Archive | affairs

Sweden, an Orwellian state

Something remarkable happened in Sweden this week: a list of 15,000 people with the wrong political opinions was used to block those people from the @Sweden account, and thereby preventing these people from communicating over Twitter with that part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government tried defending the block as only concerning neo-nazi right-wing extremists, which was a narrative that held water in legacy media until somebody pointed out that the Ambassador of Israel (!) was among the blocked.

Falkvinge: What do you do when you realize your government has blocked you for Wrongthink? »


Wikileaks: German BND-NSA Inquiry Exhibits

The inquiry was established in 2014 in the wake of the Snowden revelations, which showed that not only was the NSA spying on the whole world, but it had also partnered with the intelligence services of particular states to spy on their citizens and those of the surrounding regions. One of these countries is Germany, which has had a close relationship with the US in military and intelligence matters since its occupation by US forces in WWII. The US has been shown to use its bases in Germany and its relationship with German intelligence to spy on German citizens as well as European Union institutions. (…)

Last week, on 21 November 2016, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice upheld the complaint and ruled that the committee was obliged to hear Edward Snowden in person. However, at the next inquiry hearing three days after the ruling, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Union bloc and the Social Democrats removed Snowden’s invitation from the agenda of the inquiry and are contesting the Court’s decision.

Wikileaks: German BND-NSA Inquiry Exhibits »


Showdown in the Assange case?

The normally so media shy Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny today held a press conference about the Assange case. Nothing new was presented, the prosecutor’s office repeated its talking points and there was mention of yet another half-hearted attempt to interview Mr. Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (Something Ms. Ny have avoided to do for years, thereby keeping the investigation open and Mr. Assange at bay.)

It might have been her last chance to play the media by her rules. On prime time Swedish national television tonight, the investigative team at SVT Uppdrag Granskning had an hour-long special about the Assange case. (The program in Swedish » | A summary of some of the findings in English ») It is pretty obvious that Swedish authorities are very interested in getting Mr. Assange to Sweden – even though it has been and still is possible to interview him in London in person, online or over the phone.

Here we should keep in mind that Mr. Assange has not been charged with any crime. It’s all about interviewing him in order do determine if there is a case against him – in a rather thin case of suspected sexual misconduct in Sweden. Basically, this is total judicial overkill and »special treatment« just because he is a rebel, truth teller and a threat to important people in power.

Even a UN human right panel has voiced protests about the way Mr. Assange is treated, being tucked away in the Ecuadorean embassy year after year.

This Next Friday a Swedish regional high court will – once again – look into the issue of Mr. Assanges’ arrest warrant. The last time, they upheld the decision, as Ms. Ny then was instructed to get the interview done and over with. Again, she didn’t. This coming Friday, the court may not show the same patience. Or it may, as there are powerful interests involved.

Finally, the reason that Wikileaks editor in chief Julian Assange does not want to go to Sweden for an interview is a fear that he might be extradited to the US. Todays’ tv special made it clear that there might be good reasons to fear such a development. (Even though the UK might also hand him over to the US Justice department, but at a very high political price.)

The general impression is that things might start to move in the Assange case. But I wouldn’t hold my breath…



With leaked NSA tools, now everybody can hack like a spy

The findings highlight one of the potential risks that come with hoarding undisclosed vulnerabilities for intelligence-gathering and surveillance. By holding on to bugs instead of disclosing them so they can be patched, spy agencies like the NSA create a potentially dangerous free-for-all if their exploits are exposed.

Wired: Of Course Everyone’s Already Using the Leaked NSA Exploits »


The Assange case – time for the next step?

There are signals from Ecuador suggesting that Swedish prosecutors soon might interview Wikileaks editor in chief Julian Assange, in the country’s embassy in London – where he has been taking refuge for some four years.

From the Swedish prosecutor’s office (where everyone important seems to be on summer retreat) there are only vague comments. There are reasons to believe that the Swedes are in no hurry to get this done and over with.

As the case has dragged out in time, there seems to be some confusion in medias reports. To refresh our memory…

The Swedish case about sexual misconduct against Assange is very thin. There are reasons to believe that the case will be dropped altogether as soon as an interview has been conducted.

