Julian Assange

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I was asked this question: Did I prefer Clinton or Trump? And, I mean, the answer is: Well, you’re asking do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea.
—Julian Assange, Democracy Now!

Julian Assange is an Australian journalist and transparency activist who has gained world-wide recognition as the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. In 2006, Assange founded WikiLeaks and since then he has been the focus of a never-seen-before international controversy. His involvement with WikiLeaks has earned Assange praise from civil liberties organizations and criticism from others. For the past four years he has been kept cryonically alive in the Ecudaoran embassy in London.

While there are valid and legitimate criticisms that can be levied against Assange (such as the sexual allegations mentioned below, endangering innocent lives from uncensored leaks, or issues surrounding his ego[1]), his contribution to the whistle-blowing platform can nonetheless be justly described as revolutionary. Some of the awards Assange received include Amnesty International UK Media Awards, Sam Adams Award, Sydney Peace Prize and Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.[2]

The fact that Assange seems to target only very specific angles with his leaks, and continuously makes promises he has failed to deliver on, has made most major news outlets (and some of his most ardent supporters)[3] question his legitimacy.


[edit] Political views

While his politics has been described by some as techno-anarchic, his actual views are much more intricate than that. His admiration and support for the likes of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin,[4] Ron Paul and Rand Paul may make one believe that he were on the far-right,[5] as well as comments about a "Jewish conspiracy" against him.[6]

However, Assange has gained support and high praise from prominent Jewish figures, such as academic Noam Chomsky[7] and journalist John PilgerWikipedia's W.svg.[8] Assange also supported the Green Party's 2016 U.S. presidential nominee Jill Stein, appearing via video stream to the Green Party 2016 convention in Texas.[9]

WikiLeaks has gained support from the likes of Yanis VaroufakisWikipedia's W.svg, ex-finance minister for the libertarian-socialist Syriza party.[10]

Assange formed his free speech ideals running a free speech ISP, suburbia.net (still extant) in the 1990s.[note 1] He published a document in 2002, State and Terrorist Conspiracies,[11] setting out his aims in detail: to increase the friction in the mechanisms by which authoritarian governments conspire against their citizens, thus changing the lay of the land and forcing them to more open communication mechanisms. It's the inchoate hacker (as in cracker) free speech ideal of the 1980s developed into a coherent philosophy. Which is quite an achievement in itself.

[edit] WikiLeaks

Assange is still the Editor In Chief of WikiLeaks;[12] the only other acknowledged staff member is Kristinn Hrafnsson.[13]

Assange is remarkably disliked by many governments and some newspaper journalists. Sarah Palin has called for him to be "hunted down" and Canadian Tom Flanagan has called for him to be executed.[14][15][16] Mike Huckabee has called for the execution of the individual who leaked the 250,000 US diplomatic cables.[17]

[edit] Sex crime allegations

Two women accused Assange of rape in Sweden. As a result of those accusations, Sweden attempted to get Assange extradited from the United Kingdom so he could be put on trial. There are concerns that if Assange is extradited to Sweden, he could be removed from there to the United States[18] and speculation that he might face the death penalty in the USA.[19]

British courts agreed to extradite Assange to Sweden but in June 2012 he fled to the London embassy of Ecuador, which later granted him asylum. Sweden has given assurances that Assange will not be extradited to the US if he faces the death penalty, which supporters of Assange fear.[20] The Swedes refused to rule out extradition entirely though.[21] Amnesty International is one of many organisations wanting such an assurance,[22] which in any case would be hard to enforce.[23]

Since being granted asylum by Ecuador there has been a standoff. Assange cannot leave the embassy to take up asylum in Ecuador without being arrested. Meanwhile, UK law enforcers cannot enter the embassy without serious diplomatic repercussions. The UK showed how it has the legal option of entering the embassy by force and arresting Assange, but so far has not done this.[24] In the third week of August 2012 an intimidating police presence appeared outside the embassy including one police officer outside a toilet window and there were complaints about excessive police presence.[25] It has been reported that the cost of keeping police outside the embassy, awaiting the opportunity to arrest Assange, was £2.9 million ($4.4 million) as of January 2013[26] and had risen to £6.4m in August 2014.[27]

At the same time, response to the UK government's posturing by President Correa of Ecuador may have helped get him reelected in 2013. Renard Sexton suspects that could possibly have been Correa's motive in granting asylum.[28]

As of April 2013 Assange had settled into a work routine in a confined space in the Ecuadorian embassy. Oliver Stone wrote:

