publics.

    Selon Moore, «l'ouverture et la transparence sont les seuls moyens pour protéger les citoyens de la corruption». Publier des documents confidentiels peut-il causer du tort à des négociations diplomatiques? «Peut-être, mais c'est le prix à payer quand le gouvernement déclenche une guerre sur un faux prétexte.»

    Michael Moore semble douter de la véracité des accusations portées contre Julian Assange. «Ne soyez pas naïfs», lance-t-il. Selon lui, «innocent ou coupable, Julian Assange a de toute façon le droit d'être libéré sous caution et de se défendre».


    2010-12-14 Politicians in Support Of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

    Crikey: Doug Cameron joins Labor Left rally to support Julian Assange

    Cameron said WikiLeaks went to the heart of the issue of freedom of the press to publish without fear or favour: ”I support press freedom and believe it is an important element of a democratic society… WikiLeaks seems to be operating consistent with other media outlets only on a massive scale.”

    Cameron’s factional colleague, Calwell MP Maria Vamvakinou, who holds her northern Melbourne seat by a commanding 19.7%, also broke ranks, telling Crikey the equation was simple: ”If you believe in freedom of speech and transparency you can’t pick and choose.

    “Where government may some concerns about some things not being in the public domain, the reality is a lot of the information WikiLeaks is revealing is of public interest.”

    Cameron echoed Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s statements that the leaks are a product of US security failures, saying extremists calling for Assange to be prosecuted under domestic anti-terrorism laws needed to be reined in.

    ... The uprising within the Left — including Laurie Ferguson, Sharon Grierson and Melissa Parke — will increase pressure on the PM to mollify her public statements on WikiLeaks and comes after a weekend of protests defending Assange across Australia.

    Read more

    New York Times: Rep. Ron Paul, G.O.P. Loner, Comes In From Cold

    As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”

    For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”

    Read more

    Rep. McDermott: Could WikiLeaks Have Prevented 9/11?

    Jesse Freeston of The Real News joined us on the Stakeout this weekend, asking Congressman McDermott (D-Wash.) his views on WikiLeaks. The Congressman couldn’t speak to the specific nature of the cables Freeston pointed out, but expressed a general sense of openness to the idea that the cables and WikiLeaks work would likely benefit the public. McDermott referenced an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Coleen Rowley and Bogdan Dzakovic, endorsing the idea that had there been an entity like WikiLeaks in the past, public whistleblowing that might have prevented 9/11 would have been more readily facilitated.

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    Prosecute leakers, not Assange: Howard

    "To publish some cables containing commentary about political figures, while it's very uncomfortable for the diplomat involved ... and uncomfortable to the subject, you can't expect a journalist to hold back on something like that," Mr Howard told ABC Radio in Darwin on Wednesday.

    "I'm sure things had been said about me.

    "It's embarrassing when it happens but ... you can't condemn the media for running this stuff."

    Read more

    2010-12-14 Rally in support of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange takes to Melbourne streets again

    Herald SunMORE than a thousand protesters demanding the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have delayed peak-hour public transport and traffic in the CBD.

    The second Melbourne rally in a week started at Swanston Street and continued to the British Consulate in Collins Street where a blockade was formed.

    Police and Yarra Trams staff members were at the protest to prevent clashes with frustrated commuters.

    Mr Assange's lawyer, Rob Starry, spoke at the rally before the protesters took to the streets. He said that Australian politicians including former prime minister John Howard and current Opposition Leader Tony Abbott should be indicted as war criminals.

    Mr Assange's local MP, Greens member Adam Bandt, outlined the WikiLeaks' founder's legal rights and demanded that the Australian Government pursue US politician Sarah Palin over her threats to the safety of Mr Assange.

    Police on horseback held the crowd back from the British Consulate. Officers were forced to order the protesters off tram tracks as they attempted to improve the traffic flow in Collins Street.

    The protesters have pledged to gather every Friday in front of the consulate until Mr Assange is released.

    Mr. Assange is currently in custody in London. He is facing extradition to Sweden to face a range of charges relating to an alleged sexual offence. He is due to face a bail hearing in London in a matter of hours.

    2010-12-14 The Julian Assange Case: a Mockery of Extradition?


    There may be many unintended consequences of the race to prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder. But as he faces extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of rape, one of the more eccentric side effects has already become clear: the rise to prominence of the European arrest warrant.

    This legal instrument has been controversial since it was introduced in 2003, creating everyday injustices; but rarely has anyone outside the small group of lawyers that handles cases really cared. Now followers of the WikiLeaks story wonder how Assange could be extradited with so few questions asked. Why, for example, can our prisons detain someone (Assange is currently on remand in Wandsworth prison) for an offence under Swedish law that does not exist in British law? And how can a judge agree to an extradition without having seen enough evidence to make out a prima facie case?

    The 2003 Extradition Act originated in an EU decision agreed just one week after 9/11. It was sold to voters as a way of ensuring cross-border cohesion in prosecuting suspects wanted across Europe for terrorism and serious crime. The level of cohesion in criminal justice systems across Europe, the argument went, and their common obligations under the European convention on human rights, provided a sufficient basis of trust that an arrest warrant by an EU country could be agreed by the UK with little scrutiny.

    It's been downhill from there. Around three people per day are now extradited from the UK, and there is little to suggest that the majority are terrorists or serious criminals. In fact those involved in the process agree that many of the cases are "trivial".

    This month I watched proceedings in Westminster magistrates' court as Jacek Jaskolski, a disabled 58-year-old science teacher, fought an EAW issued against him by his native Poland. Jaskolski – also the primary carer for his disabled wife – has been in the UK since 2004. His crime? Ten years ago, when he still lived in Poland, Jaskolski went over his bank overdraft limit.

    There are instances when unauthorised bank borrowing can have criminal elements, but this is not one of them. The bank recovered the money, and there is no allegation of dishonesty. A similar case in Britain would be a civil, not a criminal, matter.

    But it is a criminal offence in Poland, where every criminal offence has to be investigated and prosecuted, no matter how trivial. As a result Poland requested 5,000 extraditions last year alone, accounting for 40% of all those dealt with by Britain. By contrast the UK made just 220 requests.

    In 2008 a Polish man was extradited for theft of a dessert from a restaurant, using a European arrest warrant containing a list of the ingredients. People are being flown to Poland in specially chartered planes to answer charges that would not be thought worthy of an arrest in the UK, while we pick up the tab for police, court, experts' and lawyers' time to process a thousand cases a year. This whole costly system is based on the assumption that the criminal justice systems of countries such as Poland are reasonable enough that it is worth complying with all their requests.

    The level of frustration with the failure of this assumption is now beyond question. Even David Blunkett, who as home secretary presided over the introduction of the system, has regrets. "There is room for improvement with the EAW," Blunkett told the Commons home affairs select committee this month. "When we agreed to the system we believed that people would act rationally." The government is now conducting a review into extradition, with a panel led by a former court of appeal judge and senior extradition barristers.

    But the EAW is not a stand-alone measure – it was intended as part of a much more ambitious agenda for the harmonisation of criminal justice systems across the EU. In January the European evidence warrant is meant to come into effect. Like the EAW, this would require Britain to give automatic recognition to search warrants issued by member states.

    By next December the UK is supposed to have adopted mutual recognition of other states' decisions on probation, bail, the transfer of prisoners, and the suspending of individuals' finances. The Lisbon treaty, should the UK opt in, would take things even further. Opting out would still mean implementing the measures already agreed, and prevent negotiation of measures being applied in the rest of Europe.

    In both the Assange and the Jaskolski cases the EAW is set on a collision course where the labyrinthine world of EU mutual recognition meets the reality of defendants' rights. And suddenly the mutual confidence that the public are meant to have in the criminal justice systems of other EU states – in Sweden's immunity from pursuing a politically motivated rape claim, or Poland's ability to be reasonable – does not seem to exist after all.

    2010-12-14 WikiLeaks Michael Moore aide à payer la caution de Julian Assange


    Il s'en explique dans un édito publié, mardi, sur le Huffington Post...

    Michael Moore est remonté, et il le fait savoir. Dans l'édito «Pourquoi j'ai payé une partie de la caution de Julian Assange» publié mardi sur le Huffington Post, il livre un long plaidoyer en faveur de WikiLeaks.

    «J'ai versé 20.000 dollars (15.000 euros, sur une caution de 240.000 euros, ndr) et j'offre mon site Internet, mes serveurs, mon nom de domaine et tout ce qui pourra être utile à WikiLeaks pour rester en vie et continuer à révéler les crimes concoctés en secret et perpétrés en notre nom avec l'argent du contribuable», explique le cinéaste. Il indique que le réalisateur Ken Loach a fait de même. La libération sous caution a dans un premier temps été acceptée par le juge, mais le parquet a fait appel, au nom des autorités suédoises.

    Selon Moore, la raison invoquée par George W. Bush pour aller en Irak (la présence d'armes de destruction massive) était «un mensonge», et «des centaines de milliers de personnes sont mortes». Il demande: «Imaginez si WikiLeaks avait existé à l'époque.»
    La transparence, rempart contre la corruption

    Le réalisateur de Fahrenheit 9/11 va même plus loin. Il estime que le 11-Septembre aurait eu une chance d'être évité si les mémos remis à Bush trois mois avant, alertant de «la détermination de Ben Laden à frapper les Etats-Unis», notamment via «des détournements d'avion», avaient été rendus publics.

    Selon Moore, «l'ouverture et la transparence sont les seuls moyens pour protéger les citoyens de la corruption». Publier des documents confidentiels peut-il causer du tort à des négociations diplomatiques? «Peut-être, mais c'est le prix à payer quand le gouvernement déclenche une guerre sur un faux prétexte.»

    Michael Moore semble douter de la véracité des accusations portées contre Julian Assange. «Ne soyez pas naïfs», lance-t-il. Selon lui, «innocent ou coupable, Julian Assange a de toute façon le droit d'être libéré sous caution et de se défendre».

    2010-12-15 FAIR: We Support WikiLeaks


    FAIR (Freedom and Accuracy in Reporting) has published a petition in support of WikiLeaks, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Barbara Ehrenreich, Arundhati Roy, Medea Benjamin, Tom Morello, John Nichols and more. The text reads:

    As journalists, activists, artists, scholars and citizens, we condemn the array of threats and attacks on the journalist organization WikiLeaks. After the website's decision, in collaboration with several international media organizations, to publish hundreds of classified State Department diplomatic cables, many pundits, commentators and prominent U.S. politicians have called for harsh actions to be taken to shut down WikiLeaks' operations.

    Major corporations like, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa have acted to disrupt the group's ability to publish. U.S. legal authorities and others have repeatedly suggested, without providing any evidence, that WikiLeaks' posting of government secrets is a form of criminal behavior--or that at the very least, such activity should be made illegal. "To the extent there are gaps in our laws," Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed (11/29/10), "we will move to close those gaps."

    Throughout this episode, journalists and prominent media outlets have largely refrained from defending WikiLeaks' rights to publish material of considerable news value and obvious public interest. It appears that these media organizations are hesitant to stand up for this particular media outlet's free speech rights because they find the supposed political motivations behind WikiLeaks' revelations objectionable.

    But the test for one's commitment to freedom of the press is not whether one agrees with what a media outlet publishes or the manner in which it is published. WikiLeaks is certainly not beyond criticism. But the overarching consideration should be the freedom to publish in a democratic society--including the freedom to publish material that a particular government would prefer be kept secret. When government officials and media outlets declare that attacks on a particular media organization are justified, it sends an unmistakably chilling message about the rights of anyone to publish material that might rattle or offend established powers.

    We hereby stand in support of the WikiLeaks media organization, and condemn the attacks on their freedom as an attack on journalistic freedoms for all.

    Please join us in signing the petition here.

    2010-12-15 Human Rights Watch letter to Barack Obama


    Human Rights Watch has published a letter to President Barack Obama, urging the US administration not to prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in conjunction with the publication of the Cablegate documents:

    WikiLeaks Publishers Should Not Face Prosecution
    Letter to President Barack Obama
    December 15, 2010

    Dear President Obama:

    We write to express our concern at the prospect that the US government would employ espionage laws against WikiLeaks or its founder for the release of US State Department cables. Regardless of how one views the intentions, wisdom or strict legality of the WikiLeaks release, we believe that resorting to prosecution will degrade freedom of expression for all media, researchers and reporters, and set a terrible precedent that will be eagerly grasped by other governments, particularly those with a record of trying to muzzle legitimate political reporting.

    Both international law and the US Constitution prohibit criminal punishment of those who report matters of public interest except in fairly narrow circumstances. One such situation would be the release of official secrets with the effect and intent of harming the security of a nation, in the sense of genuine threats to use force against the government or territorial integrity of a country. Diplomatic embarrassment, though potentially detrimental to the interests of the government, is not itself a threat to national security. Indeed, the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, rejected "overwrought" descriptions of the release's impact and described the effect on foreign policy as "fairly modest,"[1] a characterization that finds support in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks that "I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with, and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward."[2]

    Even if some cognizable security threat were to be presented by a cable (only half of which are classified, and of those, most classified at low levels of sensitivity), it would be both unwise and of questionable legality to use the 1917 Espionage Act against WikiLeaks or other media who receive or republish information leaked by government employees. A distinguishing characteristic of the United States has always been its high standard of protection for speech. This leadership would be lost if the administration were to reverse the usual practice of pursuing only those who leak information and not those who receive it.

    For the same reason, we urge you to reject legislative proposals that would broaden the scope of criminal sanction beyond that permitted by the Constitution and international human rights law to which the US is party. Instead, we urge you to pursue the declassification of information that is of public interest and not essential to national security, rather than to expand the scope of information subject to classification.

    Once classified information is released to the public, particularly through means of mass circulation such as the Internet, a very strong presumption should attach that further restriction is unwarranted. Indeed, efforts to remove WikiLeaks and other websites from global accessibility have largely backfired by promoting mirror sites and further circulation. We note with concern government agency directives, such as that issued by the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget, warning employees from accessing the classified materials that have already been published to the world on numerous websites,[3] and reports that the Library of Congress has consequently blocked access to the WikiLeaks site.[4] By asking people to ignore what has become widely known, such directives look ridiculous, invite widespread disobedience, and place federal employees at risk of arbitrary discipline and prosecution. Over-interpreting the 1917 Espionage Act to authorize prosecution of non-government agents who simply receive and publish leaked classified information could have similar chilling results. By that token, not only could the news media who republish the disclosed information be prosecuted, but so could all who download and read the material.[5]

    The United States government and the Department of State in particular, has been an outspoken champion of Internet freedom globally, and condemned national "firewalls" and censorship of Internet sites. To maintain its credibility, we urge you to affirm that your administration will not seek to bar services to Internet publishers, or take down websites, merely because they have published material that the government believes should not be publicly available. We also believe it is important for the administration to affirm that it will not seek to pressure or influence any private enterprise to block or undermine any such website in the absence of a legal judgment. Human Rights Watch is very concerned by private companies' denial of services to WikiLeaks in the absence of any showing that any of its publications can legitimately be restricted consistent with the international right to freedom of expression.

    This is a signature moment for freedom of expression, a value that the United States has defended vigorously throughout its history, at home and abroad. Human Rights Watch urges your administration to act positively to secure the rights of the media in a democratic society, and the record of the United States as a champion of speech.

    Yours sincerely,

    Kenneth Roth

    Executive Director

    Human Rights Watch

    [1]"Gates: WikiLeaks ‘Embarassing, Awkward,'" Associated Press video, November 30, 2010, available at

    [2] "US Condemns Release of WikiLeaks Documents,", December 3, 2010,

    [3] Ed O'Keefe, "WikiLeaks off-limits to federal workers without clearance, memo says," Washington Post, December 5, 2010, available at

    [4] Matt Raymond, "Why the Library of Congress is blocking WikiLeaks" Library of Congress Blog, December 3, 2010, available at

    [5] Cf 18 USC. §793(e).

    2010-12-15 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced [Update 1]

    New rallies in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been announced as follows. For the full list of current rallies, please see our Events and protests page.


    San Francisco: Thursday, December 16th, 4pm - 6pm (updated time)
    Location: British Consulate (1 Sansome St at Market)
    Event page:
    Facebook page:


    Hamburg: Sunday, December 19, time TBA
    Location: To be announced
    Organizer website:
    Event page:


    Hobart: Saturday, January 8, 12pm
    Location: To be announced

    Sydney: Saturday, January 15, 1pm
    Location: Sydney Town Hall
    Contact: Patrick on 0422 028 113
    Event page:


    Calgary: Saturday, January 15, 2pm-5pm
    Location: University of Calgary, outside the social sciences building
    Organizer: Pirate Party of Canada
    Organizer website:
    Event page:

    2010-12-15 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: BP suffered blowout on Azerbaijan gas platform

    "Striking resemblances between BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster and a little-reported giant gas leak in Azerbaijan experienced by the UK firm 18 months beforehand have emerged from leaked US embassy cables.

    The cables reveal that some of BP's partners in the gas field were upset that the company was so secretive about the incident that it even allegedly withheld information from them. They also say that BP was lucky that it was able to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which resulted in two fields being shut and output being cut by at least 500,000 barrels a day with production disrupted for months."
    Read more

    Der Spiegel: The Unwanted Iran Brokers: US Irked by Over-Eager Swiss Diplomats

    "In 2006 and 2007 Swiss diplomats tried to usher the Americans and Iranians to the negotiating table. Recently published US diplomatic cables show how deeply the Swiss initiative irked Washington -- and how Bern refused to give up despite repeated requests from the US.

    That US diplomats posted in Bern were upset by the efforts of Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to intervene in the conflict surrounding Iran's nuclear program in 2006 and 2007 and force themselves on the United States as an intermediary is well known. But just how upset has now become clear from the confidential diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks."
    Read more

    El País: Vuelos CIA: Sócrates aprobó en secreto los vuelos desde Guantánamo (CIA flights: [Portuguese prime minister José] Sócrates secretly approved flights from Guantanamo)

    "El primer ministro portugués, José Sócrates, y el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Luis Amado, autorizaron el sobrevuelo de aviones estadounidenses con prisioneros repatriados de la cárcel de Guantánamo, y el uso de la base aérea estadounidense de Lajes, en las islas Azores, aunque el Gobierno luso nunca lo ha reconocido públicamente. Varios cables de la Embajada de EE UU en Lisboa entre los años 2006 y 2009 dan cuenta de las presiones de Washington y la cautela con la que actuó el Ejecutivo portugués para autorizar dichos vuelos. Las denuncias de la existencia de prisiones clandestinas en Europa (Rumania y Polonia) y de vuelos secretos de la CIA, en los que detenidos de origen árabe, sospechosos de terrorismo, eran trasladados clandestinamente en aviones estadounidenses a Guantánamo, habían levantado una gran polvareda en Portugal."
    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king

    "Thai leaders harbour grave misgivings about the crown prince's fitness to become king owing to his reputation as a womaniser and links to a fugitive former prime minister, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

    Three senior members of Thailand's powerful privy council, a group of advisers appointed by the king, make clear their preference for an alternative to Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is considered a political liability because of his extramarital affairs in several European countries."
    Read more

    Der Spiegel: 'Coded Language' and Yes Men: Cables of Confusion from the Heart of the Vatican

    "US diplomats seem bemused with the hierarchical structures and the lack of sophistication within the Vatican. Not only do most Catholic Church leaders lack an e-mail account, only a few "are aware of imminent decisions."

