The Persecution of WikiLeaks: Counting the Cost
Many are now aware of the long, drawn out persecution of Julian Assange. But the cost of providing this 'intelligence service of the people' has cut much deeper.
Last updated 20 June 2022
Introduction: A non-state intelligence service
In his first speech as CIA Director (13 April 2017) Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state, hostile intelligence service”.
Nearly two weeks later, the Washington Post afforded the WikiLeaks publisher and editor-in-chief a right of reply in the ‘mainstream’ press (25 April 2017).
Julian Assange wrote:
The “Pompeo doctrine” … ensnares all serious news and investigative human rights organizations, from ProPublica to Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch.
The logic that WikiLeaks, or these organizations, are somehow “intelligence agencies” would be as absurd as the suggestion that the CIA is a media outlet.
Both journalists and intelligence agencies cultivate and protect sources, collect information and write reports, but the similarities end there.
The world cannot afford, and the Constitution does not permit, a muzzle placed on the work that transparency organizations do to inform the American and global public. Fundamental issues of free speech and freedom of the press, and of the interplay between liberty and security, date to the Republic’s founding.
Those who believe in persecution and suppression of the truth to achieve their parochial ends are inevitably forgotten by history. In a fair fight, as John Milton observed, the truth always wins.
Both statements - from Pompeo and Assange - hark back to a statement made in The New Statesman six years earlier (5 April 2011):
Julian Assange, argues that the whistleblowing website is a return to the days of the once-popular radical press. He also discusses why the New York Times dislikes the website and reveals the biggest threat to WikiLeaks today.
“WikiLeaks is part of an honourable tradition that expands the scope of freedom by trying to lay ‘all the mysteries and secrets of government’ before the public,” writes Assange, who compares WikiLeaks to the pamphleteers of the English civil war and the radical press of the early 20th century. “We are, in a sense, a pure expression of what the media should be: an intelligence agency of the people, casting pearls before swine.”
Assange argues that the New York Times‘s hostility to WikiLeaks stems from the newspaper’s illiberal tradition of failing to back organisations or figures that challenge established elites. He highlights the newspaper’s failure to support the American pacifist and anti-war campaigner Eugene Debs, who was imprisoned for ten years for making an anti-war speech in 1918.
Enacting the role of “an intelligence agency of the people” has cost Wikileaks, its publisher Julian Assange (and his family and friends), its staff (paid and volunteers), its supporters, and even some of its lawyers, dearly. Likewise, officials with a positive word to say about Assange have incurred career (and perhaps other) costs - see PART 2 of this series re Nils Melzer, while doctors have refused care to the WikiLeaks publisher, when in asylum, out of fear of damage to their careers through such an association.
It has also cost dearly some of those who supply the raw intelligence - courageous whistleblowers known and unknown - although none has been unmasked due to actions or inactions by WikiLeaks.
Enacting the role of “an intelligence agency of the people” has cost dearly:
- its publisher Julian Assange (and his family and friends),
- its staff (paid and volunteers),
- its supporters, and even some of
- its lawyers. Likewise,
- officials with a positive word to say about Assange … and
- its courageous sources
Much, perhaps most, of the (direct and indirect) cost to those associated - in almost any way - with WikiLeaks was intentional, and seems to have emanated from the same general direction - at least from the time (2010) WikiLeaks became a high profile media phenomena.
The non-stop persecution that “piled on” from that time was foreshadowed in tweets from Fred Burton, VP of Intelligence at Stratfor - a CIA-linked ‘private intelligence agency‘ (for which hacked email archive Jeremy Hammond was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years in a US prison).
On the same day Julian Assange was first arrested (7 Dec 2010), Burton excreted a frenzy of emails:
“Ferreting out his confederates is also key. Find out what other disgruntled rogues inside the tent or outside. Pile on. Move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years. But seize everything he and his family owns, to include every person linked to Wiki.”
“Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle and track aQ [al-Qaeda] Thank Cheney & 43 [GWB], Big Brother owns his liberal terrorist arse.”
That same day (7 Dec 2010) the international mega-corporation Serco was also on the scene, providing the van that took Julian Assange to the Westminster Magistrates Court where (unsurprisingly) bail was denied. The Canadian Globe and Mail featured a photo of this event in their “best photos of the day”, sandwiched between photos of various animals. An accidental arrangement, I imagine.
Again, the same day we also got our first look at what was to become a very familiar face - another person who has paid a personal price1 for being associated with WikiLeaks - lawyer and fellow Australian Jennifer Robinson, as she described one of the first of what was to become an endless litany of procedural abuses against her client Julian Assange.
An earlier email (21 Sept 2010) from Burton, predating the first arrest of Julian Assange (7 Dec 2010), describes who was behind the push to persecute all these people related to WikiLeaks: President Obama’s Homeland Security Advisor from Jan 2009 and CIA Director from Mar 2013 to Jan 2017 John Brennan and (purportedly) the Obama White House.
“Obama Leak Investigations (internal use only - pls do not forward)
Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning
information from inside the beltway sources.
Note -- There is specific tasker from the WH to go after anyone printing
materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is
shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode...”
On the 9th anniversary of the publication of the Stratfor leaks (27 Feb 2021), Lauri Love - longtime friend of Aaron Swartz and himself a person whom the US has attempted to extradite - spoke about the need for a People’s Intelligence Agency which, he points out, is the proper role of the media: [Tweet] [YouTube]
“I think we ought to take seriously Mike Pompeo's suggestion of what the world needs - a public intelligence agency that is ... beholden to the interests of humanity at large.” [35:01]
“I think we ought to take seriously Mike Pompeo's suggestion of what the world needs -
a public intelligence agency that is ... beholden to the interests of humanity at large.”
- Lauri Love (27 Feb 2021)
What kind of price has been exacted?
WikiLeaks was born as a vehicle for dissent from the prevailing public narrative - about our history, and about the aims and actions that underpin events in our world. In an interview (20 May 2011), Julian Assange described the philosophy of WikiLeaks:
It is simply that the truth about the world is the only useful ingredient in human decision-making, and human decision-making - insofar as it affects the world in a useful way - must be based on the truth.
Therefore, getting as much true information into the world, and keeping it there, is the only useful way to get good human decisions, and therefore good actions by doing this.
The WikiLeaks website states:
WikiLeaks specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. It has so far published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses.
“WikiLeaks is a giant library of the world's most persecuted documents. We give asylum to these documents, we analyze them, we promote them and we obtain more.” - Julian Assange, Der Spiegel Interview
Although no organization can hope to have a perfect record forever, thus far WikiLeaks has a perfect [record] in document authentication and resistance to all censorship attempts.
The price of enacting (or being associated with) the kind of dissent that WikiLeaks has enabled since its foundation (in 2006) has been multifaceted - encompassing almost every sphere of life and wellbeing. Aspects of this price have also been paid by almost all investigative reporters who are true to their calling. Some of those journalists are included here, as many have been staunch supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange - recognising that what is a danger to one is a danger to all.
The price exacted has been:
Corporeal - from impacts on physical health, to even death
Mental - from promoting stress and anxiety, to full blown psychological torture
Reputational - from simple defamation to widespread smear campaigns
Legal - from outright and ongoing lawfare, denial of basic human rights (including breaches of privacy, breach of legal and medical privilege, promotion of procedural abuses, and denial of right to asylum) to threats of extradition and actual imprisonment
Material - from luggage theft to burglaries, and planting of surveillance devices
Financial - from impact on careers and earning potential to blocked bank accounts and plundered assets
Societal- from using snitches and gaslighting to drive a wedge between members of families and groups, to soaking up the energy of activists in defense of the embattled that could have been used for more constructive projects
Historic - from hiding or falsifying individual facts to perverting the entire historic record in many areas
What follows is a skeletal accounting for some of the cost involved in the lengthy and still ongoing persecution of WikiLeaks, and of those associated with it.
Rather than being an essay, like my previous piece (Nils Melzer on the torture of Julian Assange: A compendium) this too is a kind of compendium of resources on a theme. These are really documents to bookmark, dip into, refer back to, and share with those who need sources and perspective, rather than pieces to read at one sitting.
An UPDATE on CENSORSHIP:
In March 2022, YouTube decided to censor the video channels for RT and Ruptly, ostensibly to rid the platform of “Russian disinformation” related to current events in Ukraine. As well as censoring an alternative view on those events, many years worth of interviews and livestreamed events related to Julian Assange (and many other dissident journalists and activists) were lost to the public.
These censored videos show as “this video is not available in your country” - itself a dishonest statement as such videos are not now made available in ANY country. When I find an alternative version on a platform that believes in free speech I will post a link to that version for any videos listed here that are now unwatchable.
In addition, most of the countries in the “free world” have now blocked other forms of access to RT and other free speech news sources. My apologies if some links do not work due to this further form of censorship.
INDEX of Costs
- The death toll (with sub-index)
- Death threats and implications for security
- Impact on the health and well-being of Julian Assange
- Lawfare, including multiple episodes of abuse of process
- Financial and property costs
- Whistleblowers and Truthtellers (with sub-index)
- Ongoing Atrocities
A) The death toll
The deaths of a number of people associated with WikiLeaks have been recorded in the 15 years since its inception (and there may be many more that have not come to public attention). While some of these have been from illness, no doubt exacerbated by the stress imposed on them via this persecution, others have been in more mysterious circumstances. A few have been outright murder.
Almost all have been a cause for mourning in the WikiLeaks community, all the more so for Julian Assange - who has often not been able to see his dying friends in their last days, or attend their funerals.
In this section I look briefly at the deaths of:
8 Mar 2009: Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulo
1 Apr 2012: Brett Assange (Julian’s stepfather)
11 Jan 2013: Aaron Swartz
18 Jun 2013: Michael Hastings
18 Apr 2016: John Jones QC
11 May 2016: Michael Ratner
10 July 2016: Seth Rich
22 Oct 2016: Gavin MacFadyen
16 Oct 2017: Daphne Caruana Galizia
26 Dec 2017: James Dolan
27 Jan 2018: Robert Parry
14 Mar 2018: Adrian Lamo
04 Sept 2018: Arjen Kamphuis
16 Dec 2018: Tim May
06 Sept 2020: Kevin Zeese
26 June 2021: Mike Gravel
Julian Assange (speaking 4 Nov 2010 in Geneva) [YouTube]
I have been in difficult circumstances as far back as 2007 when my compound in Kenya was raided by six armed men. That's not related to the United States.
8 March 2009 Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulo
“Murder in Nairobi: Wikileaks related human rights lawyers assassinated” [WikiLeaks]
On Thursday afternoon, Oscar Kamau Kingara, director of the Kenyan based Oscar legal aid Foundation, and its programme coordinator, John Paul Oulo, were both shot dead 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 extra-judicial 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 follow ups, including a UN indictment last month.
Since 2007 the Oscar foundation has documented 6,452 "enforced disappearances" by police and 1,721 extra-judicial killings.
The murders come just two weeks after United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings Professor Philip Alston called on on Kenya's Attorney General and Police Commissioner to be sacked.
1 Apr 2012: Richard Brett Assange - Julian’s stepfather
Death notice [My Tributes]
Christine (Julian’s mother) married Brett Assange when Julian was a baby. They divorced about a decade later. They were on good terms when Brett died peacefully (of cancer) in Sydney in 2012. I have been told that Brett was very fond of Julian and those warm feelings were reciprocated.
Julian was unable to attend Brett’s funeral because he was under house arrest in Norwich, UK (due to bogus allegations) at that time.
A friend later noted that one of Julian’s most famous sayings was a quote he borrowed from Brett Assange. [Tweet]
11 Jan 2013: Aaron Swartz: “The Internet’s Own Boy”
“Dad of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz blames government for suicide” (16 Jan 2013) [NYPost]
Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz’s heartbroken dad yesterday blamed the US government for his son’s suicide in an emotional eulogy at the young man’s funeral.
“Aaron did not commit suicide — he was killed by the government. And [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] betrayed all its basic principles” in helping the feds, said grieving dad Robert Swartz to 200 mourners packing Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, Ill.
“Aaron did something that wasn’t illegal and was destroyed by it,’’ Robert added. “He could have done so much more.”
“WikiLeaks reveals association with Aaron Swartz” (21 June 2013) [RT]
While it is unclear why WikiLeaks decided to disclose Swartz’s involvement with the document archive organization, some have suggested that the alliance may have prompted the US Attorney’s Office and the Secret Service to pursue Swartz more harshly.
WikiLeaks confirmed that Swartz was in contact with its founder, Julian Assange, and indicated that he might have been one of their sources. See [Tweet]Due to the investigation into the Secret Service involvement with we have decided to disclose the following facts (1-3)
“Aaron Swartz assisted WikiLeaks #aaronwartz,” read the first tweet. [Tweet]
“Aaron Swartz was in communication with Julian Assange, including during 2010 and 2011,” the second one said. [Tweet]
“We have strong reasons to believe, but cannot prove, that Aaron Swartz was a WikiLeaks source. #aaronswartz” [Tweet]
[…] But because WikiLeaks has an anonymous user base, the organization only suspects that Swartz was a source, but does not know for certain. The reasons behind WikiLeaks’ disclosure of a possible source are still unclear. The organization does not usually reveal any of its sources, but when questioned by a CNET reporter, WikiLeaks representative Kristinn Hrafnsson confirmed that the tweets were authentic.
Julian Assange was arrested, the first time, on 7 Dec 2010. Aaron Swartz was arrested, an ocean away, on 6 Jan 2011, for an action many described as relatively harmless, or at least one where the damage that would be done from punishing him for it would far outweigh any benefit. Was the close timing of these arrests a coincidence?
