UN Rules Julian Assange is Being ‘Arbitrarily Held’ And Deserves Compensation

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks caused a media frenzy by publishing classified documents about Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. By 2015, Wikileaks has published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses, and has been described by Assange himself as “a giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents” As a result, Assange was treated as a fugitive and subject to a prosecution by the Espionage Act of 1917. There’s also been a slur on Assange’s character which stems from allegations of a sexual assault against two women in Sweden. To properly hear the case, Assange has to leave his safe haven at the Ecuadorian embassy. Many argue this is simply the workings of a corrupt government trying to capture Assange by any means possible.

Today, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made a landmark ruling and claimed Assange’s decision to reside in the Ecuadorian embassy was “arbitrary detention” and breached international law. Furthermore the UN suggested that Mr Assange’s detention “should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected”. Apparently, the Wikileaks founder was subject to “different forms of deprivation of liberty” and “… afforded the right to compensation”. It’s important to note that this isn’t a legally binding arrangement, and doesn’t alter Assange’s current plight. However, this should apply some pressure on the UK and USA governments to give Assange freedom of movement without any arrests occurring.

Mr. Assange reacted to the decision via a direct video link and said it was a “really significant victory that has brought a smile to my face”. However, the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond dismissed these recent comments and claimed he was a “fugitive from justice” Not only that, Hammond said Assange could “come out any time he chooses” but would still have to face a trial.

Do you think Julian Assange is a hero or villain?

Assange Denied ‘Safe Passage’ for Hospital Treatment by UK Government

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied safe passage to hospital to get vital scans, recommended by his doctor, for a “deep pain” he has been suffering with in his right shoulder since June. Assange, exiled in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past three years, will be arrested if he leaves the grounds of the embassy to get an MRI scan, the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino revealed.

“The British government is not offering the terms to make this happen,” Patino said at a press conference yesterday. “It’s an additional fault in his protection, in the defense of a person’s human rights. This is a person who needs to have exams done to understand the situation given it is grave. We don’t know what he may have, and they don’t want to give an authorization that they can perfectly well give.”

Carey Shenkman, Assange’s American lawyer, claims the UK is making his client “choose between the human right to asylum and the human right to medical treatment”.

If Assange steps foot on UK ground – the embassy and its boundaries are considered Ecuadorian soil – he is fair game, according to the Metropolitan Police. “Should he leave the embassy, the [Met] will make every effort to arrest him. However, it is no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence,” a police spokesperson said.

Thank you SputnikNews and The Guardian for providing us with this information.

UK Police Launch Covert Operation Against Julian Assange

The UK Metropolitan Police Service has removed its 24/7 guard from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the building that has been home to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange since he was granted asylum there in 2012, in favour of what it describes as a “covert plan”.

“Whilst the MPS remains committed to executing the arrest warrant and presenting Julian Assange before the court, it is only right that the policing operation to achieve this is continually reviewed against the diplomatic and legal efforts to resolve the situation,” the Metropolitan Police statement reads. “As a result of this continual review the MPS has today Monday, 12 October withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the Embassy.”

“The MPS will not discuss what form its continuing operation will take or the resourcing implications surrounding it,” it adds. “Whilst no tactics guarantee success in the event of Julian Assange leaving the embassy, the MPS will deploy a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him.”

It is worth noting that Assange is in exile not due to his activities in releasing state secrets, but rather to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning regarding an alleged sexual assault. While sexual assault is an abhorrent crime and should be taken seriously, such a large-scale police operation to take a man wanted for questioning (he was never charged) into custody seems excessive, and seems to confirm Assange’s suspicion that his extradition would result in him being sent to the US to face charges of espionage.

The permanent police garrison that has been positioned outside the Ecuadorian Embassy for past three years has cost the UK taxpayer £12 million, during which period the Conservative government has cut police funding by 20%, resulting in 35,000 officers being made redundant.

Image courtesy of ABC.

WikiLeaks Julian Assange Fears he will be “Assassinated”

Let’s for a minute contemplate the appearance of Julian Assange, he looks as if he is attempting to apply for this year’s role of Santa at a shopping centre. He might be slowly losing his marbles considering a few of his comments concerning his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy during an interview with The Times Magazine.