    A month after the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in the Sistine Chapel, on April 19, 2005, the US Embassy to the Vatican sent a cable to the State Department in Washington providing its first readings on what the United States and the world at large should expect from the new head of the Roman Catholic Church."
    Read more

    El País: Temor a una intervención militar de Chávez a favor del régimen cubano (Worries about a military intervention by Chávez in support of the Cuban regime)

    "La Embajada de EE UU en Caracas recomendó al Departamento de Estado que advirtiera a Hugo Chávez contra la tentación de intervenir en Cuba si la enfermedad y eventual fallecimiento de Fidel Castro condujera a algún tipo de convulsión social en la isla caribeña, según consta en un cable enviado a Washington poco después de que en La Habana se anunciara la grave enfermedad de Castro."
    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Chevron discussed oil project with Tehran, claims Iraqi PM

    "The US energy firm Chevron negotiated with Tehran about developing an Iraq-Iran cross-border oilfield in spite of tight US sanctions, according to the Iraqi prime minister in leaked diplomatic cables.

    Nouri al-Maliki's claim, reported in the cables, that Chevron was in discussions with the Iranian government will raise eyebrows in Europe and other parts of the world where international companies have come under significant pressure from Washington to end investments and other financial dealings with Tehran.

    Chevron declined to either confirm or deny that it had been in contact with Iran, and confined its reaction to a statement saying it had not done, and would not do, anything in violation of US law."
    Read more

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Ukraine, la déception Timochenko (Ukraine, Tymoshenko's deception)

    "Paralysie politique, gabegie, économie étouffée par la corruption : le bilan ukrainien, six ans après la Révolution orange qui a renversé le président Léonid Koutchma, parait décevant. C'est ce qu'indiquent les télégrammes de l'ambassade américaine à Kiev, obtenus par WikiLeaks et étudiés par Le Monde. Les derniers datent de fin février, alors que Viktor Ianoukovitch, le candidat du Parti des régions, vient de remporter le second tour de l'élection présidentielle le 7 février, contre la premier ministre, Ioulia Timochenko."
    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: BP accused by Azerbaijan of stealing oil worth $10bn

    "The president of Azerbaijan accused BP of stealing billions of dollars of oil from his country and using "mild blackmail" to secure the rights to develop vast gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region, according to leaked US cables.

    Ilham Aliyev said the oil firm tried to exploit his country's "temporary troubles" during a gas shortage in December 2006. In return for making more gas supplies available for domestic consumption that winter, BP wanted an extension of its lucrative profit-sharing contract with the government and the go-ahead to develop Caspian gas reserves, one cable from the US embassy in Baku reports. Aliyev also threatened to make BP's alleged "cheating" public, cables show."
    Read more

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : la torture et le totalitarisme, quotidien de l'Erythrée, pays à la dérive (Torture and totalitarianism, everyday reality in Eritrea, a country adrift)

    "Dans l'un des pays les plus fermés au monde, l'Erythrée, les témoignages sur les conditions de détention dans les prisons sont rares. En voici un, recueilli par des diplomates américains en 2008, selon un télégramme diplomatique obtenu par WikiLeaks et révélé par Le Monde. Il s'agit du récit d'un Erythréen, "encore secoué émotionnellement" après cinq mois de détention arbitraire, qui raconte le quotidien des détenus du petit pays de la Corne de l'Afrique.

    Le témoin avait été arrêté chez lui, à l'aube, par des soldats venus vérifier sa carte de démobilisation, pratique commune "avant la fête de l'indépendance". Le service militaire est obligatoire en Erythrée, pour les hommes comme pour les femmes, pour une période d'un an et demi généralement reconduite plusieurs fois."
    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US fears over west African cocaine route

    "When an unidentified plane crashed into the desert in northern Mali in November 2009, it was immediately suspected of smuggling cocaine from Latin America. The west African route to the lucrative European markets had been growing in popularity for some time following successful anti-smuggling operations in the Caribbean.

    But what was truly shocking about the mysterious unmarked, burned-out aircraft nearly 10 miles from a makeshift airstrip, was its size. The Boeing 727-200 was big enough to carry 10 tonnes of the drug. It was obvious the Colombian cartels were now plying the west African route on an industrial scale."
    Read more

    2010-12-16 FAIR: Media paint flattering picture of U.S. diplomacy

    FAIR summarizes the cablegate coverage in the US mainstream media, concluding:

    These conclusions represent an extraordinarily narrow reading of the WikiLeaks cables, of which about 1,000 have been released (contrary to constant media claims that the website has already released 250,000 cables). Some of the more explosive revelations, unflattering to U.S. policymakers, have received less attention in U.S. corporate media.

    After listing a very good summary of essential cablegate revelations that have been largely ignored by the US media the article finishes with a reminder of the statement from the NY Times explaining why they had published some cable information:

    The "duplicity" of other countries can be illuminated by the cables, while the U.S.'s secret wars are evidence of "diplomacy." That principle would seem to be guiding the way many U.S. outlets are interpreting the WikiLeaks revelations.

    2010-12-16 German newspapers call for WikiLeaks protection [Update 1]

    A group of German newspapers, including Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and online news site published a joint statement against the attacks and legal threats to WikiLeaks.

    The full text of the statement, in German, can be read here. Our translation follows:

    United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." 

    Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and simultaneously publish this appeal against the attacks on Wikileaks.

    1. The attacks on Wikileaks are inappropriate

    The Internet publication platform Wikileaks has, since the publication of the secret U.S. embassy cables, come under great pressure. In the U.S., Wikileaks leaders were named "terrorists," with even calls for their assassination. Big international companies like MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon ended their cooperation with Wikileaks - without charges having been issued against the organization, let alone a conviction. At the same time the technical infrastructure of Wikileaks has been subject to anonymous attacks over the Internet.

    These are attacks on a journalistic medium in response to its publications. One can criticize these publications with good reason. But we are against any form of censorship by government or private agencies. If Internet companies can use their market power to prevent a news organization from publishing, this would mean democracy is defeated through economic means. These attacks show a disturbing idea of democracy, where freedom of information exists only for as long as it hurts no one. 

    2. Freedom of publication applies to Wikileaks

    In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of publication is evidenced as a foundation of democratic societies. It applies not only to traditional media like newspapers or television. The Internet is a new form of information dissemination. It must enjoy the same protection as traditional media. It would cause a global outcry if the U.S. were to bring an espionage case against the New York Times, a financial crusade against Der Spiegel, or an attack on the servers of the Guardian.

    3. The right to control the state

    The criminalization and prosecution of Wikileaks goes beyond this individual case. There are calls for the publication of confidential information in such quantities to be prevented. Indeed, the volume of documents revealed to the public a much deeper insight into state action than former publications in top media. Journalism has not only the right but the duty to control the state and to elucidate the mechanisms of governance. It creates transparency. Without transparency, there is no democracy. The state is not an end in itself, and must withstand a confrontation with his own secrets.

    We, the initiators and signatories demand a stop to the persecution of Wikileaks, contrary to international law. We call on all States and all companies, to oppose the campaign against civil rights. We urge all citizens, public figures or not, in political positions or as individuals, to take action to stop the campaign against freedom of expression and freedom of information. We invite everyone to participate in the call for media freedom.

    The first signatories of this appeal:

    Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and

    Update 1: The German Journalists' Association, DJV, has added its support to the statement above. "It is not compatible with the principles of freedom of expression, when politics and business are trying to exercise censorship," DJV national chairman Michael Konken said in a statement. "Those who suppress the source, harm journalism," he added.

    2010-12-16 Nieman Foundation Conference: From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Journalism and Secrecy in the New Media Age


    The Nieman Foundation is hosting today a conference entitled "From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Journalism and Secrecy in the New Media Age". The full schedule is available here. A live video feed is also available here.

    The conference will include two keynotes, from Associated Press executive editor Kathleen Carroll and New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, as well as three panels:

    1. Global Struggle: Prosecuted, Banned, Blamed: Reporters Push Boundaries as a Voice of Public Accountability
    2. National Challenges: Whither the Gatekeeper? Navigating New Rules and Roles in the Age of Radical Transparency
    3. Future of Transparency: Secrets 2.0: Exploring Entrepreneurial Answers to Journalistic Obligations

    2010-12-16 Sweden case updates: Bail appeal hearing [Update 5]

    Following the Crown Prosecution Service's decision to appeal the bail granted on Tuesday by the Westminster Magistrates' Court, another hearing will take place today at 11:30 GMT at the High Court.

    Peter Alexander of NBC News noted on Twitter that "Assange lawyer says defense has collected $315K bail. He's free if appeal's denied." The court had requested on Tuesday that the full bail amount be presented in cash.

    Journalists present at the court, including a team from The Guardian, report that Julian Assange and his legal team have already arrived at the court for the hearing, which is expected to take two hours. It is unclear at this point whether live updates via Twitter will be allowed from the courtroom, as was the case at Tuesday's hearing.

    In the meantime, please don't miss Peter Kemp's continued legal analysis of the bail and extradition arguments: Extradition Part 2--Bail, and Bail Arguments and the Appeal.

    Update 1: Justice Ouseley has ruled that no Twitter updates will be allowed from the courtroom today, reports The Guardian's Luke Harding.

    Update 2: The Guardian's Luke Harding quoted Justice Ouseley as saying, "The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial." According to Mr Harding, "the case is looking good" for Julian Assange.

    Update 3: The prosecution's appeal has been denied, reports Channel 4. Julian Assange has been granted bail, on slightly modified conditions compared to those specified at Tuesday's hearing, namely additional sureties, reports Guy Rundle for Crikey.

    The next extradition hearing will take place on January 11.

    According to testimony at Tuesday's hearing, Julian Assange will stay at the estate of Captain Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club. You can read Mr Smith's exclusive piece in yesterday's Independent, explaining his support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, concluding: "If to fight for this country we will have to fight for its fundamental principles of justice then I declare my position in the ranks."

    Update 4: Guy Rundle reports that hearing costs have been awarded against the Crown Prosecution Service.

    Update 5: After the formalities were completed, Julian Assange was released today at 6pm London time. He gave a short speech on the steps of the High Court, thanking supporters, his lawyers, members of the press "who were not all taken in," and the British justice system. He called on people to support those facing conditions harder than he did in prison, and promised to continue his work and reveal the evidence behind the allegations.

    A video of the statement is available via the New York Times.

    2010-12-17 Australian Federal Police: Assange Has Committed No Crime Under Australian Law

    As the Australian Federal Police inquiry announced its finding that neither Julian Assange nor Wikileaks have broken any Australian laws, the Australian Labor Party finds its public support slipping. According to an article in The Age, the opposition has overtaken the government for the first time since the federal election in August. Support for the coalition is up four per cent since the start of December, and support for the government is down four per cent. According to The Age:

    The poll was conducted at the height of the WikiLeaks controversy, fuelled by Prime Minister Julia Gillard's assertion that the actions of Australian Julian Assange, the web site's founder, were illegal.

    In another article today The Age answers Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacks on Wikileaks by stating:

    Ms Gillard cannot credibly claim that the Australian people did not need to know the contents of these cables. And she should be assured that The Age will keep publishing them.

    2010-12-17 Bank of America Refuses to Process Transactions That May be Destined for WikiLeaks

    The Bank of America has joined MasterCard, PayPal, Visa and Swiss bank PostFinance in refusing to process transactions "of any type" that it believes is intended for Wikileaks. No word on what will form the basis for that belief. "This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

    In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Julian Assange stated that he planned to release information on a major bank early next year. It has been widely speculated in the US media that the bank in question is the Bank of America.

    Both Visa and Mastercard are now facing legal action from Datacell, the IT company based in Switzerland and Iceland, that enables Wikileaks to accept credit and debit card donations. They could also have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

    2010-12-17 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 13

    Reporters Without Borders: Open letter to President Obama and General Attorney Holder regarding possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange

    Dear President Obama and Attorney General Holder,

    Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, would like to share with you its concern about reports that the Department of Justice is preparing a possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange and other people who work at WikiLeaks.

    We regard the publication of classified information by WikiLeaks and five associated newspapers as a journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Prosecuting WikiLeaks’ founders and other people linked to the website would seriously damage media freedom in the United States and impede the work of journalists who cover sensitive subjects.

    It would also weaken the US and the international community efforts at protecting human rights, providing governments with poor press freedom records a ready-made excuse to justify censorship and retributive judicial campaigns against civil society and the media.

    We believe the United States credibility as a leading proponent of freedom of expression is at stake, and that any arbitrary prosecution of WikiLeaks for receiving and publishing sensitive documents would inevitably create a dangerous precedent.

    Members of the faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism wrote to you recently warning that “government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.” We fully agree with this analysis.

    The ability to publish confidential documents is a necessary safeguard against government over-classification. We urge you to use this debate to review the government’s policy of classifying documents in order to increase transparency in accordance with the promises made by the administration when it first assumed office.

    We thank you both in advance for the attention you give to our observations.


    Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General

    Read more Why we stand with WikiLeaks

    "In reality, the prosecution of Assange is part of a government war on dissent that comes in the context of raids and subpoenas of left-wing and antiwar activists in Chicago and the Twin Cities seeking to criminalize support for, among other things, the growing movement for justice for the Palestinian people.

    They want to chill our right to dissent. If we are to prevent that, we must stand in defense of the right of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks to expose the crimes committed by the U.S."

    Read more

    Huffington Post:Why I Am Donating $50,000 to WikiLeaks' Defense Fund

    "I'm sick and tired of the politicians and political pundits treating this man as if he were a criminal. If WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars."

    Read more

    2010-12-17 Statement from WikiLeaks Regarding the Bradley Manning Defense Fund


    There have been some attempts in the last week to create a controversy regarding Wikileaks' support for Bradley Manning and his legal defense fund. As anyone watching the news will recognize, Wikileaks has had difficulties in the last months obtaining and accessing their funding, but they are as committed to supporting Bradley Manning as always and have issued the following statement:

    We will honour what we have pledged. We are quite strained right now and do not have full access to our limited resources, however, we have forwarded £10,000 (sterling) for the moment and informed Mr Coombs (Bradley's lawyer) about the transactions and it will take a few days to go through.

    As acknowledged in the article linked above, Wikileaks' support for Manning has already resulted in substantial support for his defenders:

    Loraine Reitman, a member of the group’s steering committee, shied away from placing blame on WikiLeaks.

    “WikiLeaks is the reason we’ve been able to get so much money and donations,” she told Threat Level. “They’ve been linking to us and tweeting about us, and every time they do it, donations come in.”

    2010-12-17 The Guardian: US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition

    The Guardian writes that the US state cables contain criticism by the US of European human rights standards. Specific criticism was directed at the Council of Europe for its stand against extraditions to the US, secret renditions and US prisons for terrorism suspects. The European court of human rights is also criticized for banning deportations to countries which practise torture and requiring more information in cases where the US would sentence life imprisonment with no possible appeal or automatic judicial review of the life sentence. One cable outlines that the US sought to pressure current Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland, the former prime minister of Norway, to prevent him from criticising secret renditions or other human rights issues concerning the US.

    "The Council of Europe (COE) likes to portray itself as a bastion of democracy, a promoter of human rights, and the last best hope for defending the rule of law in Europe – and beyond," wrote US consul general Vincent Carver.

    Of Thomas Hammarberg, human rights commissioner for the Council who criticized US policy, the cables assert that he saw himself as "God's gift to the world".

    2010-12-17 The House Judiciary Committee on WikiLeaks

    Yesterday, the US House Judiciary Committee hosted a panel of Constitutional Law and national security scholars to look at the question of whether Wikileaks or Julian Assange could or should be prosecuted for publishing leaked data from the US. The three and a quarter hour hearing is available here, and an article has been posted about it today by Matt Schafer on Lippmann Would Roll.

    LWR's overall verdict was as follows:

    When all was said and done, the witnesses seemed to agree, in part, that the government is overclassifying information, the Espionage Act of 1917 is likely unconstitutional, the SHIELD Act, proposed recently by Sen. Joe Lieberman [I-CT], rests on a shaky constitutional footing also, and it is important that the legislature not overreact to the WikiLeaks cables. ...

    Almost all witness cited flaws within the Espionage Act, while the consensus on whether WikiLeaks is protected by the First Amendment did not enjoy a similar consensus. With all witnesses having testified, four argued that Wikileaks is protected by the Constitution, two argued that it should be prosecuted, and witness Stephen Vladeck abstained from making a determination on WikiLeaks.

    2010-12-17 US offers Bradley Manning a plea bargain in return for testimony against Assange

    In their latest attempt to find legitimate grounds for charging Julian Assange with a crime, US federal prosecutors have landed on the idea of charging him as a conspirator through a plea bargain that has been offered to Pfc. Bradley Manning. The plea bargain would have Manning name Julian Assange as a fellow conspirator to the leaks, which include the now infamous Collateral Murder video of April 2007. The video shows a US helicopter attack on civilians in Baghdad in which the victims included children and members of the press.

    Julian Assange denies having had any contact with Private Manning, insisting that he has "never met or even spoken" with him. The New York Times reports that "among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service." Assange is said to have provided Private Manning with access to a dedicated server, which would in turn be used for uploading the leaked files to Wikileaks.

    Read More

    2010-12-17 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: WikiLeaks cables: Sudanese president 'stashed $9bn in UK banks'

    "Speculation that Omar al-Bashir siphoned $9bn in oil money and deposited it in foreign accounts could fuel calls for his arrest.

    Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court. Some of the funds may be held by the part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group, according to prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who told US officials it was time to go public with the scale of Bashir's theft in order to turn Sudanese public opinion against him."
    Read more

    Der Spiegel: CIA Rendition Case: US Pressured Italy to Influence Judiciary

    "The CIA rendition of cleric Abu Omar in 2003 turned into a headache for Washington when a Milan court indicted the agents involved. Secret dispatches now show how the US threatened the Italian government in an attempt to influence the case. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was apparently happy to help."
    Read more

    El País: EE UU sospecha de grupos de la oposición cubana en España (The United States suspects about groups of Cuban opposition in Spain)

    "La embajada en Madrid cree que el fundador de Cuba Democracia Ya! es agente cubano y recela de Encuentro Cubano, una plataforma que recibe fondos norteamericanos. (The Embassy in Madrid believes the founder of "Cuba Democracia Ya!", a platform founded by the United States, is actually a Cuban agent.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables reveal US concerns over timing of Charles Taylor trial

    "Leaked dispatches retell speculation that former Liberian leader's war crimes trial is being slowed down by Ugandan judge.

    Judges in one of the world's most controversial war crimes trials have been deliberately slowing down proceedings, senior US officials believe, causing significant delays to proceedings.

    Secret cables reveal US doubts about the trial in The Hague of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, amid allegations that one of the judges has manipulated proceedings so that she can personally give the verdict in the case."
    Read more

    Der Spiegel: The Unwanted Iran Brokers: US Irked by Over-Eager Swiss Diplomats

    "In 2006 and 2007 Swiss diplomats tried to usher the Americans and Iranians to the negotiating table. Recently published US diplomatic cables show how deeply the Swiss initiative irked Washington -- and how Bern refused to give up despite repeated requests from the US."
    Read more

    El País: El visado libre de Ecuador dispara las alarmas en Washington (The visa free access to Ecuador turns the alarms on in Washington)

    "La decisión del presidente Rafael Correa de permitir el ingreso de todo el mundo en 2008 convirtió al país andino en una puerta hacia EE UU y el resto de América para inmigrantes ilegales, sospechosos de terrorismo y narcotraficantes. (2008 President Rafael Correa's decision on allowing access to everybody without a visa made of the andean country an open gate to the United States and to the rest of the continent for illegal immigrants, terrorism suspects and drug dealers.)"
    Read more

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : sur la piste de la mystérieuse LRA de Joseph Kony (Wikileaks: behind the mysterious track of Joseph Kony's LRA)

    "C'est l'un des groupes armés les plus mystérieux et les plus violents de la planète. Qui viendra à bout de l'Armée de résistance du Seigneur (Lord's Resistance Army, LRA), venue d'Ouganda, et qui évolue à présent entre le nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), la Centrafrique (RCA) et, sans doute, le Sud-Soudan ? Le mouvement, ancré à l'origine au sein de la population acholie, dans le nord de l'Ouganda, et opposé au pouvoir du président Museveni lors de sa création à la fin des années 1980, s'est mué en groupe armé aux objectifs flous, luttant pour sa survie en massacrant les villageois des régions qu'ils traversent, ou en les transformant en esclaves."
    Read more (French)

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Cuba, une dissidence exsangue (Cuba, a weak dissidence)

    "La fin du régime castriste, tant de fois annoncée, semble proche aux diplomates américains en poste à La Havane, à en juger par les télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde."
    Read more (French)

    El País: La corrupción atenaza la inversión extranjera en República Dominicana (Corruption stops foreign investments in Dominican Republic)

    "Empresarios estadounidenses relatan a su Embajada en Santo Domingo cómo algunos funcionarios exigen sobornos e incluso llegan a las amenazas. (American businessmen tell their embassy in Santo Domingo how some politicians demand bribes and even try to threaten them.)