In a statement, Demand Progress executive director David Segal blasted the arrest. "It's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library," he said. Demand Progress also quoted James Jacobs, the Government Documents Librarian at Stanford University, who said that the arrest "undermines academic inquiry and democratic principles." [arstechnica]
“Former Reddit co-owner arrested for excessive JSTOR downloads” (19 July 2011) [arstechnica]
“The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz” (15 Feb 2013) [Rolling Stone]
The Story of Aaron Swartz: "The Internet's Own Boy" Director Q&A” [YouTube]
“Aaron Swartz (RIP 1986-2013) - We Can Change The World” (2010) [YouTube]
“Swartz was a programming prodigy who helped create RSS and Creative Commons, and he co-founded Reddit. After selling Reddit to Condé Nast, Swartz turned his attention to political organizing, becoming a popular Internet activist who tried to bring attention to progressive causes and freedom on the web.
In 2012, he helped bring attention to censorship issues in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, a protest that culminated with top websites like Google, Wikipedia and Reddit blacking out their pages. "He had a set of skills that he could put in the service of the public good and he didn't see a reason that if he had those skills that he shouldn't do that," says Knappenberger.
In 2013, Swartz took his own life after the U.S. Department of Justice charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act a few years prior for illegally downloading millions of academic research articles from JSTOR, a nonprofit company that sells such materials. The charges carried a maximum penalty of $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison.”
Quinn Norton on Aaron Swartz (27 June 2014): [Medium]
“He was the internet’s own boy… and the old world killed him.”
“You can’t just sit there and call Aaron a hero and a genius and whatever. He is dead. He is dust. He is now just one more of the millions of victims of this American dream that has only been a nightmare for so many.
Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something.”
18 June 2013 Michael Hastings, US journalist
“Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview” (18 Jan 2012) [Rolling Stone]
“Michael Hastings, ‘Rolling Stone’ Contributor, Dead at 33” (18 June 2013 )
“Drugs Not a Factor in Journalist Michael Hastings' Car Crash Death: Coroner's Report” (20 Aug 2013) [NBC]
Michael Hastings interviewed Julian Assange in late 2011 when he was under house arrest in England. He subsequently produced his article: “Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview” (18 Jan 2012) - shortly before the UK Supreme Court would hear his appeal against extradition to Sweden (1 Feb 2012) and his subsequent flight into asylum (19 June 2012) in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after he lost his appeal. [I discussed Julian’s years of asylum in Julian Speaks: Two Voices from behind The Wall.]
In that interview Assange spoke about, amongst other things, the enormous economic costs of the lawfare waged against him (see section below).
Michael Hastings died the following year in a fiery car crash in Los Angeles. An autopsy report concluded that he died instantly of massive blunt force trauma when he apparently lost control of his 2013 silver Mercedes while traveling at high speed and hit a tree. The crash occurred in the early morning and was caught on at least one video camera that showed Hastings driving rapidly through a red light. The autopsy found traces of amphetamine and marijuana in his body but the report said these likely did not contribute to his death. [Summarised from NBC 20 Aug 2013]
Rumours about other possible factors in his death followed, especially after his widow, Elise Jordan, confirmed to CNN (6 Aug 2013) that he had been working on a story about John Brennan - which she said would be published posthumously in Rolling Stone Magazine (only it wasn’t). They intensified once that information was connected to the Stratfor email (released Sept 2012) citing Brennan as being “behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources” (see above). It didn’t help that the day before his death he had sent an email saying “I’m onto a big story and need to go off the radar for a bit”:
The rumours included speculation (16 Aug 2013) that the ‘accident’ may have been caused by an explosion within the car, rather than the other way around. Questions were raised about the whereabouts of “the contents (computer, phones, notes, etc.) of his home”, which it seems were removed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
These rumours “prompted the FBI to release an unusual statement that it had not been investigating Hastings”. [NBC] Nevertheless, many retained a suspicion that the Michael Hastings’ car crash had been orchestrated, and were looking in a particular direction, since Hastings had openly criticized the Obama administration (and its allies in the FBI and Department of Justice) for waging war on “transparency supporters, whistleblowers and investigative reporters.” Others (including Shadowproof) were more interested in what he was researching at the time of his death. His last published piece (7 June 2013) promised that “more information will soon be forthcoming.”
The rumours resurfaced after the WikiLeaks Vault 7 releases (beginning March 2017), one of which documented CIA interest in mechanisms for taking remote control of vehicles with suitable operating systems. [WikiLeaks archive] As time has marched on, some (including toresays) have developed theories about the Hastings death that go even further.
The Rolling Stone eulogy (18 June 2013) for Michael Hastings noted:
For Hastings, there was no romance to America’s misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.
A contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Hastings leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting, including an exposé of America’s drone war, an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at his hideout in the English countryside, an investigation into the Army’s illicit use of “psychological operations” to influence sitting Senators and a profile of Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl, “America’s Last Prisoner of War.”
18 April 2016: John Jones QC, WikiLeaks barrister
“Obituary : John Jones QC” (7 May 2016) [Times]
“Renowned lawyer who represented Julian Assange died after being struck by train in West Hampstead” (23 Apr 2016) [Ham&High]
The 48-year-old barrister has been described as “a giant in his field” by colleagues, who said that his death is “a monumental loss to the cause of international justice and human rights.”
Oxford graduate Mr Jones, who took silk in 2013, specialised in extradition, war crimes and counter-terrorism, representing clients from around the world in high profile cases.
He was part of a team of lawyers acting to prevent the extradition of Julian Assange … whose case is currently being heard by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. [NB This was actually won 22 Jan 2016.]
Earlier in his career, he helped bring to justice some of those responsible for genocide in the former Yugoslavia as part of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal, working to establish procedures that were used in the historic trials.
After the inquest (19 Aug 2016) [Ham&High]
Despite having jumped into the path of a moving train, at the inquest his death was ruled not to be suicide as he “lacked the necessary intent”. He was receiving care for “mental health” issues at the time of his death.
11 May 2016: Michael Ratner, US attorney for WikiLeaks & Assange
Michael Ratner was Wikileaks chief counsel (aka lead lawyer). He died of cancer.
“Michael Ratner's Death Is a Loss for Freedom, Peace and Justice” [HuffPost]
“Michael Ratner, attorney for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, dies at 72” [Guardian]
“As an attorney, writer, speaker, educator, activist ... Michael Ratner’s passion was not just for the law but for the struggle for justice and peace,” said the Center for Constitutional Rights, a not-for-profit legal advocacy organization where Ratner worked to bring cases for 45 years. “Michael dedicated his life to the most important fights for justice of the last half century.”
Ratner joined CCR in 1971 after graduating from Columbia law school, just a week before the famous prisoner revolt at the Attica correctional facility in upstate New York. The case of the Attica brothers versus then governor Nelson Rockefeller would be Ratner’s first for the organization.
A tireless critic of extraordinary rendition and indefinite detention throughout the post-9/11 war on terror, Ratner was co-counsel in a 2004 suit filed on behalf of captives at Guantánamo Bay that reached the supreme court. In a landmark decision, the justices decided in Rasul v Bush that detainees did have the right to challenge their detention and that US courts have the jurisdiction to hear those complaints in the case of foreign nationals.
Ratner was also a founding member of the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association ][…]
Long before the war on terror, Ratner took up the cause of Guantánamo detaines in the 1990s, winning the closure of a detention camp set up exclusively for holding HIV-positive Haitian refugees.
During his career, Ratner sued three US presidents: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W Bush, and passionately argued for the impeachment of the latter for warrantless surveillance, torture, misleading Congress about the Iraq war, and violating the constitution’s separation of powers.
“WikiLeaks Lawyer Michael Ratner On the Impact of Bradley Manning's Guilty Plea for Julian Assange’' (1 March 2013) [YouTube] on Democracy Now
“Julian Assange: Michael Ratner was a "Campaigner for Justice" from Guatemala to Palestine“ (12 May 2016) [YouTube] on Democracy Now
“When Julian was first fingered, Michael knew that it was an important case. He got on a plane and flew over to London to offer to represent Julian. He was Julian's lawyer from that day on, until the day he died. Michael knew that free journalism was at stake.
Here's Julian Assange talking about Michael:
Michael started out his law career, essentially, as a liberal - believing in the rule of law. and believing that the law was a means to obtain justice, on average. But by the end of the 1960s, through experience in trying to apply the law to defend people, he had come to understand something that I've come to understand, which is the application of the law is primarily designed to ensure that existing power inequalities are reinforced - that is. to keep private property in the hands of the wealthy, and keep the privileges which are accumulated by establishments in their hands. And that is the primary purpose of law, and the primary purpose of the judicial system.
I think we should celebrate Michael, but also learn from the very positive example that Michael has set over more than 40 years of work.”
10 July 2016 Seth Rich, DNC staffer
Seth Rich was a DNC data analyst who was shot on a Washington DC street in the early hours of the morning, in what was said to be an attempted robbery although nothing was stolen. The police then visited his home and took various electronics into their custody.
On the face of it, there is no relationship between Seth Rich, or his death, and the WikiLeaks community. However, when Julian Assange brought up Rich’s death on a Dutch TV interview [YouTube] and followed up by tweeting an offer of a reward for productive information, speculation went wild. [nos.nl]
“Seth Rich: Inside the Killing of the DNC Staffer” (20 Aug 2016) [Newsweek]
”WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Discusses Seth Rich, Sources & the DNC” [Heavy]
“Assange promises new Clinton revelations” [nos.nl] with video
“Assange won't reveal who leaked the emails, but seems to suggest it could be a Democratic party staffer. "Our whistleblowers are at serious risk of supplying us with material. A 27-year-old man, Seth Rich, who worked for the DNC, was recently murdered. It is unknown why. He was walking on the street in Washington."
It was said in American media that it was a robbery, but according to Assange there is no evidence of that. "We are investigating what exactly happened to Seth Rich."”
WikiLeaks later put out a statement (10 Aug 2018) clarifying its position on Rich:
No further information establishing a specific link has ever been forthcoming, but that has not ended the speculation.
22 Oct 2016: Gavin MacFadyen, journalist & director of WikiLeaks
“Gavin MacFadyen adviser to the Bureau dies” [TheBureauInvestigates]
Announcement by Susan Benn (his wife) [Tweet]
When MacFadyen died, Assange asked to be allowed to temporarily leave his asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to attend the funeral, but the request was denied by Sweden's Attorney General Anders Perklev. [Business Standard]
Gavin MacFadyen speaks here to Afshin Rattansi about Julian Assange as he enters his fifth year of arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Going Underground “Julian Assange: 4 Years On” (20 June 2016) [YouTube]
Gavin MacFayden was passionate about the importance of the role of the investigative press in maintaining democracy. Here he speaks only months before his death:
16 Oct 2017 Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maltese journalist
Daphne Caruana Galizia, the journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation in Malta, often described as a “one woman WikiLeaks”, was killed by a bomb in her car. Before her death she was investigating the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. He publicly decried her assassination.
- Daphne Caruana Galizia, the journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation in Malta, has been killed by a bomb in her car.
Mathew Caruana Galizia:
“My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it. When the institutions of the state are incapacitated, the last person left standing is often a journalist. This is where we are, a mafia state.”
12 Jan 2020 “Malta gets new PM after Muscat departs over Daphne Caruana Galizia murder” [365News]
26 Feb 2021 Suelette Dreyfus [THREAD] [WikiFoxNews]
”There are so many ways to intimidate and silence those who tell the truth. This week: some justice. A suspect in the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s 2017 murder, Vincent Muscat, was sentenced to 15 yrs. Pleaded guilty.
Daphne Caruana Galizia had been called a ‘one woman wikileaks’ because of her careful but fearless fact-based reporting on networks of corruption. Her reportage - and murder for it- triggered an election & brought down a PM, due to his proximity to associates linked to the crime”
26 Dec 2017 James Dolan, security expert, co-creator of ‘SecureDrop’
James Dolan, a former marine, along with colleague Aaron Swartz (who died in 2013), created a secure system [SecureDrop] for communication between journalists and sources in possession of sensitive information or documents. Both were ruled to have committed suicide by hanging. Both died in Brooklyn, NY.
“A tribute to James Dolan, co-creator of SecureDrop, who has tragically passed away at age 36” (9 Jan 2018) [freedom.press]
“Tech Guru, James Dolan, Who Helped WikiLeaks Get Clinton Emails, Found Dead” (12 Jan 2018) [GlobalMediaPlanet]
“These hackers’ suicides are eerily similar” (27 Jan 2018) [NY Post]
From the NY Post:
”[James Dolan’s] combined 11 months of service in the country [of Iraq] as part of the US’s most elite fighting force haunted him, and would come to define James Dolan when he re-entered civilian life, his friends told The Post.
“He often cited the Iraq War as his inspiration for wanting to help journalists and whistle-blowers,” wrote Trevor Timm, executive director of the San Francisco-based Freedom of the Press Foundation in an online tribute earlier this month accompanied by a photo of Dolan. “It made him realize government needed to be much more transparent and accountable.” […]
“According to Timm, Poulsen donated SecureDrop to the [Freedom of the Press] foundation “in the hopes that we could revive it and get it in a place where more news organizations could use it,” he said.
In order to help news organizations across the country install SecureDrop, Dolan, who was single, quit his “high-paying security job at a large company” and joined the journalism foundation. According to Timm, Dolan happily took an 80 percent pay cut in order to finesse SecureDrop.
“He poured his heart and soul into the work, traveling to newsrooms around North America to teach IT staffs and journalists in person,” wrote Timm on a Jan. 9 blog post.
The system uses multiple levels of encryption in order to protect the identity of whistle-blowers who want to send information securely. SecureDrop is now used by both media companies and human-rights organizations around the world.”
27 Jan 2018 Robert Parry, editor and publisher of Consortium News
Nat Parry “Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortium News”
(28 Jan 2018) [Consortium News]
Nat Parry “The Legacy of Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)”
(29 Jan 2018) [InTheseTimes]
“Robert Parry Celebration of Life Service” (20 Apr 2018) [Vimeo]
“Robert (or Bob, as he was known to friends and family) suffered a stroke in December, which – despite his own speculation that it may have been brought on by the stress of covering Washington politics – was the result of undiagnosed pancreatic cancer that he had been unknowingly living with for the past 4-5 years.