Can I source this link? Noooo, why? Behind a paywall, oh where else can I find a summary, I know, the many sources on the internet of course. Anyway, Julian Assange fears he will be assassinated if he steps onto either a balcony or out the door of the embassy. This is technically possible, although he might need to move further away from the building than that for it to look less obvious. Now for the weird, the following comments are his views on being “droned”

I’m a white guy,” Mr Assange said. “Unless I convert to Islam it’s not that likely that I’ll be droned, but we have seen things creeping towards that.”

I am just going to let that sink in for a sec, he also describes receiving bomb and death threats and he has also not been able to have any fresh air or sunlight for 3 years. His situation could be resolved in the next 2 years by which point his hotel stay at the embassy will be nearer five years.

Julian Assange is controversial yet has, through Wikileaks, been able to expose many a scandal which has included Surveillance and also disgraceful military practices. His situation depends on your viewpoint, many spectators have formed a conclusion that he does indeed have a target on his head, but it’s difficult to quantify his situation, after all, where will he be in 5 years.  Let’s hope he re-enters the world otherwise officials will start charging him per night for his room.

Thank you huffingtonpost for providing us with this information.

Whistleblower Who Posted Sensitive Materials to 4Chan Not Taken Seriously

A former employee of Australia’s Department of Defense, who held fellow countryman Julian Assange up as an idol, posted sensitive materials he stole from the workplace to 4chan, where no one took him seriously (and called him “newf*g”, presumably). 21-year-old Michael Scerba uploaded documents related to the Five Eyes spying program – which is an initiative that combines the surveillance powers of the NSA (US), GCHQ (UK), CSEC (Canada), ASD (Australia), and GCSB (New Zealand) and has existed since the end of the Second World War – to 4chan in October 2012. The post had only 14 replies, described by Scerba as “a bunch of ‘fake and gay’ remarks”. Classy guy, sounds like he would have fit in well there.

At the time, Scerba said of his leak, “I release(sic) what I feel should be in the media: bombings, civilian deaths, actions of the ‘terrorists’ that just aren’t reported in the media.” As his 4chan post didn’t hit in quite the way Scerba has hoped, it was unlucky for him that one of the few people to see it was an employee of Australia’s intelligence service, who then alerted authorities.

Scerba’s materials were genuine, though, and the now 25-year-old is facing a Supreme Court trial in Australia for accessing and leaking confidential information. Since the trial will feature confidential information as evidence, making at least some of the process private, with documents related to the case to be destroyed 28 days after the end of the hearing, which has stirred civil rights activists into quite the frenzy.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Julian Assange Compares Surveillance State to a Malevolent God

In an exclusive interview with Byline, Julian Assange spoke about the evolution from the surveillance state to the surveillance society, in which communities are complicit in being observed and reported on, and how it has become so omnipresent and controls citizens through fear of their terror of its vengeful eye.

Seung-yoon Lee, CEO and Co-founder of Byline, conducted the interview with Assange from his place of exile, the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange, of course, cannot leave the embassy under threat of being arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he faces accusations of sexual misconduct, but suspects that Swedish authorities will hand him over to the US, where he is wanted for espionage.

Assange compares our “surveillance society” to communist East Germany, where its people were so afraid of the state’s watchful eye that they would inform on their neighbours:

“We’ve increasingly become accepting of the surveillance that exists at all levels of society.”

“At the level of national security this is still fresh. Other national intelligence agencies engage in bulk Internet monitoring. But over time there will arise an acceptance that this is simply how society is – as has already arisen with other forms of surveillance. At that point, society develops a type of self-censorship, with the knowledge that surveillance exists – a self-censorship that is even expressed when people communicate with each other privately.”

That was the situation in East Germany, not because of mass electronics surveillance, but because up to 10 per cent of people were at some stage of their lives informants for the state. A double language evolved where no one was saying what they really meant. And conformity was produced because of this low-level fear.

He then draws comparison with the Abrahamic God, casting the surveillance state as a malevolent deity that is everywhere, always listening, and constantly judging:

“Now finally Western civilization has produced a god, the god of mass surveillance. How is it like a god? It’s a little bit Abrahamic. If you look at most definitions, a god is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. In particular, god knows when you are doing something that you shouldn’t be doing and whether you are playing according to god’s rules. The conception of national security agencies and mass surveillance is that the overwhelming majority of communications are surveilled upon. Even conversations happening in person may be recorded through an Android phone, or through other electronic gadgets that are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Maybe your friend, although you just talked to them in person, can gossip over electronic media about what you said.”