    Estados Unidos considera que el clima de corrupción en República Dominicana deja a la inversión extranjera a merced de funcionarios gubernamentales que exigen sobornos de manera "audaz" en un país donde las encuestas revelan que la población acepta este tipo de hechos. Algunos inversores estadounidenses han recibido incluso amenazas, funcionarios corruptos han sido promovidos a puestos de mayor responsabilidad. (The United States believes the corrupt environment in Dominican Republic abandons foreign investments to the domain of the government and "clever" politicians of a country in which the polls indicate that the population approves corrupt behavior. Some American investors have even received threats and corrupt politicians have been promoted to positions of high responsibility.)"
    Read more

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : la torture et le totalitarisme, quotidien de l'Erythrée, pays à la dérive (Torture and Totalitarism are the routine in the state of Eritrea, an abandoned country)

    "Dans l'un des pays les plus fermés au monde, l'Erythrée, les témoignages sur les conditions de détention dans les prisons sont rares. En voici un, recueilli par des diplomates américains en 2008, selon un télégramme diplomatique obtenu par WikiLeaks et révélé par Le Monde. Il s'agit du récit d'un Erythréen, "encore secoué émotionnellement" après cinq mois de détention arbitraire, qui raconte le quotidien des détenus du petit pays de la Corne de l'Afrique. (In one of the most hermetic countries in the world, the state of Eritrea, accountability on the detentions of prisonniers is rare. Even though, there's a 2008 actual recount [on this] by American diplomats, according to a telegram obtained by WikiLeaks and published by Le Monde.)"
    Read more (French)

    2010-12-18 Juice Rap News Episode 6 Cablegate: The Truth is Out There

    The Juice Media Rap News team has released Episode 6, Cablegate: The Truth is Out There, their third news satire episode focusing on the Wikileaks debate. Featuring portrayals of Hilary Clinton and Alex Jones and an increasing sophistication, this is a highly entertaining and thoughtful six minutes which Wikileaks has posted on their site as well.

    2010-12-18 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables describe Belarus leader as 'bizarre' and 'disturbed'

    "Leaked cables report Alexander Lukashenko, who is set to win Sunday's election, intends to 'stay in power indefinitely'.

    Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic ruler of Belarus who is poised for re-election for a fourth term this weekend, is an increasingly "bizarre" and "disturbed" ruler who plans to stay in power indefinitely, according to US diplomats in Minsk."
    Read more

    New York Times: Cable Shows Nations Going Easy on Cuba

    "Cuba is getting a free pass on its human rights abuses from many of the world’s leading democracies, with visitors from Canada, Australia and Switzerland failing to criticize the Castro regime or meet with dissidents while on the island, according to a confidential diplomatic cable sent to the State Department from Havana."
    Read more

    El País: EE UU intentó evitar que Sacyr lograse las obras del Canal de Panamá (The United States tries to stop Sacyr of getting the works in the Panama Canal)

    "Washington hizo gestiones para impedir el triunfo español.- Panamá expresó dudas de que Sacyr pueda ejecutar el proyecto. (Washington pursued negotiations to stop the Spanish triumph. Panama expresed concern on the ability of Sacyr to carry the project.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cable reveals Berlusconi's efforts to duck Bono tongue-lashing

    "Italian prime minister considered increasing budget for foreign assistance just to avoid losing face to U2 frontman.

    A WikiLeaks cable reveals how Silvio Berlusconi, seen here at a press conference for the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, decided to maintain levels of aid to Africa to avoid a showdown with Bono."
    Read more

    The Guardian: Steven Spielberg was target of Arab League boycott, WikiLeaks cable shows

    "Leaked dispatch reveals diplomats from 14 Arab states voted to ban the director's films in response to his donation to Israel.

    A WikiLeaks cable reveals that Steven Spielberg and his Righteous Persons Foundation were the target of an Arab League boycott."
    Read more

    El País: España y EE UU instalan detectores de armas nucleares en tres puertos (Spain and the United States installed nuclear weapon detectors on three ports)

    "Los portales para escanear millones de contenedores ya están operativos en Algeciras y pronto lo estarán en Valencia y Barcelona. (The ports to scan millions of containers are ready to operate in Algeciras and are going to be ready soon in Valencia and Barcelona.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: UN offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement overseas

    "Source in the MDC told American officials that Zimbabwe president rejected the offer from Kofi Annan.

    The head of the United Nations offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement package in an overseas haven if he stood down as Zimbabwe's president, according to claims quoted in leaked diplomatic cables."
    Read more

    El País: Misión Milagro: una operación de ojos a cambio de adoctrinamiento (Mission Miracle: eyes surgery in exchange for indoctrination)

    "México teme que los enfermos de la vista operados de forma gratuita en Caracas estén siendo aleccionados contra EE UU. El servicio de inteligencia mexicano detecta a 500 bolivarianos que actúan en partidos y universidades. (Mexico fears those who get free eyes surgery in Caracas are being indoctrinated against the United States. The Mexican Intelligence Service detects 500 indoctrinated Mexicans in political parties and universities.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El presidente de Colombia congeló el acuerdo militar con EE UU que había impulsado como ministro (Colombian President Jose Manuel Santos stopped the military agreement with the United States that had been promoted in the past by himself)

    "Juan Manuel Santos abogó por un amplio pacto de defensa con Washington para frenar a Hugo Chávez. (President Juan Manuel Santos started an extended agreement of defense with Washington in order to stop Hugo Chavez.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El presidente de Sudán guarda 6.800 millones en bancos de Reino Unido (President of Sudan saves 6.8 billions {around 9 billion USD} in british banks)

    "El fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional pidió a EE UU que se diera a conocer el desfalco de capitales de Omar al Bashir. (Judges of the International Criminal Court asked to the United States to unveil the fraud of capital by Omar al Bashir.)"
    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-19 Joe Biden Calls WikiLeaks High Tech Terrorism as US Media Call for a More Moderate Response

    As Joe Biden condemns Julian Assange as a "high-tech terrorist" and affirms that officials in the US Justice Department were actively exploring ways to prosecute Assange, some of the country's media organizations have been issuing statements in wary opposition.

    The US media reaction is well outlined by Glenn Greenwald's December 14th article, 'Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms' and was followed up today by a deferential and roundabout article in the NYTimes which eventually concludes:

    It is not necessary for America to erect a Chinese-style “Great Firewall” to filter out government criticism; if Mr. Assange were prosecuted, would-be whistleblowers and news tipsters would have to think twice before taking action.

    That would be bad news for American journalism ...

    In the WikiLeaks saga, other commentators have elevated the stakes further, describing the cable dump, the bellicose official response and the juvenile efforts by hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks as the opening salvoes of a long-awaited cyberwar.

    Does it really make sense for Washington to escalate? This is one war in which most of the collateral damage would be American.

    Internationally, the verdict is much more clear. EFF's article on December 16th reiterated their own opposition to censorship and their online campaign as well as summarized statements from the following organizations:

    United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Amnesty International
    Human Rights First
    Reporter without Borders
    Internet Society
    ARTICLE 19
    Human Rights Watch
    The Committee to Protect Journalists

    2010-12-19 New Whistleblowing Sites

    Online whistleblowing conduits appear to be an exciting new trend. From technological tools to what looks a lot like old fashioned investigative journalism, here are some of the up and coming whistle blowing sites.

    IndoLeaks Jakarta Globe says this appeared on December 10.

    Rospil An extension of popular Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's website, he is actively seeking documentation of corruption in the higher echelons of the national government and economy.

    TuniLeaks This seems, at least at present, to serve as a forum to post and discuss Wikileaks state cable releases as they relate to Tunisia, along with the Twitter hashtag #tunileaks . According to Global Voices Advocacy they have been under heavy censorship threats and actions since they were started.

    BrusselsLeaks This site is seeking corporation, consultancy, institution or NGO information in "Brussels – the European Capital and the place where decisions are made which impact the globe".

    Many of these decisions happen behind closed doors and we have been working to make it more transparent for many years. Journalists, activists and communications professionals have now come together to form Brussels Leaks, a place to centralise intelligence gathered on the inner-workings of the EU.

    OpenLeaks Started by ex-Wikileaks member Daniel Domscheit-Berg, this site is still "Coming Soon!" It will serve only as a conduit between whistleblowers and their media destinations without being involved in the publishing.

    BalkanLeaks "The Balkans are not keeping secrets anymore." According to an article in Sofia Echo this site is set up by a Paris-based Bulgarian, Atanas Chobanov and seeks confidential documents related to political, criminal or financial topics.

    israeliLeaks "Requesting information on WikiLeaks Organization, Events, and Content, WikiLeaks/Israel Connection, Palestine/Israel history and current events, Hacktivism. Nothing is off limits. Linkage between otherwise divergent topics / regions / organizations / movements is highly valued. Please send any and all information that would be of interest to the public, including journalism, education, and research."

    Foreign Policy has posted a brief review of most sites.

    2010-12-19 WikiLeaks / Espionage Act Hearing: Conyers, Delahunt, Poe, Lowell

    House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Espionage Case and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by Wikileaks [1]

    Opening Statements



    Opening Statements: Notable Excerpts and Main Points

    Chairman John Conyers, Jr.

    Conyers begins with reference to the 1989 case of Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court (a flag burning case). This case "set forth one of the fundamental principles of our democracy." Here, Conyers quotes Justice Brennan:

    “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” [2] Background


    Rep. William Delahunt

    • Parameters do have to be set on leaks that put people at risk.
    • There is an overclassification problem. [3]
    • It's difficult to ascertain who decides on levels of classification. The present focus on Wikileaks provides the opportunity to finally discuss the classification process, and this is important because the secrecy inherent in this system puts democracy itself at risk.
    • There is no accountability in the process of classification within the executive branch. This is dangerous because "secrecy is the trademark of totalitarianisn; to the contrary, transparency and openness is what democracy is about."


    Rep. Ted Poe

    "...we gotta find the original leak. And what caused it, who did it, and hold him accountable. Other issues that this brings forth is that after 9/11, the big talk was, we need to share information with different agencies in the United States government because we don't know what one agency's doing or knows. It should be shared."

    "So now we have mass sharing, and now we seem like we're gonna move away from that because of this situation... I have no sympathy for the alledged thief in this situation... he's no better than a Texas pawn shop dealer than deals the stolen merchandise and sells it to the highest bidder... but he's doing it for political gain."

    "But on the other hand, I'm very worried about our own overclassification of information. The easiest way for a government agency to take information is to say it's classified. Only special folks get to know what's in it."

    He then goes on to say that someone decides it's classified, but it's available in the media so it isn't classified. "And then you have that problem of the whole overclassification of documents."

    His second point:

    "The security of our information is important. And those who allowed this to occur, by incompetence, negligence or whatever, we have to fix that problem."

    "I'm very concerned about that because of the fact that... we're the greatest powerfulest nation that ever existed and we need to [ration?] our security to keep hackers from getting into it, and why did this occur? And who ... made this situation go world-wide... it's like a bunch of people decide to hold a Christmas party down the street and they all take off and leave the vault open."


    Testimony: Notable Excerpts and Main Points on the Espionage Act

    Abbe D. Lowell

    The Espionage Act: History and Present

    After WWII, a proposal was made "to enact legislation prohibiting the disclosure of any classified information." The proposal did not pass, but instead, Congress passed Section 798 of the current Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. §798). According to Lowell, Section 798 suffers from several crippling problems. We will review these here.

    Section 768 criminalizes "knowingly" and "willfully" communicating, furnishing, transmitting, publishing, using or otherwise 'making available' to any "unauthorized person" any information that happens to be “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States."


    Goals of an Adequate Espionage Act

    Lowell concedes that there is a need for a strong criminal law to address issues of real spying in which classified information is released “with the intent to injure the United States or to assist an adversary”.

    Furthermore, there needs to be a law governing the improper handling of classified information that is properly defined as classified. This must be weighed against the need to protect important constitutional rights.

    Overclassification refers to the process of mis-labelling information as "classified" when it really isn't classified. This is important to consider when we face the consequence that disclosure of such information can be easily criminalized by the existing law.

    • As one saying goes: “when everything is classified, nothing really is classified.” is no secret that the government classifies too much information.

    Interestingly, some government agencies go as far as to "classify newspaper articles and other public domain materials". Lowell recognizes that this is wrong. Some information is improperly categorized as classified. In the case of Wikileaks, information was leaked that was categorized as classified "presumably because it may be embarrassing to someone." This is an improper use of the classified category.


    Problems with the Existing Espionage Act

    - Section 768 was passed in 1950 and reflects an outdated world view; Lowell points out that it refers "to the way the world worked 50 years ago."

    - The statute uses outdated language referring to vague concepts like “communication,” “publication,” and “use”. These terms had a very different meaning in 1950:

    "[D]igital technology and the Internet have significantly blurred, if not entirely erased, the lines between “communicating,” "publishing,” and “using” information."

    - Ambiguity is a further problem. According to Lowell,

    [t]he statute is ambiguous as to whether it requires a prosecutor to prove that each of the enumerated activities – such as communication or publication of the information – must be to the prejudice or detriment of the United States.

    The ambiguity stems from the fact that if we interpret the statute in the most natural way (at face value), then in order to convict someone who has communicated or published the said information, a prosecutor only has to show that the information was classified.

    What of a defendant who is charged with using the information? In that case, a conviction will require only that the prosecutor demonstrates "a risk of harm". As Lowell notes,

    • This interpretation raises First Amendment concerns because it lets a jury convict someone for publishing classified information without any evidence of potential harm to national security.

    - Espionage laws are currently so broad that they apply to a government employee who signed a confidentiality agreement. This, in Lowell's view, is clearly wrong. Hence the laws must be modified.

    - Current espionage laws also apply to a foreign policy analyst and who discusses with that government employee what s/he knows.

    - Furthermore, the laws would also have us convict a reporter for espionage who overheard the conversation between these two individuals. The laws, therefore, require close scrutiny.

    - Lowell tells the committee members that "they should know better" than to pass a new criminal law when the current issue is "headline news", and when constitutional rights are at stake.



    [1] House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the espionage case and the legal and constitutional issues raised by Wikileaks

    [2] Background: The issue before the court in the case from which Justice Brennan was quoted was that of whether burning the American Flag within the context of a public protest constitute "expressive conduct," an idea that falls under the freedom of speech protection of the First Amendment?

    The United States holds itself up to be the nation where human freedom finds its purest expression. Thomas Jefferson expressed this ideal in the Declaration of Independence when he penned the words:

    "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." More

    [3] Over-classification refers to the process of mis-labelling information as "classified" when it really isn't classified. This is important to consider when we face the consequence that disclosure of such information can be easily criminalized by the existing law.



    Testimony of Kenneth L. Wainstein

    Testimony of Gabriel Schoenfeld



    2010-12-19 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    El País: EE UU: "España nos pide que presionemos a Bruselas a favor de los transgénicos" (US: "Spain asks us to press Brussels in favor of the transgenics")

    "Los cables revelan la alianza entre EE UU y el Gobierno para defender los organismos genéticamente modificados. La embajada medió a favor de Monsanto en contra de las posiciones de Comisión. La legación vio a Garmendia como su aliada en el Ejecutivo. (The cables reveal the alliance between the United States and the Spanish government to stand in favor of the genetically modified food. The embassy interceded for the American company "Monsanto" and against the position of the European commission. The delegation saw in Cristina Garmendia an ally in the federal government.)

    Read more (Spanish)

    The Daily Star: WikiLeaks sheds light on Bangladesh

    "The first batch of US embassy cables related to Bangladesh released on WikiLeaks reveals the role of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in an effort to absorb the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) into mainstream politics through forming the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), just before the 2008 general elections.

    The cable originating from the US mission in New Delhi on April 27, 2007, describes the thoughts of the US, the UK and India in the aftermath of the '1/11' political changeover in 2007.

    It was four days after the arrest warrant issued against Sheikh Hasina was suspended, and two days after the ban on her re-entering the country was lifted.

    The subject of the cable is given as “Indian official sees Bangladesh at crossroads, Sri Lanka deteriorating, Burma becoming one-dimensional.”

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Yemen radioactive stocks 'were easy al-Qaida target'

    "Sana'a official told US diplomats solo sentry had been removed from atomic facility and CCTV system was broken.

    A senior government official in Yemen warned US diplomats that poor security at the country's main store of radioactive products could allow dangerous material to fall into the hands of terrorists, according to a leaked US embassy cable.”

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat

    "Diplomatic dispatches reveal world of smugglers, ex-military fixers and radioactive materials found in unlikely locations.

    The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.”

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Tanzania official investigating BAE 'fears for his life'

    "Prosecutor Edward Hoseah voiced safety fears over inquiry into 'dirty deal' involving sale of radar system to government.

    The Tanzanian prosecutor investigating worldwide misconduct by BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, confided to US diplomats that "his life may be in danger" and senior politicians in his small African country were "untouchable".”

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Egypt 'turned down' black-market nuclear weapons deal'

    "Cairo's ambassador to the UN claimed President Mubarak said no to offer of atomic weapons from ex-Soviet state.

    Egypt was offered nuclear weapons, material and expertise on the black market after the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a senior Egyptian diplomat.”

    Read more

    El País: Israel asegura que Irán es ya una amenaza nuclear (Israel affirms Iran is already a nuclear threat)

    "El Gobierno pidió a EE UU una acción inmediata contra el régimen de los ayatolás. El jefe del Mosad advirtió de que las sanciones no frenarán a Teherán. (The Israeli government demanded the United States immediate action against the Ayatollah's regime. The Mossad chief said the economic sanctions won't stop Teheran.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: "Israel sería feliz si Hamás toma Gaza", dice el jefe del espionaje ("Israel would be happy if Hamas takes control of Gaza", says the chief of espionage)

    "Consumada la división entre Cisjordania y Gaza, Netanyahu dice que no habrá paz sin una nueva situación en la franja. (Once finished the division between Cisjordania and Gaza, Netanyahu says there won't be any peace without a new situation in the border.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El material nuclear circula sin control en el corazón de África (Nuclear material circulates freely in Africa's heart)

    "Las instalaciones atómicas de Congo carecen de las mínimas medidas de seguridad. Algunas compañías extranjeras exportan uranio ilegalmente. (The atomic facilities in Congo are lacking the minimal controls of security. Some foreign companies export uranium illegally.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    Le Monde: L'espoir de paix avec les Palestiniens brisé par "l'inertie" d'Israël (The wait for peace with the Palestinians broken by the Israel's inertia)

    "L'analyse est celle du chef des renseignements militaires israéliens, Amos Yadlin, en décembre 2008, peu avant l'accession au pouvoir du président-élu Barack Obama et de Benyamin Nétanyahou, qui va retrouver les fonctions de premier ministre en mars suivant. (The analysis comes from the Israeli military chief of intelligence, Amos Yadlin, in December 2008, as an advance for the elected president to come, Barack Obama, and Benjamin Netanyahu, who was meant to re-start his responsibilities as Prime Minister next March.)"