He unfortunately suffered two more debilitating strokes in recent weeks and after the last one, was moved to hospice care on Tuesday. He passed away peacefully Saturday evening. He was 68.”
John Pilger spoke of Robert Parry (in 2014), and also presented Bob Parry with the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize:
“Robert Parry wins 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism” [Transcript]
When, in 1990, President George Bush Senior invaded Panama on the pretext of nabbing his old CIA buddy General Noriega, the embedded media made almost no mention of civilian suffering. […] [Martha Gellhorn, then in her 80s] flew to Washington and stood up at a press conference at the Pentagon and asked a general: ‘Why did you kill so many people then lie about it?’
Imagine that question being asked today. And that is what we are honouring this evening. Truth-telling, and the courage to find out, to ask the forbidden question.
Robert Parry is a very distinguished honourable exception.
I first heard of Bob Parry in the 1980s when he broke the Iran-Contra scandal as an Associated Press reporter. This was a story as important as Watergate. Some would say it was more important.
The administration of Ronald Reagan had secretly and illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to secretly and illegally bankroll a bloodthirsty group known as the Contras, which was then trying to crush Nicaragua’s Sandinista government – on behalf of the CIA. You could barely make it up.
Bob Parry’s career has been devoted to finding out, lifting rocks – and supporting others who do the same.
In the 1990s, he supported Gary Webb, who revealed that the Reagan administration had allowed the Contras to traffic cocaine in the US. For this, Webb was crucified by the so-called mainstream media, and took his own life.
Lifting the big rocks can be as dangerous as a warzone.
Robert Parry spoke up for Julian Assange immediately after he was arrested the first time around.
Robert Parry “Journalists Are All Julian Assange” (16 Dec 2010) [Consortium News]
“The process for reporters obtaining classified information about crimes of state most often involves a journalist persuading some government official to break the law either by turning over classified documents or at least by talking about the secret information. There is almost always some level of ‘conspiracy’ between reporter and source.” […]
“Some elements of this suspected Assange-Manning collaboration may be technically unique because of the Internet’s role – and that may be a relief to more traditional news organizations like the Times, which has published some of the WikiLeaks documents – the underlying reality is that what WikiLeaks has done is essentially “the same wine” of investigative journalism in “a new bottle” of the Internet.
By shunning WikiLeaks as some deviant journalistic hybrid, mainstream U.S. news outlets may breathe easier now but may find themselves caught up in a new legal precedent that could be applied to them later.
As for the Obama administration, its sudden aggressiveness in divining new “crimes” in the publication of truthful information is especially stunning when contrasted with its “see no evil” approach toward openly acknowledged crimes committed by President George W. Bush and his subordinates, including major offenses such as torture, kidnapping and aggressive war.” […]
“By bringing a case against Mr. Assange as a conspirator to Private Manning’s leak, the government would not have to confront awkward questions about why it is not also prosecuting traditional news organizations or investigative journalists who also disclose information the government says should be kept secret — including The New York Times, which also published some documents originally obtained by WikiLeaks.” [NYT]
“In other words, the Obama administration appears to be singling out Assange as an outlier in the journalistic community who is already regarded as something of a pariah. In that way, mainstream media personalities can be invited to join in his persecution without thinking that they might be next.
Though American journalists may understandably want to find some protective cover by pretending that Julian Assange is not like us, the reality is – whether we like it or not – we are all Julian Assange.”
14 March 2018: Adrian Lamo, US ‘rat’ who exposed Chelsea Manning
These stories speak for themselves.
“Adrian Lamo, hacker, vs WikiLeaks [sacbee.com] DIYedupunk.com.flv” (date unknown) [YouTube]
“Adrian Lamo Interview” (11 Mar 2011) [YouTube]
“Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning Informant, Defends Turning in Alleged WikiLeaks Whistleblower” (10 Dec 2011) [YouTube] Democracy Now
“Adrian Lamo, hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning, dies aged 37” (16 Mar 2018) [The Guardian]
“Hacker Adrian Lamo Has Died at 37” (16 Mar 2018) [Wired]
“Cause of death of hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning remains a mystery - autopsy report” (9 June 2018) [RT] Autopsy Report [scribd]
“Despite a complete autopsy and supplemental testing, no definitive cause of death was identified … the manner of death is best classified as undetermined.”
“The Mysterious Death Of The Hacker Who Turned In Chelsea Manning” (18 Sept 2019) [npr]
“Hacking Stories: Andrian Lamo – The ‘homeless’ Hacker” (28 June 2021) [BlackHat]
20 August 2018: Arjen Kamphuis, cybersecurity expert
AUDIO: “Assange's Missing Associate Was Person of Interest for Spies – Commentator” [SputnikNews]
“Sudden disappearance of Arjen Kamphuis, a cybersecurity expert who helped journalists evade state surveillance. Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Peter Tatchell, an independent Wikileaks commentator and human rights campaigner, shared his views on the Kamphuis case and Julian Assange's embassy saga.
Peter Tatchell: … Arjen is a cybersecurity expert who has given advice and protocols to journalists on how to protect their sources from state surveillance — and those probably quite a matter of concern to various state security services who snoop and spy on journalists, particularly those who are doing investigations that may embarrass a particular government. Now I'm not saying this points to kidnap or whatever from a state agency, but certainly his work was of concern to governments and security services right across the world. We know that he stepped out of his hotel on August 20 in the northern Norwegian town of Bodo and that he was due to fly from Trondheim on August 22, three days later.
WikiLeaks are saying: 'We are concerned that we've had no contact from him. His friends have had no contact from him. He either must have disappeared in Bodo, on the train or in Trondheim because he never took that flight that he was due to take on August 22.' So it's a matter of considerable concern, first of all for just his own personal safety, but also who or what may have led to his disappearance.”. associate and author of "Information Security for Journalists" has disappeared according to friends () and colleagues. Last seen in Bodø, , 11 days ago on August 20.
UPDATE: 5 Oct 2018: [NO] “Colleague[s] about the mysterious disappearance: - Absolutely sure that Arjen is still alive” [nrk.no]
UPDATE: 23 Aug 2019: [NO] “This finding leads the police to believe they have solved the Kamphuis mystery” [nrk.no]
“… the police now believe that Kamphuis is dead.
- The police have come to the conclusion that he most likely died in a kayak accident in Skjerstadfjorden by Rognan on the evening of 20 August 2018. Missing persons have so far not been found and there is reason to believe that he has disappeared into the sea, says police attorney Bjarte Walla in Nordland police district.”
16 Dec 2018: Tim May, the “father” of ‘crypto anarchy’
“Tim May, Father of 'Crypto Anarchy,' Is Dead at 67” [reason]
“Cypherpunk Legend Timothy May Has Passed Away” [CoinDesk]
Tim May, the Cypherpunk co-founder was a major influence on both bitcoin and WikiLeaks. He was he author of "The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto" about which Jim Epstein wrote: “Running 497 words, it was his most influential piece of writing.”
“His passing was announced Saturday by Lucky Green, also a self-described cypherpunk, on Facebook, saying that his "dear friend" May had passed away earlier this week at his home in Corralitos, California.
“Death appears to be from natural causes pending autopsy. I.e. Tim did not die in a hail of bullets as so many who didn’t know Tim all that well and largely from his public writings had predicted,” Green wrote.”
6 Sept 2020 Kevin Zeese, co-director of ‘Popular Resistance’
“Kevin Zeese, a Fighter for Truth, Dies at 64” [Consortium News]
Margaret Flowers wrote:
It is with a sad heart that I report the sudden and unexpected death of Kevin Zeese early Sunday morning. Kevin was working up until the end and died in his sleep of a possible heart attack.
Kevin was going to write a newsletter this weekend about the extradition trial of Julian Assange, which begins today. Kevin understood the great importance of the prosecution of Julian Assange as a battle that will define journalism in the 21st century and our right to know.
He was helping to organize an online event featuring Daniel Ellsberg, James Goodale and Chris Hedges, moderated by Sue Udry. As far as I know, that event will still take place.
NOTE: It did. (9 Sept 2020) “Assange Extradition and the War on Journalism” [YouTube]
You can read the June 28th newsletter we wrote about Julian Assange, “Government Attacks Media as Peoples Media Reveals the Truth.”
NOTE: This death occurred the day before Phase 2 began of the UK hearing of the US Extradition Request for Julian Assange.
The sympathy of the whole Free Assange movement went out to his partner Margaret Flowers and the rest of his family and friends.
See Kevin Zeese in some of the #Unity4J online vigils here:
— Vigil 01: (2-3 June 2018) [Video] [Transcript]
— Vigil 02: (7-9 July 2018) [Video] (Note the Tree of Life behind Kevin)
— Vigil 13: (19 Jan 2019) [Video]
26 June 2021 Senator Mike Gravel
As a senator, Mike Gravel became nationally known for his forceful attempts to end the draft during the War in Vietnam. He also was known for putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971.
The Springfield-born senator conducted a campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1972 for Vice President of the U.S. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1974.
“Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel’s Cause of Death Revealed” (July 2021) [USDayNews]
Senator Mike Gravel spoke up for Julian Assange many times, including a number of appearances on the Unity4J vigils when they later morphed into the CN Live channel.
“Official statement from Sen. Mike Gravel about the arrest of Julian Assange” (11 Apr 2019) [Tweet]
B) Death threats and implications for security
4 Nov 2010: Julian Assange discusses threats to lives of Wikileaks staff (in Geneva) [YouTube]
We have had an ambush in Luxembourg in early 2008. These sort of security considerations affect anyone involved in investigative journalism where that journalism exposes states or very powerful criminal organisations. So yes, we do have to take significant security precautions.
This video documents dozens of the death threats made publicly against Julian Assange. Who knows how many more were made privately?
16 Oct 2016: Tweet threat from CNN pundit and former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Morris Davis [Tweet]
Drone strike was a bad hypo. Substitute a 7.62 round on Assange's forehead instead. Would Art. 51 permit it assuming no collateral damage?
1 July 2017: “Assange Compiles Media Figures, Establishment Democrats Calling For His Death” [DisobedientMedia archived]
“...these "journalists" love nothing more than to threaten to help assassinate me and my staff and my sources for telling the truth...””[Tweet]
“...There's thousands more on killing me, our other people, maiming, bombing, kidnapping, imprisoning for trying to educate people...” [Tweet]
23 July 2018: “Islamic State 'Beatles' duo: UK 'will not block death penalty'” [BBC archived]
Re the possibility of the death penalty after extradition - the UK does not seek assurances in this case.
If they can do that for one case, they can do it again.
3 Nov 2018: “Break-in Attempted at Assange’s Residence in Ecuador Embassy”
“An attempted break-in at Julian Assange’s residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Oct. 29, and the absence of a security detail, have increased fears about the safety of the WikiLeak’s publisher.
Lawyers for Assange have confirmed to activist and journalist Suzie Dawson that Assange was awoken in the early morning hours by the break-in attempt. They confirmed to Dawson that the attempt was to enter a front window of the embassy. A booby-trap Assange had set up woke him, the lawyers said.
There was a previous break-in attempt at the embassy in August 2016.
Scaffolding has appeared against the embassy building in the Knightsbridge section in London, which “obscures the embassy’s security cameras,” the lawyers said.
On the scaffolding electronic devices, presumably to conduct surveillance, can be seen, just feet from the embassy windows.
Later on the day of the break-in, Sean O’Brien, a lecturer at Yale University Law School and a cyber-security expert, was able to enter the embassy through the front door, which was left open. Inside he found no security present. Someone from the embassy emerged to tell him to send an email to set up an appointment with Assange. After emailing the embassy, personnel inside refused to check whether it had been received or not.
… The break-in attempt last Monday occurred on the morning that Assange was due to testify via video-link to a court in Quito regarding Assange’s conditions of asylum. Technical problems interrupted Assange’s testimony. The court ruled against his lawyer’s petition for protections for Assange.”
26 Sept 2021 “Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA's secret war plans against WikiLeaks” [YahooNews] from Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor and Michael Isikoff.
This Yahoo News investigation, based on conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange — reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks. It was a campaign spearheaded by Pompeo that bent important legal strictures, potentially jeopardized the Justice Department’s work toward prosecuting Assange, and risked a damaging episode in the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally.
The CIA declined to comment. Pompeo did not respond to requests for comment.
“As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information,” Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S. lawyer, told Yahoo News.
In response, the CIA and the White House began preparing for a number of scenarios to foil Assange’s Russian departure plans, according to three former officials. Those included potential gun battles with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London, crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange and then grabbing him, and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow. (U.S. officials asked their British counterparts to do the shooting if gunfire was required, and the British agreed, according to a former senior administration official.)
“We had all sorts of reasons to believe he was contemplating getting the hell out of there,” said the former senior administration official, adding that one report said Assange might try to escape the embassy hidden in a laundry cart. “It was going to be like a prison break movie.”
The intrigue over a potential Assange escape set off a wild scramble among rival spy services in London. American, British and Russian agencies, among others, stationed undercover operatives around the Ecuadorian Embassy. In the Russians’ case, it was to facilitate a breakout. For the U.S. and allied services, it was to block such an escape. “It was beyond comical,” said the former senior official. “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius was working for one of the intelligence services — whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.”
30 Sept 2021 VIDEO “CIA considered kidnapping and killing Julian Assange, report claims” [CBS News] Michael Isikoff
2 Oct 2020 VIDEO: “Kidnap or Kill: The CIA’s plot against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange” [Aljazeera]
C) Impact on the health and well-being of Julian Assange
14 Sept 2016: Medical reports for Julian Assange [WikiLeaks]
18 June 2018: Jen Robinson on Julian's health at HRC in Geneva [YouTube]
On 8 April 2019, Dr Sondra Crosby wrote a letter to former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (and others) about the health implications for Assange of his continued confinement in the embassy, reporting on four evaluations she made of his health between October 2017 and February 2019.
