Julian Assange And Wikileaks Go After The Money

The old adage, follow the money, is so often right.

Wikileaks has seriously changed its policy towards freedom of information, now you have to pay for it.

Information and data, which were given freely to Wikileaks, is only available behind a paywall, as Wired reports:

“Secret-spilling site WikiLeaks has moved millions of documents behind a paywall, prompting blowback from elements of an underground ally, the hacking group Anonymous, including one well-known member to conclude that it “cannot support anymore what WikiLeaks has become.”

Upon clicking on any of the site’s documents, including “Cablegate: 250,000 US Embassy Diplomatic Cables,” which is said to have came from alleged WikiLeaks-leaker Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks visitors are taken to a page with a video that lambastes Barack Obama and ends with WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange asking for donations. To access documents, one can donate, share the video on Facebook or tweet it. The fullscreen overlay cannot be closed unless a donation is made or something is shared, though the video does not appear over every document dump. “

I have no doubt that Julian Assange will provide a rationalisation along the lines of “we need money to fight for greater transparency/freedom of information/against state organisations”, etc.

All tripe, but his decreasing band of gullible supporters might buy it.

Being stuck in a room in Ecuador’s London embassy is not terribly costly, but I suppose Assange must provide for his retirement and Ecuador could be expensive, evenif he gets there and has to grease any wheels along the way.

As with some many things in life it comes down to grubby money.

As the Drum puts it:

“Wikileaks, the whistleblowing website which prides itself on providing free access to information, has erected a paywall… to the bafflement of its supporters, most prominently Anonymous.

Dubbed a ‘donation’ the mandatory payments are required to be made in order to access several of Wikileaks document files, including its Global Intelligence Files, Spy Files, Guantanamo Files and Iraq War Logs.

It is justified by way of a Youtube video which asks about the expectation that US voters should have over their politicians and what they can expect from whoever wins the election. These questions are each answered by Obama stating ‘Yes we can’ taken from an address he made during the last presidential campaign.

The video claims that Wikileaks can help run America by donating to the whistle blowing website and ends with the voice of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange who states ‘I’m Julian Assange and I approve this message’. “

The Guardian covers Assange’s self-pity:

“What else? Ken Loach has donated a running machine, on which Assange runs three to five miles a day. Every two days, he works out with a former SAS officer.

Quite where he finds the room is unclear. He shares a bathroom, but has his own tiny en-suite kitchen. At one end of the room, he has squeezed a round conference table for meeting journalists and colleagues. In front of the window (and he moans about daylight!) stand four tall shelves – sparsely filled with files, CDs for burning, pens, and a printer. There’s a Spanish dictionary, for conversing with embassy staff, and a book about Guantánamo.

Assange claims he works a 17-hour day – but he still finds a suspicious amount of time for watching films. The West Wing and The Twilight Zone are current favourites, he says, as is a film about Aborigine rights: This is How You’ll Make Your Bed in Prison.

And how does Assange make his own bed, a single mattress lying on the floor? “Clumsily”, says the Mail – though “reports of a lack of self-care seem wide of the mark”.

But it’s not all fun and games. Outside, he moans, “there is an absurdly oppressive police presence”. And we thought Bradley Manning had it tough. “

Update 1: Julian Assange seems to have gone over the edge, accusing the Anonymous group of being part of the FBI struggle against him, read it in full:

“Mon Oct 15 04:19:15 UTC 2012

Basic solidarity in WikiLeaks & Anonymous.

By Julian Assange

Freedom isn’t free, justice isn’t free and solidarity isn’t
free. They all require generosity, self-discipline, courage and a sense of perspective.

Groups with unity flourish and those without unity are
destroyed and replaced by those who have it.

Traditional armies gain unity through isolation, ritualized
obedience, and through coercive measures applied to
dissenters up to and including death.

Groups who do not have techniques of unity derived from
solidarity and common cause will be dominated by groups with coercive unity.

In the end it is the techniques of unity that dominate our
civilization. Unified groups grow and multiply. Groups which lack unity imperil themselves and their allies.

It doesn’t matter what principles a group espouses. If it
is not able to demonstrate basic unity it will be dominated
by alliances that do.

When a group grows large the public press becomes a medium through which the group talks to itself. This gives the public press influence over the groups self-awareness. The public press has its agendas. So do insiders who speak to it.

For large groups, group insiders who interface with the public press are able to lever themselves into a position of internal influence via press influence.

Because Anonymous is anonymous, those who obtain this or other forms of leadership influence can be secretly decapitated and replaced by other interests.

This is exactly what happened in the Sabu affair. An
important part of Anonymous ended up being controlled by the FBI. The cooption of its most visible figure, Sabu, was then used to entrap others.

