Archive | Assange

Clinton strategist: Kill Julian Assange

It seems like some Hillary Clinton supporters are now fully on-board with the time-tested mafia-favored strategy of “kill-the-guy.” Democratic strategist Bob Beckel, referring to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, told a Fox Business host panel that “a dead man can’t leak stuff,” and that someone should “illegally shoot the son of a b*tch.” These comments come after the famed whistle-blower implied that 27 year-old DNC staffer Seth Rich, recently (and mysteriously) murdered in Washington DC, was a Wikileaks source connected to the DNC email scandal.

Clinton Strategist: “Kill Julian Assange — A Dead Man Can’t Leak Stuff” »


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.



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 »


The Assange dilemma

I stand with Julian Assange. But I think his case took a turn for the worse this week.

First, to recapitulate: Julian Assange has not been charged with any crime in Sweden. This ridiculous situation is the result of a Swedish prosecutor refusing to interview him about alleged sexual misconduct, in a case that is very thin. Assange has reasons to fear that Sweden might surrender him to the US, where a Grand Jury is preparing his case. Sweden has handed over people to the CIA without prior judicial process on an earlier occasion. And the Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The situation for Julian Assange looks very much like that of a political dissident kept under house arrest.

Article 9 in The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

This declaration has been signed by Sweden as well as the United Kingdom. Now a UN panel under the Human Rights Commissioner has ruled that the way Assange is treated is in breach of this central principle. It is the same panel that e.g. took on the case of Aung San Suu Kyi. Usually, these rulings are held in high. But this time, the shoe seems to be on the other foot. Clearly the UK and Sweden only honor the UN panel when they are not the culprits.

Never the less, this has been lost on most people. It’s all too complicated and sublime.

The British and Swedish governments, on the other hand, only had to deliver simple one-liners. The UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond brands the UN panel’s ruling “ridiculous”. The Swedish government’s line is that this will not change anything.

Also, some media has deemed the UN approach as nonsensical. Remember, it’s simply not enough to be right — if this cannot be communicated in a way that makes an impact.

In practice, very little has changed. And the case against Assange will stay open until August 2020.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the UK, Sweden and the US feel rather content having Julian Assange in limbo at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. There his actions will be limited. And with an open investigation on alleged sex crimes, his reputation will stay tarnished. All of this having a negative impact on Wikileaks possibilities to expose wrongdoings and the dirty little secrets of the power elites.

That is exactly why the UN panel’s report is relevant.


Affidavit of Julian Paul Assange »



Internets imprisoned and fallen

I feel that I ought to pay tribute to Ian Murdock, father of Linux Debian, former Sun VP and Linux Foundation CTO. And I do, by linking to this piece at ArsTechnica, painting a much better picture than I ever could:

Ian Murdock, father of Debian, dead at 42 — Former Sun VP and Linux Foundation CTO died under suspicious circumstances »

As this, according to Murdock’s tweets appears to be a suicide and me not knowing anything much about the circumstances, my first thought was to leave it there. But the Internet led me on. Apparently there had been some confrontation with the police. (Murdock’s tweets ») And that is a red flag.

Back to Ars Technica:

On Monday at 2:13pm Eastern Time, Murdock apparently posted that he was going to kill himself:

» I’m committing suicide tonight…do not intervene as I have many stories to tell and do not want them to die with me #debian #runnerkrysty67 «

Also on Monday, Murdock wrote a string of posts that indicate he had a confrontation with police. Inquiries to the San Francisco Police Department by Ars went unanswered. Update: Public records indicate Murdock was arrested in San Francisco on December 27 and released on bail, but no details were available on the charges.

Of course, I know nothing about the circumstances. And I shouldn’t speculate. But the story of Aaron Swartz falls into one’s mind. He was a champion for a free and open internet, who actually managed to accomplish things and who stopped harmful political bills. He was prosecuted in a very strange federal case of possible copyright infringements and faced $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. He declined a plea bargain and shortly after that he killed himself. (Also see the documentary: The Internet’s Own Boy The Story of Aaron Swartz ») There are some disturbing similarities with the Murdock case.

But it might just be similarities. And people do fall over the edge sometimes. But standing eye to eye with the judicial system and the police definitely can push someone over that edge. Trust me on that one.

Do you remember Michael Hastings, the successful investigative reporter? His car mysteriously ran into a palm tree and exploded in LA, shortly after he had told his associates that he was on to something big, once again. And his targets were usually the darker side of government and its functionaries.

Journalist and internet activist Barrett Brown clearly was pushed into a corner by the authorities, resulting in him currently spending 63 months in federal prison. It all happened when he was working on ProjectPM, investigating outsourcing of government intelligence operations to private contractors — and the inner workings of the cyber-military-industrial complex.

Chelsea Manning is spending 35 years in prison, basically for having exposed the truth about the government’s politics and actions to the public. This imprisonment is right out offensive.

Wikileaks editor in chief Julian Assange is confined to the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where his freedom of action is quite limited. This following a European Arrest Warrant after some rather vague accusations about sexual misconduct in Sweden. And NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is stuck in Russia, after the US retracted his passport. In both these cases it’s about people who have made information public — that the people in a democracy ought to have the right to know about anyhow.

There is a disturbing pattern emerging. If you push the envelope too far, bad things happen to you.

No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. Clearly Brown, Manning, Assange and Snowden had it coming. Murdock and Swartz obviously were under harrowing pressure. And there is no hard evidence of foul play in the Hastings case, just strange circumstances. But still, it’s all very troublesome and sad.

Are journalists, internet activists and whistleblowers the imprisoned and fallen political dissidents of our time? Is the truth and a free flow of information really that dangerous to the Establishment? If so, what kind of a society is this?

Our thoughts are with Ian Murdock’s family and friends.



Framing Julian Assange

Wikileaks editor in chief Julian Assange is still a refugee at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Assange is suspected of sexual misconduct in Sweden. He has yet not been charged with anything. His case has already been dismissed by one Swedish prosecutor — but reopened by another, issuing an European Arrest Warrant to have him interrogated in Sweden. British courts allowed extradition to Sweden, despite Assange fearing that the Swedes might hand him over to the US. (Where a grand jury apparently is preparing a case against him.) Then, Assange jumped bail and was granted political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy.

I will leave the substance of the Swedish case aside in this blog post. But I can tell you, it’s very thin.

Now the statutory time period for charging Assange with the lesser of the alleged crimes in Sweden is running out. (Other parts of the investigation will remain open for another five years.)

For years Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has refused to conduct an interview with Assange i London. (Even before his escape to the Ecuadorean embassy.) She claimed that it cannot be done, that Swedish prosecutors cannot do that. That was a plain lie. (Hell, even I have been interviewed by a Swedish prosecutor abroad.) Swedish courts and even the British government have urged Ms Ny to have this done and over with.

Finally, Friday June 12:th this summer, Swedish authorities sent a letter to the Ecuadorean embassy in Sweden — asking for an interview with Assange in London only five days later (including the weekend). To no surprise the embassy in Stockholm, the Ecuadorean government and their embassy in London did not manage to coordinate this in just a few days. So there was no interview.

Now the investigation of the suspected crimes of a lesser degree will be closed. Julian Assange will still be suspected of wrongdoing, in the public view. But not able to clear his name (in these parts) anymore. At the same time the investigations of the remaining suspected crimes will stay open, the European Arrest Warrant will still be in force and Assange will still be stuck at the embassy in London.

A perfect way for various governments to keep an inconvenient journalist in limbo, if you ask me.