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Julian Assange Chats Live with Aftenbladet After Extradition Hearing

In WikiLeaks on February 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Julian Assange allowed Aftenbladet readers too ask him questions relating to his extradition hearing, new WikiLeaks releases, the Middle-East/African revolutions, and much more.

Transcript:

Moderator: Welcome to chat with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. You can now ask your questions to him. The chat will be conducted in English.

Julian Assange: Hello everyone!

Olof: Do you see yourself as a modern-day freedom fighter?

Julian Assange: The freedom to communicate knowledge is, to me, the most important freedom. It is the freedom on which all other freedoms and rights depend. Concepts such as the right to representation, freedom from arbitary detention or torture all need to be voiced and evidence for them made clear. This can only be done effectively if the central freedom – the right to communicate is strong. In fighting for this freedom, we fight for all freedoms.

John: How Do u feel about the court decision today?

Julian Assange: It was not a surprise. Over 95% of EU arrest warrants result in such an outcome in the lower courts. The judge involved, Riddle was the same judge that first put me in prison. I am of course, annoyed at the tremendous distraction from our work in the revolutions in the middle east. This angers me, but on the other hand, the process does mean we and others such as Fair Trials International can inspire law reforms in Sweden and europe.

Maria: What do you base your assumptions on that Sweden will send you to USA?

Julian Assange: This is an interesting question that few people have looked at with any depth. Onwards extradition – to the United States – entirely a matter of politics. The Swedish Prime Minister has refused to block such an extradition, saying, falsely, that it is a matter entirely for the judiciary, while at the same time pathetically pandering with his other commentary on the case. Infact, he has the power, in the Swedish extradition relationship with the US, to disqualify my extradition. He refuses. According to what I have been told of the protocol between Sweden and the UK, and the US and the UK, the Home Secretary of the UK, simiarly has such power to politically veto such an extradition. The British government, thus far, has refused to do so. Now, while it is convention that an extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US would require the US to agree to not execute or torture me or other european based WikiLeaks staff, any such diplomatic guarentee would be meaningless. Sweden went through that formalism with its CIA assisted extraditions to Egypt, which were immediately ignored. In the US many senior politicians have called for our assassination or life imprisonment. There are three bills before Congress and the Senate to do such things as declare us a “transnational threat”, so all our staff can be treated like al-Quada – as “enemy combatants” and shipped off to Bagram or Guantanamo, etc. Nothing Sweden can politely ask for can stop this legislative risk.

Maja: What happens to your work with Wikileaks now? Are you releasing anything new soon?

Julian Assange: We are releasing new material every day. Major efforts throughout South America have appeared in the last week and we have had since the start of the year a special focus on the middle east, which is continuing.

cleo: Hi Julian. Do you see yourself involved in what happening in the Arabic World? Are their fight for freedom based on the document you have revealed?

Julian Assange: The heavy lifting in these revolutions has been done by long standing civil and political groups throughout the middle east. However we have tried to play a part in the region since last year. In particular, we are pround of the work of our media partner Al-Akhbar in Lebanon who published many important stories based on our material in Arabic. Al-Alkbar and WikiLeaks were then banned by the Ben Ali regime of Tunisia. Supportive computer hackers then redirected many Tunisian government websites to WikiLeaks and its cables exposing Ben Ali. Al-Alkbar suffered three critical cyber attacks and had its cable publishing eventually wiped out. The sophistication of the attacks point to state involvement. Subsequently, we worked with the Telegraph and on our own to aggressively expose Mubarak (Egypt), Soliman (Egypt), Bahrain and Libya.

BJ: What makes you think you will not be given a fair trial in Sweden?

Julian Assange: I could never have imagined just how badly the Swedish justice system can be abused. This question needs a very long answer, but Swedes everywhere are coming forward to tell us horror story after horror story. While these domestic considerations are bad enough, in my case we have united both Social Democrat patronage networks through political opportunists like Claes Borgstrom and other radical feminists who hope to get some limelight, toghether with the worst elements of the Moderates who hope to curry favor with the US. I do see, however that the Swedish press is starting to question what is going on more. But, I loved Sweden and the level of xenophoblic opportunism saddens me. I still believe Sweden can be a good country, but it must first, grow up.