FBI agents or informers have subsequently run entrapment
operations against WikiLeaks presenting as figures from
Anonymous.

According to FBI indictments the FBI has at various times
controlled Anonymous servers. We must assume that currently
a substantial number of Anonymous severs and “leadership”
figures are compromised.
This doesn’t mean Anonymous
should be paralyzed by paranoia. But it must recognize the
reality of infiltration. The promotion of “anonhosting.biz”
and similar assets which are indistinguishable from an
entrapment operations must not be tolerated.

The strength of Anonymous was not having leadership or
other targetable assets. When each person has little
influence over the whole, and no assets have special
significance, compromise operations are expensive
and ineffective. The cryptography used in Friends of
WikiLeaks is based on this principle while WikiLeaks as
an organization has a well tested public leadership cohort
inorder to prevent covert leadership replacement.

Assets create patronage and conflict around asset
control. This includes virtual assets such as servers,
Twitter accounts and IRC channels.

The question Anonymous must ask is does it want to be
a mere gang (“expect us”) or a movement of solidarity. A
movement of solidaarity obtains its unity through common value and through the symbolic celebration of individuals whose actions strive towards common virtues.

Assessing the statement by “@AnonymousIRC”.

In relation to alleged associates of WikiLeaks. It is
rarely in an alleged associates interest, especially
early in a case, for us to be seen to be helping them
or endorsing them. Such actions can be used as evidence
against them. It raises the prestige stakes for prosecutors
who are likely to use these alleged associates in a public
proxy war against WikiLeaks. We do not publicly campaign
for alleged associates until we know their legal team
approves and our private actions must remain private. This calculous should be obvious.

Several weeks ago, WikiLeaks began a US election related
donations campaign which expires on election day, Nov 6.

The WikiLeaks campaign pop-up, which, was activated weeks
ago, requires tweeting, sharing, waiting or donating once
per day.

Torrents, unaffected even by this pop-up remain available
from the front page.

These details should have been clearer but were available
to anyone who cared to read. The exact logic and number of
seconds are in the page source. We are time and resource
constrained. We have many battles to deal with. Other than
adding a line of clarification, we have not changed the
campaign and nor do we intend to.

We know it is annoying. It is meant to be annoying. It is
there to remind you that the prospective destruction of
WikiLeaks by an unlawful financial blockade and an array
of military, intelligence, DoJ and FBI investigations,
and associated court cases is a serious business.

WikiLeaks faces unprecedented costs due to involvement
in over 12 concurrent legal matters around the world,
including our litigation of the US military in the Bradley
Manning case. Our FBI file as of the start of the year
had grown to 42,135 pages.

US officials stated to Australian diplomats the the
investigation into WikiLeaks is of “unprecedented scale
and nature”. Our people are routinely detained. Our editor
was imprisoned, placed under house arrest for 18 months,
and is now encircled in an embassy in London where he has
been formally granted political asylum. Our people and
associates are routinely pressured by the FBI to become
informers against our leadership.

Since late 2010 we have been under an unlawful financial
blockade. The blockade was found to be unlawful in the
Icelandic courts, but the credit companies have appealed
to the Supreme Court. Actions in other jurisdictions are
in progress, including a European Commission investigation
which has been going for over a year.

Despite this we have won every publishing battle and
prevailed over every threat. Last month the Pentagon
reissued its demands for us to cease publication of
military materials and to cease “soliciting” US military
sources. We will prevail there also, not because we are
adept, although we are, but because to do so is a virtue
that creates common cause.

Solidarity.

Julian Assange
Embassy of Ecuador
London “

Julian Assange, Losing Friends

To some Julian Assange can do no wrong, but he’s increasingly losing friends.

Only recently Assange stiffed some rather wealthy supporters for his bail money and now even Anonymous don’t want to know him:

“A statement posted on the Anonymous Twitter account, AnonymousIRC, described WikiLeaks as “the one man Julian Assange show” after the website began asking users to pay for access to millions of leaked documents.

“The idea behind WikiLeaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise be kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know,” said the statement on behalf of Anonymous.

“But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public.”

Anonymous has long been one of WikiLeaks’s most loyal and vocal allies. Supporters bearing Anonymous posters regularly turned out at Assange’s public announcements, and members of the group have waged an online campaign against critics of the whistleblowers’ site.

WikiLeaks said it is funded entirely by donations from members of the public. The site angered some users on Thursday after it made a donation page automatically appear before it allowed access to leaked documents. Some users are unable to view WikiLeaks material unless they choose to donate money to the site. WikiLeaks said on Twitter that the move was an attempt to counter what it called “high costs in military courts”.