Julian Assange has not been charged with any crime in Sweden. This is all about interviewing him. That process has dragged out for years, to the point where a UN human rights panel has raised protests.

Before leaving Sweden, Assange cooperated fully with Swedish authorities. Everybody was OK with him leaving Sweden for the UK. The entire case has already been dropped by Swedish prosecutors once – but re-opened by a prosecutor specialized in “development of sex crime charges”.

Assange does not want to go to Sweden, as he fears he will be extradited from there to the US and charged for e.g. the leaked embassy cables. (Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower who provided Wikileaks with this material has already been sentenced to 35 years in US prison.) The risk for extradition is, however, at least as substantial in the UK as in Sweden.

My speculation is that Sweden, the UK, and the US are rather satisfied having Julian Assange confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London – where his actions are rather restricted. So, sadly I think this affair will drag out in time even more.



Can you trust Twitter?

Twitter lit up Friday night with allegations that it tried to suppress news that secret-leaking website Wikileaks exposed thousands of emails obtained from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

Friday afternoon, users noted, “#DNCLeaks” was trending, with more than 250,000 tweets about it on the platform. By Friday evening, it vanished completely from the site’s “trending” bar for at least 20 minutes. It returned as “#DNCLeak” after users erupted, though it was too late to quell their rage.

Twitter accused of suppressing DNC Wikileaks story »


Will the banning of @nero mark the »Peak Twitter« moment?

Twitter banning Milo Yiannopolous is a story with interesting dimensions.

Yiannopolous is very entertaining. He’s got some points. And he often provokes some interesting reactions.

Yiannopolous also is a loudmouth and a troll. He doesn’t really give a shit. And sometimes his opinions are rather disturbing.

The banning might very well have marked a »Peak Twitter« moment.

The party is over. I think this might cause immense damage to Twitters image and trademark. Twitter just isn’t as exciting anymore.

One interesting point of view is that this is not about free speech. Twitter is a private company. We have all agreed to their terms & conditions. Twitter can do whatever they want.

But this can, and should not shield Twitter from criticism. As a Twitter user, I am very disgruntled over the banning of @nero.

And this might actually be about free speech after all. Didn’t the EU just agree with Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to remove »radicalising« and »hateful« content? And isn’t that just a way to circumvent the rule of law when it comes to freedom of speech?

It’s just like when US authorities couldn’t find any legal ways to stop Wikileaks. So they got Paypal, Master Card, and the banks to cut off the funding. Extrajudicial proceedings, indeed.

Then, again, this affair might stimulate and accelerate the development of new social media platforms that are distributed, decentralised and impossible to censor.

Or the opposite – people moving to closed forums for the like-minded.

But Twitter as a »safe space«? That sounds boring.


• Twitter’s Stalinist Unpersoning of Gay Provocateur Milo Yiannopolous »
• I’m With The Banned »


Possible new developments in the Sweden vs. Assange case

There might be a new attempt by Swedish prosecutors to interview Wikileaks editor in chief Julian Assange.

Assange has been stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than four years – seeking refuge after the UK legal system decided that he should be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted to be heard about alleged sex crimes.

The reason Assange gives for not wanting to go to Sweden is that he suspect Swedish authorities might extradite him to the U.S. – where a grand jury is looking into the Wikileaks publication of sensitive and embarrassing leaked embassy cables and war diaries. (You should keep in mind that whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in U.S. prison for handing this material over to Wikileaks.)

For years Swedish prosecutors refused to go to London to interview Assange at all. Then, for some years now, the question has been in administrative limbo. (Swedish authorities have sent requests with terms that they knew could not be accepted by Ecuador. And they have sent requests with so short a notice that an interview has been impossible to arrange.)

It’s a mess. And the Swedish allegations about sexual misconduct are very thin. Assange hasn’t even been formally charged. This is all about interviewing him.

I would not be surprised if this new attempt to interview Assange also fails. The case against Assange is so thin that it will probably be dropped altogether after another interview. But U.S., British and Swedish authorities seems to be content with having Assange locked up in a small South American embassy in London – where his freedom of action is rather restricted.


The Guardian: Sweden asks to meet Julian Assange inside Ecuador embassy »