TheAmazingHanna: What do you think the chances are for appealing today’s decision?

Julian Assange: The United Kingdom has its own pressures. Just look at the handling of the case here. It was the UK that appealed to keep me in prison, rather than have me under house arrest. It is not that, in terms of law, that the UK is safer at protecting me from the US, rather it is that, at least I am receiving matterials in my own language, English, something that the Swedish government has, to this day, refused to do, and being a larger country, the judiciary is further seperated from government patronage networks. I have greater ability to fight US extradition in the UK than I do in Sweden. The cables we released about Sweden paint a grim picture. Swedish politicians and bureaucrats sometimes do not follow the rule of law when it comes to their dealings with the United States.

Andreas_A: If you are innocent to the allegations of sexual assault, why do you not willingly return to Sweden to clear your name and your reputation?

Julian Assange: There has been so many abuses by the Swedish government, including the ongoing refusal to provide me any material in English, and the prosecutor Ny lying about interview agreements, that I do not have confidence in the Swedish justice system. Let us not forget that I already gave an interview, stayed in Sweden voluntarily for a month, and the warrant for my arrest was dropped.

Annika: The impression from the press is that this is a conspiracy against you, attacking Wikileaks. What I wonder is if there is any substance to the charges. Can you give any comment to this without compromizing the ongoing investigation?

Julian Assange: There is a lot of pressure. We should not let people who want to detract from the seriousness of pressure recast it into a conspiratorial cartoon. That is not how real life tends to work. This case has been going for six months. There are many people and many complicated agendas.

Peter: Are you Wikileaks or will Wikileaks continue if you are in prision?

Julian Assange: I have set structures in play. We will not be stopped.

Gustav F: Don’t you believe that “white lies” are a necessety for a functional government? I.E. the US ambassadeur personal judgements of certain european leaders?

Julian Assange: The lies we have exposed are not white. They are the highest order concealment of criminality. If governments that conceal reality from their peoples can not function when those realities are revealed, that’s fine by me. Let them be replaced with ones that do not.

Anneli: Do you ever feel guilty that some of your leaks/sources has been exposed?

Julian Assange: As far as we are aware, we have never failed a source. In two cases, alleged sources allegedly made the mistake of speaking to individuals or not from WikiLeaks.

Martijn: What do you think of Anonymous attacks against websites such as Mastercard in order to support you?

Julian Assange: We neither condemn not condone them. They are they online equivallent of a protest and as such are an expression of public sentiment.

Gabriel: What do you fear will happen if you came to Sweden?

Julian Assange: Already answered.

Julian Assange: OK. I have to get back to work now. Thanks everyone. Bye!

Julian Assange: Oh. There is one more thing I would like to say. I would like to thank all those Swedish women and men who have stepped forward to help me and tell us what is going on and going wrong. Thanks!

Julian Assange: Night.

Moderator: Then we end tonight’s chat. Thank all of you for asking questions and thanks Julian Assange.

PayPal Blocks Donations to Bradley Manning Support Fund

In Bradley Manning, Manning, NWO, WikiLeaks on February 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

UPDATE: PayPal has re-instated the Bradley Manning Support Fund after enourmous backlash from supporters

The online payment provider PayPal has frozen the account of Courage to Resist, which in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network is currently raising funds in support of  U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. PayPal was one way people–especially international residents–were able to contribute to the grassroots effort supporting the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower.

“We’ve been in discussions with PayPal for weeks, and by their own admission there’s no legal obligation for them to close down our account,” noted Loraine Reitman of the Bradley Manning Support Network (Support Network). “This was an internal policy decision by PayPal.”