    Read more (French)

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Israël, la peur des voisins arabes (Israel is its neighbors' fear)

    "Un environnement hostile, des alliés régionaux peu sûrs, un futur incertain : tel est le Proche-Orient vu par les responsables israéliens, selon les télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde. (A hostil environment between the regional allies and an uncertain future: that's how the Middle East sees the Israelis, according to the American diplomatic telegrams obtained by Wikileaks and revealed by Le Monde.)"

    Read more (French)

    Le Monde: WikiLeaks : armes en Irak, les estimations erronées d'Israël (Weapons in Iraq: the wrong estimations came from Israel)

    "Lorsque le sujet est abordé, lors d'une rencontre entre le sénateur américain Carl Levin, et un responsable des renseignements militaires israéliens, en mars 2009, il y a bien longtemps que les limiers américains ne cherchent plus en Irak les armes de destruction massive dont la présence supposée avait justifié, six ans plus tôt, l'invasion du pays. (When the subject was discussed in meetings between the American Senator Carl Levin and an Israeli agent of military intelligence, in March 2009, the United States had given up a long time ago the search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that allegedly justified their invasion of Iraq more than six years in the past.)"

    Read more (French)

    2010-12-20 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: 'Taliban treats heroin stocks like savings accounts'

    "Head of UN office on drugs and crime Antonio Maria Costa says Afghan gangs and Taliban stockpiling drug to manipulate street price in the west.

    The United Nations' drugs czar told Nato that Afghan insurgents were withholding thousands of tonnes of heroin and treating their drugs like "savings accounts" to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a leaked US cable."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Syria believed Israel was behind sniper killing

    "Assassination of Syrian president's top security aide caused anxiety among the political elite, US embassy cables reveal.

    It was late in the evening of 1 August 2008 in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous when the sniper fired the fatal shot. The target was General Muhammad Suleiman, President Bashar al-Assad's top security aide. Israelis, the US embassy in Damascus reported, were "the most obvious suspects" in the assassination."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: UK businessmen 'overeducated' says Richard Branson

    "Virgin chief critical of British education system during discussion of entrepreneurship at Beijing business lunch.

    Perhaps it's because he left school at 15 and ran his own business while his peers were still studying. But Richard Branson believes that the British education system does not serve budding businessmen and women well, according to a US diplomatic cable."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Bulgarian nuclear project 'dogged by safety concerns'

    "German firm RWE, which owns npower, bought 49% stake in project cables claimed 'reeked of side deals'.

    One of Britain's biggest energy suppliers, which wants to build half a dozen nuclear reactors in the UK, helped develop one in Bulgaria which was "dogged by ongoing serious safety concerns", according to leaked US diplomatic cables."

    Read more

    New York Times: Leaked Cables Shed New Light on Ex-K.G.B. Officer’s Death in London

    "Shortly after the radiation poisoning in London of a former K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, a senior Russian official asserted that Moscow had been tailing his killers before he died but had been waved off by Britain’s security services, according to a cable in the trove of secret American documents released by WikiLeaks.

    The Russian assertion, denied by British officials, seemed to revive a theory that the British intelligence services played a murky role in the killing — a notion voiced at the time by some in Moscow to deflect allegations of the Kremlin’s involvement in the murder."

    Read more

    El País: La falta de independencia de la justicia frena el desarrollo marroquí (The lack of an independent system of justice stops development in Morocco)

    "“Otros países recurren al Ejército o a la policía para controlar la política, pero en Marruecos echamos mano del sistema judicial”. (“Other countries use the army or the police to control politics, but in Morocco we use the system of justice”.)

    La Justicia en Marruecos no es independiente y los magistrados son con frecuencia incompetentes. El pésimo funcionamiento del tercer poder es un "impedimento en el desarrollo del país". (The justice in Morocco is not independent and the judges are often incompetent. The terrible running of the third power stops the development in the country.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Berlusconi intentó evitar la investigación del 'caso Calipari' (Berlusconi tried to stop the investigation of the famous “Calipari Case”)

    "El Ejecutivo aseguró al embajador de EE UU que quería "dejar atrás" la muerte de su agente en Bagdad en 2005. (The President assured to the American ambassador that he wanted to “leave behind” his intelligence agent’s death in 2005.)

    Dos meses después de la muerte del agente del servicio de inteligencia militar Nicola Calipari durante un tiroteo en un puesto de control en Bagdad, la intención del Gobierno italiano era bloquear los intentos de enjuiciar a los responsables. (Two months after the death of the military intelligence agent Nicola Calipari during a shooting in a control position in Bagdad, the Italian government’s intention was to stop the attempts of putting the responsible ones on trial.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU: "Un régimen criminal de naturaleza violenta y autoritaria" (A criminal regime with a violent and authoritarian nature)

    "La diplomacia norteamericana llama nomenclatura mafiosa al poder en Minsk. (The American diplomacy uses mafia names while referring the power in Minsk.)

    "Un régimen criminal de naturaleza violenta y autoritaria". Así definen los documentos hasta ahora secretos de la Embajada de EE UU en Minsk al Gobierno del presidente de Bielorrusia, Alexandr Lukashenko, en el poder desde 1994 y a quien mencionan rutinariamente como "el dictador". (“A criminal regime with a violent and authoritarian nature”, that’s how the once secret documents of the American embassy in Minsk define the government of Alexandr Lukashenko, President of Belarus, who is in power since 1994 and who is often called “The Dictator”.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-21 Ekklesia: Why conscientious objector Michael Lyons deserves support

    Ekklesia asks for support for twenty-four year old medic Michael Lyons. On 17 December he lost his appeal to be allowed to leave the Royal Navy on grounds of conscience.

    When he heard reports about civilian casualties, including children, he made an effort to find out more about the situation. ''I was unable to find a real, just and noble cause to go out but I still had a sense of duty to my country,'' he explained at his hearing.

    Then WikiLeaks revelations alerted him to the fact that civilian casualties were far greater than had originally been reported. “'Examples included a convoy of marines tearing down a six-mile highway, firing at people with no discrimination.”

    What is more, despite being a medic, he might not be allowed to treat everyone needing his help, and might even be called on to kill: “It seems from previous testimony and courses I've done that even going out as a medic with all good intention, if you're at a patrol base or forward operating base, it's likely you'll have to use your weapon and will have to turn civilians away who are in need of medical aid."

    For those wondering why data previously in a system which allowed close to one million authorized users, currently in a world where the citizens of almost every country can view it, is being blocked only from the people serving in the military it concerns, this could be the reason. Please support Michael Lyons.

    2010-12-21 WikiLeaks / Espionage Act Hearing: Testimony of Gabriel Schoenfeld

    Testimony of Gabriel Schoenfeld *

    Schoenfeld's 5 Assumptions:
    1. Thanks to The First Amendment, The Freedom of Information Act, The Presidential Records Act and the "unfettered press", America is a "wide-open society" in which citizens are extremely well-informed, relative to other nations, about "what our government does in our name".

    2. Despite 1, there is too much secrecy; there is too much mis- and over-classification.

    3. Due in part to 2, "the leaking of secret information to the press has become part of the normal, informal process by which the American people are kept informed."
      (To demonstrate this, Schoenfeld refers to a study conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which it was shown that within just a 6 month period, 147 disclosures of classified information made their way into the mainstream media (in 8 major media sources reviewed). "None of these leaks resulted in legal proceedings.")

    4. Much of the leaked information is "innocuous and/or authorized". Bob Woodward's recent book ("Obama's Wars") contains code names and "descriptions of classified programs". No legal proceedings resulted and no damage to national security resulted from these leaks, "perhaps because the only damage done was to the integrity of the secrecy system itself." As we will see, Schoenfeld is not satisfied with the integrity of this system.

    5. Even unauthorized and damaging leaks have not, in the past, led to prosecution.
      (For instance, in June 2006, the New York Times published a front-page story revealing details of a secret CIA-Treasury Department program that was being used to track al Qaeda and Taliban funds. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that as a result of the New York Times story, al Qaeda and the Taliban are now in a better position to make private fund transfers through the use of alternative methods, like untraceable money-grams and couriers. Yet despite the damage done by this disclosure of secret information, the New York Times was not legally pursued.)
    Schoenfeld's 5 Solutions:
    1. America needs fewer (spurious) secrets so that the "truly necessary secrets" can be kept safe. This refers to the problems of misclassification and overclassification.

    2. America needs to provide whistleblowers with "viable avenues" for voicing their concerns so that they won't have to resort to using organizations like Wikileaks or even the mainstream media.

    3. America needs to "re-establish deterrence" by prosecuting individuals in government that leak sensitive information. Schoenfeld commends the Obama administration for having punished leakers, which, he notes, is a rarity.

    4. America needs to publicly condemn and reprimand the media when vital secrets are disclosed.

    5. "We sometimes need to take legal action." America should have done this in 1942, during WWII, when the Chicago Tribune revealed that America had broken Japanese Naval Codes.

      In Schoenfeld's opinion, The First Amendment should not protect this behavior. He clearly implies that the Chicago Tribune should have been legally pursued.

    • Prosecution for disclosure of highly sensitive information should be a last resort but it should be more common, even in the case of journalists.

    • The First Amendment should not be interpreted as defending whistlenlowers or journalists that show "reckless disregard" for the safety of the American people.

    • Wikileaks has certainly shown such reckless disregard in producing "LMDs" -- "Leaks of Mass Disclosure".

    • "The purpose of" Wikileaks' activity in disclosing sensitive information about America, in Schoenfeld's opinion, is to "cripple [the American] government".

    • Hence Wikileaks should be prosecuted, irrespective of whether it is, properly speaking, a journalistic endeavor.

    Witness Information:
    Gabriel Schoenfeld, Ph.D.
    Senior Fellow
    Hudson Institute
    New York, NY

    Written Statement (pdf)
    Video Transcript (Youtube)




    Testimony of Kenneth L. Wainstein

    Opening Statements from John Conyers Jr., William Delahunt, Ted Poe + Testimony of Abbe D. Lowell



    2010-12-21 WikiLeaks / Espionage Act Hearing: Wainstein

    Testimony of Kenneth L. Wainstein (Editor's note)

    Assumptions made (stated as fact) by Wainstein:

    1. Wikileaks discloses "sensitive information" in a "mass and indiscriminate" manner.
    2. The sensitive information leaked through Wikileaks is "not newsworthy".
    3. In virtue of 1, Wikileaks poses a threat to National Security that is more serious than that posed by the disclosure of sensitive information by the mainstream media.
    4. Wikileaks activities do not qualify as traditional journalistic reporting.
    5. Charging Wikileaks as a journalistic organization with espionage under the existing laws would pose a thread to "the free press", as defined in terms of an organization that practices traditional journalism.
    6. There's an urgent need to suppress leaks that pose a threat to national security.
    7. The proposed Shield Act is unconstitutional.

    The 2 questions on the table, in Wainstein's view, are:

    1. Whether to prosecute Wikileaks;
    2. Whether to revise the existing laws relating to the current Espionage Act.

    Wainstein's answer to the second question is yes. The laws should be revised. Current laws must be clarified in a manner that more accurately reflects the particularities of new Internet-related methods of disseminating information in the 21st Century.

    His answer to the first question is also affirmative. Wikileaks should be prosecuted. Most of his statement focuses on showing how the US can prosecute WikiLeaks without bringing about negative repercussions for the free press in America, and without violating The First Amendment. His proposed strategy is to show that WikiLeaks differs fundamentally and substantively from the traditional media.

    WikiLeaks disclosures of sensitive information can be categorized as differing from the disclosure of sensitive information via the traditional press on the grounds that the traditional press only discloses sensitive information that relates directly to a story (in the process of investigative reporting). Wainstein insists that WikiLeaks disclosures of " official secrets", on the other hand, focus on obtaining and disclosing sensitive information in a mass and indiscriminate manner. He sees this as the key to a successful prosecution of WikiLeaks.


    Editor's note:
    In the following summary, we may (roughly) define "WikiLeaks" as referring to Julian Assange and any other individual deemed to be directly implicated in the process of gathering sensitive information and playing an active role in the disclosure of this information via the organization operating through the original web site and any other subsequent branch of this organization currently operating on different servers.

    Witness Information:
    Kenneth L. Wainstein
    Partner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP
    Washington, DC
    Written Statement (pdf)
    Video Transcript (Youtube)



    Opening Statements from John Conyers Jr., William Delahunt, Ted Poe + Testimony of Abbe D. Lowell

    Testimony of Gabriel Schoenfeld



    2010-12-21 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    Romanian Insider: New WikiLeaks cable on Romania: US-Romania relations threatened by musician’s death

    "U.S. diplomats said in November 2007 the impending “final offer” by the U.S. Army Foreign Claims Service, Europe to the family of the late Romanian rock star Teofil Peter seems certain to have a significant, negative effect on the U.S.-Romanian relationship, The Guardian has reported. Peter, bass player for Romanian rock band Compact, was killed in a 2004 car accident involving a former Marine detcommander with the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Iraq security firms operate 'mafia' to inflate prices

    "Halliburton executive's comments reveal tensions between security firms, oil companies and the Baghdad government.

    Halliburton's senior executive in Iraq accused private security companies of operating a "mafia" to artifically inflate their "outrageous prices", according to a US cable."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Iranian TV channel faced UK sanction over jamming row

    "Foreign Office looked to use UN sanctions against Press TV after BBC Persian service was blocked by Tehran.

    Britain considered taking punitive action against the London headquarters of Iran's English-language state broadcaster earlier this year after Iran jammed the signals of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV), according to a US state department document released by WikiLeaks."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Lamb sales behind New Zealand's 'flap' with Israel

    "Country's condemnation of Israeli intelligence agents in 2004 seen as attempt to increase exports to Arab states.

    US diplomats disparaged New Zealand's reaction to a suspected Israeli spy ring as a "flap" and accused New Zealand's government of grandstanding in order to sell more lamb to Arab countries, according to leaked cables."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: UK hopes to influence Islamic education in Bangladesh

    "British officials working with US to change madrasa curriculum as a 'common counter-terrorism goal', cables reveal.

    British government officials have made moves towards influencing Islamic education in Bangladesh as part of regional counter-terrorism strategies."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US pushed for reopening of Bangladesh coal mine

    "Ambassador urged country's energy adviser to approve plans, despite mine being closed in 2006 after violent protests.

    US diplomats privately pressurised the Bangladeshi government into reinstating a controversial coal mine which had been closed following violent protests, a leaked diplomatic cable shows."

    Read more

    The Guardian: Wikileaks cables: McDonald's used US to put pressure on El Salvador

    "Burger giant tried to delay US legislation in order to aid lawsuit being fought in Central American country, cables reveal.

    McDonald's tried to delay the US government's implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m (£15.5m) lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald's strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006."

    Read more

    The Guardian: Wikileaks cables: Vatican vetoed Holocaust memorial over Pius XII row

    "Moves to beatify controversial wartime pope reveal tension between conservatives and liberals in Catholic church.

    The Vatican has withdrawn from a written agreement to join an international Holocaust memorial organisation because of tensions over the activity of Pope Pius XII, the pope during the second world war, American diplomatic cables show."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Mauritius sues UK for control of Chagos islands

    "Leaked document shows Foreign Office official told US that marine reserve would end evicted islanders' claims.

    The prime minister of Mauritius has accused Britain of pursuing a "policy of deceit" over the Chagos islands, its Indian Ocean colony from where islanders were evicted to make way for a US military base. He spoke to the Guardian as his government launched the first step in a process that could end UK control over the territory."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: How 'Hurricane Anna Nicole' blew away the Bahamas

    "Island was intoxicated by antics of former model and her death unwittingly led to government scrutiny, say cables.

    The confidential cable was written poetically and revealingly. Harnessing all the drama of a Mills and Boon novel, the US ambassador pulled out every stop when describing the impact of a B-list celebrity on the tropical Caribbean paradise of the Bahamas."

    Read more

    The Guardian: Wikileaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government

    "Rapid Action Batallion, accused of hundreds of extra-judicial killings, received training from UK officers, cables reveal.

    The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US suspected Allen Stanford long before ECB deal

    "American diplomats told to avoid contacting or being photographed with billionaire two years before his fall from grace.

    More than two years before he touched down in a helicopter at Lord's cricket ground bearing $20m, US diplomats were so concerned about rumours of "bribery, money-laundering and political manipulation" surrounding Allen Stanford that they avoided contacting him or being photographed with him."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Libyan attacks aimed to force out 'Zionist' Marks & Spencer

    "Anti-semitic smear campaign by Libyans 'at the highest levels' risked damaging ties with UK, embassy warned.

    A Marks & Spencer store in Tripoli was subjected to a "repugnant anti-semitic" smear campaign by the Libyan government in an attempt to force its closure, according to US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks."

    Read more

    El País: El Gobierno pidió a EE UU que presionase al PP, CiU y PNV (The Spanish government asked to the United States to press the "Popular Party", "Convergence & Union" and the "Basque Nationalist Party")

    "Ángeles González-Sinde solicitó a la embajada que mediara ante Génova para allanar el trámite parlamentario. A Miguel Sebastián reclamó que "parasen" a Esperanza Aguirre por alinearse con activistas contrarios a la ley. (Ángeles González-Sinde asked the American embassy to mediate in front of Genoa to help arranging the parliamentary deal. She demanded to Miguel Sebastián to stop Esperanza Aguirre for dealing with activists that are agains the law.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Lula pidió a Chávez que bajara el tono contra EE UU (Lula asked Chávez to change the tone against the United States)

    "El presidente brasileño envió a su ex lugarteniente, José Dirceu, a advertirle a su par venezolano de que no "jugara con fuego". (The Brazilian President sent his deputy, José Dirceu, to warn his Venezuelan counterpart to stop “playing with fire”.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Los Juegos Olímpicos acercan a Brasilia y Washington (The Olympic Games bring Brasilia and Washington closer together)

    "El Gobierno brasileño pide a EE UU una mayor cooperación en seguridad. (The Brazilian government asks to the United States a larger cooperation in the matter of security.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    Le Monde: Les Etats-Unis ont intrigué pour barrer la route du GIEC à un scientifique iranien (The United States are intrigued about blocking the route to IPCC (in French: Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat, GIEC) for an Iranian scientist)

    "En 2002, Washington avait usé de son influence pour éviter qu'un scientifique américain, Robert Watson, soit reconduit à la tête du Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC). (In 2002, Washington used its influence to prevent an American Scientist, Robert Watson, from taking control of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).)"

    Read more (French)

    2010-12-22 Aftenposten Obtains Access to US State Cables Database

    Norway's largest newspaper, Aftenposten claimed on the 17th to be in possession of the entire database of US state cables held by Wikileaks, and further stated they are under no outside restrictions regarding what to publish as they have no agreement with Wikileaks.


    In cooperation with Svenska Dagbladet, Aftenposten has so far had access to about 2000 documents, which until now has been the background for the issues Aftenposten published. Ole Erik Almlid, news editor of Aftenposten, says it has worked a long time to access the documents to the newspaper. "We have worked long to get the documents, but it would be wrong of me to tell who is the source. We have not paid for the material, which we have gained access to with no conditions. It is we who decide what to publish and how we should handle it," he said.