It is my professional opinion that the synergistic and cumulative severity of the pain and suffering inflicted on Mr Assange - both physical and psychological - is in violation of the 1984 Convention against Torture Article 1 and Article 16. I believe the psychological, physical, and social sequelae will be long lasting and severe.
15 Nov 2021 A recent article by Helen Mercer “Julian Assange & the Crisis of British Public Service” looked at the role the prison health service has played (or not played) in meeting the health needs of Julian Assange.
17 Nov 2021 Two days later, Kit Klarenberg, in “New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment”, reported that the Australian government was well aware of the physical and mental health problems Assange was experiencing, but did nothing to help resolve (or even expose) these problems.
2011-2021 The torture of Julian Assange
The assaults on Julian’s health and wellbeing were canvassed at length in my previous piece: “Nils Melzer on the torture of Julian Assange: A compendium” [Substack]
Nils Melzer - the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, is one of the foremost international authorities on torture and inhumane treatment, and he is mandated by states to investigate such matters. He became involved in the case of Julian Assange in April 2019 after being approached a second time by his lawyers.
He has stated that his finding are that Julian Assange has been subjected to conditions amounting to psychological torture at the hands of four states - Sweden, UK, US and Ecuador. In November 2019 he said: [YouTube from 12:20] [Extensive notes]
Today I am extremely concerned for his life. I have written to all countries concerned. I have asked them to investigate their contributions to this situation and asked them to take measures to alleviate the situation. None of the states have agreed to investigate their contribution to the situation. None of the states have taken any measures to protect his rights.
So, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, if they no longer engage with those they have mandated to report back to them, I only see a dark future for us, our human rights, and the rights of our children. States have to take responsibility for what they do. Responsibility consists of response and ability. Britain and Sweden have each sent me one-page responses to my letters, rejecting my observations and saying that they have nothing further to add. What kind of response is that?
They are required to engage with me, to have a dialogue, and to explain to their people why what they are doing is lawful. If they cannot respond, the presumption is that the unlawfulness of their behaviour is confirmed. There is no other conclusion I can draw.
This is about democracy, the rule of law, and the need to defend it. This case is emblematic – a precedent. If the telling of truth becomes a crime, this will not just have a chilling effect on journalism – it will do away with it, and we will end up living under tyranny.’
11 Dec 2021 Stella Moris [Tweet]
“Julian Assange has a stroke in Belmarsh prison: Fiancée blames extreme stress caused by US extradition battle” [Daily Mail]
11 Dec 2021 [Tweet]
These Oct 27 courtroom images of Julian Assange are even more horrific now that we know he was likely suffering a stroke live on video while judges kept blathering on about his health. He could barely state his name!
Jaraparilla @jaraparillaThis is how Julian Assange briefly appeared at his court hearing via videolink yesterday. Partner @StellaMoris1 said he wanted to attend in person but was not allowed. No explanation was given. Observers said he appeared tired & heavily medicated, often with head in his hands. https://t.co/V3q2h9XAVy
There is also a screen grab from the courtroom footage. It makes for heartbreaking viewing. [Tweet with video image]
14 Dec 2021 Christine Assange makes a heartfelt plea for your assistance in saving her son [substack]
FIFTY years ago in giving birth for the first time as a young mother, I thought there could be no greater pain. But it was soon forgotten when I held my beautiful baby boy in my arms. I named him Julian.
I realise now that I was wrong. There is a greater pain.The unending gut-wrenching pain of being the mother of a multi-award winning journalist who had the courage to publish the truth about high level government crimes and corruption.
The pain of watching my son who sought to publish important truths, being endlessly globally smeared.
The pain of watching my son who risked his life to expose injustice, being fitted up and denied a fair legal process, over and over again.
The pain of seeing my healthy child slowly wasting away from being denied proper health and medical care for years in detention.
The anguish of seeing my boy cruelly psychologically tortured to try and break his huge spirit.
The constant nightmare of him being extradited to the US and being buried alive in extreme solitary confinement for the rest of his life.
The constant fear the CIA will carry out its plans to assassinate him.
The rush of sadness as I saw his frail exhausted body slumping from a mini-stroke in the last hearing due to chronic stress.
Many people are also traumatised by seeing a vengeful superpower using its unlimited resources to bully and destroy a single defenceless individual.
I wish to thank all the caring decent citizens globally protesting Julian’s brutal political persecution .
Please keep raising your voices to your politicians till it’s all they can hear.
His life is in your hands.
13 June 2022 Mary Kostakidis spoke again about the state of Julian’s health as part of a panel discussion “CNLIVE! S4E10 DOCTORS' ORDERS: Do Not Extradite Assange” following the latest Open Letter (to Priti Patel) from Doctors For Assange.
D) Lawfare including multiple episodes of abuse of process
For once, I will do that wicked thing and offer a Wikipedia definition:
The selective use of the law by law enforcement agencies, and the courts, would also count as lawfare, such as:
Ignoring international rulings that don’t suit a country’s purposes, and
Enforcing the law against some (eg whistleblowers) but ignoring it for others (eg torturers and war criminals).
Lawfare against Julian Assange
2016 to 2019: UK ignores the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) [Full text PDF]
In December 2015, the UN Working Group (the highest international authority on this topic) concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015 that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released. It also said that he should be compensated.
On 21 Dec 2018 the UNWGAD reminded the UK: [un ohchr]
The WGAD is further concerned that the modalities of the continued arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange is undermining his health, and may possible endanger his life given the disproportionate amount of anxiety and stress that such prolonged deprivation of liberty entails.
“The United Kingdom has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has a responsibility to honour its commitment, by respecting its provisions in all cases,” the experts said.
“As the High Commissioner for human rights said several years ago, human rights treaty law is binding law, it is not discretionary law. It is not some passing fancy that a state can apply sometimes and not in the other,” the experts recalled.
“In addition, the recommendations of the WGAD Opinions are expected to be implemented by all States, including those which have not been a party in the case concerning Mr. Assange,” said the experts.
“On 10 December, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day. Seventy years ago, on that very day, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the mother of all rights contained in subsequent conventions, including the ICCPR.
“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the experts concluded.
[NOTE the date mentioned above - 10 December. Was the release of the UK High Court Appeal judgment on that date (in 2021) a deliberate ‘smack in the teeth’ to those still trying to uphold the rule of law at the UN?]
23 Feb 2019: Assange reach 3,000 days of Arbitrary Detention with rumours of an immanent expulsion from the embassy abounding. Supporters reminded the UK of the statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: [Tweet]
“#Assange is detained (arbitrarily, without charge for 3000 days), defined as "to keep someone from proceeding" to take up his #asylum in #Ecuador. The fact the UK refuses to allow #SafePassage to someone already granted diplomatic asylum is what makes this "detainment" #WikiLeaks
25 Feb 2019: Mindszenty comparison [Tweet]
“Assange is clearly detained, as the UN rulings say. It's pretty much a Mindszenty-situation. Threats (of life imprisonment in the US for exposing war crimes and corruption) can detain a person even more effectively than prison doors.” [Tweet]
11 April 2019: UK’s ‘'Operation Pelican’' succeeds in arresting Julian Assange
From “Revealed: The UK government campaign to force Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy” [Declassified UK]
“Two days after Assange’s eviction, on 13 April, [Sir Alan] Duncan noted he “had put [Daily Mail journalist] Simon Walters in touch with Ambassador Marchán, thus giving the Daily Mail their scoop about the ‘fetid’ Assange hovel. The pictures of his living conditions were beyond repulsive.”
That day the Daily Mail ran a hit piece using photos from inside the embassy with apparently incriminating photos of unwashed plates in the kitchen. “Revealed, full squalid horror that drove embassy finally to kick him out”, the subtitle read.
The article alleged that Assange “left soiled underpants stuffed down the lavatory in a fit of rage”, but provided no evidence. Duncan’s allegations about Assange defecating in wastepaper bins from two months before were not included in the article.
Ten days later, Duncan met with Hugo Shorter, head of the Foreign Office’s Americas division. “We are both still basking in the successful release of Julian Assange”, he noted.
Then in mid-June 2019, with Assange having been incarcerated in Belmarsh maximum security prison for two months, Duncan put on a party. “[S]traight to drinks in my office for all the Operation Pelican team, those who worked on the removal of Julian Assange from the Ecuador embassy”, he wrote.
“I gave them each a signed photo which we took in the Ops Room on the day, with a caption saying ‘Julian Assange’s Special Brexit Team 11th April 2019’.”
7 Dec 2021 Multiple instances of abuse of process used, as part of a lawfare strategy against Assange, are described in this excellent thread: [THREAD]
11 Dec 2021 John Pilger “The Judicial Kidnapping of Julian Assange” [Arena]
“In their nine minutes of dismissal of the fate of journalist Assange, two of the most senior judges in Britain, including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett (a lifelong buddy of Sir Alan Duncan, Boris Johnson’s former foreign minister who arranged the brutal police kidnapping of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy) referred to not one of a litany of truths aired at previous hearings in the District Court – truths that had struggled to be heard in a lower court presided over by a weirdly hostile judge, Vanessa Baraitser. Her insulting behaviour towards a clearly stricken Assange, struggling through a fog of prison-dispensed medication to remember his name, is unforgettable.
What was truly shocking last Friday was that the High Court judges – Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holyrode, who read out their words – showed no hesitation in sending Julian to his death, living or otherwise. They offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality.
Their ruling in favour, if not on behalf of the United States, is based squarely on transparently fraudulent “assurances” scrabbled together by the Biden administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.
13 Dec 2021 Alexander Mercouris in “CN LIVE! S3E13 The Survival of Julian Assange” [YouTube] on the selective discussion (and silence) on key issues in the judgment of the High Court re the US Appeal in the extradition hearing of Julian Assange.
Nils Melzer has also waxed lyrical on many of the instances of abuse of process and other lawfare tactics used against Julian Assange. See my previous piece “Nils Melzer on the torture of Julian Assange: A compendium”. [Substack] Order his book.
In particular, Nils Melzer described some of these instances at length in an interview on 10 Dec 2021 - both the International Day of Human Rights and the day the High Court announced their appeal verdict (reversing the lower court decision and authorising the extradition of Julian Assange). [YouTube from 26:09]
Nils Melzer’s book “The Case of Julian Assange: A story of persecution” is the ‘bible’ on abuse of process and other lawfare tactics used against Julian Assange.
Order your copy today. [Verso] [Amazon]
Craig Murray has also shared his detailed insight - at an almost granular level - into the procedural abuse in this case. His daily reports during the “Show Trial of Julian Assange” were widely read at the time, and are sure to find a prominent place in the history of these times. My next compendium will address those reports.
UPDATE: On 25 May 2022 a good summary of many forms of abuse of process was provided by Consortium News in “ASSANGE HEARINGS: Legal observer Deepa Driver details the anomalies” [YouTube]
Lawfare against others
Ola Bini, Swedish tech expert
Ola Bini, a Swedish friend of Julian’s working in Ecuador, was arrested on 11 April 2019 in Ecuador- the same day Julian was arrested in their London embassy.
12 April 2019: Courage Foundation on arrest of Ola Bini [Tweet]
“The Courage Foundation is aware of the arrest in Ecuador of Swedish national Ola Bini, a personal friend of Julian Assange. We are monitoring this case closely and ask the Ecuadorian government guarantee his rights.”The Courage Foundation is aware of the arrest in Ecuador of Swedish national Ola Bini, a personal friend of Julian Assange. We are monitoring this case closely and ask the Ecuadorian government guarantee his rights.
Ola Bini, though eventually released from jail, is still detained in Ecuador, subject to unclear charges, and facing a court system that seems both obtuse and chaotic.
30 Nov 2021 [Tweet]
“Of course I’m physically stuck. I will be until my legal limbo has been sorted out. But it’s the mental side of things that’s complicated. I’m not sure if there’s been any research into what kind of psychological effects result from these kinds of situations.”
“C-PTSD does seem to be the closest, as far as I can tell.”
19 Jan 2022 “The trial of Ola Bini, a friend of Julian Assange, accused of alleged illegal access to a computer system in Ecuador begins” [CNN ESpanol]
This report, in Spanish, contains video of Ola Bini speaking in English about is case.
E) Financial and property costs
To Wikileaks and Julian Assange
27 Sept 2010 Theft of luggage returning from Sweden
The theft of this luggage occurred when Julian Assange was returning from the trip to Sweden that eventually landed him in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
(3 Sept 2013) “Assange asks Sweden to investigate luggage he lost in 2010” [FirstPost]
“The affidavit, which was published by WikiLeaks, claims the suitcase contained laptops with WikiLeaks material, including evidence of a "war crime" allegedly committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Assange says it disappeared when he traveled from Stockholm to Berlin on Sept. 27, 2010.
"The suspected seizure or theft occurred at a time of intense attempts by the U.S. to stop WikiLeaks' publications of 2010," Assange said in the affidavit and suggested that Swedish authorities "seek explanations" from members of Obama's delegation during their visit this week.
It was unclear whether Swedish police would open a theft investigation three years after the suspected crime. Arlanda police referred media inquiries to a spokeswoman who didn't immediately return AP's calls.
Samuelson said airport personnel in Berlin and Stockholm had not been able to locate the bag and could not explain how it got lost. "It was checked in and we have luggage tags and everything," he said. "It's gone without a trace.”
[Note: The stolen video is assumed to be of the May 2009 Garani Massacre in Farah province in Afghanistan, with the only other copy having been destroyed by Domscheit-Berg.]
4 Nov 2010: Julian Assange discusses threats to lives of Wikileaks staff (in Geneva) [YouTube] and the financial implications of that danger:
We have had an ambush in Luxembourg in early 2008. These sort of security considerations affect anyone involved in investigative journalism where that journalism exposes states or very powerful criminal organisations. So yes, we do have to take significant security precautions.
Those precautions, together with legal precautions, now take up some 70% of our resources. It's important for people to understand that those are resources that would otherwise be spent on our regular work [of] publishing. So those attacks, if you like, are attacks on powerful journalism. And other organisations not engaged in these kinds of revelations are not subject to that security tax, and hence are more profitable. Hence eventually, organisations that do important journalism - if they are not supported by the public or other organisations - cease to exist.