“We exchanged numerous emails and phone calls with the legal department and the office of executive escalations of PayPal,” explained Jeff Paterson. “They said they would not unrestrict our account unless we authorized PayPal to withdraw funds from our organization’s checking account by default. Our accounting does not allow for this type of direct access by a third party, nor do I trust PayPal as a business entity with this responsibility given their punitive actions against WikiLeaks-an entity not charged with any crime by any government on Earth.”

The Support Network repeatedly requested and was refused formal documentation from PayPal describing their policies in this matter.

PayPal is a private company and thus under no legal obligation to provide Courage to Resist, the Bradley Manning Support Network, or anyone else with services. This was something made very clear to the Support Network by PayPal representatives.

“They opted to apply an exceptional hurdle for us to clear in order to continue as a customer, whereas we have clearly provided the legally required information and verification.  I think our dealings with PayPal should be a cautionary tale for any possibly controversial not-for-profit entity with a PayPal account,” Paterson said, “While there may be no legal obligation to provide services, there is an ethical obligation. By shutting out legitimate nonprofit activity, PayPal shows itself to be morally bankrupt.”

Timeline

Courage to Resist registered the PayPal account in 2006. There were no issues with this account until supporters were encouraged to donate via PayPal to help fund the “Stand with Bradley Manning” public statement and petition effort (www.standwithbrad.org ).

In late 2010, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa closed down payment services to WikiLeaks, severely restricting that organization’s ability to accept online donations.  Within days, Courage to Resist project director and Support Network steering committee member Jeff Paterson fielded lengthy calls from executives at PayPal regarding website content, the intended use of the funds being solicited in support of Bradley Manning, and accountings of the recent purchases (primarily envelopes, paper, and postage stamps) made with PayPal funds.

The PayPal account was briefly restricted at that time pending organizational “verification.” To meet PayPal’s standard verification requirements, the Support Network opted to open a line of credit with PayPal and provided Social Security numbers and other financial details in doing so.  Approximately a month later on January 29, 2011, PayPal decided that these standard protocols did not apply to Bradley Manning related efforts.

Background

Donations made via Visa, MasterCard, and Discover–along with checks and money orders–remain unaffected. Funds donated to Bradley Manning’s defense fund are used for legal defense expenses, public awareness efforts, and minimal administrative costs. Information regarding donations, including a fiscal accounting of funds, is publicly available on the Internet at www.couragetoresist.org/bradley

Manning is an American soldier who has been held in solitary confinement since June 2010.  He is currently being held in pre-trial confinement at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, and is not expected to face court martial until at least October 2011. Manning has been convicted of no crime and has a Constitutional right to a fair trial. The Support Network is dedicated to ending Manning’s extreme and illegal pre-trial punishment, ensuring he receives civilian legal representation of his choosing, and thwarting efforts by the U.S. government to hold a secret trial, out of sight of media and supporters. The Support Network has no organizational ties to WikiLeaks.

Judge Rules Julian Assange be Extradited to Sweden

In Anonymous, News, NWO, WikiLeaks on February 24, 2011 at 3:30 PM

After 1 hour and 45 minutes, the hearing is over. Judge orders Assange be extradited in Sweden. Assange has 7 days to appeal. For now, he will remain on bail. Lawyer Mark Stephens says they will appeal.

Julian Assange has lost the case at the extradition hearing. Full ruling here in (PDF). While this writer expected considerable difficulty for Assange’s case on count 4, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle found all four counts to be extraditable. More on that and his findings for another day.

An important first point is that this extradition finding should not be misinterpreted as some species of proven guilt. Julian Assange is still presumed innocent until proven guilty by a proper trial process. The extradition process and appeals to follow in the UK are not that trial process.

Speaking to reporters outside the court in London, Assange said he would appeal the ruling and criticized the European arrest warrant system. He described the ruling as a “rubber stamping process that comes as no surprise but is none the less wrong”.

The European Arrest Warrant system is flawed and has again been used by a signatory nation to the Framework Decision 2001 (PDF) without having to prove the strength of the prosecution case.