    He said that the same criteria and ethical guidelines for publication will be applied to the Wikileaks documents as they use for all stories, and people's privacy and security will be respected.

    Their coverage can be followed here.

    2010-12-22 Apple removes WikiLeaks app

    Apple removed an app from their store yesterday which allowed iPad or iPhone users to access WikiLeaks with a single click. While the developer had no ties to Wikileaks, the $1.99 fee was intended as a donation to Wikileaks. According to the Deccan Herald, an Apple representative said:

    "We removed the WikiLeaks App from the Apple Store because it violated our developer guidelines. Apps must comply with all local laws and may not put an individual or target group in harm's way."

    She did not specify what individuals or target groups would be put in harm's way by this app.

    2010-12-22 Australian journalists' union affirms Julian Assange's membership

    "WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange is set to become a member in good standing of the Australian journalists' union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

    "ACTU president Ged Kearney will present a membership card to Mr Assange's Australian lawyer, Rob Stary, at a ceremony in Melbourne this morning.


    'Julian Assange has been a member of the Media Alliance for several years. Clearly, with banking corporations freezing his accounts, his situation is quite extraordinary,' [Victorian MEAA branch secretary Louise Connor] said in a statement.

    'We've drawn up a new union card for him and offer him the full support of his union and professional association.'"

    Read more:

    2010-12-22 CIA Launches WTF to Assess Cablegate Damage

    The CIA has launched a new task force to assess the impact of Cablegate. The Wikileaks Task Force, apparently termed W.T.F., will focus on media exposure and the repercussions of the newest cable releases.

    After Wikileaks published its first batch of classified documents, CIA spokesperson George Little had claimed that the CIA was "unconcerned" about the Wikileaks disclosures. Conversely, on November 8, the following press release emerged:

    When information about our intelligence, our people, or our operations appears in the media, it does incredible damage to our nation’s security and our ability to do our job of protecting the nation.

    It seems it was only a matter of time before Little would announce the emergence of a team devoted entirely to the leaks. At present, WTF is taking inventory of all CIA-related information categorized as "classified" but its focus will be that of ascertaining the potential damage to foreign relations that may have been caused by Cablegate leaks.

    2010-12-22 Malware Warning Update for and

    Spamhaus, a nonprofit, anti-spam volunteer organization, issued a malware warning for and on December 14.

    The next day, strenuously objected to the warning, replying with the following statement:

    Spamhaus' False Allegations Against Published 15-Dec-2010, 8:00 AM GMT

    On Tuesday, 14-Dec-2010 Spamhaus has issued a statement wherein it labels as "unsafe", as they consider our hosting company as a malware facilitator:

    We find it very disturbing that Spamhaus labels a site as dangerous without even checking if there is any malware on it. We monitor the site and we can guarantee that there is no malware on it. We do not know who else is hosted with Heihachi Ltd and it is none of our business. They provide reliable hosting to us. That's it.

    While we are in favour of "Blacklists", be it for mail servers or web sites, they have to be compiled with care. Just listing whole IP blocks as "bad" may be quick and easy for the blacklist editors, but will harm hosters and web site users.

    Wikileaks has been pulled from big hosters like Amazon. That's why we are using a "bulletproof" hoster that does not just kick a site when it gets a letter from government or a big company. Our hoster is giving home to many political sites like and should not be blocked just because they might have hosted some malware sites.

    Fortunately, more responsible blacklists, like (which protects the Firefox browser, for example), don't list us. We do hope that Spamhaus hasn't issued this statement due to political pressure. will always be safe and clean. Promised:

    Google Safe Browsing Check for

    Update (15-Dec-2010 17:00 PM GMT): Spamhaus has updated their statement to say that they don't blacklist us.

    The Team

    The statement, with links to original sources, can be found in this comprehensive article.

    2010-12-22 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US intervened in Michael Moore NZ screening

    "Embassy angered by 'potential fiasco' of cabinet minister hosting a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11. Whatever else WikiLeaks may have revealed, one fact has been repeatedly confirmed: the US government under George Bush really loathed the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore."

    Read more

    El País: Paraguay pide a EE UU interceptar todos los teléfonos móviles (Paraguay asks the United States to intercept all the cell phones in the country)

    "Washington teme que el Gobierno del presidente Lugo utilice las escuchas para fines políticos internos. Paraguay ha pedido ayuda a EE UU para desarrollar una red de escuchas telefónicas en el país sudamericano que permita al Gobierno controlar el 90% de las llamadas que se producen entre teléfonos móviles. (Washington fears that President Lugo ‘s government will use the records to achieve political goals. Paraguay asked the United States help to develop a net of telephonic listeners in that South American country in order give to the government control of 90% of the calls made in every cell phone.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Washington alentó la apertura del Papa hacia Turquía y el islam (Washington cheered openness from the Pope towards Turkey and Islam)

    "La diplomacia de EE UU calificó de "eurocéntrico" a Benedicto XVI y siguió con preocupación sus críticas al mundo musulmán. La elección de Joseph Ratzinger como Sumo Pontífice el 19 de abril de 2005 fue recibida con sorpresa por la Embajada de EE UU en la Santa Sede, que en un cable de ese mismo día destaca el énfasis del hasta entonces cardenal en defender Europa de las "fuerzas del secularismo o el islam". (The American diplomacy defined Benedict XVI as “Eurocentric” and followed with concern his critics against the Muslim world. Joseph Ratzinger’s election as Catholic Pope in April 19th 2005 was a surprise for the American embassy in the Vatican, which pointed out in a cable from that very day the former Cardinal’s emphasis on the “defense of Europe from the power of secularism and Islam”.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU revisó la seguridad de las nucleares españolas ante un ataque (The United States checked the security of Spanish nuclear facilities)

    "Washington avaló la protección de los reactores después de que un representante visitara Cofrentes. Los cables muestran inquietud por el robo de uranio en la planta de Enusa en Salamanca. (Washington approved the protection of Spanish nuclear reactors after the visit of one of its representatives in Confrentes. The cables show the States were worried about the uranium that was stolen from the Enusa facility in Salamanca.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU investigó siete webs españolas (The United States investigated seven Spanish webs)

    "La Embajada las escrutó con ayuda de sociedades gestión y de la industria cultural. La Embajada de Estados Unidos decidió en junio de 2008 conocer de primera mano hasta qué punto en España es fácil acceder en Internet, y sin autorización, a material protegido por derechos de autor. (The American Embassy examined such webs with legal associations and those from the cultural sector. The American Embassy decided in June 2008 to scrutinize directly in order to know how easy is with Internet to access without authorization to copyrighted material.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    Le Monde: Les divergences entre Nicolas Sarkozy et Barack Obama à propos d'un "monde sans armes nucléaires" (The differences between Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama on the idea of a "world without nuclear weapons")

    "Nicolas Sarkozy a eu de fortes réticences face au slogan lancé par Barack Obama, en avril 2009, pour la "paix et sécurité d'un monde sans armes nucléaires". Les télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks et consultés par Le Monde plongent au coeur de cette "divergence" franco-américaine identifiée sur le dossier hautement sensible du désarmement nucléaire. (Nicolas Sarkozy has a strong disagreement wit the slogan sent by Barack Obama in April 2009 for the "peace and security" of a world without nuclear weapons. The diplomatic telegrams received by Wikileaks and consulted by Le Monde point at the heart of this French-American disagreement identified under the highly sensitive subject of the nuclear disarmament.)"

    Read more (French)

    Globe and Mail: RCMP's drug probes hindered by Olympic security demands

    "A leaked U.S. government document says the heavy security demands of the Vancouver Olympics prompted the RCMP to curb drug investigations – a claim the Mounties deny.

    "The February 2009 cable – obtained by WikiLeaks and published by British newspaper The Guardian – says the national police force had all but stopped marijuana-related probes. ...

    "The cable also noted the Canadians 'are sensitive to the issues of sovereignty and we have been reminded repeatedly that they are responsible for the overall security of the Games.'"

    Read more:

    2010-12-23 AolNews: Feds Seek Computer Firewall to Block WikiLeaks 'Pollution'

    AolNews reports that US government agencies have requested a firewall to block Wikileaks' data from entering their systems regardless of its origin.

    Fidelis Security, a Boston-based network security company that works with the military and other government agencies, says it's being asked to set up a firewall against WikiLeaks document traffic, regardless of whether it flows from a website, e-mail or other source. ...

    The Air Force, for example, has started blocking news media sites such as The New York Times that have re-posted some of the documents.

    But Bertone said that the Air Force approach wouldn't prevent someone from being e-mailed a leaked document, or accessing a website that hasn't been specifically blocked by the Air Force.

    2010-12-23 Bloomberg: WikiLeaks Joins Forces With Lebedev's Moscow-Based Newspaper Novaya Gazeta

    Bloomberg announced that Novaya Gazeta, the Moscow newspaper controlled by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and billionaire Alexander Lebedev, will collaborate with Wikileaks to publish material specifically about Russia.

    The weekly newspaper is known in an industry dominated by state-run companies for its critical reports of the Kremlin and investigative coverage of Russian affairs.

    Novaya Gazeta received unlimited access to the WikiLeaks database, which has a “wide range” of materials, including documents about Politkovskaya’s murder as well as information about Russian politicians’ ties to organized crime, Nadezhda Prusenkova, a Novaya Gazeta spokeswoman, said by phone from Moscow. The newspaper will start releasing materials next month.

    President Dmitry Medvedev said the documents published by WikiLeaks don’t hurt Russia’s interests and that the Russian authorities don’t care what’s being discussed in diplomatic circles.

    2010-12-23 EFF: WikiLeaks Mirror Taken Down

    EFF has a story about a Wikileaks mirror being removed by a site provider:

    Recently we heard from a user who mirrored the Cablegate documents on his website. His hosting provider SiteGround suspended his account, claiming that he "severely" violated the SiteGround Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy. SiteGround explained that it had gotten a complaint from an upstream provider, SoftLayer, and had taken action "in order to prevent any further issues caused by the illegal activity."

    SiteGround told the user that he would need to update his antivirus measures and get rid of the folder containing the Wikileaks cables to re-enable his account. When the user asked why it was necessary to remove the Wikileaks folder, SiteGround sent him to SoftLayer. The user asked SoftLayer about the problem, but the company refused to discuss it with him because he isn't a SoftLayer customer. Finally, SiteGround told the user that SoftLayer wanted the mirror taken down because it was worried about the potential for distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. When the user pointed out that no attack had actually happened, and that this rationale could let the company use hypothetical future events to take down any site, SiteGround said that it was suspending the account because a future DDOS attack might violate its terms of use.

    2010-12-23 FireDogLake: Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions

    David House has a detailed analysis of the military's response to accusations of mistreatment of Manning along with Manning's subsequent responses to the military. Specifically, this article covers in detail Manning's

    1 – Ability to View Current Events & Access to Newspapers
    2 – Ability to Engage in Outdoor Recreation
    3 – Ability to Exercise
    4 – Conditions of Bedding

    2010-12-23 FireDogLake: Bradley Manning and the Convenient Memories of Adrian Lamo

    FDL has great timeline of the testimony of the sole witness providing evidence against Bradley Manning.

    So far every piece of evidence against Bradley Manning comes from one source, Adrian Lamo, a hacker who was institutionalized by the police three weeks before he alleges Manning contacted him and confessed he turned over materials to Wikileaks. There are many inconsistencies in Lamo’s many stories, as Marcy Wheeler has documented, yet the normally excellent Charlie Savage lets Lamo serve as sole source for a highly dubious story in the pages of the New York Times. ...

    FDL has constructed a timeline of the events surrounding Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Adrian Lamo’s claims. To say that Lamo’s story does not hold water would be an understatement.

    2010-12-23 Julian Assange interviewed by David Frost

    Frost over the World aired an interview on Tuesday where Assange talked of the goals of Wikileaks, his personal situation, and the Swedish legal case against him.

    2010-12-23 Julian Assange interviewed on the Dylan Ratigan Show

    The Dylan Ratigan Show interviewed Julian Assange on December 21.

    The newest interview in the U.S. of Julian Assange on the Wikileaks Thing. Discussion about the 1917 Espionage Act and our political leaders including V.P. Biden, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee. Assange making his case in a short 15+ minute interview with Cenk Uyger on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show" Dec. 21, 2010.

    2010-12-23 Julian Assange is Person of the Year for Le Monde and Crikey

    Agence France-Presse announced that Le Monde will name Assange "Man of the Year" in a weekly supplement on Friday.

    Visitors to the newspaper's website voted in favor of Assange with 56 percent backing him for the honor, compared to 22 percent for jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and 6.9 percent for American Facebook President Mark Zuckerberg.

    Crikey readers have also chosen Assange for Person of the Year with a 56.4% vote, 38.6% more than the second-placed Bob Brown, whose Greens party also had a big 2010.

    2010-12-23 New Investigation Launched into Pfc. Bradley Manning Case

    The U.S. Army has launched a new task force to further investigate various details underlying the case of Private First Class Bradley Manning, who has been in pre-trial confinement since last May. The task force was ordered by Army Secretary John McHugh and will be led by Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr.

    Nancy A. Youssef reports that

    The Army confirmed the new investigation, but wouldn't release details. An Army official familiar with the investigation told McClatchy that the six-member task force has been given until Feb. 1 to complete a report that will look at everything from how Pfc. Bradley Manning was selected for his job and trained to whether his superiors missed warning signs that he was downloading documents he had no need to read.

    The report could change how the Army — the largest distributor of government security clearances — grants access to government documents as well as lead to recommendations of charges against soldiers who worked with Manning and may have been aware of his activities.

    Manning was first detained in Iraq in May, where he was stationed as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army; he was charged in July and transferred to a Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia and immediately placed in solitary confinement.

    Manning, now 23, reportedly isn't cooperating with investigators, and Defense Department officials who've been briefed on the case said according to their most recent information, now months old, no direct tie has been established between Manning and Assange.

    Read more about Bradley Manning's confinement conditions

    2010-12-23 Peninsula:WikiLeaks to release Israel documents in six months

    Peninsula has posted a partial transcript of an interview in Arabic with Julian Assange. Here is the full interview with Ahmed Mansour for Al Jazeera's 'Without Borders'.

    “There are 3,700 files related to Israel and the source of 2,700 files is Israel. In the next six months we intend to publish more files depending on our sources,” said Assange in the nearly one-hour interview telecast live from the UK.

    “The Guardian, El-Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel. Even New York Times could not publish more due to the sensitivities related to the Jewish community in the US,” he added.

    2010-12-23 The Age: Media union waives Assange's fees

    The Age reports that the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance in Australia have waived Julian Assnge's fees for a year.

    Australia's media union has waived Julian Assange's fees for a year after MasterCard cancelled his credit card. ...

    Louise Connor, the union's Victorian secretary, said Assange had been a union member since 1997. She said Assange had not breached the journalists' code of ethics and that he continued to protect his sources and publish in the public interest.

    2010-12-23 UN & IACHR Joint Statement on WikiLeaks

    The UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression issued a joint statement on December 21st.

    In light of ongoing developments related to the release of diplomatic cables by the organization Wikileaks, and the publication of information contained in those cables by mainstream news organizations, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression see fit to recall a number of international legal principles. The rapporteurs call upon States and other relevant actors to keep these principles in mind when responding to the aforementioned developments.

    1. The right to access information held by public authorities is a fundamental human right subject to a strict regime of exceptions. The right to access to information protects the right of every person to access public information and to know what governments are doing on their behalf. It is a right that has received particular attention from the international community, given its importance to the consolidation, functioning and preservation of democratic regimes. Without the protection of this right, it is impossible for citizens to know the truth, demand accountability and fully exercise their right to political participation. National authorities should take active steps to ensure the principle of maximum transparency, address the culture of secrecy that still prevails in many countries and increase the amount of information subject to routine disclosure.

    2. At the same time, the right of access to information should be subject to a narrowly tailored system of exceptions to protect overriding public and private interests such as national security and the rights and security of other persons. Secrecy laws should define national security precisely and indicate clearly the criteria which should be used in determining whether or not information can be declared secret. Exceptions to access to information on national security or other grounds should apply only where there is a risk of substantial harm to the protected interest and where that harm is greater than the overall public interest in having access to the information. In accordance with international standards, information regarding human rights violations should not be considered secret or classified.

    3. Public authorities and their staff bear sole responsibility for protecting the confidentiality of legitimately classified information under their control. Other individuals, including journalists, media workers and civil society representatives, who receive and disseminate classified information because they believe it is in the public interest, should not be subject to liability unless they committed fraud or another crime to obtain the information. In addition, government "whistleblowers" releasing information on violations of the law, on wrongdoing by public bodies, on a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, or on a breach of human rights or humanitarian law should be protected against legal, administrative or employment-related sanctions if they act in good faith. Any attempt to impose subsequent liability on those who disseminate classified information should be grounded in previously established laws enforced by impartial and independent legal systems with full respect for due process guarantees, including the right to appeal.

    4. Direct or indirect government interference in or pressure exerted upon any expression or information transmitted through any means of oral, written, artistic, visual or electronic communication must be prohibited by law when it is aimed at influencing content. Such illegitimate interference includes politically motivated legal cases brought against journalists and independent media, and blocking of websites and web domains on political grounds. Calls by public officials for illegitimate retributive action are not acceptable.

    5. Filtering systems which are not end-user controlled – whether imposed by a government or commercial service provider – are a form of prior censorship and cannot be justified. Corporations that provide Internet services should make an effort to ensure that they respect the rights of their clients to use the Internet without arbitrary interference.

    6. Self-regulatory mechanisms for journalists have played an important role in fostering greater awareness about how to report on and address difficult and controversial subjects. Special journalistic responsibility is called for when reporting information from confidential sources that may affect valuable interests such as fundamental rights or the security of other persons. Ethical codes for journalists should therefore provide for an evaluation of the public interest in obtaining such information. Such codes can also provide useful guidance for new forms of communication and for new media organizations, which should likewise voluntarily adopt ethical best practices to ensure that the information made available is accurate, fairly presented and does not cause substantial harm to legally protected interests such as human rights.

    2010-12-23 United Nations to look into complaints about treatment of Bradley Manning

    After an article in the NY Times announced that the United Nations' top anti-torture envoy is looking into a complaint that Bradley Manning has been mistreated in custody, Fox News wrote that the U.S. military told the United Nations on Wednesday that it had nothing to worry about.
    "It's not the Shangri-La," Villiard said, "but other prisoners in the wing receive the same treatment."
    The potential United Nations investigation should therefore provide a gleam of hope to all of the other political prisoners in the US being held without trial and in solitary confinement. Please keep writing.