Dec 2010 onwards The Banking Blockade
(28 June 2011) “Banking Blockade” [WikiLeaks]
(25 October 2012) “WikiLeaks stops works as financial blockade bites” [YouTube]
“The founder of WikiLeaks has warned that it may soon have to stop publishing secrets because of a cash crisis. Julian Assange says the outfit is feeling the pinch because of a financial blockade by several US firms.”
“The blockade has cost the organisation tens of millions of dollars in lost donations at a time of unprecedented costs resulting from publishing alliances in over 50 countries, with over 90 media and Human Rights organisations. Our scarce resources no must focus entirely on unlawful financial blockade.”
“Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and others, including the Bank of America stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks last year after the US government criticised the organisations release of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables. WikiLeaks has appealed to its supporters to send it money directly to ensure its survival.”
20 Dec 2012 “The Wikileaks Banking Blockade” [YouTube]
Kristinn Hrafnsson discussed ways WikiLeaks is fighting back against the banking blockade. He mentions their win in the lower courts in Iceland. That case was finally won in the Iceland’s highest court in 2013 when Valitor was ordered to lift the blockade or pay $204,000 per month in fines. [RT] [Tweet]Be interesting to see whether Visa will spend $204k a month in fines rather than lifting the blockade generally. Either way, we win.
This was followed up on 24 Apr 2019, when the Icelandic court ordered VALITOR (formerly VISA Iceland) to pay $10 million (1.2 billion ISK) in damages for blocking credit card donations to WikiLeaks (in 2011).
Valitor indicated that it would appeal the judgment. [Tweet]
WikiLeaks did not lose its sense of humour over this wholesale theft of its donation stream. It put out a parody of the (then) current Mastercard advertisement. [YouTube]
21 Feb 2021 Glenn Greenwald looks at parallels between the 2012 banking blockade against WikiLeaks and operations against later dissidents (including the Canadian Freedom Convoy):
“Banishment from the Financial System: the War on Dissent” [YouTube]
18 Jan 2012 The Michael Hastings interview [Rolling Stone]
Michael Hastings managed to get some very interesting information about the financial persecution of WikiLeaks people, including Julian himself:
Q: What forms has the pressure taken?
A: My personal bank account was shut down, and some of our people have also had their personal bank accounts closed. Many people have lost their jobs – even those who were quite indirectly connected. The person who registered our Swiss domain name lost their job when Bloomberg reported their name on the record. One of the board members of the German charity that collects donations for us lost their security contract with the Swiss stock exchange. The stock exchange even put in writing that the cause was his affiliation with us. The Tor Project, which protects people around the world from being spied on or censored, lost some $600,000 to the U.S. government, as a result of one of their people, Jacob Appelbaum, having filled in for me once at a conference in New York. This type of indirect pressure has been applied to a great many people.
Q: How expensive has the legal battle been?
A: We have many legal cases. This personal case, the Swedish extradition case, I have to pay for myself. I don’t think that is right. Actually, I think the organization should pay for it.
A: It is unquestionable that the case has been politicized as a result of my role in the organization. However, to avoid the attack that the funding would be spent on this case, which is effectively used by our opponents to assassinate my character, it’s completely separate. Which means that I’m now completely bankrupt as a result.
Q: Completely bankrupt?
A: Yeah. There have been all sorts of strange complications, such as that the previous lawyers managed to get hold of all my book advances and keep them. So I have not received a cent from any publicity that I’ve done.
Q: There’s a rumor that you have £3.3 million in your bank account that you’re keeping.
A: Yeah, sure. Our opponents like to spread these rumors to deny us our donations.
Q: So that’s not true?
A: It’s absolute nonsense. They spread rumors that I’m living in a mansion, they spread rumors that I’m homeless. Two years ago, fabricated documents were spread saying that I traveled first class and lived in a castle in South Africa, and I’ve never even been to South Africa. If you want to attack an organization, how do you attack it? You attack the cash flow and leadership. The character assassinations are dangerous, but taken as a whole, they’re absurdly comical. We have, on the one hand, some 700,000 references to me being an anti-Semite, and on the other hand, some 2.5 million references to me being a member of the Mossad. I’m accused of everything from being a cat torturer to being a rapist to being overly concerned about my hair to being too rich to being so poor that my socks are dirty. The only ones I have left now to look forward to are some kind of combination of bestiality and pedophilia.
20 Dec 2017 “WikiLeaks lawyer’s office stormed by hooded raiders in ‘attempted robbery’” [RT]
Three hooded raiders broke into the office of WikiLeaks lawyer Baltasar Garzon in Madrid, covering security cameras with tape in what police described as a “very professional” operation.
The break-in took place at dawn on Monday, and police are treating it as an “attempted robbery,” El Pais reports. The thieves didn’t take any money and police are waiting for technicians to confirm whether any files were taken or copied from Garzon’s computer. Police are analyzing the security cameras at the entrance to the office.
El Diario reports an employee of the firm told police the individuals did attempt to copy information stored on their servers, but that they were unsuccessful. All they took from the office was a Christmas ham.
12 April 2019 Theft of Assange’s property from within the embassy
“FBI seized ‘legally privileged’ material from Ecuador Embassy, claims Julian Assange’s lawyer” [ComputerWeekly]
The US struck a secret deal to seize computers and documents, including legally privileged files, belonging to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange days before he was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Three days before Assange’s arrest on 11 April 2019, the Office of International Affairs asked Ecuador to seize all evidence from the embassy and hand it over to a UK-based FBI officer to transfer to the US.
The disclosure follows evidence that legal meetings between Assange and his London-based solicitor, Gareth Peirce, who represented him in the extradition hearings last week, were secretly placed under surveillance.
Assange’s defence lawyers argue that the seizure of legally privileged communications from the embassy are an abuse of the legal process.
This “constitutes the most serious breach of one of the most fundamental safeguards known to the common law”, they argue in written submissions.
See also Affidavit #2 (dated 14 Jan 2020) given in evidence to the court conducting the extradition hearing by Assange’s solicitor Gareth Peirce [Affidavit #2 PDF]
It seems that police may also have been looking for Ciaron O’Reilly’s possessions. (He had maintained a vigil outside the embassy for many months before the arrest.) [Tweet]
Large financial penalties have been levied on some whistleblowers:
Barrett Brown was ordered to pay $890,250 (Jan 2015) in ‘restitution’ to
Stratfor when he was convicted for hacking their servers. [The Guardian]
Chelsea Manning was fined $256,000 in 2020 during the contempt of court episodes resulting from her refusing to testify to the Grand Jury (which we assume was digging for ‘dirt‘ on Julian Assange). These fines were paid via crowd funding, which probably means that the funds came largely from the WikiLeaks community. [Sparrow]
These open ended fines, along with her indefinite imprisonment, were addressed in Para 42 of Nils Melzer’s Report to the UN Human Rights Council (released 20 Feb 2020) as a form of psychological torture. [Report download]
Edward Snowden was hit with legal action designed to take all the money he has earned from speeches and his book away from him, leaving him penniless.
1 Oct 2020 [justice.gov]
“… the court entered judgment in the government’s favor in an amount exceeding $5.2 million and imposed a constructive trust for the benefit of the United States over those sums and any further monies, royalties, or other financial advantages derived by Snowden from [his book] Permanent Record and 56 specific speeches.
Ongoing travel and accommodation expenses
Many people travel the world in support of Julian Assange. This would include his family - his father, John Shipton, who sold his Australian home in order to support his son, and his brother Gabriel Shipton. But also others such as the many journalists who travel to court sittings and other events to collect information and report on events, and the very many grassroots supporters who help with publicity in places far from their homes.
Ongoing legal fees
And then there are the tens of millions that must have been paid to lawyers, technical people and other experts across the globe in relation to the never ending lawfare waged against Julian Assange in multiple jurisdictions, plus the fees forgone by those generous people who have provided their assistance pro bono (or at a reduced rate).
Cost to the people of the UK
6 Feb 2015 “Julian Assange: Costs of policing Wikileaks founder reach £10 million” [BBC]
Between June 2012 and October 2014, direct policing costs were £7.3m, with £1.8m spent on overtime, police said.
Scotland Yard confirmed the cost of the operation to UK taxpayers in the first 28 months, until 31 October last year, had reached £9m.
The Metropolitan Police said the costs were covered by the budget for diplomatic protection, which provides policing for embassies in the UK.
21 Sept 2021 “Assange Extradition Case Has Cost British Public Over £300,000” [Declassified UK]
New figures show Britain’s public prosecutor, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), splashed £151,000 on barristers who failed to convince a judge in January that the US has the right to extradite the WikiLeaks publisher.
The CPS acts on behalf of the US Department of Justice in transatlantic extradition cases.
Another £22,000 of British public money was spent on expert witnesses, as well as £5,000 on transcripts. The bill will rise further next month when an appeal by the CPS, at the behest of the US government, reaches the High Court in London.
Belmarsh, a high security site normally reserved for the most dangerous criminals like murderers and terrorists, costs £58,000 per prisoner each year, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Another £23,000 likely went on paying district judge Vanessa Baraitser and her clerks to sit through four weeks of court hearings in 2020.
The figures given above will just be the tip of the iceberg.
Cost to the people of Sweden, Ecuador and the US
While there has been a considerable financial cost to all these nations - an enormous cost to the US over more than a decade (at one stage there were said to be more than 100 people in the DOJ working fulltime on trying to create a case against Julian Assange) - the most serious cost is to the constitutionality, rule of law and democratic soul of all these nations (the UK included). They, and their leaders, will not fare well when the history of this period is finally recorded.
F) Whistleblowers and Truthtellers
Whistleblowers and truthtellers tend to fare badly all over the world, no matter the topic. But those in any way related to WikiLeaks and/or Julian Assange seem to fare worse than many others. They have been assiduously sought and punished for their “crimes”, and not only in the US.
Punishments for those who blow the whistle on the dirty secrets of states (and large corporations) have included not only prison sentences and fines after conviction, but - as with Julian himself - the extensive cost, financial and in terms of stress, and degraded health, during the often lengthy period that precedes such court trial (if one actually eventuates). Not to mention the career suicide and, often, relationship disintegration.
As Julian (and others) have often put it, “the process IS the punishment”.
More Whistleblowers & Truthtellers (in alphabetic order)
- Bill Binney (@Bill_Binney)
- Barret Brown (@BarrettB)
- Thomas Drake (@Thomas_Drake1)
- Rudolf Elmer (@SwissWB)
- Stephanie Gibaud (@Steph_and_me)
- Daniel Hale (@TeamDanielHale)
- Jeremy Hammond (@FreeJeremyNet)
- John Kiriakou (@JohnKiriakou)
- Lauri Love
- Ethan McCord
- Gary McKinnon (@Freegary)
- Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg)
- Joshua Schulte
- Jeffrey Sterling (@Sterling_Je)
- Cian Westmoreland (@CianMW)
NOTE: This list is by way of example only, and is by no means exhaustive.
The most famous whistleblowers
Author of "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner" and "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers."
Daniel Ellsberg is regarded as the US “godfather of whistleblowers”. Although a legal case was mounted against him under the (now infamous) US Espionage Act, that case collapsed due to the state-commissioned break-in of the office of his psychiatrist, aimed at stealing medically and legally privileged records. [History rhymes?]
Julian Assange has said that the support of Daniel Ellsberg has been a a very important factor in the development of WikiLeaks, and to him personally.
25 Oct 2020 “WikiLeaks- Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg in conversation” [YouTube]
Chelsea [then Bradley] Manning is considered possibly the most important leaker of the century, being (allegedly) the leaker of the largest ever set of state records.
17 May 2017 “Manning leaves U.S. prison seven years after giving secrets to WikiLeaks” [Reuters]
“Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks … while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama, in his final days in office, commuted the final 28 years of Manning’s 35-year sentence, effective four months later. That decision angered national security experts, who say Manning put American lives at risk, but it won praise from free-speech activists, critics of U.S. war policy and transgender advocates who have embraced her transition to a female gender identity.”
During her pre-trial period Chelsea Manning was tortured on behalf of the US state.
8 Nov 2016 “The True Scandal of 2016 Was The Torture of Chelsea Manning” [The Intercept]
9 May 2017 “The Chelsea Manning Case: A Timeline” [ACLU]
“… regularly stripped naked, subjected to prolonged isolated confinement and sleep deprivation, deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, and stripped of her reading glasses so she could not read …”
Even after she was eventually released, Chelsea Manning was tortured (during the “contempt of court” episode discussed elsewhere) at the behest of a US judge:
31 Dec 2019 “Top UN official accuses US of torturing Chelsea Manning” [The Guardian]
2010-11: The Manning leaks
These include the video “Collateral Murder” (released 5 April 2010),
- the Afghanistan & Iraq Warlogs,
- the US Diplomatic Cables (known as Cablegate),
- the Guantánamo files, and
- the US Rules of Engagement.
These leaks were partly published prior to the first arrest (7 Dec 2010) of Julian Assange and are the subject of the current (2020) US indictment which has lead to the current extradition request and hearings in the UK.
Their publication pre-dates Assange seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy (19 June 2012), and the US reaction to them (the empaneling of a Grand Jury during the Obama regime) was part of the basis for Ecuador granting that asylum. Public death threats against Assange from US politicians began in this period.
For the benefits that have ensued from the Manning leaks - in terms of overall knowledge of the real state of the world, and the specific benefits that have accrued (in many countries. and in many court cases) from individual leaked items - the whole world owes a great debt of gratitude to Chelsea Manning.
Edward Snowden was a CIA and NSA intelligence professional. In 2013 he went to Hong Kong, carrying with him one of largest ever leaks of US security intelligence information ever made. There he met up with Sarah Harrison, who WikiLeaks had sent to ensure he got to safety, and subsequently with three journalists (Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill) to whom he handed over copies of the leak archive, and with who he spent time explaining the significance of the documents.