In the statement, Anonymous told its 285,000 followers that WikiLeaks was an “awesome idea ruined by egos” and claimed the site had abandoned the ideals of freedom of expression. “

Julian Assange Stiffs His Supporters

Julian Assange’s escape into the Ecuadorian embassy has had financial ramifications for some of his supporters, they will have to cough up the money they put up a sureties:

“Backers who stood as sureties for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London have been ordered to pay thousands of pounds.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said the nine had to pay £93,500 by November 6.

Vaughan Smith, a friend who put Assange up at his country mansion for more than a year, addressed Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week on behalf of the nine, who put up £140,000 between them.
He said all those who offered sureties, of varying amounts, are “convinced that they have done and are doing the right thing”.

In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate said he accepted that the nine had all acted in good faith, saying: “I accept that they trusted Mr Assange to surrender himself as required. I accept that they followed the proceedings and made necessary arrangements to remain in contact with him.

“However, they failed in their basic duty, to ensure his surrender. They must have understood the risk and the concerns of the courts.

“Both this court and the High Court assessed that there were substantial grounds to believe the defendant would abscond, and that the risk could only be met by stringent conditions including the sureties,” he said.

Sky News details the amount involved:

“Vaughan Smith has been told to pay £12,000, while another three – Caroline Evans, Phillip Knightley and John Sulston – must each pay £15,000.

Five others – Tricia David, Joseph Farrell, Sarah Harrison, Sarah Saunders and Tracy Worcester – were ordered to pay amounts of between £3,500 and £12,000.”

It makes you wonder why his supporters were arguing that they should be immune from penalty when Assange broke his bail conditions. L’exception Assange?

Still, I doubt Assange’s wealthy supporters will suffer from penury. I imagine that someone such as Vaughan Smith could easily afford £12,000, as long as he laid off the fine wines!

They shouldn’t grumble, their hero has done what he thought best for him.

His rich supporters are paying for their principles, which surely is the best way to prove they have any? But I can’t see him getting any more money from them in future. Once bitten?

Update 1: The Torygraph has more:

“The judge took into account the fact that losing all of their money would have a “significant” impact on some of the sureties, including Prof Tricia David, a retired academic; Sarah Saunders, a friend whose house in East Sussex was a bail address for Mr Assange; and Vaughan Smith, a journalist who owns the Norfolk manor house where he originally stayed after his arrest in 2010.

He added that he “cannot avoid taking some account of their integrity”, and ruled that he would not forfeit “more than is necessary” to protect the system.

The judge ruled that all nine must pay the money demanded in full by November 6th or appear in front of him to say why they should “not be committed to custody for non-payment”.

Under section 120 (3) of the 1980 Magistrates Court Act, he ruled that Prof David must pay £10,000; Lady Evans, the wife of a former Labour minister, £15,000; Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison, WikiLeaks aides, £3,500 each; Phillip Knightley, a journalist, £15,000; Ms Saunders, £12,000; Mr Smith, £12,000; Sir John Sulston, a biologist, £15,000; and Tracy Worcester, the Marchioness of Worcester, £7,500.

Ofcom And Julian Assange

Below is the summary from page 80 of Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 213, 10 September 2012 detailing Julian Assange’s complaint.

Not Upheld

Complaint by Mr Julian Assange
True Stories: WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies, More 4, 29 November 2011

Summary: Ofcom’s decision is that this complaint made by Mr Julian Assange of unjust or unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in the broadcast of the programme should not be upheld.

The programme charted the history of WikiLeaks1 and featured contributions from Mr Assange, a number of employees from The Guardian and other newspapers. Other contributors, such as a former employee of WikiLeaks and others who came into contact with Mr Assange or who were affected by the impact of the material that was published by WikiLeaks, also featured and gave their opinions on WikiLeaks, Mr Assange and related matters.

Mr Assange complained to Ofcom that he was treated unjustly or unfairly in the
programme as broadcast and that his privacy was unwarrantably infringed in the
programme.

Ofcom found as follows:

  • Mr Assange did provide his informed consent to appear in the programme;
  • Material facts were presented in a way that was not unfair to Mr Assange and omitting certain facts or points raised by Mr Assange did not create unfairness in the programme as broadcast;
  • Mr Assange was provided with a timely and appropriate opportunity to respond to the points in the programme; and
  • Mr Assange did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the footage of him dancing in a nightclub in Iceland, which was included in the programme. “

The PDF and full details can be found here.

Update 1:The programme which was first broadcast on 29 November 2011 is accessible on Channel 4’s site.

Update 2: A YouTube copy is available too.