    2010-12-23 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    El País: Industria crea un concurso a medida de una firma solar de California a petición de EE UU (The Secretary of Industry created a contest to suit the profile of a Californian solar company after asked to do so by the United States)

    "El embajador reclamó a Sebastián en enero que la empresa Solar Reserve entrara en el cupo termosolar siete meses fuera de plazo, según un cable. En noviembre el Gobierno convocó un concurso diseñado para la compañía, que proyecta una central en Ciudad Real. (The American ambassador demanded in January to the judge Miguel Sebastián to accept the company Solar Reserve in the termosolar competition seven months after the contest was due, according with the cable. Designed to suit such company, the contest started by the government in November and projects new facilities in Ciudad Real.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El Gobierno asegura que Pumpido intentó abrir una vía judicial para la familia Couso en EE UU (The Spanish government affirms that Pumpido tried to open a judicial case against the Couso family in the United States)

    "Rubalcaba defiende que España tomó una posición más activa en el caso de lo que hacen pensar las revelaciones de los cables de la Embajada de EE UU. ([The First Vice-president of the Spanish government and Internal Minister] Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba argues that Spain tried a more active position on this case than the one that could be inferred after the revelations of the American embassy’s cables.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Francia rechaza los planes de desarme nuclear de la Casa Blanca (France rejects the White House’s plans on nuclear disarmament)

    "Sarkozy se resiste a que la propuesta de un mundo sin armas atómicas lanzada por Obama obligue a eliminar la fuerza de disuasión francesa. (Sarkozy is reluctant to the proposal by Obama on nuclear disarmament to eliminate the French dissuasion weapons.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Berlusconi y la oposición recelan de la justicia italiana (Berlusconi and the opposition distrust the Italian justice)

    "Tanto el jefe del Gobierno como D'Alema, líder en la sombra del centro-izquierda, aseguran a la Embajada de EE UU en Roma que la magistratura amenaza al Estado. (Both the President and D’Alema, leader of the center-leftist shade, affirm to the American embassy that the magistracy threats the country.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU quiere vigilar de por vida al jefe de Al Qaeda en España (The United States want to keep watching on the chief of Al Qaeda in Spain during his whole life)

    "Pretende que se incluya a Abu Dahdah en una lista negra de terroristas. Interior apoya la iniciativa pero Exteriores se ha opuesto, según revelan los cables secretos de la embajada. ( The US want to put Abu Dahdah in a list of terrorists. The Spanish government aproves the initiative, but the office of foreign affairs opposes it.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: España entregó una lista secreta de 87 posibles islamistas (Spain gave to the US a secret list with 87 alleged islamists)

    "El Gobierno facilitó en 2004 a la Embajada de Estados Unidos una lista de 87 sospechosos islamistas "con posibles vínculos terroristas en España" entre los que figuran cinco españoles, según recoge uno de los cables de la legación diplomática. El documento, sin clasificar, advierte que el texto completo no es accesible. (The Spanish government provided in 2004 to the American Embassy with a list of 87 suspicious islamists "with possible terrorist links in Spain"; five Spaniards are part of the list, according to one of the American diplomatic cables. The document, without classification, admits that the complete text is inaccessible.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    Toronto Star: "Dirty oil" anger shocked Tories, leaked documents show

    "Canada was 'too slow' to respond to the damage done to the country’s reputation by the Alberta oilsands, then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the American envoy in Ottawa a meeting last year. Despite the brave public face of the Conservative government, Prentice told U.S. ambassador David Jacobson that he was stunned by backlash around the world to carbon-intensive Canadian oil and was prepared to correct the damage done with stringent emissions-cutting regulations."

    Read more

    2010-12-24 Glenn Greenwald: What WikiLeaks revealed to the world in 2010

    Glenn Greenwald has assembled a graphic collection of headlines from around the world that dramatize how much WikiLeaks has revealed since April 2010, and counters claims either that there was "nothing new" in the documents or that they have done "grave harm" to U.S. national security.

    As a coda to the succession of headlines, Greenwald writes:

    Those are the truths that led WikiLeaks -- and whomever the leaker(s) is -- to sacrifice their own interests in order to disclose to the world.

    Read more

    2010-12-24 Huffington Post: Bianca Jagger - Trial by Newspaper

    Bianca Jagger has written a long and detailed article in the Huffington Post condemning Nick Davies' recent article for the Guardian.

    I object to the Guardian's decision to publish selective passages from the Swedish police report, whilst omitting exculpatory evidence contained in the document. ...

    Assange has been criticized for not being willing to return to Sweden to prove his innocence. It is hardly surprising he has reservations, given Sweden's human rights record. ...

    In the Today Show on December 21st, Assange revealed that Sweden has requested that if he returns and is arrested, he is to be held incommunicado, and his Swedish lawyer is to be given a gag order. ...

    I suspect that what is on trial here is not Julian Assange's alleged sexual misconduct, but freedom of speech ....

    2010-12-24 WikiLeaks in today's media: Extradition coverage


    The Guardian reports on Julian Assange's views on a prospective extradition request from the USA while he is in the UK in an ongoing Swedish extradition process.

    Julian Assange said today that it would be "politically impossible" for Britain to extradite him to the United States, and that the final word on his fate if he were charged with espionage would rest with David Cameron.

    In an interview with the Guardian in Ellingham Hall, the Norfolk country mansion where he is living under virtual house arrest, the founder of WikiLeaks said it would be difficult for the prime minister to hand him over to the Americans if there was strong support for him from the British people.

    "It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.

    Read more

    2010-12-25 Le Monde names WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Man of the Year


    Le Monde Magazine: WikiLeaks: défis et limites de la transparence (WikiLeaks: challenges and limits of transparency)

    "Julian Assange homme de l'année? Time Magazine a hésité, puis lui a préféré Mark Zuckerberg, le père de Facebook. L'homme de WikiLeaks, ou l'homme de Facebook? Le Monde a hésité aussi, mettant en plus dans la balance une femme exemplaire, qui n'a créé ni site pour fuites géantes ni réseau social, mais qui inspire tout un peuple par son idéal et son courage, Aung San Suu Kyi. Puis nous avons choisi Julian Assange – un choix confirmé par celui des lecteurs du"

    (Julian Assange: man of the year? Time Magazine hesitated, then chose instead Mark Zuckerberg, father of Facebook. The man of WikiLeaks, or the man of Facebook? Le Monde also hesitated, balancing as well an exemplary woman who has created neither a giant site for leaks nor a social-networking giant but who has inspired an entire people by her ideals and her courage, Aung San Suu Kyi. Finally we have chosen Julian Assange, a choice confirmed by the readers of Le

    Photo credit: Le Monde

    Read more (French)

    2010-12-25 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The New York Times: Cables Portray Expanded Reach of Drug Agency

    "The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables."

    Read more

    El País: Dubái reveló la pista israelí en la muerte de un líder de Hamás por temor a represalias (Due to feared sanctions, Dubai revealed the Israeli track on the death of famous Hamas leader)

    "El emirato quiso evitar que los radicales lo considerasen cómplice del Mosad. (The Emirate wanted to prevent the radicals from thinking Dubai was working with Mossad.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El Gobierno pidió ayuda a la CIA para paralizar la construcción de una fábrica española de ácido nítrico en Libia (The Spanish government asked for help to the CIA to prevent a Spanish factory of Nitric Acid from working in Libia)

    "Técnicas Reunidas nunca logró hacer la planta por la sospecha de que la factoría sirviese para elaborar combustible para misiles Scud. ("United Techniques" never achieved its facilities in Libia due to the suspicion of producing fuel for Scud missiles.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: La Agencia Antidroga de EE UU pone el punto de mira en África Occidental (The American Drug Enforcement Administration focuses on West Africa)

    "La DEA alerta de que la región ha caído en manos de los narcotraficantes sudamericanos. Los carteles usan esos países como escala en la ruta internacional de la cocaína. (The DEA warns about the region, allegedly on the ands of South American drugdealers. The cartels use these countries as part of the international route of cocaine.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El presidente de Panamá pidió a la DEA escuchas telefónicas (The President of Panama asked the DEA to wiretap [other politicians])

    "La agencia respondió que no espiaba a "objetivos políticos". (The Administration answered that they do not spy on "political targets".)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-26 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    El País: China garantizó su apoyo a EE UU en lo peor de la crisis financiera (China announced its support to the United States during the worst part of the financial crisis)

    "Pekín sugirió que seguiría comprando deuda pública estadounidense tras la quiebra de Lehman Brothers para no recrudecer la crisis. Amenazó a Washington con cambiar su política de adquisición de bonos por una operación de venta de armas a Taiwán. (Beijing suggested that it will keep buying American public debt after Lehman Brothers bankruptcy to not make the crisis worse. Though it threatened Washington with changing that policy due to an American weapons deal with Taiwan.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Washington destapó el ataque israelí a Siria tras ocultarlo siete meses (Washington unveiled the Israeli attack against Siria after covering it for seven months)

    "EE UU solo informó a sus aliados del bombardeo de una planta atómica secreta en el desierto sirio para impulsar la investigación nuclear de Naciones Unidas. (The United States informed only to its allies about an Israeli bombing of a secret nuclear facility in the Syrian desert in order to push nuclear investigations in the UN forward.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU ve el juicio contra Jodorkovski como una farsa (The United States sees the trial against Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a charade)

    "La Embajada en Moscú considera que el antiguo magnate del petróleo ruso es una víctima del régimen de Putin. (The American Embassy in Moscow believes the former russian oil magnate is a victim of Putin's regime.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-27 FireDogLake and Glenn Greenwald: Adrian Lamo, Kevin Poulsen and Mark Rasch

    Image The story of Bradley Manning's arrest has had one crucial detail missing for the last six months. The chat logs allegedly between Adrian Lamo and Bradley Manning have had 75% of their alleged content redacted by the journalists allowed access to them, and the details of the initial contact between Manning and Lamo have never been understood. While the NY Times is content to run a front page article detailing testimony from a mentally unstable ex-felon who is suddenly remembering details that directly contradict what he stated last fall, other journalists have dug much deeper.

    Glenn Greenwald continues to call for an end to the chat logs suppression by Wired, as he also continues to pursue the relationships between Wired, the FBI, and Adrian Lamo (the sole provider of evidence against Bradley Manning). A few things we now know, courtesy of Greenwald and the sources he references, about Lamo, his friend Kevin Poulsen who published the chat logs story, and their accomplice Mark Rasch who put Lamo in touch with federal law authorities in order to inform on Manning:

    • Lamo and Poulsen are both convicted felons who were prosecuted by the FBI and have maintained contact with at least one former adversary.
    • Lamo was involuntarily hospitalized for severe psychiatric distress three weeks before his chats with Manning.
    • Poulsen was the initial recipient of the Lamo / Manning chat logs and the journalist who initially published the chat logs story.
    • Rasch is the former chief of the DOJ's Computer Crimes Unit in the 1990s.
    • Rasch is the General Counsel of "Project Vigilant," the vigilante group that claims to gather Internet communications and hand them over to the U.S. government.
    • Rasch is the person who put Poulsen in prison for several years.
    • Rasch is a regular contributor to Wired.
    • Rasch is a long-time associate and source for Poulsen.
    • Poulsen's first job when getting out of prison was with Security Focus, the same entity for which Rasch also regularly wrote.
    • Although it was Poulsen who almost always and exclusively wrote about Lamo, Rasch filled in when Poulsen was unavailable.
    • Rasch has been a long-time source for Poulsen going back to 1999 and 2001, including when Poulsen was writing about Lamo, and was also Poulsen's source repeatedly for articles he wrote at Wired.
    • Rasch has also been a regular source for Wired's Kim Zetter, who was Poulsen's co-author on the Manning articles (on November 29, an ABC News story on Manning featured Rasch as an "expert" analyzing the accusations without any disclosure of the key role he played in Manning's arrest).
    • While many convicted hackers had very rigid restrictions placed on them when leaving prison Poulsen not only quickly began writing online as a journalist about the hacker world, but did so at the very same publication that also published articles by his prosecutor, Mark Rasch.

    Meanwhile Marcy Wheeler asks some very good questions regarding When Did Adrian Lamo Start Working With Federal Investigators? and FireDogLake presents a wonderful pieced together version of the chat logs as we know them so far.

    As the DoJ tries to assemble a case of conspiracy against the first media organization to provide a truly anonymous, untraceable, completely automated, no-contact, document drop off, this is the evidence they will be relying on and these are the people bringing it. These are also the people and evidence keeping Bradley Manning in solitary confinement. Thank you to Glenn Greenwald and FireDogLake for diligence and integrity in journalism.

    Kevin Poulsen has tweeted that he will respond to Greenwald's latest tomorrow. We will link if he does.

    Photo Credit Adrian Lamo Facebook via Glenn Greenwald

    2010-12-27 Notes on the persecution of Julian Assange

    There is no doubt that Wikileaks is under continuous attack: threats from the Pentagon; calls by the old Republican right and the recently empowered Tea Party for a direct attack on what they have called a “terrorist threat”; the renowned boycotts by Paypal, Moneybookers, Amazon and now even Apple; the Australian government’s reticence to defend its citizen (Julian Assange); the rejection of Mr. Assange’s residence in Sweden for unexplained causes, and the list grows.

    Now even though many voices have hinted, or even openly declared, that the rape charges against him are just another part of this campaign, because of its sensitive nature it is wiser not to hurry in our conclusions. What is clear though is that the constant irregularities at the heart of the case can make it questionable, which is why many of those voices are worried about the real motivation behind the accusations. Last August, in the middle of the political storm unleashed by the leak in July related to the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Assange was casually dating the liberal politologist and Swedish activist, Anna Ardin. According to her version of the story, he would have forced her sexually on the night of the 14th of that month, pressing charges around a week later.

    It must be made clear that it is perfectly possible that Mr. Assange committed rape; that we must not judge him with a different ethos because of his actions with Wikileaks and the esteem he carries. However, Anna Ardin’s lack of care allows us to see what is perhaps the true nature of the facts, as in the days following the alleged rape, she posted two comments on her microblogging accounts, Twitter and Bloggy, in which she not only does not complain of any sort of harassment, but seems to be thrilled with his company. When alerted and accused by the Swedish journalist Göran Rudling, Ardin erased both posts from her account. Is this the attitude of a supposed rape victim, deleting objective and very relevant information about the case? Evidently, her actions speak by themselves. The good thing, as we have mentioned before on this blog, is that everything you do on the Internet leaves a trace, and effectively, Google recorded her comments in their image caches; Mr. Rudling found them and spread them on the net, making them impossible to be silenced (however, another obscure fact, that invites speculation, is that these caches were eliminated by Google from their servers, something that normally happens in years or never). In the case of the other victim, Sofia Wilen, related with Ardin only through Mr. Assange, we now know on behalf of the Swedish prosecutors that comments with the same contradictory nature were made by her through SMS on her mobile phone. There are a number of theories that attempt to explain these discrepancies: Ardin acts in a jealous tantrum when she discovers that Assange does not want a serious relationship and that he is simultaneously seeing Sofia Wilen (theory justified by her radical feminism, especially in articles such as this one and based on this other one, in which she elucidates methods on how to get ‘legal revenge’ on cheating boyfriends); Ardin has contacts with the CIA, acquired through her odd anti-Castrist activism and her participation in the Damas de Blanco organization, where she met Luis Posada Carriles and Carlos Alberto Montaner, supposedly old CIA collaborators. This last one, as with all conspiracy theories, is hard to prove with certainty even though the doubts are obvious and remain.

    The months following the arrest warrant are chaotic: Mr. Assange leaves Sweden several times; meanwhile the senior Swedish prosecutor, Eva Finne closes the case because of lack of evidence and Claes Borgstrom, a right-wing politician and lawyer to the two women, manages to reopen it in another district; reacting, Mr. Assange’s legal team offers its clients disposition to preliminary questioning: they receive no answer; he then asks permission to leave to England and it is conceded, he leaves and the media calls it absconding and fleeing; again he shows his disposition to questioning and again it is unanswered, Interpol enters the scene and an international ‘manhunt’ starts, magnified by the press; he gives himself in voluntarily and is jailed in solitary confinement without bail, he is kept there the for the maximum amount of time and has to pay a huge amount as bail; on the 16th of December he is freed but must remain in house arrest, with a tracking device attached to his body, waiting to be extradited.

    On the afternoon he has freed he gave an interview to the BBC, in which he explained the court procedures from the inside and shed light on the harassment of his liberties: “We did not hear any evidence whatsoever; in fact, we heard an argument that has been repeated now over this court hearing and the prior too: that no evidence whatsoever needed to be produced and in fact none has been produced […] the preliminary actions in Sweden were done in secret, there was an application in Sweden to have me held incommunicado, there is a statement by the prosecutor that my lawyer is to be gagged.” Is this the normal behavior in an average rape trial? Again, the facts speak for themselves. It is clearly, as Mr. Assange has said, a smear campaign, designed by Wikileaks’ political enemies to misinform the general public, through the media they control and through the Internet. He stated that, “my name, if you search on the Internet, appears in some five million web pages, four million of those also mention de word rape. There are thirty three million web pages altogether on the Internet that mention the word rape in any context, which means I am mentioned in over 1/10th of all the contexts of all the rapes ever documented on the Internet. This has been a very successful smear campaign”. It seems that they are holding him only to make his name appear next to ‘rape’ and far away from freedom of speech, transparency and truth; however, as of now, we can only wonder. It is another chapter in the war of information, with frightening conclusions like “some disturbing aspects of Europe, for example, that any person in any European country can be extradited to any other European country without the provision of any evidence”.

    To counter this initiative we must ask ourselves, as global and compromised citizens, some frank questions: As Mr. Assange correctly points out, what is happening with human rights and freedom in Europe? How should we react if he is finally extradited and put on trial according to the Espionage act of 1917 , which could have him jailed or even see him executed? And more importantly, why is everybody talking so much about him instead of questioning the obvious war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why not concentrate on the lies that covered up the deaths of many innocent civilians? And finally, what can be done, as a global civil society, to bring the people responsible to justice?

    2010-12-27 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: Morgan Tsvangirai faces possible Zimbabwe treason charge

    "Lawyers to examine PM's comments on sanctions after WikiLeaks reveals talks with US diplomats. Zimbabwe is to investigate bringing treason charges against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other individuals over confidential talks with US diplomats revealed by WikiLeaks."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks: rule of law in Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial merely 'gloss'

    "US dismisses Russian efforts to show due process in tycoon's trial, whose verdict is due today, as 'lipstick on a political pig'.

    The trial of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky shows the Kremlin preserves a "cynical system where political enemies are eliminated with impunity", US diplomats say in classified cables released by WikiLeaks today." [Though this information has been already released by El País: 26-12-2010]

    Read more

    El País: EE UU usa el arresto de un marine de la VI Flota para tildar de racista a la policía (The United States used the case of an arrested marine to argue that the police in Spain are racist)

    "Washington alertó el pasado verano a sus ciudadanos del riesgo que corrían los turistas afroamericanos que viajaran a España. (Last summer, Washington warned its citizens about the alleged risk for African-American tourists traveling to Spain.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Siria alentó el ataque a las embajadas por las caricaturas de Mahoma (Syria cheered the attack against the embassies do to the Muhammad cartoons)

    "El primer ministro dio instrucciones al gran muftí para que los imanes caldearan las protestas. El régimen usó los disturbios para legitimarse. (The Prime Minister gave instructions to the Great Mufti to encourage the protests through the Imams. The regime utilized the disturbances to publicize itself.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: "Piñera maneja la política y sus negocios al límite de la ética y la ley" ("Piñera leads politics and business on the ethical and legal edge")

    "La Embajada de EE UU en Santiago siguió con recelo la carrera del actual presidente de Chile antes de la campaña que le llevaría al poder en 2010. (The American Embassy in Santiago followed with mistrust the current Chilean President's road to the campaign that gave him the power in 2010.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    The Sydney Morning Herald: Australian police help build secret hit lists

    "Australian police in Afghanistan have helped compile secret intelligence files on insurgent leaders later targeted in capture-or-kill missions by special forces soldiers.

    The Pentagon has confirmed that Australian Federal Police officers are ''assigned to work with'' a joint police task force in Kabul that produces files used by military commanders to "shape the battlefield" - a term often used to describe the capture-or-kill raids mounted by elite troops in Afghanistan."

    Read more

    2010-12-27 WikiLeaks named the top newsmaker of 2010 by Al Jazeera, Postmedia and

    Wikileaks is named the top newsmaker of 2010 by Al Jazeera and senior editors at Postmedia Network newspapers and

    “Assange’s organization indisputably demonstrated the emerging power of social media, while illustrating the risks governments run when they say one thing in private and another in public,” said Marlon Marshall, managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post.