He then left for his intended asylum destination (in South America) - accompanied by Sarah Harrison. He no longer had any of the leaked information. He felt he had done his part. Unfortunately, the US cancelled his passport while he was en route, so he became stranded in what should have just been a stopover point - Russia.
3 July 2013 “In hunt for Snowden, US forces Bolivian presidential jet to land” [WSWS]
After 40 days and night in Moscow airport, hiding from journalists, Russia finally gave him one year’s temporary asylum. This later became temporary residency. Later, his US girlfriend joined him, they eventually married, and recently had their first child.
The film Laura Poitras made after Hong Kong, Citizen Four, won an Oscar.
Snowden was charged with three felonies by the US government while he was still in Hong Kong. Due to an error in the US extradition paperwork, Snowden was gone before the corrected documents could be actioned. [US indictment] [Politico]
23 Feb 2015 “AMA: We are Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald from the Oscar-winning documentary CITIZENFOUR. AUAA.” [Reddit]
21 Feb 2016 “Dresden Peace Prize 2016 Speech of Edward Snowden” [YouTube]
In this video, Snowden discusses the influence Daniel Ellsberg had on him.
9 Sept 2016 BBC: “Wikileaks' Sarah Harrison on Edward Snowden and Julian Assange” [YouTube] At the time of the release of Oliver Stone’s “Snowden”.
17 March 2018 [Twitter]
2018 “Top 10 Edward Snowden Revelations You Didn’t Know About” [YouTube from 3:39]
14 March 2019 Glenn Greenwald [Tweet]
“On the Snowden archive:”
23 Oct 2018 “Joe Rogan Experience #1368 - Edward Snowden” [YouTube]
This nearly 3 hour video has had more than 27 million views.
Snowden discusses, among many other things, his book “Permanent Record”. [Which is, by the way, a very interesting and engaging book.]
“I came on [this show] because I have just written a book called Permanent Record, which is the the story of my life - because that's what publishers make you do when you're writing your first book. But it's more than that, because I didn't just want to talk about me. It's actually about the changing of technology, and the changing of government in of post 9/11 era. which our generation just happened to be growing up during. And I was at the CIA and the NSA and all this stuff.
But the day that the book came out, the government hit me with a lawsuit, and they hit the publisher of the books with a with a lawsuit. Because they don't want to see books like this get written. They especially don't want to see books like this get read. And so the big thing was we didn't know where this was going. We didn't know what was going to happen. And my publisher, of course, wanted me very badly to let people know this book existed, in case the government leaned harder and harder. We didn't know where that's going.
I mean the government is still pursuing that case quite strongly. They're more focused on though the financial censorship side of it, basically taking any money that I made from it kind of is a warning to the others, and getting a legal judgment against the publishers saying, you know you can't pay this guy. That kind of thing. more so than taking the book off the shelves. But that's not because they're okay with the book being on the shelves. It's because, thankfully, we've got the First Amendment, and so they can't - and that's a very rare and good thing.
16 Sept 2019 “Edward Snowden wants to come home but says U.S. won’t give him a fair trial” [YouTube]
3 Sept 2020 “NSA surveillance exposed by Snowden was illegal, court rules seven years on” [The Guardian]
1 Oct 2020 “United States Obtains Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction Against Edward Snowden” [justice.gov]
“In December 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, found in favor of the United States in the suit against Snowden on the issue of liability and held that Snowden breached his contractual and fiduciary obligations to the CIA and NSA by publishing Permanent Record and giving prepared remarks within the scope of his pre-publication review obligations, but reserved judgment on the scope of these violations or the remedies due to the government. On Tuesday, the court entered judgment in the government’s favor in an amount exceeding $5.2 million and imposed a constructive trust for the benefit of the United States over those sums and any further monies, royalties, or other financial advantages derived by Snowden from Permanent Record and 56 specific speeches.
“Edward Snowden violated his legal obligations to the United States, and therefore, his unlawful financial gains must be relinquished to the government,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. “As this case demonstrates, the Department of Justice will not overlook the wrongful actions of those who seek to betray the trust reposed in them and to personally profit from their access to classified national security information.”
“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This judgment will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him.”
“We will pursue those who take advantage of sensitive positions in government to profit from the classified information learned during their government service,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division.
This lawsuit is separate from the criminal charges brought against Snowden for his alleged disclosures of classified information. This lawsuit is a civil action, and based solely on Snowden’s failure to comply with the clear pre-publication review obligations included in his signed non-disclosure agreements.
MORE Whistleblowers & Truthtellers (alphabetic order)
Bill Binney is the former NSA technical Director of the NSA. He was instrumental in the development of ‘Thin Thread’ - a program which (he says) would have efficiently, legally, and cheaply surveilled internet exchanges for terrorism threats while avoiding the enormous breaches of privacy intrinsically involved in the system (“Stellar Wind”, the program exposed in the Snowden leaks) that was finally adopted by the NSA.
Bill Binney has also worked closely with Ray McGovern (a former CIA analyst and another truthteller) on ascertaining the potential sources of the information subsequently known as the WikiLeaks “DC Emails”.
“NSA Whistleblower Binney Says There Was No Russian Hack, as Stone Prosecution Claims” (11 Nov 2018) [NationalFile]
Bill Binney, a 32 year National Security Agency expert, has made a sworn declaration that Wiki-leaks did not receive stolen data from the Russian government, intrinsic metadata shows that the data in question was put on a thumb drive and physically taken from the DNC.
National File received a copy of the three page sworn declaration made by leading intelligence community expert Binney for Roger Stone, in which he makes a convincing case that neither Russia nor any other foreign country hacked the DNC emails during the 2016 Presidential election.
In the testimony, Binney, a 32-year National Security Agency expert, says that Wiki-leaks did not receive stolen data from the Russian government. Rather, intrinsic metadata shows that the data in questions was put on a thumb drive and physically taken from the DNC.
In late 2020, Bill Binney publicly stated that he was being attacked by Directed Energy Weapons [DEWs]. [Tweet](46) This is true.
Joint Investigation @Stop007nowMeanwhile, please help to stop the live running GENOCIDE being conducted by the @usairforce. They are droning the house of @Bill_Binney. He just survived an assassination attempt where Directed Energy Weapons shot holes into the shielding above him! THIS IS SERIOUS! PLEASE HELP! https://t.co/iHDwIJsHmw
Although this seemed far fetched, others cited evidence that these weapons had indeed been developed by clandestine US agencies. [Tweet]I can see a lot of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange supporters who are mystified by what Bill Binney has recently been tweeting/talking about. I have zero doubt that Bill is telling the truth. He should be supported. My 2016 reporting proved DEW's existed & were in use long ago:
21 June 2021 Bill Binney married Dr Katherine Horton. They discuss their shared experience of DEWs and their discovery of the presence of surgically implanted ‘chips’ in Bill’s leg stumps (he is a double amputee). [RedPill]
Barret Brown is a journalist who was jailed for his slight and tangential relationship to the Stratfor email leaks.
“Intelligence Contractors - Barrett Brown” (22 July 2011) [YouTube]
“Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months for 'merely linking to hacked material'” (22 Jan 2015) [The Guardian]
“The journalist and former Anonymous member is also ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in what he calls a ‘dangerous precedent’ for indicting hacktivists.’
“In October 2012, after being held for two weeks without charge, he was indicted on charges of making an online threat, retaliating against a federal officer and conspiring to release personal information about a government employee.
Two months later, he was indicted on 12 further charges related to the hacking of private intelligence contractor Stratfor in 2011.
Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who actually carried out the Stratfor breach, was sentenced to the maximum possible 10 years.”
“The $890,250 in restitution payments will go to Stratfor and other companies targeted by Anonymous. He will pay $225 in fines.”
Within it, he addresses the US prosecution assertion that he “is not a journalist” - one that we would see again, parroted in the legacy press, in the Julian Assange case.
“The government asserts that I am not a journalist and thus unable to claim the First Amendment protections guaranteed to those engaged in information-gathering activities. Your Honor, I’ve been employed as a journalist for much of my adult life, I’ve written for dozens of magazines and newspapers, and I’m the author of two published and critically-acclaimed books of expository non-fiction. Your Honor has received letters from editors who have published my journalistic work, as well as from award-winning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, who note that they have used that work in their own articles. If I am not a journalist, then there are many, many people out there who are also not journalists, without being aware of it, and who are thus as much at risk as I am.”
“Barrett Brown leaves prison still chained to a crime he didn’t commit” (29 Nov 2016) [DailyDot]
“The 35-year-old cause célèbre, convicted in January 2015 after spending more than two years in pretrial confinement, faces a laundry list of post-release restrictions and obligations, including drug treatment, mental health evaluations, and computer monitoring. After departing the Three Rivers federal correctional institution in San Antonio, where Brown continued his work as a writer over the past year, publishing award-winning essays at D Magazine and the Intercept, he will report to a halfway house in Hutchins, Texas.”
Chris Hedges interview “The war of Wikileaks, Assange and other outlets exposing the inner workings of power” (4 Aug 2018) [YouTube]
Former senior consultant at the NSA.
Biography from The Government Accountability Project.
“The Secret Sharer; Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state?” (23 May 2011) [TheNewYorker]
“Drake willfully retained top-secret defense documents that he had sworn an oath to protect, sneaking them out of the intelligence agency’s headquarters, at Fort Meade, Maryland, and taking them home, for the purpose of “unauthorized disclosure.” The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs. Drake is also charged with obstructing justice and lying to federal law-enforcement agents. If he is convicted on all counts, he could receive a prison term of thirty-five years.
The government argues that Drake recklessly endangered the lives of American servicemen. “This is not an issue of benign documents,” William M. Welch II, the senior litigation counsel who is prosecuting the case, argued at a hearing in March, 2010. The N.S.A., he went on, collects “intelligence for the soldier in the field. So when individuals go out and they harm that ability, our intelligence goes dark and our soldier in the field gets harmed.”
The charges were eventually dropped.
WikiLeaks (12 Aug 2011) [Tweet]
“Thomas Drake interviewed at Web 2.0 Summit 2011” (21 Oct 2011) [YouTube]
Discusses ‘Thin Thread’ (see Bill Binney in this section)
“PBS The Frontline Interview: Thomas Drake” (10 Dec 2013) [pbs] has transcript
“Silenced - A James Spione film” [Trailer] Interview (23 April 2014) [YouTube]
James Spione documents the journeys of Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, two men charged with espionage by the U.S. government for whistleblowing.
Randy Credico “Assange Countdown to Freedom: Thomas Drake” (4 Aug 2021) [YouTube]
16 Dec 2021 “Thomas Drake & Jesselyn Radack on Assange Show Trial” [YouTube]
Rodolph Elmer was chief operating officer at private bank Julius Baer's office in the Cayman Islands. Mr Elmer provided a CDROM containing banking records to WikiLeaks to ensure they were not lost to the public record. His 2008 statement can be read here. [Wikileaks]
“Reuters: Swiss re-arrest Rudolf Elmer for giving data to WikiLeaks [UPDATE: 1] (19 Jan 2011) [wlcentral]
DW “Exposing corruption, abuse and war crimes - Whistleblower | DW Documentary” (13 Jan 2017) [YouTube] Stephanie Gibaud & Rudolf Elmer
“This is what happens if you get caught being a financial secrecy whistleblower” (22 Nov 2018) [TruePublica]
Julian Assange wrote the preface to Stephanie Gibaud’s book 'La Traque des lanceurs d'alerte', which discusses corruption within UBS, tax evasion and financial corruption in France and the psychological war on whistleblowers.
Reuters “French court rules UBS bullied ex-employee” (5 Mar 2015) [Reuters]
UBS France bullied a former worker who said she had refused to destroy documents that might have been of interest to tax evasion investigators, a Paris labour tribunal ruled on Thursday.
DW “Exposing corruption, abuse and war crimes - Whistleblower | DW Documentary” (13 Jan 2017) [YouTube] Stephanie Gibaud & Rudolf Elmer
Daniel Hale is known as “the Drone Whistleblower”.
“Imprisoned Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Honored By International Free Speech Group” (8 Dec 2021) [The Dissenter]
“Hale was a signals intelligence analyst in the U.S. Air Force. He was deployed to Afghanistan and stationed at Bagram Air Base. He later worked as a contractor for a firm known as Leidos. His contracting job gave him access to documents on the drone program, and he shared copies with journalist Jeremy Scahill, who published the documents at The Intercept.
He pled guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act on March 31. Authorities subsequently jailed him after his therapist ratted him out, and Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison on July 27 .
Hale is the first person convicted of an unauthorized disclosure of information to the press to be incarcerated in a Communications Management Unit (CMU), which the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) claims is for terrorists and “high-risk inmates.” ”Imprisoned drone whistleblower Daniel Hale honored by international free speech group Blueprint For Free Speech () But he declined to issue more of a statement accepting the prize because US Bureau of Prisons has him in a CMU
Jeremy Hammond was central to the release of the Stratfor emails, discussed at the start of this compendium. His courage and integrity in resisting coercion to testify at the Grand Jury convened to ‘get more dirt’ on Assange (especially since this cost him an extra year in prison) has been noted by all those in the WikiLeaks and Team Assange community.
In 2004 Jeremy Hammond spoke to the Defcon conference about “hacktivism” [Tweet]
7 Dec 2012 “The Rise and Fall of Jeremy Hammond: Enemy of the State”
On a cold day in mid-December 2011, a hacker known as “sup_g” sat alone at his computer – invisible, or so he believed. He’d been working on the target for hours, long after the rest of his crew had logged off: an epic hack, the “digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb,” as it later would be described, on the servers of a Texas-based intelligence contractor called Strategic Forecasting Inc. Stratfor served as a sort of private CIA, monitoring developments in political hot spots around the world and supplying analysis to the U.S. security establishment.