He lives in a tiny room with great modesty and discipline. (…) Strong mind, no sun, friends who visit, work to be done (…) I don't think most people in the US realise how important WikiLeaks is and why Julian's case needs support. (…) Julian Assange did much for free speech and is now being victimised by the abusers of that concept.[29]

Meanwhile a Swedish woman believed to be one of Assange’s accusers claims she is the victim of wild guesses and speculation over her motives for the accusations. Harassment has made it extremely hard for her to work.[30]

As of August 2014 Assange said he might soon leave the embassy for unspecified reasons, he confirmed his health suffered while he was confined in the embassy.[27] In October 2015 Assange was in chronic pain and a heart condition was suspected, requiring hospital diagnosis.[31] As of early 2016 Assange is still in the embassy and Swedish authorities have agreed to question him there.[32] A United Nations panel decided Assange is being detained illegally but the ruling is not binding, Sweden and the UK reject the finding.[33] It is unclear how much has changed.[34]

In October 2016, it was reported that Assange is under investigation by the Bahamas police regarding sexually propositioning an 8-year-old online. The story was later retracted due to fabricated evidence. Royal Bahama Police Force said in a statement that they did receive an anonymous phone call but are not investigating due to a lack of evidence.[35][36][37] Soon after, his internet connection was cut by Ecuador over fears he was using it to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[38]

[edit] Guccifer 2.0

GOD BLESS WIKILEAKS - Julian Assange is a hero -> America owes this man one thing -> FREEDOM!!! Thank you, sir - THANK YOU!
David Duke[39]

Assange claims to be many things, but at this point he is essentially an anti-western anarchist, in that his priorities seem to be undermining the American political order in any way possible. Cracking Hillary Clinton and getting Donald Trump into the Oval Office is probably the most obvious way to do that right now. Assange blames Clinton for indicting him after the initial State Department cable dump, and has also accused her of pushing to indict him for publishing the Chelsea Manning leaks. Assange has said he prefers Trump's chaos to Hillary, whom he dislikes.[40]

During the Bill Clinton presidency, Julian Assange was living in the US, working on a Ph.D. According to Assange, the US government cut his funding without providing an explanation. This appears to have spurned a lifelong dislike of the Clintons, and provided a personal stake in getting Trump elected.[41] Assange also believes that if Obama and Clinton had their way, he would live in a metal box for the rest of his life. This belief may not actually be unfounded. On the other hand, Trump has stated a desire to punish Edward Snowden and has also made comments that appear to show a desire to restrict free speech. It's doubtful that Assange would fare much under a Trump presidency, unless he thinks he can bribe Trump into letting him out of the embassy.

The timing of WikiLeaks' DNC E-mail dump (aka the "Guccifer 2.0" hack) was intended to share headlines with the Democratic National Convention. The documents were released only after Clinton had all but secured her party's nomination, and not during the primaries, or before Bernie Sanders dropped out. This timing appears to be intended to hurt Clinton's chances against Trump in the general election.[40] The DNC took the unusual step of preemptively and publicly announcing the hack and implicating Russia as the source just over a month before the release of the emails and internal communications.[42]

The e-mails were never intended to be released to the public and thus aren't especially PC. The Sanders campaign was using the DNC and the committee chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as a punching bag knowing that their hands were tied publicly. It's not really surprising that a politician would blow off some steam in private (privately call a critic an "ass", or acknowledging the apparent primary winner without waiting for a concession). Guccifer took private conversations and put them in a different context against the will of the people involved. Once removed from that context and placed in a completely different one, it became "evidence" of voter fraud.[43] The email dump reignited a lot of Sanders supporters' belief that the primary was rigged, that the DNC is in bed with the media, and that Hillary didn't really earn her spot on the ticket.[44] The dump also included plain text Social Security and credit card numbers. Per Gizmondo, Assange is the kind of "dickhead" who happily publishes that kind of stuff without question to maintain his eCeleb status.[45]

Unfortunately, Wikileaks always over promises and under-delivers. Much of the information came out as recently as May, and there was simply way too much going on (post-RNC discussion, Trump's daily news creation, the VP announcement and then the DNC the following week) for anyone to care about Inside Baseball crap at the DNC, or which Democrats are mad at which people in the media. If these emails had come out during the primaries it would have mattered to Sanders.