    “This was a game-changer in terms of citizen journalism, as well as marking a shift in the balance of power between government, big business and the collective citizenry via social media,” agreed Patricia Graham, editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun.

    2010-12-27 WikiLeaks writers killed in Kenya 5 March 2009

    In a recent BBC interview Julian Assange stated: "People affiliated with our organization have already been assassinated." This was not pursued by the BBC interviewer, but apparently caused consternation among other members of the media who had not heard this story. So here it is for reference.

    Wikileaks writers killed in Kenya

    On Thursday afternoon March 5, Oscar Kamau Kingara, director of the Kenyan based Oscar legal aid Foundation, and its programme coordinator, John Paul Oulo, were shot at close range in their car less than a mile from President Kibaki's residence. The two were on their way to a meeting at the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights.

    Both had been investigating extrajudicial assassinations by the Kenyan Police. Part of their work forms the basis of the "Cry of Blood" report Wikileaks released on November 1 last year and subsequent followups, including the UN indictment last month. ...

    Two men got out, approached the vehicle of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu, and shot them through the windows at close range. According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the minibus was in police uniform whilst the other men were wearing suits. The closest eyewitness to the incident was shot in the leg and later taken away by policemen.

    2010-12-28 Dave Winer on Amazon and Apple contracts with US government

    Dave Winer published an excerpt of a promotional email from Amazon today which he calls "the 800 pound gorilla in the room." It sheds more light on Amazon's officially
    stated reason for denying service to Wikileaks.

    "Government adoption of AWS grew significantly in 2010. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board became the first government-wide agency to migrate to a cloud-based environment when it moved to AWS in March 2010. Today we have nearly 20 government agencies leveraging AWS, and the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments. The U.S. General Services Administration awarded AWS the ability to provide government agencies with cloud services through the government's cloud storefront, Additional AWS customers include, the Federal Register 2.0 at the National Archives, the project at DoE's National Renewable Energy Lab, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at USDA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. The current AWS compliance framework covers FISMA, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, SAS70 type II, and HIPAA, and we continue to seek certifications and accreditations that make it easier for government agencies to benefit from AWS."

    He also references a December 14 post in AppleInsider and points out that Apple banned a Wikileaks app from their store just one week after this article.

    The U.S. Army is interested in giving each of its soldiers a smartphone, and may give them a choice between Apple's iPhone or one running Google Android.

    Army officials visited Apple's campus in Cupertino, Calif., earlier this year to discuss the company's forthcoming products. The organization has shown interest for some time in embracing Apple's products, with officials in May noting that the "it just works" philosophy of the company caught the Army's eye.

    In 2008, it was revealed that the military had employed custom iPods for on-the-spot translating in Iraq. The new method offered soldiers the ability to translate with technology a fraction of the size and cost of the previously utilized technology.

    The Army has also used Macs in its IT infrastructure to deter potential hacking attempts, and in 2009 implemented Apple hardware for video surveillance installations. The Mac hardware was selected, officials said, for security purposes.

    2010-12-28 FireDogLake: Manning-WikiLeaks Resource

    The wonderful database of research into the Manning-Wikileaks prosecution evidence is growing at FireDogLake. They have given us the basic timeline of events, they merged all of the published portions of the chat logs into one version, and then documented everything that Lamo and others had said about the contents of the logs that were not contained in previously released versions here, and they have collected the key Wikileaks-Manning articles here.

    They are now working on compiling transcripts for each video/audio Adrian Lamo interview. Already complete and well worth reading are the June 17th, 2010 interview with Glenn Greenwald, parts one and two, and several other key interviews. Thanks once again to FireDogLake for exemplary journalism, because in their own words:

    The transcribed data will be used by Marcy Wheeler, Glenn Greenwald and others to try and piece together what actually happened — and hold journalists to a higher standard of more responsible coverage. We’ll also use it to work up a more detailed and extensive timeline of events.

    Because it doesn’t appear that the New York Times and other marquee media outlets are going to stop printing Adrian Lamo’s ever-evolving gibberish like it was gospel until they are all able to see, in painful obvious detail, how his story keeps morphing over time.

    2010-12-28 Operation Payback DDoS attacks on Bank of America

    Shortly after Bank of America decided to halt the processing of Wikileaks-related transactions, it became the newest target for the anonymous group who set into motion Operation Payback, a hacktivist movement aiming to "raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by ... companies to impair WikiLeaks' ability to function." (Press release in pdf format)

    On Monday, Bank of America's web site suffered sporadic downtimes, apparently as a result of DDoS attacks--the same kind of attacks that also plagued Visa, Master Card and Paypal, each of which also recently halted its financial services to Wikileaks.

    Raw Story was able to confirm, via two third party website verification services, [Bank of America's] site difficulties on Monday (with screenshots here and here).

    Greg Mitchell, who pens The Nation's media blog, also noted sporadic outages on Bank of America's domain.

    Operation Payback is not new. Shortly after threats were waged against end-users for P2P media file-sharing, DDoS attacks were launched against the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and AiPlex, which is an anti-piracy company that itself made use of DDoS attacks to target The Pirate Bay and other piracy organizations (mainly bittorrent-tracking sites).

    Upon learning of Operation Payback's activities against Visa, Master Card and other financial and government-related sites, Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson clarified Wikileak's stance on the issue: 'We neither condemn nor applaud these attacks. We believe they are a reflection of public opinion on the actions of the targets.'"

    Addendum: Abridged list of tweets for the plan of attack on Bank of America.

    2010-12-28 Robert Meeropol issues statement in support of Julian Assange [Updated]

    The Executive Director for the Rosenberg Children's Fund and long time activist, Robert Meeropol, made a statement last week urging support and defense of Julian Assange in anticipation of the use of the US Espionage Act against him. Meeropol's own experiences with the Espionage Act have led him to extend particular criticisms of its use in a constitutional context. It is with this in mind that he voices support for Julian Assange.

    I view the Espionage Act of 1917 as a lifelong nemesis. My parents were charged, tried and ultimately executed after being indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage under that act.

    The 1917 Act has a notorious history. It originally served to squelch opposition to World War I. It criminalized criticism of the war effort, and sent hundreds of dissenters to jail just for voicing their opinions. It transformed dissent into treason.

    Many who attacked the law noted that the framers of the Constitution had specifically limited what constituted treason by writing it into the Constituton: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” (Article III, section 3). The framers felt this narrow definition was necessary to prevent treason from becoming what some called “the weapon of a political faction.” Furthermore, in their discussions at the Constitutional Convention they agreed that spoken opposition was protected by the First Amendment and could never be considered treason.

    It appears obvious that the Espionage Act is unconstitutional because it does exactly what the Constitution prohibits. It is, in other words, an effort to make an end run around the Treason Clause of the Constitution. Not surprisingly, however, as we’ve seen in times of political stress, the Supreme Court upheld its validity in a 5-4 decision. Although later decisions seemed to criticize and limit its scope, the Espionage Act of 1917 has never been declared unconstitutional. To this day, with a few notable exceptions that include my parents’ case, it has been a dormant sword of Damocles, awaiting the right political moment and an authoritarian Supreme Court to spring to life and slash at dissenters.

    -originally posted by Robert Meeropol on 23 Dec 2010

    UPDATE 2010-12-29: An updated version of this article was published at Alternet

    2010-12-28 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    El País: El poder: la mejor manera de robar un banco en África (The power: best way of robbing a bank)

    "Un confidente revela a EE UU el desvío de 28 millones de las reservas de seis países al clan del presidente de Gabón. (An informer reveals to the United States the skimming of 28 million from the reserves of six countries to the Gabon President's crew.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Rania de Jordania es influyente y colabora en la gestión del reino (Rania of Jordan is influential and collaborates in the administration of the kingdom)

    "La soberana no es una mera consorte, y su origen palestino divide a los jordanos. (The sovereign is not just a spouse and her palestinian origin divides the Jordan people.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: El futuro presidente de China es "elitista" y "muy ambicioso" (The next President of China is "elitist" and "very ambitious".)

    "Los cables de la diplomacia norteamericana describen a Xi Jinping como un príncipe del régimen al que "solo puede corromper el poder". (The cables from the American diplomacy describe Xi Jinping as a prince of the regime to whom "power can only corrupt".)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-28 Wired Response to Glenn Greenwald

    The Wired rebuttal to Glenn Greenwald's article yesterday is online. It is written by both Kevin Poulsen and Evan Hansen, each making their own points as follows.

    The Case for Privacy

    • The cables were not released in their entirety out of "consideration, thus far, of Manning’s privacy."
    • Poulsen's criminal record is irrelevant. Agreed, until he starts cooperating too closely with the FBI, then it is worth a look at.
    • –Evan Hansen, Editor-in-Chief

      A Litany of Errors

      • Lamo was a very important and newsworthy hacker.
      • Greenwald should inform his readers that Jacob Appelbaum had an association with WikiLeaks before quoting him on Lamo.
      • Rasch, who worked for the Justice Department in Washington D.C., left government service in 1991. I had two prosecutors in my phone-hacking case: David Schindler in Los Angeles and Robert Crowe in San Jose, California.

      -Kevin Poulsen, Senior Editor

      By my assessment, this very long, two author rebuttal has one newsworthy point, which is the last. This was the reference Greenwald used.

      Update: Greenwald comes back here and provides more sources and dates for the Poulsen-Rasch connection here. He also states, and supports, that he was not aware of Jacob Appelbaum's association with WikiLeaks when he wrote the article in question.

    2010-12-29 Amnesty: Sweeping new media law threatens freedom of expression in Hungary

    As reported by Amnesty International and Der Speigel Hungary is introducing a new law coming into force on January 1, 2011 (the same time Hungary will be taking over the EU presidency) which will impose unprecedented restrictions on the freedom of the press in the European Union.

    Amnesty:"A newly created National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will have the power to impose heavy fines, ranging from up to 35,000 Euros for periodicals to up to 730,000 Euros for broadcast media, for content it considers to run counter to the “public interest”, “common morality” and “national order”. Fines can also be imposed for “unbalanced” news reporting.

    None of these terms are clearly defined in the law and their interpretation is left to the NMHH. The NMHH also has the power to shut down news outlets.

    There are also concerns about the political independence of the National Media and Communications Authority, whose five board members were appointed by the ruling Fidesz party without broader consultation or any parliamentary scrutiny."

    2010-12-29 Chat Logs and Adrian Lamo

    The Glenn Greenwald / Kevin Poulsen exchanges this week have centred around a dispute over the alleged Bradley Manning / Adrian Lamo chat logs that form the sole evidence currently implicating Manning in leaking classified information.

    As a little more background into Lamo's reliability at the time the chat logs were published, here is a June 22, 2010 thread on Fairfax Underground where someone posted another leaked chat log involving Lamo's wife and Nadim, a person Lamo refers to as a "disgruntled fan".

    The original poster also includes the portion of the chat logs which Lamo claims he leaked to Wikileaks, further claiming they then "outed" him as their source. This thread is discussed in an article in DailyTech which contains an update at the end when they discovered that Lamo had actually outed himself "in the form of a podcast interview Lamo gave to an Australian blog site".

    All of the evidence into the mental state and reliability of the sole informant in this case raises the question of why chat logs, in the hands of a self proclaimed hacker, passed on to a journalist who professes great respect for the hacking skills of this source, are being treated as reliable legal evidence. In what format were they provided to Wired (and the DoJ)? Was there third party monitoring? Why did Wired believe these logs, knowing their source? Why should anyone?

    2010-12-29 NPR Fesses Up to WikiLeaks’ Coverage Blunder, Now It’s Everyone Else’s Turn

    In response to today's correction from NPR of their Wikileaks coverage, Matthew L. Schafer at Lippmann Would Roll has compiled a list of other news outlets who should follow their example. While NPR's correction focused on the number of cables published, 1,942 instead of roughly 250,000, Schafer points out other errors that media outlets should avoid:

    Moreover, many outlets used phrases similar to “document dump” to describe WikiLeaks’ publishing, which likely leads to the misconception that WikiLeaks did cavalierly publish all 250,000 cables. According to a LexisNexis search, on 397 separate occasions, newspapers around the world used the phrase “document dump.” ...

    It’s worth mentioning that often the word “release” is not attributed. That is, the articles do not say to whom the release was made. A release by the website to the public? WikiLeaks’ release of the documents to the newspapers? Thus, a newspaper may say that it was referring to WikiLeaks release of all cables to its newspaper partners, but this is far from clear.

    2010-12-29 OpEdNews: Whistleblower Protections Halted by Tyranny of One

    OpEdNews has an interviewwith Shanna Devine, the Legislative Campaign Coordinator at GAP [the Government Accountability Project]. The US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) was just defeated in the House. Ironically, the protection to expose secrets was blocked by something called a "secret hold", one anonymous person.

    S. 372 would have increased opportunities for whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing within a system instead of relying on external organizations for exposure. It would have eliminated current loopholes such as:

    Currently, you are not eligible for federal whistleblower protection if : you are not the first person who discloses given misconduct; you make a disclosure to your co-worker; you make a disclosure to your supervisor; you disclose the consequences of a policy decision; and the kicker: if you blow the whistle while carrying out your job duties.

    2010-12-29 Peninsula: Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange

    Peninsula has an article based on a continuation of last week's interview with Julian Assange by Ahmed Mansour for Al Jazeera Arabic.

    The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA. ...

    What is being published by the five media partners of WikiLeaks are only those details which they think are interesting for their readers. There are some Arab officials who are ‘stealing’ oil of their countries. “We need these media partners to focus more on this issue.”

    2010-12-29 Pirate Parties condemn violence against employees of WikiLeaks

    The following Pirate Parties of Europe have issued a joint statement condemning all attacks on the infrastructure of Wikileaks and employees of Wikileaks.

    - Pirate Party of Germany
    - Pirate Party of France
    - Pirate Party of Italy
    - Pirate Party of Austria
    - Pirate Party of Russia
    - Pirate Party of Switzerland
    - Pirate Party of Luxembourg
    - Pirate Party of the United Kingdom

    2010-12-29 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    El País: El jefe de la Guardia Revolucionaria abofeteó a Ahmadineyad, según EE UU (The Chief of the Revolutionary Guard slapped Ahmadineyad's face, according to the United States)

    "El presidente de Irán sorprendió a los clérigos con una propuesta de apertura. La diplomacia estadounidense asegura que su fuente es de gran fiabilidad. (Iranian President surprised the clerics with an offer of openness. The American diplomacy affirms its source is completely reliable.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU sospecha que el Gobierno de Bolivia simuló una trama terrorista (The United States suspects the Bolivian government faked a terrorist threat)

    "Un testigo asegura a la Embajada en La Paz que los servicios de inteligencia prepararon un falso compló para matar a Evo Morales y culpar a la oposición. (A witness assure to the American embassy in La Paz that the intelligence services prepared a fake complot to kill Evo Morales and actually blame his political opposition.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: EE UU consideró a Enríquez-Ominami un candidato "poco serio" para Chile (The United States believed Enríquez-Ominami was not "a serious enough" candidate for Chile)

    ""Sus aptitudes son su encanto, sus apellidos y su hermosa mujer", dice un informe. ("His talents are his charm, his family name and his beautiful wife", says a cable.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Estambul, nido de espías sobre Irán (Istanbul, nest for spies on Iran)

    "El Consulado de EE UU recaba valiosa información entre una diáspora iraní en Turquía amenazada por Teherán. (The American Consulate compiles valuable information between an Iranian diaspora in Turkey threatened by Tehran.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-30 Clearing the Air of Nick Davies' Misinformation

    Today, Huffington Post published an article by Nick Davies, from the Guardian, in response to Bianca Jagger's Huffpost article. Jagger had been critical of Davies' role in the publication in The Guardian of the details from the police investigation report on the allegations against Julian Assange.

    In his article today, Davies states that the publication of the details from the police report served the purpose of balancing out baseless speculation about the Swedish investigation. He claims it was necessary in particular to counterbalance a campaign of misinformation on the part of Wikileaks, and Julian Assange. This is very misleading. The substance of the claim is laid out below.

    From Nick Davies: The Julian Assange Investigation -- Let's Clear the Air of Misinformation:

    Jagger calls this 'trial by media'. I call it an attempt to inject some evidence into a global debate which has been fueled by speculation and misinformation. On August 21, when this story first broke, Assange used Twitter to spread the idea that the two women who had gone to the police were engaged in 'dirty tricks'. His lawyer subsequently claimed that a 'honeytrap' had been sprung. Assange's celebrity supporters have announced to the mass media that the allegations are 'without foundation', that 'there is no prima facie evidence'. These statements have gone around the world. Millions of well-meaning people have been persuaded to believe them. The two women, who have been identified on the Internet, have had their reputations ruined by the claim that they cruelly colluded to destroy an innocent man. The Swedish police and prosecutors have been held up to ridicule as corrupt and/or incompetent partners in the plot.

    Our story showed: first, that the Swedish police have found no evidence of any such dirty tricks (which would not surprise the conspiracy theorists); secondly, that in his interview with Swedish police on August 30, Assange himself never began to suggest that the allegations were any kind of dirty trick; thirdly, that Assange's supporters in Stockholm had tried to find evidence and come up empty, concluding, as the Swedish WikiLeaks coordinator put it to us: "This is a normal police investigation. Let the police find out what actually happened. Of course, the enemies of WikiLeaks may try to use this, but it begins with the two women and Julian. It is not the CIA sending a woman in a short skirt."

    And by publishing our story, we achieved something: Julian Assange was forced to admit, in interviews with the London Times and with the BBC, that there is no evidence of a honeytrap. That matters very much.

    Davies here manages to leave the impression that Assange was engaged in a campaign of misinformation against the integrity of the alleged victims since the allegations began, and was only forced to concede that this was not the case after Davies published the details from the investigation.

    This is misleading. The tweet Davies refers to, without citation, is the following:

    We were warned to expect "dirty tricks". Now we have the first one:
    21 Aug

    It is clear from the text of the tweet that it does not directly impute "dirty tricks" to the alleged victims of the alleged crimes, as Davies claims Assange did, when he says "Assange used Twitter to spread the idea that the two women who had gone to the police were engaged in 'dirty tricks'." The imputation of "dirty tricks" is far less specific than that, and is consistent with the idea that the allegations are being manipulated by the Swedish prosecutor.

    In fact, the suspicion that there may be 'dirty tricks' involved has never, when explicated by Assange, in for instance the recent Frost interview, required any misconduct on the part of the alleged victims. Instead, as there, Assange raises the possibility that the alleged victims might themselves be the victim of said "dirty tricks."

    One might also wonder whether Assange had any role in the writing of these tweets, since it is a commonly known fact that a number of Wikileaks staffers use the Wikileaks Twitter account. Immediately subsequent tweets quote Assange in the third person:

    Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.
    21 Aug

    I have compiled, from WL Central's Wikileaks Twitter Archive, a list of all tweets pertinent to the Swedish allegations. It is evident from a perusal of them that the official Twitter account was never, as Davies claims it was, used specifically to impugn the reputation or integrity of the alleged victims. The more extraordinary claims about the provenance of the investigation that can be associated with the official twitter account are to be found only in third party articles linked to by the Wikileaks twitter account. I invite readers to peruse this compendium of tweets, or, if they want, the full twitter archive, or the official twitter account, to find the instances where Assange can be said, as Davies implies that he did, to have alleged a "honey trap."

    Davies claims that Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, claimed Assange had been the victim of a "honey trap." He fails to cite this claim. I have not been able to locate it. I would appreciate a citation of this claim. Nonetheless, it has to be pointed out that (below) Assange is on record as saying that Stephens claims he was misquoted. Further again, if it is in fact true that Stephens made this claim, it would be a mistake to blame Assange for this misinformation, although it would also be commendable that evidence against the claim might be fielded.