A member of the online activist movement Anonymous, sup_g was part of a small team of politically motivated hackers who had breached Stratfor’s main defenses earlier that month – ultimately “rooting,” or gaining total access to, its main web servers. In them, they had found a cornucopia of treasure: passwords, unencrypted credit-card data and private client lists revealing Stratfor’s deep ties to both big business and the U.S. intelligence and defense communities. But perhaps the most lucrative find of all was Stratfor’s e-mail database: some 3 million private messages that exposed a wide array of nefarious and clandestine activities – from the U.S. government’s monitoring of the Occupy movement to Stratfor’s own role in compiling data on a variety of activist movements, including PETA, Wikileaks and even Anonymous itself.
This article goes on to discuss the history of Jeremy Hammond’s hacking activities, and the role of ‘'Sabu’ (Hector Xavier Monsegur) in betraying him, and many in Anonymous by acting as an FBI informant.
The Jeremy Hammond story is then taken over by ‘FreeJeremy’' [Website]
On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks, in coordination with dozens of international media outlets, began publishing more then five million Stratfor emails as the Global Intelligence Files. In the accompanying press release, WikiLeaks explained the journalistic importance of these documents:
The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods
Jeremy Hammond was arrested on 5 March 2012 by the FBI, along with five others associated with LulzSec, largely as a result of Hector Monsegur’s cooperation with the government. Hammond was charged with several counts of hacking, conspiracy to hack and conspiracy to commit fraud, totaling a potential 35-year prison sentence.
Jeremy ultimately pleaded guilty to one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in a non-cooperating agreement that allowed him, as he explained in an accompanying statement, “to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline.”
That plea carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. Jeremy’s lawyers submitted 265 letters of support for their client demanding leniency, but on 15 November 2013 Judge Preska sentenced Jeremy to the maximum: a decade in prison.
Calling the sentence a “vengeful, spiteful act,” Jeremy said that his prosecutors “have made it clear they are trying to send a message to others who come after me. A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face.”
[This was the same Judge Preska that more recently jailed Steven Donziger in the lawfare conducted against him by Chevron.]
That was not the end of ‘vengeance‘ against Jeremy Hammond. Once Julian Assange had been arrested and stashed in HMP Belmarsh. the US government sought, via a Grand Jury, to - presumably - question Hammond about matters pertaining to Assange.
In September 2019, Jeremy was called in front of a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. Due to the secretive nature of grand juries, we do not know the exact nature of the grand jury, although it is believed to be the same grand jury that previously called Chelsea Manning to testify. Jeremy refused to cooperate and was found in contempt, effectively pausing his federal sentence mere months before his release from prison.
11 Oct 2019 Jeremy issued a statement about why he was refusing to testify in front of the Grand Jury [Full statement]
Now, after seven and a half years of ‘paying my debt to society,’ the government seeks to punish me further with this vindictive, politically-motivated legal maneuver to delay my release, knowing full well that I would never cooperate with their witch hunt. I am opposed to all grand juries, but I am opposed to this one in particular because it is part of the government’s ongoing war on free speech, journalists, and whistleblowers. I am insulted that those in power claim that I have an ‘obligation that every citizen owes his government’ to testify. As an anarchist, I am not part of their social contract, and do not recognize the legitimacy of their laws and courts. Instead, I believe in a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote I had taped to the wall of my prison cell for years: ‘One has an obligation to disobey unjust laws.’
“It is difficult to view any of this government’s laws as just when they are so selectively enforced, and when the government turns a blind eye to its own misconduct, misconduct that is on display every day that Trump is in the White House. In my case, the government, through its informant, Sabu, instigated numerous hacks, asking me to break into governments and companies all over the world. Nearly a decade later, this misconduct remains ignored. The NSA continues to surveil everyone and launch cyber attacks. Trump and his corrupt cronies continue to hold the world hostage to their megalomaniacal imperialist pig whims while simultaneously refusing to comply with subpoenas and inquiries into their vicious abuses of power. Meanwhile, Chelsea Manning and I are doing hard time in this dump for the ‘crime’ of refusing to allow our spirits to break, after ‘serving’ our sentences for exposing government and corporate corruption.
“This absurd hypocrisy and desperate ruthlessness reveals a crumbling legal system, a system that has robbed me of the majority of my adult life but could never take my humanity. I will continue to do the right thing, no matter how long it takes. I know how to do time, and I will never be intimidated by their threats. Ever!! I refuse!!
12 March 2020 Jeremy was eventually released from his Contempt (as was Chelsea Manning).
John Kiriakou is the whistle blower who exposed the US torture program. To date, he is the only person who has been charged, and gone to jail, in connection with that program, which was highly illegal under international law.
23 April 2014 “Silenced - A James Spione film” [Trailer] Interview [YouTube]
James Spione documents the journeys of Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, two men charged with espionage by the U.S. government for whistleblowing.
2016 “John Kiriakou Named January 2016 Patriot Award Winner” [rightsanddissent]
“After this former CIA employee blew the whistle on U.S. torture, the CIA immediately filed a crimes report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At the close of the Bush Administration, the FBI closed their investigation of Kiriakou concluding he had committed no crime. Yet, after Obama assumed the Presidency Attorney General Eric Holder, at the request of the CIA, reopened the investigation into Kiriakou and ultimately brought five charges against him, including three counts under the Espionage Act.
Amazingly, during discovery a memo was uncovered in which the CIA specifically requested the Justice Department charge Kiriakou with Espionage. The Justice Department wrote back that there was no evidence that what Kiriakou did—telling the world on ABC News about torture—constituted espionage, to which the CIA responded that they should charge Kiriakou with espionage anyways and make him defend himself against the charges. Eventually Kiriakou pled guilty to one charge of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and served 30 months in federal prison.
Today, Kiriakou continues his fight for justice as a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he works on issues concerning torture, intelligence reform, and prison reform.”
25 Sept 2016 “John Kiriakou has been awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity for 2016” [ConsortiumNews]
“Former CIA official John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison for revealing the truth about White House-sanctioned torture, became the 15th recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity at a ceremony at America University.
Last year, PEN Center USA, a human rights and freedom of expression organization, honored John Kiriakou, with its “First Amendment” award. It has since become clear that while John Kiriakou sat in prison, Senate Intelligence Committee investigators were uncovering heinous details about torture by the CIA from its own original banality-of-evil cables, which showed that CIA and others had lied in claiming torture “worked.”
President Barack Obama chose to add his weight to a remarkably brazen effort to cover it all up and scuttle the Senate report. To her credit, committee chair Dianne Feinstein, with support from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and committee members Mark Udall and Ron Wyden (all Democrats) faced President Obama down.
This scarcely believable fact – missed somehow by the “mainstream” media – is woven into the citation presented to Kiriakou.”
14 Nov 2018 “CIA Whistleblower Says He Was Targeted By Brennan, Mueller, Strzok” [Daily Caller]
Free Lauri website
“Lauri Love is a computer scientist from Stradishall in the UK who has a long history of involvement in political activism. A dual UK-Finnish national on his mother’s side, Lauri registered as a conscientious objector in Finland for his national service in 2009, before he enrolled on a degree in Computer Science and Physics at Glasgow University. […]
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, written in 1986, has been broadly interpreted in recent years to harshly penalize what would be minor offenses offline. Whereas a sit-in demonstration would likely result in a trespassing misdemeanor, its online counterpart, a DDoS, is classified as fraud and prosecuted under the CFAA as a felony that can land protesters in jail for years, if not decades. It is no coincidence that several Courage beneficiaries, lauded activists and writers including Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, and Matt DeHart, are drawn from this category and facing disproportionate punishment for their online activism.
Lauri Love’s work should be considered in this context, as should the potential consequences if he is extradited to the United States. Lauri is alleged to have participated in #OpLastResort, an Anonymous operation that was undertaken in the wake of the suicide of Aaron Swartz.
A few weeks after Swartz’s death, the website of the US Sentencing Commission was hacked and a video placed on its homepage that aired grievances about the way he had been treated and concerns about the coercive use of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by US prosecutors. In addition to highlighting concerns that shared by many at the time, the means by which #OpLastResort made its point – making clear the poor security employed by many official websites – clearly caused embarrassment to public authorities in the United States.”
10 Jan 2017: “Julian Assange Alive AMA Jan 10th 2017” [YouTube Pt1 & Pt2]
After Julian Assange was gagged the first time (during the 2016 US presidential elections) he specifically named two friends who could always be trusted to always tell the truth. The first was John Pilger, the legendary journalist & film-maker. The second was Lauri Love [see Pt2].
5 Feb 2018: No extradition ruling for Lauri Love - High Court Judgment  EWHC 172 (Admin) [judiciary.uk]
6 Feb 2018: “UK: Love for Assange as hacker meets leaker in Ecuador embassy” [YouTube]
“Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love was filmed going inside the Ecuador embassy in London on Tuesday, where WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been taking refuge since 2012.
On Monday, 33-year-old Love won his appeal against extradition to the United States at the High Court of England and Wales in London. The Finish-British activist was charged with stealing data from US government computers including NASA, the US Army, and the Missile Defence Agency. He could [still] face trial in the UK.”
19 June 2018 “Lauri Love at Solidarity Vigil for Julian Assange” [YouTube]
19 Feb 2019 “Accused hacker Lauri Love loses legal bid to reclaim seized IT gear” [The Register]
“Mr Love, you're not the victim in this. You brought this on yourself; you're the victim of your own decisions," District Judge Margot Coleman told accused hacker Lauri Love in court today as she refused to return computers seized from him by the National Crime Agency.
“Love, 34, had asked for the return of computers and peripherals taken from him by the National Crime Agency (NCA) when they raided his home in 2012. The Briton, who also has Finnish citizenship, has been accused in the US of hacking a number of government agencies including NASA and the US Department of Energy.
He has not been charged in the UK. The US government tried and failed to extradite Love from the UK last year, with the Lord Chief Justice ruling: "Mr Love's extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition". Love has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
District Judge Coleman said at Westminster Magistrates' Court today: "The property as we identified it at the hearing is in two parts. One is the computer equipment itself and the other is the data you can take on it. I think you conceded – certainly I've made the finding – the information contained on that hardware is not yours. And you're therefore not entitled to have it returned to you; it doesn't belong to you."
Ethan McCord was present, on the ground, at the site and time of the Collateral Murder events.
19 April 2010 “US Soldiers from Wikileaks ‘Collateral Murder’ Video Apologize [GPF]
“Two former soldiers from the Army unit responsible for the Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" incident have written an open-letter of "Reconciliation and Responsibility" to those injured in the July 2007 attack, in which U.S. forces wounded two children and killed over a dozen people, including the father of those children and two Reuters employees.
Ethan Mccord and Josh Stieber deployed to Baghdad with Bravo Company 2-16 in 2007. Ethan was on the ground at the scene of the shooting, and is seen on the video rushing one of the injured children to a U.S. Vehicle; "When I saw those kids, all I could picture was my kids back home". Ethan applied for mental health support following this incident and was denied by his commanding officer.
Josh Stieber was not at the scene of the shooting but says similar incidents happened throughout his 14-month tour; "The acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war." Josh states that these casualties demonstrate the impact of U.S. military policy on both the civilians and the soldiers on the ground.
Ethan and Josh claim that though their unit was following the Rules of Engagement that day, they are taking responsibility for their role in the incident and initiating a dialogue around it; "Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny."
The letter, which they hope to get to the family who lost their father and whose children were injured in the attack, states that they "are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us."
“WikiLeaks' Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord” [YouTube]
NOTE: It is interesting to note that YouTube finds this video so disturbing that it has had to make it difficult to view, but the US government has not found it sufficiently disturbing to charge the war criminals depicted in the “disturbing” elements (parts of the Collateral Murder video) with their crimes.
In April 2010, WikiLeaks’ Kristinn Hrafnsson travelled to Iraq to speak with the children of the civilians killed by American troops, captured in the leaked “collateral murder” video - the same children Ethan McCord had helped rescue.
Gary McKinnon was a UK “hacker” who the US sought to extradite. He was also another person diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome, a diagnosis shared with Lauri Love and Julian Assange, and considered legally pertinent in Gary’s case.
From the book synopsis:
For ten years Gary McKinnon became the unwilling focus of Anglo-US diplomatic relations. A computer systems analyst living in London, he firmly believed that the US government was withholding vital information about the presence of UFOs. The unremarkable lives of he and his mother Janis changed dramatically one morning in March 2002 when Gary phoned to tell her that he had been arrested and spent four hours at his local police station being interviewed about hacking into US government computers.
Paul J McNulty, the then U.S Attorney for Virginia, announced that Gary was indicted in Alexandria, Virginia on November 12th that year, and simultaneously announced that the United States intended to extradite him.
Two years later, on 7 October 2004, the US government filed a request for Gary's extradition and on 7 June 2005 he was arrested. Extradition to the US seemed certain and so, fearing that Gary would take his own life rather than face being taken away to face seven counts of up to ten years each, Janis's extraordinary battle began.
Janis Sharp spent the following ten years and seven months fighting her son's extradition. In October 2012 she finally won her battle and in December 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Gary would not face charges in the UK either.
8 Dec 2020 Richard Medhurst “Exclusive Interview: Gary McKinnon” [RM]
Q: The indictment against you was filed in 2002 by a federal Grand Jury in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, also known as the “Espionage Court”. This is where Lauri Love, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, among many others, were also charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and Espionage Act. What are your thoughts on this prosecutorial template and its regular use against journalists and whistleblowers?
A: Virginia is a military state, they employ a lot of people there, they voted Republican until half way through my case. It’s the home of the Pentagon, so it doesn’t surprise me that this template was born. The mind-state of your average Virginian is probably pro-military, and if your job depends on the military then you would endeavour to please them should you be called to Jury service in any case where the DoJ is the prosecutor. So when it’s PersonX vs The US Government, being tried in Virginia, a government win is mostly a sure thing.
It’s certainly not what you’d consider ‘being tried by your peers’.
Q: If extradited, what kind of treatment do you think you would have received in a US prison? Do you think you would have received any medical care?