Is there hope of breaking free of mass surveillance? Assange certainly thinks so, pointing to the democratic movements in South America as the way forward:

“In the past 10 years there has been this Orwellian rise in power of national security agencies like GCHQ and others. But it is precisely this period that has also seen the growing independence and democratization of Latin America – which is a US backyard. At the same time that the landscape gets Orwellian, with total surveillance power, in Latin America you have increasing independence away from the US.”

He also asserts the size and power of the large institutions that conduct mass surveillance can be to their detriment:

“They are so large they can’t react quickly. A concrete example is when we rescued Edward Snowden from Hong Kong. It was the largest intelligence manhunt the world has ever seen. We were going head to head with the National Security Agency. The Department of Justice, the White House, the CIA were all providing support for the NSA. I was in this embassy under intense surveillance myself. Through our knowledge of cryptography we managed to elude that surveillance. It is absurd to think that such a small international publisher – WikiLeaks – specialising in publishing things about war crimes, corruption, and intelligence agencies could go into a very clearly defined head to head contest against organisations with a combined budget of over a hundred billion dollars. But we did. I guess we have some brave and intelligent staff. But I think it is really that we are able to move much faster. We already understood the environment. We understood these organisations and how they behave. We have some ability to communicate in secret.”

The first part of the interview is available now on Byline.

Image courtesy of CoinDesk.

Julian Assange Wants to Dismantle Google

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks – the non-profit media organisation notorious for leaking sensitive and confidential information, becoming the scourge of the world’s governments – has outlined his fears regarding the powers of internet behemoth Google, and his desire to see the company broken up into its constituent parts, citing monopoly rules and even government collusion.

Assange, speaking to Serbian news magazine Nedeljnik, said:

One way of looking at Google is that it’s just business. But, for an American internet services monopoly to ensure global market dominance, it cannot simply keep doing what it is doing, and let politics take care of itself. What’s a megacorp to do? If it wants to straddle the world, it must become part of the original empire. Great part of Google’s image is that it is “more than just a company”, and it comes from the perception that it does not act like a big, bad corporation.

It is luring people into its trap with gigabytes of “free storage”, which gives perception that it is acting contrary to the corporate profit motive. Google is often perceived as an essentially philanthropic enterprise, pouring funding into “corporate responsibility” initiatives to produce “social change,” exemplified by Google Ideas. But as Google Ideas shows, the company’s “philanthropic” efforts bring it uncomfortably close to the imperial side of US influence.  Whether it is being just a company or “more than just a company,” Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly intertwined with the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower.

Therefore, it would be imperative that we solve the situation with Google’s search and internet service monopoly, to break up its dominant position by regulators, and to do it before Hillary Clinton has an opportunity to become the President.

Is Assange right? Is Google too much of a global superpower, and a potential threat to commercial and governmental freedoms?

Thank you Nedeljnik for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of CoinDesk.

WikiLeaks Starts Accepting Secret Documents Again

Nearly five years after closing its of its secret drop portal, WikiLeaks is again accepting secret document submissions. The organisation’s old platform was closed in 2010 after an internal dispute over security, resulting in staff deleting its encryption keys for fear of compromising the identities of its sources.

Though journalists and media outlets have been using Secure Drop and GlobaLeaks for secret disclosures in the meantime, WikiLeaks maintains that it does not consider the two platforms secure enough for its needs. Instead, it has launched its own proprietary platform, running through Tor. The system, opened to the public today, was thoroughly tested in the months leading up to release, though is still in beta.

In a blog post on the WikiLeaks website, founder Julian Assange, still in exile in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, said:

“Other submission technologies inspired by WikiLeaks, such as the European-based GlobaLeaks and the US-based Secure Drop, while both excellent in many ways, are not suited to WikiLeaks’ sourcing in its national security and large archive publishing specialities. The full-spectrum attack surface of WikiLeaks’ submission system is significantly lower than other systems and is optimised for our secure deployment and development environment. Our encrypted chat system is integrated into this process because sources often need custom solutions.