The GE might have gone the other way without those email leaks. It was covered for months, and even Assange stated that the way they were releasing them was in order to maximize coverage. And he was promising other email bombshells[46] ("just around the corner")[47] that never materialized, but were widely talked about. Overall, it was all about creating a narrative of massive corruption: World Tomorrow has never tweeted anything bad about Trump, yet they have posted hundreds of anti-Clinton tweets since April 2016: World Tomorrow used the hashtags #TrumpTrain and #Trump2016, retweeted Breitbart articles, and pimped t-shirts (through the WikiLeaks online store) calling for Hillary to be sent to prison, as well as obligatory #neverhillary tweets.[48]

Sergei Markov, the current Foreign Minister of Russia, brazenly admitted they were behind the DNC leaks.[49]

[edit] The Julian Assange Show

In 2012, Assange started producing and hosting a talk show, World Tomorrow. In theory, World Tomorrow is independently produced and can be syndicated by any TV company that wants it. In practice, the only channel that saw fit to broadcast World Tomorrow is RT,[50] who never miss a chance to provide a platform to any crank critic of the US (even Alex Jones used to get invited on regularly![51]). The list of guests in the first few episodes is… interesting.

[edit] High on his own supply

Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia."
—Assange in 2006[52]
[Russia is a] bit player on the world stage… Every man and his dog is criticizing Russia. It's a bit boring, isn't it?
—Assange in 2016[52]

WikiLeaks accused Snowden of trying to curry favors from Clinton (ridiculous) when Snowden criticized them for not sanitizing their leaks.[53] Assange's response was, "Edward Snowden hasn’t published anything in three years. He did one thing. It was a very important thing, and it was in fact so important that I and this organization saved his ass by rescuing him from Hong Kong...I think he should remember that."[54] So he needs to be your submissive lackey?

He also called a Turkish writer who called them out for dumping the private conversations of Turkish citizens "an Erdogan apologist" and said they were fabricating their story.[55]

The largest sponsor of WikiLeaks today is the Russian government. (They keep their sources of funding secret,[56] which is… somewhat ironic.) It's no coincidence that no major leaks from Russia have appeared on the site since 2010. Case in point: when a whistleblower leaked the Panama Papers to German journalist Bastian Obermayer from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, exposing widespread corruption among Russia’s political and business elite, Assange immediately went to Twitter to denounce these documents:[57]

#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID and George Soros
US govt funded #PanamaPapers attack story on Putin via USAID. Some good journalists but no model for integrity

WikiLeaks declined to publish those, as well. Their whole angle of the leaks is that it's a US false flag to discredit Vladimir Putin. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which released the Panama Papers, is funded by USAID and George Soros, but several major American companies were also named in the leaks.

Assange is proposing using WikiLeaks to track down and "verify" the home address, family members, and banking information of Twitter users—to authenticate them. What better way to hand power to the people than by doxxing your enemies?[58]