A: They state that they are good on medical care but the reality is, going by numerous reports from external organisations, that they don’t administer to that at all. Here we are, years later, and we all know about US prison conditions, whether the inmate is mentally ill or not.
Being so-called high-profile may have afforded me special treatment, but they told me that, if I said no to just flying over there in chains, they would prosecute me ‘to the max’ and not allow any family visits or any access to press, so perhaps the Guantanamo threat wasn’t such a sideshow.
NOTE: It is timely to revisit this interview for other reasons, since lately the CIA and DOD have started to release previously classified (and disavowed) information about UFOs - information that Gary was seeking and which was arguably in the public interest to know at the time.
Craig Murray is a Scottish journalist / blogger. He is also a friend and supporter of Julian Assange. His series of reports documenting the extradition hearing of Julian Assange is regarded as a journalistic tour de force. [See PART 4 of this series]
Craig Murray then went on to report the criminal trial, in Scotland, of Alex Salmond, previously First Minister of Scotland, who stood accused of rape and other related sex charges. Murray was the only journalist to report on the several days of defence testimony during that trial. As it was forbidden to identify Salmond’s accusers, Murray took great care to avoid comments that might do that. Salmond was found ‘Not Guilty’ of all but one of the charges (with one ‘Not Proven’), and many have since commented that Murray’s reports were the only public source of information that offered any clues as to how the jury might have arrived at those decisions.
Murray was later charged and found guilty of contempt of court (a civil charge) by virtue of “jigsaw identification” and sentenced - by the same judge who presided over the Salmond criminal trial - to 8 months in prison. [Tweet] [The Dissenter]
[Many felt that the motivation for the charges against him were more than a little tinged with elements of retribution for his detailed reporting of the Assange case, as well as the Salmond case.]
The UK Supreme Court declined to allow an appeal. Murray is now in the process of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. This will be an appeal on principle, because Craig has already served his term in prison, having been released 30 November 2021. [Tweet] Full Statement here. [YouTube]
A few days later Craig discussed his time in prison with George Galloway. [YouTube]
Asked if he was angry or bitter about his sentence (for doing good journalism), he replied (in true Craig Murray manner) [at 41:24] “My worry is that it can happen to someone else.”
“I'm not personally angry or bitter because it doesn't help going forward. My worry is that the judgment enshrines in law a concept that bloggers and mainstream media should be treated differently before a court - that different standards should apply. A blogger can write something and be jailed for it, and if the mainstream media publishes the same thing they will not be jailed for it. That's extraordinary. It says that absolutely in black and white in the judgment. […]
That's now enshrined in law unless this judgment is overturned. […] Use of this extremely nebulous idea of ‘jigsaw identification’ could be used very easily just to jail anyone they want to, in effect, and there's no real defense for it.”
Only days later Craig took the train to London in order to report on the High Court judgment on the US appeal in the extradition case of Julian Assange. [Tweet]
Joshua Schulte is the person accused of leaking the Vault 7 trove of CIA cyber-weapons. He was arrested on 24 August 2017 (on child pornography charges), and indicted 18 June 2018 on charges related to hacking and sending the Vault 7 files to WikiLeaks.
13 Dec 2018 [Tweet] [Cyberscoop]
“While in prison on remand in New York, alleged CIA whistleblower Joshua Schulte was charged with three more charges for communicating with his family and US media about his search warrant, which the DoJ decided, retrospectively it appears, was classified”Excessive physical restraints placed on Joshua Schulte show what Julian Assange would face upon extradition to the U.S.
WikiLeaks @wikileaksWhile in prison on remand in New York, alleged CIA whistleblower Joshua Schulte was charged with three more charges for communicating with his family and US media about his search warrant, which the DoJ decided, retrospectively it appears, was classified https://t.co/qJcg2Esx53
5 Nov 2019 “Former CIA Employee Who Allegedly Disclosed ‘VAULT 7’ Files To WikiLeaks Challenges Espionage Act Charges” [ShadowProof]
15 Feb 2020 “Alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Joshua Schulte on trial in New York” [WSWS]
“The 31-year-old has pled not guilty to 11 charges. They cover alleged violations of the Espionage Act, including the “theft of government property” and “illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information.”
The proceedings provide a glimpse into the kind of kangaroo court that Julian Assange will face if he is extradited from Britain to the US to face trumped-up Espionage Act charges over separate 2010 and 2011 WikiLeaks publications. If Schulte is convicted, it may also aid the attempts of the US Department of Justice to concoct further charges against Assange, on the grounds that he violated US “national security.”
The corporate media is seeking to suppress any public discussion of the Schulte trial. The handful of reports in the New York Times, Washington Post and other prominent publications have said virtually nothing about the assault on whistleblowers revealed in Schulte’s treatment, or the content of the material he is alleged to have leaked. It is as if Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who came to international prominence by exposing US National Security Agency surveillance operations, were on trial in New York and the media did not bother to show up.
The 2017 WikiLeaks publications, based on material Schulte has alleged to have leaked exposing CIA spying, were no less damning than the Snowden revelations. US prosecutors have stated that they constituted the “the single biggest leak of classified national defense information in the history of the CIA.”
Dubbed Vault 7, the documents detailed the activities of a secret division within the CIA responsible for offensive hacking operations. They reveal the agency to be the biggest purveyor of malicious computer viruses in the world.
Among the most explosive revelations were documents showing that the CIA division would, after hacking into a computer system, leave tell-tale markers in foreign languages including Iranian and Russian. This pointed to the way in which supposedly forensic evidence of such things as “Russian interference” in the 2016 US election could have beeen manufactured by the CIA.
The trove demonstrated that the CIA had developed capabilities to hack household appliances, including smart TVs, so that they could be used to spy on their owner. It contained evidence of even more sinister operations. One document showed that the division was seeking to develop the capacity to remotely take control of the computer operating systems of modern cars. Such capabilities could be used for assassination operations.
The illegal character of these activities, which violated the US Constitution and potentially infringed on the right to privacy of millions around the world, has been covered up by the media and the official political parties in the US and around the world. Instead, Schulte and Assange have been viciously targeted.”
23 Sept 2020 During the Assange extradition hearing, Dr Quinton Deeley took the witness stand in the Old Bailey Courthouse.
“Assange told Deeley about conditions he feared if extradited to the United States, fears of isolation, and fears of new indictment. Also was concerned about Joshua Schulte, who was accused of releasing Vault 7 materials, and how Schulte was confined before trial. #AssangeTrial” [Tweet]
24 Jan 2021 “Ex-CIA engineer tells judge he’s incarcerated like an animal” [SeattleTimes]
“A former CIA software engineer charged with leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks says it’s cruel and unusual punishment that he’s awaiting trial in solitary confinement, housed in a vermin-infested cell of a jail unit where inmates are treated like “caged animals.”
Joshua Schulte, 32, has asked a Manhattan federal judge to force the federal Bureau of Prisons to improve conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he has been held for over two years under highly restrictive conditions usually reserved for terrorism defendants.
In court papers Tuesday, Schulte maintained he is held in conditions “below that of impoverished persons living in third world countries.”
“It is barbaric and inhumane to lock human beings into boxes for years and years — it is a punishment worse than death,” the court filing said.
A message seeking comment was sent to the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice.
Last year, a jury deadlocked on espionage charges alleging that Schulte stole a massive trove of the agency’s hacking tools and gave it to the organization that publishes news leaks. He was convicted of lesser charges of contempt of court and making false statements.”
A second trial has been long delayed due to Covid, and problems getting a lawyer who could attend to his defence.
7 Oct 2021 [Tweet] [Wyden letter]
“Alledged WikiLeaks Vault7 source Joshua Schulte's prosecution "hits multiple roadblocks". The Vault7 leak according to an official CIA WikiLeaks Task Force report "brought to light multiple ongoing CIA failures (to be addressed)”
14 June 2022 Joshua Schulte’s retrial commences, with Schulte representing himself (with backup legal assistance).
Inner City Press @innercitypressOK - now US v. Schulte / #Vault7 CIA leaks trial, opening arguments. Judge Furman: Are you ready, Mr. Schulte? Schulte: Yes. Inner City Press will live tweet, thread below https://t.co/yn76HQYyIC
“John Kiriakou: Jeffrey Sterling’s ‘Unwanted Spy’” [Consortium News]
I had the pleasure this week of introducing CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling upon the launch of his new book, “Unwanted Spy” at an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C. Sterling was released from prison last year after spending three years there following his unjust conviction on seven espionage charges, ostensibly for leaking classified information to former New York Times reporter James Risen.
Sterling steadfastly maintained his innocence, refusing to ever consider a plea bargain. He believed that as soon as he could get in front of a jury (in the notorious Eastern District of Virginia, and in front of the notorious Judge Leonie Brinkema) they would see how ridiculous the charges were and would acquit him. But he was wrong. .
I’ve known Jeffrey Sterling for years. He was a highly-regarded CIA case officer and Iran expert who was also fluent in Farsi. He was supposed to be sent to the Middle East to recruit spies to steal secrets, but at the last minute — after his personal effects were put on a ship and sent to his would-be post — his position was withdrawn and he was instead offered a dead-end job in Africa. He went to his boss to complain. His talents would go to waste in Africa, he said. His boss’s response would change the course of Sterling’s life. “We think a big black guy speaking Farsi would look strange.”
“When did you realize I was black?” was Sterling’s response.
Sterling went on to file a racial discrimination suit against the CIA, and Jim Risen was interested in the story for The New York Times. That’s how Sterling and Risen met. But the CIA and the Justice Department would later accuse Sterling of revealing top-secret information related to a botched attempt to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, something called “Operation Merlin,” to Risen. The government’s case that these conversations were about Iran and not about a racial discrimination suit was based entirely on metadata. Sterling and Risen held dozens of phone calls over 18 months, the Justice Department said, alleging that the calls were for Sterling to pass Risen classified information.
here was no proof, however, that any such conversations had ever taken place. And indeed, an early target of the Justice Department’s investigation into the leak, a House Intelligence Committee staff member, was fired during the same period. Why? For having unauthorized contact with James Risen. Given the existence of other legitimate suspects in the leak, why then did the FBI focus solely on Sterling? It was because he had aired the CIA’s dirty laundry. He had revealed the secret. The CIA has a history of racism. There was still discrimination against African-Americans.
Warning Other Whistleblowers
The government did what it does well. It chose a target, a victim, and set out to ruin him. That was Jeffrey Sterling. As in the cases of NSA whistleblowers Tom Drake, Bill Binney, and Kirk Weibe, and in my own whistleblowing case, the purpose was not necessarily to send Sterling to prison for the rest of his life, or even for a long time. It was to frighten any other would-be whistleblower, anybody considering bringing to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to the public health or public safety. Scott Shane, a reporter for The New York Times, said that on the day of my arrest, for example, every one of the Times’s national security sources went completely silent. That was the goal.
But Jeffrey Sterling would not remain silent. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true: They thought they could break him and they failed. It was Sterling and his whistleblowing who inspired Terry Albury, the FBI agent who went to The Intercept with evidence of racial discrimination at the FBI. It was Sterling who showed the country that the CIA had a history of racial discrimination that it continues to deny. It was Sterling who refused to be bowed by the weight of the CIA and the FBI coming down on his head. He won’t just go away quietly.
“Unwanted Spy” is a gripping and eminently readable David and Goliath account of a man being wronged by the government, by the “deep state,” and coming out stronger on the other side. You’re going to want to read this book. It’s a life lesson for all of us.
15 Jan 2020 “Speech by Mr. Jeffrey Sterling at the Sam Adams Award Event” [YouTube]
Cian Westmoreland and others
Cian Westmoreland, Stephen Lewis, Brandon Bryant and Michael Haas, former Air Force service members and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and part of the drone program, tried to tell the US government of the grave danger they saw for their country in drone warfare.
18 Nov 2015 “Obama's drone war a 'recruitment tool' for Isis, say US air force whistleblowers” [The Guardian]
12 Apr 2016 “Confessions of a former US Air Force drone technician” [Aljazeera]
From [Democracy Now]
“Now an unprecedented group is calling for the drone war to stop. In an open letter to President Obama, four U.S. Air Force servicemembers who took part in the drone campaign say targeted killings and remote control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it’s trying to destroy. The four whistleblowers write, “We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”
They continue, saying, “We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home.” ”
At the end of their letter they wrote something Democracy Now did not repeat in their summary:
“We request that you consider our perspective, though perhaps that request is in vain given the unprecedented prosecution of truthtellers who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.”
G) Ongoing Atrocities
I will leave you with just one issue in this category. You can make your own list of other issues that need more information, and more attention.
“Senator Durbin Calls for Closure of Guantanamo Bay in NDAA” (30 Nov 2021) [YouTube]
Ongoing atrocities that badly need to be documented and exposed, so they can be corrected, are still occurring all over the world. We need every brave investigative journalist we can get, and we need WikiLeaks, and many more publishers like it, with similar high standards, in order to even know what is needed. Ordinary citizens need to do everything we can to support this work. Truth is a public good.
We all have a role to play in the “intelligence agency of the people”.
The compiler of this compendium lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As a long time supporter of Julian Assange, I have become aware that many of those new to the story of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange find it hard to get a picture of the enormity and multidimensionality of the abuse that has gone on here, and what that says about the current state of the world be live in.
This is the third of a series of lengthy pieces that explore this history via different themes. This and the second are really resources to bookmark, dip into, refer back to, and share with those who need sources and perspective, rather than pieces to read at one sitting.
The second was a chronological record of one person’s attempt to educate the world about the ongoing abuse of another human being, and the wider significance of that abuse: “Nils Melzer on the torture of Julian Assange: A compendium”. Read it here.
You can find me on Twitter at La Fleur Productions.
Thanks for accessing, using and sharing this compendium.
Contact the author if you wish to discuss its contents, or if you find an error or a link that no longer works.
All images are included either under “fair use” terms for the purpose of education, discussion and commentary, or belong to the author, or have appropriate creative commons licences.