    Davies gives the impression, in the last paragraph quoted above, that Assange "was forced to admit" that there was no evidence of a "honey trap". This phrasing insinuates that Assange in fact alleged that he was the victim of a "honey trap" and implies that he lately admitted to having so alleged, while explicitly renouncing the idea. In fact, again, this is misleading. In the BBC interview, for instance, Assange clearly stated that he never claimed that he had been the victim of a "honey trap."

    From John Humphries: BBC Interview with Julian Assange (Transcript):

    Q: So you're not suggesting that this was a honey-trap? That you were somehow set up by the Americans, by the CIA? You don't buy into that idea because your lawyer's suggested that that's the case.
    JA: He says that he was misquoted. I have never said that this is a honey-trap.
    Q: You don't believe it?
    JA: I have never said that this is not a honey-trap. I'm not accusing anyone until I have proof.
    Q: Do you believe it is possible?
    JA: That's not how I operate as a journalist because almost everything is possible. I talk about what is probable.
    Q: All right, what do you think is probable here?
    JA: What is probable? It is less probable that there was that type of involvement at the very beginning. That kind of classic Russian-Moscow thing. That is not probable.

    Davies implies in his criticism of Assange's supporters that we must not be "content to recycle falsehood and distortion no matter what damage they may do." I commend Nick Davies' sentiments in this direction, and also commend his injection of scant factual material into an environment of media misinformation.

    I cannot, however, commend the partial and inflammatory manner in which he defends his actions, nor the misleading vividness with which he portrays the words and actions of Julian Assange. It is not for me to speculate on why he might have abandoned the emotional distance from his work that one would expect from so apparently conscientious a journalist. It will suffice merely to point out the extent to which he errs, or has misled, and I have tried to do that here.


    2010-12-30 Democracy Now: Interview with Robert Meeropol

    ImageDemocracy Now interviews Robert Meeropol, the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the only U.S. citizens to be executed under the Espionage Act. He states:

    Now, but it’s not surprising that the government would use conspiracy, whether it’s against my parents or whether it’s against the WikiLeaks people, because if you’re anybody who engages in conversation or discussion, and the government can get one person to testify that that discussion was to leak classified material, or to transmit information to the Soviet Union, in my parents case, they could be swept up in the dragnet. And you could get people to rat out their friends in order to get more lenient sentences. It sows distrust among the community of support. It scares other people into silence.

    And so, what we see here is, if there is a criminal indictment for conspiracy, not an attack on just Julian Assange himself, but on the entire community of support that is seeking to promote the very revolutionary idea that the people have the right to know what their government is doing, that’s what this ultimately is all about. And every left-wing, every progressive organizer, every organizer, in general—how can you engage in organizing, in getting groups of people to protest and coordinating activities, without engaging in what the government would term a conspiracy? And so, it is a threat to all of us. And that is really why I issued my call for us to recognize this. This Espionage Act of 1917 has been the sword of Damocles, sitting quietly, mostly unused, ready to spring out and attack dissenters. And when you have it in the context of the growing secrecy that we face today ... and an authoritarian-oriented Supreme Court, it is a danger to us all.

    The entire interview is very worth watching.

    2010-12-30 Julian Assange named The Nation's Person of the Year, CNN's Most Intriguing

    Julian Assange is The Nation readers' Person of the Year and CNN's Most Intriguing Person of 2010.

    The Nation: The response was strong and, interestingly, WilkiLeaks founder Assange was also our clear-cut winner because, as Lorna Singh pointed out, "we need to see how we were lied to," and, as Mike Pribula wrote, "he has reminded us about the importance of integrity in diplomacy and democratic ideals in our republic."

    2010-12-30 Selections from Twitter archive concerning Swedish investigation

    The following is a compendium of tweets dated up until the end of December, all of which are relevant to the Swedish investigation into Julian Assange. They have been drawn from the WL Central Twitter Archive, which is an archive of the tweets from the official Wikileaks Twitter Account. The full archive is available here.

    This selection of tweets was compiled to accompany this article.

    We were warned to expect "dirty tricks". Now we have the first one:

    Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting.

    Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.

    Official statement about the latest hot topic @

    Sweden clears WikiLeaks editor of rape | Politico

    Swedish arrest warrant revoked in Assange case | CNN

    "It seems an unusual time to embark on a career of multiple rape". Wry wit from Guardian.

    Why did Swedish prosecutors break their own policy in Assange case?

    "The charges are made and then withdrawn and the damage is done."

    Former Swedish chief prosecutor, Sven-Erik Alhem, demands explanations in Assange case

    RT @: Al Jazeera grills Swedish prosecutor over "defamation" of Julian Assange

    Sweden to investigate rape allegations

    Assange prosecutor cited for secrecy breach | TheLocal

    False Charges Ricochet in the War on WikiLeaks | Harpers

    WikiLeaks founder cleared of sex allegations | AP

    Julian Assange Gets The Bog Standard Smear Technique | Craig Murray

    It wrong and disturbing for the press to be talking about 'molestation'. Correct translation:

    Swedish chief prosecutor to restart rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder

    Attorney for WikiLeaks suspect says he's seen no evidence on documents | CNN

    Chancellor to Hunt Down Leak of Assange Dossier

    Leading human rights lawyer condemns handling of Assange case

    WikiLeaks founder free to leave Sweden | AFP

    An industry newsletter has the strongest coverage of the Swedish smear against Assange

    The Age investigates the rumors Julian's Swedish scandal | The Age

    A humorous look at Assange's Swedish troubles part 1: part 2:

    Wikileaks works while 'Pentagon Continues Smear Campaign' | AlterNet

    Sweden rejects Assange residency application on secret grounds | Aftonbladet

    Statement by Julian Assange's counsel Mark Stephens

    Finers Stephens Innocent

    LONDON, 1pm (cont)

    Why our editor-in-chief is busy and needs to be defended

    Thursday November 18, 2010


    In (cont)

    Press release by counsel for Julian Assange

    LONDON, 2pm Thursday November 18, 2010

    Mark Stephens of law firm (cont)

    Letter from Swedish Counsel Bjorn Hurtig to English co-Counsel for Julian Assange.

    Note Neither Mr. Assange nor (cont)


    US may use Sweden to extradite Assange: Lawyer
    04 Dec


    The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange | Atlantic
    06 Dec


    Same day Swiss defense fund is frozen, UK issues arrest warrant for Julian Assange
    06 Dec


    Correction, UK has only received warrant, but may issue it shortly.
    06 Dec


    RT @doctorow #imwikileaks #imassange Today Westminster Magistarte's Court meet 13:30 #wikileaks #cablegate
    07 Dec


    Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal"
    07 Dec


    Sweden will find it 'very difficult' to extradite Julian Assange, says expert
    08 Dec


    Supporters call for Justice for Assange |
    11 Dec


    Assange trial makes British legal history |
    14 Dec


    Help Julian: "FSI - Julian Assange Defence Fund" Sort code 20-77-67, account number 93842452. Terms:
    17 Dec


    Sir David Frost interview with Julian Assange |
    23 Dec

    2010-12-30 The Economist on Bruce Sterling on WikiLeaks

    From Analysing WikiLeaks: Bruce Sterling's plot holes | The Economist:

    What is most intriguing about the WikiLeaks saga is not the pathology of hacker culture as envisioned by Mr Sterling's fecund imagination, but the possibility that Julian Assange and his confederates have made dull liberal principles seem once again sexily subversive by exposing power's reactionary panic when a few people with a practical bent actually bother to take them seriously.

    A post on the Democracy in America blog on addresses Bruce Sterling's much publicized recent article on Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. The criticism of Sterling's article is well placed, but the closing comments, quoted above, strike at the heart of the WikiLeaks controversy.

    2010-12-30 Updated New Whistleblowing Sites and Games

    Updated from the December 19th post.

    BalkanLeaks "The Balkans are not keeping secrets anymore." According to an article in Sofia Echo this site is set up by a Paris-based Bulgarian, Atanas Chobanov and seeks confidential documents related to political, criminal or financial topics.

    BrusselsLeaks This site is seeking corporation, consultancy, institution or NGO information in "Brussels – the European Capital and the place where decisions are made which impact the globe".

    Many of these decisions happen behind closed doors and we have been working to make it more transparent for many years. Journalists, activists and communications professionals have now come together to form Brussels Leaks, a place to centralise intelligence gathered on the inner-workings of the EU.

    IndoLeaks Jakarta Globe says this appeared on December 10.

    israeliLeaks "Requesting information on WikiLeaks Organization, Events, and Content, WikiLeaks/Israel Connection, Palestine/Israel history and current events, Hacktivism. Nothing is off limits. Linkage between otherwise divergent topics / regions / organizations / movements is highly valued. Please send any and all information that would be of interest to the public, including journalism, education, and research."

    OpenLeaks Started by ex-Wikileaks member Daniel Domscheit-Berg, this site is still "Coming Soon!" It will serve only as a conduit between whistleblowers and their media destinations without being involved in the publishing.

    Pinoy Leaks is dedicated to exposing corruption in the Philippine national and local governments.

    PinoyLeaks is similar to Wikileaks, except the mission is specifically focused on exposing corruption only, the scope is limited to the Philippines, and PinoyLeaks works with bloggers instead of traditional media. It is up to the bloggers whether to spread news about a leak.
    This site is launching on Rizal Day, 2010. Our goal is to start publishing leaks by February 1, 2011. Please help us reach this goal by spreading the word about PinoyLeaks.

    Pirate Leaks Started by the Czech Pirate Party to offer a service similar to Wikileaks but focusing on the Czech Republic and with transparent accounting, they want to tackle the network of political corruption and organized crime in the Czech Republic and are looking for classified materials related to crime or finance.

    Rospil An extension of popular Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's website, he is actively seeking documentation of corruption in the higher echelons of the national government and economy.

    thaicables is trying to combat the Thai government's censorship of over 300,000 websites.

    We do not believe in censorship and think that everyone in Thailand should get access to any information available on the internet, which also includes Wikileaks. This is the reason for this blog.

    Thaileaks makes all Thai-related content from the Wikileaks website available for direct download and provides magnet links to Wikileaks material.

    TuniLeaks This seems, at least at present, to serve as a forum to post and discuss Wikileaks state cable releases as they relate to Tunisia, along with the Twitter hashtag #tunileaks . According to Global Voices Advocacy they have been under heavy censorship threats and actions since they were started.

    For Fun:

    Haïkuleaks provides Haïku poetry based on the US State Dept cables.

    Leaky World is a Wikileaks based game.

    Wikileaks: The Game is another.

    Note: Listing a site on WL Central in no way constitutes a recommendation of the site by WL Central or Wikileaks.

    2010-12-30 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    The Guardian: Omar Bongo pocketed millions in embezzled funds, claims US cable

    "Gabon's late president allegedly channelled money to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Gabon's late president Omar Bongo allegedly pocketed millions in embezzled funds from central African states, channelling some of it to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to a US embassy cable published by El País."

    Read more

    El País: El Pentágono presionó a Turquía para que aceptara el escudo antimisiles (The Pentagon pressed Turkey to accept the missil shield)

    "El Gobierno de Erdogan se ha resistido a instalar un radar clave para el sistema defensivo. Ankara exigió a EE UU garantías para no enfrentarse con Irán. (Erdogan's government has resisted to instal a radar, key of the defensive system. Ankara demanded to the United States guarantees to avoid a conflict with Iran.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    El País: Bulgaria no hace nada por evitar la corrupción que socava el Estado (Bulgaria does nothing to stop the corruption that currently ruins the state)

    "Un alto funcionario europeo revela a EE UU el desencanto de Bruselas con Sofía. (A high ranked employee of the European government reveals to the United States the disappointment in Brussels with Sofia.)"

    Read more (Spanish)

    2010-12-31 CBS News: How WikiLeaks enlightened us in 2010

    CBS News has compiled a substantial list of significant revelations made by WikiLeaks during the past year. Their links lead to many other sources and constitute a valuable reference tool and archive.

    The distinguished blogger digby of Hullabaloo was moved to comment when she saw this list:

    CBS News did something really, really unusual for a major news organization. It published an article about what Wikileaks has revealed. Evidently, CBS is not of the opinion that their job is to conceal these things from the public, which is fairly unique.

    Ask yourself why it is that our governing institutions and major corporations believe they have a right to keep all this from you.

    Read more

    2010-12-31 Democracy Now interviews with Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg

    ImageDemocracy Now spends an hour reviewing their interviews with Julian Assange in July in London after the release of the Afghan war logs, and in October, again in London, after WikiLeaks published some 390,000 classified U.S. documents on the war in Iraq.

    2010 can be defined as the year of WikiLeaks. The whistleblowing website first made headlines around the world in April when it released a video of a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing 12 people, including two Reuters news staff. In July, WikiLeaks created a bigger firestorm when it published more than 90,000 classified U.S. military war logs of the war in Afghanistan. Then in October, WikiLeaks published some 390,000 classified U.S. documents on the war in Iraq, the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history and the greatest internal account of any war on public record. In November, WikiLeaks began releasing a giant trove of confidential State Department cables that sent shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment.

    2010-12-31 Iran blocks secondary news sites reporting on released cables

    Iran has reportedly blocked access to El Pais, Jornal de Noticia and other secondary reporting sites in response to a cable released Thursday. According to Jornal de Noticia the cable in question refers to a confrontation between President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

    The telegram states that the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, slapped Ahmadinejad after a heated argument in the Supreme National Security Council in January 2010 on how to deal with the protests that followed the controversial elections June 2009.

    2010-12-31 The Guardian: Legal challenge follows exposure of UK complicity in training of Bangladeshi "death squad"

    The family of a Bangladeshi MP who is alleged by Amnesty International to have been tortured by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh's security forces, are calling on the UK government to intervene in the case of Salauddin Chowdhury after U.S. embassy cables published by WikiLeaks and the Guardian revealed that Britain has been providing the RAB with training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement."

    The RAB has come to be known as the "death squad" in Bangladesh, and admits to hundreds of extrajudicial killings.

    The Foreign Office has defended the training offered to RAB as "fully in line with our laws and our values". A spokesman sought to suggest it was providing only "human rights training" for RAB, although RAB's head of training told the Guardian he was unaware of any human rights training since he was appointed last June.

    Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, which is bringing the legal challenge on behalf of Fayyaz Chowdury said: "The UK government owe the clearest of international obligations to my client, a British citizen, in circumstances where they are complicit in the torture of people like Mr Salauddin Chowdury. These obligations reflect international law principles that prohibit states from aiding and assisting other states in international crimes such as torture and extrajudicial executions. The UK government must use all means at their disposal to secure the immediate release of my client's father and to ensure that he cannot face a kangaroo court for war crimes that he did not commit."

    Read more

    2010-12-31 The Guardian: Ministers must 'wise up not clam up' after WikiLeaks disclosures

    UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is interviewed by the Guardian:

    We are strongly of the view that things should be published. Where you're open things will not be WikiLeaked. Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks – right or wrong – it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that. ...

    One response is that they will clam up and not write anything down, which is nonsense, you can't run any organisation that way. The other is to be even more open. The best form of defence is transparency — much more proactive publication of what organisations do. It's an attitude of 'OK. You want to know? Here it is'.

    2010-12-31 Updates on the Investigations into "4chan" and "Anonymous" DDoS Attacks

    Allegations and Investigation
    On Dec. 16, the FBI raided a Texas server-hosting company in hopes of finding evidence to advance an investigation into the hactivist groups engaged in various attacks against Wikileaks-unfriendly institutions and individuals.

    The investigation seems to have been set in motion as a direct result of PayPal's actions; PayPal is said to have supplied the FBI with various IP addresses hosting an IRC chat for current and prospective hacktivists. At least one hard drive was seized.

    The Smoking Gun obtained the PayPal affidavit according to which

    On December 2, 2010, Paypal Incorporated … contacted the FBI and reported that an Internet activist group using the names “4chan” and “Anonymous,” appeared to be organizing a [DDoS] attack against the company. The attack appeared to be organized in response to Paypal’s decision to suspend Wikileaks’ Paypal account, which Wikileaks was using to collect donations. The attackers, “Anonymous,” described themselves as being “average Internet Citizens” and stated their “motivation is a collective sense of being fed up with all the minor and major injustices we witness every day.” Later that same morning, at approximately 11:44am, Paypal advised the FBI that a DDoS attack against the company’s website … had begun. Since that time, there have been multiple, severe DDoS attacks against the Paypal website.

    Attack Method
    According to the affidavit, it is thought that some individuals were unknowingly involved in the DDoS attacks because their machines may have been compromised with botnets. In order for the attacks to have been effective, "[a]ttackers would have needed five to fifteen million people all on high speed broadband connections", Jason Hoffman of said in an interview with EWeekEurope.

    Could there have been so high a number of willing volunteers, thus overriding the need for unknowing attackers whose machines were secretly infected with botnets? This remains an open question that cannot be rigorously addressed without empirical investigation, which is under way.

    Sean-Paul Correll of Panda Security believes that botnets were, in fact, used: "Today we observed over 3,000 computers in the voluntary botnet, but we also have knowledge of a 30k node botnet."

    This botnet infects computers via peer to peer filesharing systems, but it can spread via Microsoft Messenger and USB sticks as well, he said. Panda is trying to get a sample of the botnet code to analyze (source).

    Thus far, it has been reported that 2 or more IP addresses were identified as being associated with the sources of the attacks, either in virtue of having hosted Anonymous chat services or in virtue of having been at the root of botnet distribution.

    Search warrants were issued according to which the FBI was authorized to seize "records and material relating to the DDoS attacks or other illegal activities pertaining to the organization Anonymous or 4chan" (Source). Another search warrant was apparently executed by the German Federal Criminal Police. They found that

    the "server at issue" belonged to a man from Herrlisheim, France. However, an analysis of the server showed that “root-level access” to the machine “appeared to come from an administrator logging in from” another IP address.

    “Log files showed that the commands to execute the DDoS on PayPal actually came from” this IP, Agent Lynd reported. Two log entries cited in the affidavit include an identical message: “Good_night,_paypal_Sweet_dreams_from_AnonOPs” (Source).

    Another IP address was traced to Tailor Made Services in Dallas (a dedicated server hosting company), and yet another was traced to an Internet service provider in British Columbia, Canada:

    Investigators with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police determined that the Canadian firm’s “virtual” server was actually housed at Hurricane Electric, a California firm offering “colocation, web hosting, dedicated servers, and Internet connections,” according to its web site.

    FBI Agent Christopher Calderon, an expert on malicious botnets who works from the bureau’s San Jose office, is leading the probe of the second IP (and presumably has seized a server from Hurricane Electric). Hurricane’s president, Mike Leber, did not respond to a message left for him at the firm’s office in Fremont, which is about 20 miles from PayPal’s San Jose headquarters (ibid.).

    2011-01-03 Tech Eye: Anonymous defends WikiLeaks in Zimbabwe website attack

    Tech Eye reported on an attack on various Zimbabwe government websites by Anonymous in response to censorship of WikiLeaks cables:

    Graham Cluley writes from his bog, AKA Naked Security: "Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, was recently reported to be suing a newspaper for $15 million after it published a WikiLeaks cable that claimed she has benefited from illegal diamond trading."

    Now government websites, including the Ministry of Finance, have been hacked and suffered from DDoS attacks. One page displays an outline of a black suit with the message: "We Are Anonymous. All your base are belong to us. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us..."

    A Jan 3, 2011 article in the Sydney Morning Herald also covers the Zimbabwe attacks. Anonymous moved on to the Tunisian government on Jan 2.