For example, one of the problems with public-facing submission systems is bootstrapping. The fact that a source is looking at instructions that are telling them how to submit material could be used as evidence against them if there is an SSL key break. To prevent this, we deploy the full bootstrap instructions and keys on millions of WikiLeaks pages across our full server network. When the “Submit” button is pressed, there is literally zero network traffic as a result, because all these details are downloaded everytime anyone looks at nearly any page on WikiLeaks. We cover the source bootstrap process with our millions of page views by readers.”

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WikiLeaks.

Entire Contents of Sony Hack Now Available On Wikileaks

The contents of last year’s infamous Sony Pictures hack have been published on Wikileaks in their entirety, with the whistleblowing website setting up a searchable archive of over 30,000 documents and 170,000 internal company e-mails.

The hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment was launched on 24th November, 2014 by an activist group calling itself “Guardians of Peace” in protest at the imminent release of Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy The Interview, which centred around an assassination attempt on North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un by two journalists. The US government maintains that the attack was perpetrated by the North Korean government, despite flimsy evidence.

In the aftermath, Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal lost her job after the release of e-mails in which she mocked films with black casts, and Kevin Hart specifically, though her e-mail partner, Scott Rudin, escaped with just an apology, despite also being found to call Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat” in an internal memo.

The Guardians of Peace threatened to attack any US cinema that screened The Interview, scaring Sony into pulling the film from its slated Christmas release, though a U-turn followed, with a limited release over the festive period, proving the GoP threats to be empty. Now that the dust has settled, the GoP has fallen silent, and Sony execs have been embarrassed, Wikileaks feels it appropriate to make this information public domain.

Though the political value of the documents appears negligible, Julian Assange, founder and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, claims that a number of internal e-mails demonstrate collusion between Hollywood and the US government.

Assange said, “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Google Released WikiLeaks E-Mails to US Government

Three years after formal requests, Google has admitted that it released e-mails and other digital data own by WikiLeaks staff to the US government, after being served with a secret warrant from a federal judge.

Google revealed details of the warrant to WikiLeaks on Christmas Eve. Now, WikiLeaks , through its New York-based lawyer Michael Ratner of the Center For Constitutional Rights, has written to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to voice its displeasure. WikiLeaks says it is “astonished and disturbed” that Google took so long to notify them, and violating its “privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches”.

The federal warrant that granted the US government access to this batch of data was related to the ongoing criminal investigation into WikiLeaks launched by the US Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and Department of State, back in 2010. The data included embassy cables, Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, and video footage of an Apache helicopter killing civilians in Baghdad.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called the warrants a “serious, and seriously wrong attempt to build an alleged ‘conspiracy’ case against me and my staff,” and that people should be more concerned with “Google rolling over yet again to help the US government violate the constitution – by taking over journalists’ private emails in response to give-us-everything warrants”.

Source: The Guardian

Julian Assange is Hosting a Reddit AMA Right Now!

We don’t normally share up this kind of thing, but this could be one of the most important things you read all day. The founder of WikiLeaks is currently answering peoples questions over on Reddit via an AMA (Ask Me Anything).

AMAs on Reddit are no stranger to awesome guests, with everything from rock starts to President Obama having spent some time there to share their insights and answer questions of regular folk such as myself. However, a public conversation with someone in such a unique position as Mr Assange is a rare opportunity and one that I suspect will make for a good read, even if you don’t have anything to ask him.

Having been in the news countless times in the last few years for leaking massive amounts of government information such as info on the Iraq war, spying and a heck of a lot more that would take forever to list here, you’ve got a lot of great reasons to read this thread and you may even learn a few things while you’re there.

Head on over to the AMA now while it is still going, but don’t worry if you miss your chance for a question because there will certainly been some great replies to read (and there already is).

View the full AMA right here.

 

WikiLeaks Says Snowden Asylum Is A Battle Won But The War Continues

 

With Edward Snowden being formally granted temporary asylum by Russia, WikiLeaks are hailing victory of a major battle. WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Krafnsson told RT that:

“This is a war against secrecy that we’ve seen escalating over the recent years, it’s a war for transparency, it’s a war for government accountability. And indeed we won of course with more information getting out to general public”

However, WikiLeaks admit it is only a partial victory since Edward Snowden is only a free man in Russia and in most other countries he would still be detained and extradited. That said Snowden has already expressed his intentions to stay on Russian territory for the forseeable future to rebuild his life.Russia’s social networking site “Vkontakte” have already offered Edward Snowden a job on their all-star security team and Snowden is formally allowed to work in Russia.

