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What are the implications of Julian Assange’s arrest in London?

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Yesterday, a prematurely aged-looking Assange (he is 47) — a founder of Wikileaks and Australian — was arrested by UK Police after the Ecuadorean Embassy he has sought asylum in since 2012 withdrew its protection.

Assange being arrested (HT, DM)

The arrest raises questions on dissidents, privacy, protection of legitimate secrets, the public’s right to know more than officials, power brokers and publicists or other gatekeepers want, and more. (Let us not forget the Pentagon Papers and their impact.) Many of these concerns bleed over into how controversial and sometimes unpopular views like ID will be treated going forward — especially regarding freedom of the Internet.

So, there is relevance.

Again, Daily Mail gives some background:


‘Narcissist’ Julian Assange faces DECADES in US jail after he was hauled screaming out of Ecuadorian Embassy by EIGHT officers, found guilty of skipping UK bail and charged by American government with hacking 750,000 classified documents
Wikileaks founder dragged from Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs by large group of police officers yesterday
He has not left embassy since 2012, when he was offered refuge from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden 
Arrest was for skipping bail that year and also for a US extradition request over computer hacking charges 
Ecuador said decision came after he behaved badly and interfered with its affairs during his seven-year stay
Appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court where he was found guilty of breaching bail conditions in 2012
He faces a further court hearing in May relating to his possible extradition to the US on the hacking charges 
But the US is reportedly set to file further charges in the coming days that could see him in jail for decades  
Corbyn told [UK] Government not to extradite Assange for ‘exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan’

So, hero, villain or a bit of both? In a world where questions of cover-up, conspiracies, character assassination, conspiracist speculation, false flag agit prop operations, propagandistic street theatre, diminished credibility of major media, bias and agendas backed by ruthless power, turnabout accusation and much more are common, where also questions of web censorship are on the table, are we at a watershed?

I forgot: could he have a deadman switch that might be activated to release a huge, damaging, chaos-inducing infodump?

Are there implications for those who advocate views that are unwelcome in halls of power? END

11 Replies to “What are the implications of Julian Assange’s arrest in London?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    What are the implications of Julian Assange’s arrest in London?

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    Here’s one implication. If you do this:

    On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications, as designated according to Executive Order No. 13526 or its predecessor orders.

    then you might get indicted.

    It’s obviously a sensational case, but I don’t believe it represents a watershed moment.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I hear you on laws he likely broke, it remains that he has also been a whistleblower. Notice, what Mr Corbyn has said. KF

  4. 4
    Brother Brian says:

    He was not charged because he published leaked, classified documents. Journalists do this all of the time and is not illegal, except during times of war. And, in most cases, journalists themselves will censor the information themselves if they think it will put innocent people at risk. He was charged because he assisted with the hacking of the government server to obtain these documents. And that is illegal.

    I suspects that he views himself as a free speech warrior. I think that he is far less than that.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    UK Guardian:

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/apr/12/julian-assange-charges-press-freedom-journalism

    Julian Assange’s charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warn

    . . . . Parts of the indictment go head-to-head with basic journalistic activities protected by the [US Constitution’s] first amendment, academics say

    Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said these sections of the charges rang alarm bells that should reverberate around the world.

    Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who wrote the first major legal study of the legal implications of prosecuting WikiLeaks, said the charge sheet contained some “very dangerous elements that pose significant risk to national security reporting. Sections of the indictment are vastly overbroad and could have a significant chilling effect – they ought to be rejected.”

    Carrie DeCell, staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the charges “risk having a chill on journalism”. She added that the tone of the indictment and the public release from the Department of Justice that went with it suggested that the US government desired precisely that effect.

    “Many of the allegations fall absolutely within the first amendment’s protections of journalistic activity. That’s very troubling to us.”

    Among the phrases contained in the indictment that have provoked an uproar are:

    “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records from departments and agencies of the United States.” It is a basic function of journalism to encourage sources to provide information in the public interest on the activities of government.

    “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks.” Protecting the anonymity of sources is the foundation stone of much investigative and national security reporting – without it sources would not be willing to divulge information, and the press would be unable to fulfill its role of holding power to account.

    “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records.” The indictment similarly refers to a dropbox. Both Jabber and Dropbox are communication tools routinely used by journalists working with whistleblowers.

    A key element of the indictment is a new allegation that Assange actively engaged in helping Manning try to crack a password that allowed the US soldier to gain unauthorized and anonymous access to highly sensitive military computers. At the time, in 2010, Manning was working as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base outside Baghdad.

    Experts on freedom of the press and speech were generally more relaxed about that narrow charge, standing on its own, in that it essentially accuses Assange of violating computer hacking laws – specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in a way that has no first amendment protection. If prosecutors succeed in presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to that effect, it is unlikely to arouse fierce opposition across the board.

    –> We shall see

    KF

  6. 6
    Brother Brian says:

    As I mentioned, publishing leaked documents, except under certain circumstances (eg a judicial gag order) are protected under freedom of the press. But, contrary to popular opinion (and please correct me if I am wrong, because I may be) protecting the anonymity of your source is not.

    Encouraging your source to get more information is OK. But picking the lock on the safe for your source to obtain the material is not. From what I have read, this is what he is being charged with, or, at least, the metaphorical equivalent.

    I have also heard that he is a whistle blower and that there are some laws (although few) that protect him. But whistle blower protection is usually restricted to employees.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    –> we shall see

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Here is a website I chanced upon, which, for reasons literally of survival is a mix of a unique ‘inside-track’ on geopolitics by genuine experts, often in situ, and interacting or in the counsels of the local leaders, and some articles of a more ‘loopy’ nature. There are three articles here on Lasange, of which I have only read two – though one or two at a earlier date, the reason being that the issue is too convoluted and byszantine for me to make ‘head or tail’ of, although it might be a more intelligible offering for you lads and lassies. I expect a fair number of you will be familiar with the site.

    https://www.veteranstoday.com/

  9. 9
    EricMH says:

    Here’s one excerpt from the site:

    “The word terrorism once actually meant something: “A military tactic consisting of intentionally targeting civilians to spread fear.” But since the neocon-Zionist orchestrated false flag event of September 11 2001…”

    Or, a headline about Assange:

    “Mossad Agent Assange Finally Kicked out of Ecuadorean Embassy”

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, We must of course beware of unwarranted projections and undue alienation, but must recognise the legitimate need for security balanced with the public’s right to know the substantial truth in a democratic polity under rule of law — as opposed to being manipulated through polarisation, half-truths, agit prop agendas, street theatre and lawfare . . . and we cannot believe that the image in the OP above is not intentionally projected by the powers that be. A tough, tough balance to strike or to sustain. Reminds me of the truth, in love, with purity and holy power, with just wisdom. Ideal, but extremely challenging and highly relevant. KF

  11. 11
    EricMH says:

    Was it necessary for Assange, Manning and Snowden to work outside of standard whistleblowing mechanisms? It is not clear to me it was. Perhaps I’m missing something. My understanding is the leaked information did result in damage to intelligence operations, risked informants’ lives, and possibly even resulted in their deaths.

    https://www.npr.org/2019/04/12/712659290/how-much-did-wikileaks-damage-u-s-national-security

    I know the opinion of Wikileaks changed with Guccifer’s leak of Hillary’s emails, but I’m not a fan of the logic that just because events now support “our side” that therefore the means are legitimized.

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