On January 18, 2017, Assange tweeted: "If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case." Obama granted Manning clemency; most of her lengthy sentence has been commuted and she goes free in a few months. Oh, what's that? Assange is now changing the terms of the offer after the original terms were satisfied? It's clear the offer wasn't serious.[59]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. As one of the people first involved in WikiLeaks could attest.
  2. On occasion, however, he's shown some poor judgment by releasing documents containing some information that had actual legitimate reasons for being concealed, and in doing so exposed entirely innocent and already vulnerable groups of oppressed people to even greater threats to their safety; for instance, he decided to release this document containing highly sensitive information on the last Jews living in Baghdad, where they are living in perpetual fear for their lives.
  3. Mackey, Robert, "What Julian Assange’s War on Hillary Clinton Says About WikiLeaks", The Intercept (4/6/16 at 12:04 p.m).
  4. Jordan, Elise. "Trump Campaign May Have Interfered With Russia Policy".
  5. News, ABC. "Assange 'Big Admirer' of Ron, Rand Paul".
  6. Quinn, Ben (1 March 2011). "Julian Assange 'Jewish conspiracy' comments spark row". The Guardian.
  7. Rosenmann, Alexandra. "Noam Chomsky defends Julian Assange: “He should be given a medal”".
  8. Communications, BrandFour Design. "Assange: the untold story of an epic struggle for justice".
  9. "WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: Attacks Against Jill Stein Are 'Going to Go Through the Roof'", Democracy Now! 8.8.16. It's simple, Jules: the more Jill Stein calls Clinton a criminal, the more Jill Stein gets attacked. Don't step in the arena if you can't stand your opponent's offense.
  10. "Yanis Varoufakis backs Wikileaks bounty to crack TTIP". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. Precis and analysis; full PDF.
  12. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Wants To Spill Your Corporate Secrets (Andy Greenberg, Forbes, 2010-11-29)
  13. Press: Who Speaks for WikiLeaks?
  14. Flanagan regrets WikiLeaks assassination remark
  15. Never mind the fact that Canada ditched the death penalty several years ago.
  16. Btw, Flanagan is a libertarian himself
  17. American right calls for blood —literally
  18. There are concerns that Assange would be a repeat of Chelsea Manning (née Bradley Manning), who has suffered "cruel and inhumane treatment" together with human rights violations. [1] [2]
  19. Julian Assange’s legal limbo
  20. Sweden: If Assange faces death row in US we won’t extradite him
  21. Ecuador will care for Julian Assange in embassy if WikiLeaks founder falls ill
  22. Sweden should issue assurance it won't extradite Assange to USA
  23. Not to mention such a carte blanche would be an unheard of thing; since it would cover not only what he is accused of but also further acts.
  24. Julian Assange asylum offer leads Ecuador and UK into diplomatic row
  25. Julian Assange can stay in embassy for 'centuries', says Ecuador
  26. Julian Assange police guard cost nears £3m
  27. 27.0 27.1 Julian Assange 'to leave' Ecuador embassy
  28. Rafael Correa's domestic agenda behind Ecuador's Assange asylum
  29. Oliver Stone meets Julian Assange and criticises new WikiLeaks films
  30. 'Julian Assange Sex Assault Accuser' Speaks
  31. Press release: UK refuses hospital visit for MRI and diagnosis
  32. Julian Assange to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London
  33. UN panel Assange detained arbitrarily, should be freed
  34. Julian Assange being arbitrarily held — UN legal panel
  35. Julian Assange investigated for online grooming of 8-year-old girl by Salicylic (2016/10/17) Daily Kos.
  36. United Nations GC Member: T&C Network Solutions ("ToddandClare.com") October 4, 2016 (Archived on 16 Oct 2016)
  37. Did Ecuador Cut Off Julian Assange's Internet Access Over a Pedophilia Investigation? October 19, 2016 Snopes
  38. Ecuador says it cut WikiLeaks founder's internet over interference in US election October 19, 2016 The Guardian
  39. Duke, 11.9.16 Tweet, 12:09 AM.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Savage, Charlie, "Assange, Avowed Foe of Clinton, Timed Email Release for Democratic Convention", NYT 7.26.16.
  41. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9wXq6oRBnI
  42. Yuhas, Alan, "Hillary Clinton campaign blames leaked DNC emails about Sanders on Russia", Guardian (7/24/16 at 3:24 EDT).
  43. Hollande, Joshua, "What the Leaked E-mails Do and Don’t Tell Us About the DNC and Bernie Sanders", The Nation 7.29.16.
  44. Stuart, Tessa, "Bernie or Bust: Meet the Emotional Sanders Supporters Booing the DNC", Rolling Stone 7.26.16.
  45. Nunez, Michael, "WikiLeaks Just Published Tons of Credit Card and Social Security Numbers", Gizmondo (7/22/16 at 1:55pm).
  46. Singal, Jessie, "Does Julian Assange Really Have an Email That Will Get Hillary Clinton Tossed in Prison? (Updated)", New York Magazine' 7.29.16.
  47. Eddy, Melissa, "Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder, Promises Raft of Revelations", NYT 10.4.16.
  48. Here's a tweetstorm summary from them.
  49. Shaun Walker and Luke Harding, "Putin applauds Trump win and hails new era of positive ties with US", Guardian (11/9/16 at 9:39 AM EST).
  50. The Prisoner as Talk Show Host Julian Assange Starts Talk Show on Russian TV
  51. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZtcn6HC0FA
  52. 52.0 52.1 How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets: American officials say Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But the agendas of WikiLeaks and the Kremlin have often dovetailed by Jo Becker et al. (Aug 31, 2016) The New York Times.
  53. 7.28.16 Tweet, 2:48 PM. "Opportunism won't earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows"
  54. Stern Daniel, "Julian Assange to Bill Maher: WikiLeaks ‘Working On’ Hacking Trump’s Tax Returns", Daily Beast (08.06.16 1:07 AM ET).
  55. Tufecki, Zeynep, 7/25/16 Tweet, 1:38 PM
  56. Jeanne Whalen and David Crawford, "How WikiLeaks Keeps Its Funding Secret", WSJ (Updated 8/23/.10 at 12:01 a.m. ET ).
  57. 5 Apr 2016 Tweet, 2:05 PM.
  58. Fung, Bryan, "WikiLeaks proposes tracking verified Twitter users’ homes, families and finances", WaPo 1.6.16. Hopefully they'll dox a bunch of anti-Russian journalists, or politicians! Maybe someday they'll move onto RW, too.
  59. Murdock, Jason, "WikiLeaks lawyer indicates Julian Assange will not leave Ecuadorian embassy", International Business Times (1/18/17 at 6:12 PM GMT). If Obama had given Manning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Assange still wouldn't stick his neck out that embassy.
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