WikiLeaks is likely to continue working with Edward Snowden’s journalist partner, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, in an effort to keep exposing leaked information as Edward Snowden has agreed not to reveal any more in Russia as part of his asylum terms. While WikiLeaks are also still tied into the Bradley Manning case and will be until there are no legal avenues left to pursue. Julian Assange is also still held up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London so while Snowden’s asylum is a large victory, WikiLeaks still have much to do. Not to mention the information that Snowden leaked is still yet to make a major legal impact in the USA yet.

Image courtesy of WikiLeaks

Ecuador Says It Has Been “Infiltrated From All Sides” By Surveillance

Ecuador’s heavy involvement with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as well as their relatively tentative involvement with the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has reportedly left them being “infiltrated from all sides” according to their Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. He stated that they found a bugged microphone at their embassy in London where Julian Assange is currently residing. Ricardo Patino refused to state which nation the bugged microphone belonged to but he did mention that Ecuador would contact the appropriate nation to ask for an explanation.

Ricardo Patino went on to further state that he believed the bugged embassy in London showed a:

“loss of ethics at an international level in the relations that we have with other governments”

This loss of ethics towards Ecuador is probably in part due to their decision to offer Julian Assange a rite of safe passage and give him a safe place to stay in the Ecuador’s London embassy. Apparently the bug had been found 3 weeks ago but was kept quiet to avoid causing a stir as the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister visited the UK to discuss Julian Assange. This discovery comes in the wake of the EU calling for a search of all diplomatic ministeries and buildings to remove American surveillance bugs.

Image courtesy of KomoNews.com

Ecuador’s President Says Snowden’s Fate Is In Russia’s Control

The saga surrounding Edward Snowden and his ultimate destination seems to be getting more complex. Now RT reports that the solution to Edward Snowden’s situation is entirely in the hands of the Russia government and authorities. It also seems that Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is becoming ever more frustrated with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange who is trying to call the shots. President Correa reminded people that it is Snowden and others that contacted Ecuador first, not the other way around.

“We have not sought out this situation. Snowden is in contact with [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange, who recommended he seek asylum in Ecuador,”

Despite stating that it is in Russian’s hands Putin already dismissed such claims stating:

“We can only extradite foreign citizens to such countries with which we have signed the appropriate international agreements on criminal extradition…Snowden is a free person. The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it is for him and Russia”

Furthermore, reports that Edward Snowden was given special travel documents by the Ecuadorian government were claimed to be false by Ecuador’s President. He stated that Fidel Narvaez, the Ecuadorian diplomant, was “exceeding his authority in”  granting travel documents that weren’t approved by the president and that he will now be punished.

Finally to make things even more confusing the Ecuadorian President stated that:

“when he [Snowden] comes to Ecuadoran soil, if in fact he ever does, and we have to process the request, the first people whose opinion we will seek is that of the United States.”

So for the meantime it looks like Edward Snowden is stuck in limbo and his safety might not be as safe as many think.

Image courtesy of TheCostaRicaNews.com

NSA Boss Says He Knows Nothing About WikiLeaks

With the actions of the NSA exposed by now world-famous whistleblower Edward Snowden the NSA have been trying to calm the storm with a lot of public statements. The latest rather laughable statement is from the NSA director general Keith Alexander who has stated that he and his organisation do not know who WikiLeaks are. During an interview he was asked for his opinion on WikiLeaks and he stated that “I really don’t know who WikiLeaks are, other than this Assange person”.

If you consider how much of an offensive the U.S government has launched against WikiLeaks since they revealed several top secret documents about the American government and military it comes as quite a surprise that the NSA’s Director General would deny knowing anything about them. Several U.S government agencies are currently investigating WikiLeaks for illegal actions and the NSA is almost certainly one of them.  I wonder how long it will be before the NSA are forced to become more transparent instead of being able to continuously lie and withhold information from the public domain.

Image courtesy of Keith Alexander