CLICK HERE FOR JULIAN ASSANGE LIVE CHAT Q & A ON AFTENBLADET AFTER EXTRADITION HEARING

Cameroon Opposition Leader Attacked by Police

In Cameroon, World Revolution on February 24, 2011 at 11:10 AM

A video has emerged on YouTube of Cameroon’s scheduled protests showing police attacking the Cameroon opposition leader Kah Walla.

The Cameroonian people rise to say no to Paul Biya, the Cameroon president for over 28 years, but as we can see from this video, the elements of the police and the army don’t hesitate to use force to suppress a legitimate manifestation of Cameroonians.

An account of the day by opposition presidential aspirant Kah Walla, who was brutally attacked in the video above.

The march was in process and when police approached, protesters sat down on the ground in the street in a non-violent posture.

Police immediately proceeded to beat the crowd with batons and when Kah stood up to say it was not necessary since the protesters were peaceful, the police commissioner yelled out directions to have her brought to him saying he would “teach her a lesson.”

She was dragged out and made to stand on the median in the middle of the street. The police commissioner then asked the truck containing water to turn around and focus on her. With the high-powered hoses directed at her, she was hosed down brutally for minutes and when she managed to escape she was grabbed, beaten on the back of her legs and dragged to a police detention truck. She had difficulty seeing and breathing due to the chemicals in the water. When she finally gained composure she was released. Many protesters with her were savagely beaten all over their bodies including the head with batons.

Cameroon Revolution Live Updates

Harvard Law Professor Condemns Government and Private Sector Response to WikiLeaks

In NWO, Other Leaks, WikiLeaks on February 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler

Forbes:

As WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange awaits a decision later this week on whether he’ll be extradited to Sweden to face sex crime charges, Harvard Law professor Yochai Benkler wants to remind us of another legal challenge to WikiLeaks that’s been largely forgotten over just the last month: the companies including Amazon, Visa, PayPal and MasterCard who cut off service to the company at the first whiff of political controversy.

In an upcoming paper to be published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Benkler takes apart the government and private sector response to WikiLeaks’ year of ever-more-controversial revelations. He analyzes legislators’ calls for Assange’s execution after Cablegate, the negative media blitz, and vigilante hacker attacks on the site. But perhaps most interesting is his analysis of Amazon’s decision to kick WikiLeaks off its cloud computing service immediately following a call from Senator Joe Lieberman for private companies to cut ties with the group.

Because the company apparently acted on its own, without direct order from the government, this decision is unreviewable by a court. Given what we know of the materials as they have come out to this point, there is little likelihood that an official order to remove the materials would have succeeded in surmounting the high barriers erected by first amendment doctrine in cases of prior restraint. The fact that the same effect was sought to be achieved through a public statement by an official, executed by voluntary action of a private company, suggests a deep vulnerability of the checks imposed by the first amendment in the context of a public sphere built entirely of privately-owned infrastructure.

Benkler, a faculty member at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, writes that the same method was used to cut off WikiLeaks’ payments from Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal: “The implicit alliance, a public-private partnership between the firms that operate the infrastructure and the government that encourages them to help in its war on terror, embodied by this particularly irritating organization, was able to achieve extra-legally much more than law would have allowed the state to do by itself.”

He cites other examples of how government pressure on private companies has violated civil liberties: McCarthy-era black lists were generated by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, but enforced by private sector hiring practices. And AT&T was pressured to allow NSA wiretaps under the Bush administration and in return granted immunity from law suits by the government.

But WikiLeaks’ exile from Amazon’s servers deserves special scrutiny, because it shows just how receptive the Web–where media outlets are often built on layers of pay-as-you-go services–can be to this kind of extra-legal government intervention. Benkler doesn’t argue that Lieberman’s pressure on Amazon and others to jettison WikiLeaks is illegal. In fact, its legality is exactly what calls into question the future of free speech online.

Read Benkler’s full paper here.

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