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Secret Ecuador Docs Reveal Assange’s Embassy Life: Fight w/ Security Guard, Health Concerns, Escape Plans & More

In Archive, Assange, Ecuador, WikiLeaks on September 3, 2015 at 3:00 AM

assange-ecuador-embassy

09/01/2015

James Ball/Paul Hamilos/BuzzFeed:

Staff and security guards at the Ecuadorian embassy are keeping minute-by-minute records and filing daily official reports on the activities of their long-term guest Julian Assange. The documents, marked “secret”, reveal the occasionally fraught relationship between the WikiLeaks chief and his hosts, laying out details of clashes with embassy staff, concerns over Assange’s psychological health, and potential escape plans.

The details are contained in a series of internal documents of the Ecuadorian government seen by BuzzFeed News and initially reported on by the journalist Fernando Villavicencio. BuzzFeed News has independently corroborated several details from within the documents.

Assange has been unable to leave the embassy, a small flat in Kensington, since seeking asylum there in June 2012. The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief faced extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault, although he cited potential U.S. prosecution over the publication of leaked documents from Chelsea Manning as his reason for flight.

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The documents seen by BuzzFeed News detail two particular flare-ups in the embassy’s tight confines. The first (PDF) took place in September 2012, just three months after Assange first took up residency.

A security guard was on duty at around 8:30pm on 6 September, when Assange was in the embassy with two associates. Around this time, the guard discovered that Assange had made his way into the embassy’s secure control room – a room strictly off-limits to him – and started tampering with the security equipment. This led to a scuffle between Assange and the guard that caused damage to the embassy’s equipment.

The report then details conflicting accounts of what happened. According to the security guard’s account, Assange was asked to stop messing with the embassy’s systems and to leave the secure room, which he initially refused to do.

The guard alleges that Assange then punched over a computer monitor before grabbing him by the shirt. This led, according to the guard, to an altercation for a number of minutes that spilled out into the corridor.

assange-control-room

Assange’s account lays the blame on the security guard, who he claimed had accosted him.

A filmmaker who was present for the incident, the report notes, told embassy staff he did not see the beginning of the scuffle, but that Assange was “out of control” and very upset, and clearly wanted to be verbally offensive and to provoke a reaction.

Embassy staff, including the ambassador and two security officials described only as “Mr White” and “Mr Blue”, had a meeting to discuss the incident the following day. In sections of the report marked as analysis and recommendations, the author notes that Assange — described as “Mr Guest” — knows “what the limits of his movements are inside the embassy”.

The section continues by noting that “we cannot allow these incidents to be repeated, nor any further attacks against personnel who work for the embassy”. The report acknowledges the stress Assange was under, due to both his confinement and the presence of “more than 20 British agents posted outside the building”, and recommends further psychological support.

However, just a few months later a separate report (PDF) notes a similar incident of seemingly erratic behaviour from the WikiLeaks chief shortly before dawn on 4 January 2013.

The report painstakingly notes Assange’s movements from minute to minute – further evidence of how closely the Ecuadorians monitored “Mr Guest” – reporting that he seemed to wake at 6:05 that morning. Then, just five minutes later, the security guard heard a loud crash from Assange’s room.

Assange came to the door, assuring the on-duty guard that everything was fine, but (according to the guard’s account) seeming to try to block his view of the room’s interior. A few minutes later, Assange left the room carrying his laptop into a nearby room designated as his bathroom, where he remained for a period of hours.

During this time, the memo continues, the guard was able to see inside Assange’s bedroom, where a large, smashed bookshelf was strewn across the room. The guard took photographs of the room’s condition.

assange-bookshelf

The room visible in the photos from the secret Ecuadorian report clearly matches the one in an August 2013 Juice Rap News video featuring Assange during his bid to run for the Australian senate (Assange’s embassy room is visible in the video between 3:42 and 4:16).

assange-rapnews

Additonal photo of room:

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Assange later told embassy staff that the bookshelf had fallen over of its own accord, according to the same memo, but this seemingly did little to assuage their concerns about the wellbeing of Assange or those around him. As before, the incident was passed up the embassy’s chain of command – reference is made to a daily report on his activities – including, once again, “Mr White” and “Mr Blue”.

The report notes with concern a regular comment in “internal daily reports” on Assange recording his tendency to “shout and talk incoherently” at night, attributed to night terrors.

It then goes on to note: “This episode is nothing more than the result of the stress that Mr Assange could be feeling as a result of his isolation.

“If it’s clear that his situation could result in psychological harm because of the circumstances in which he finds himself, it’s equally clear that there is no protocol that might help avoid or minimise this.”

The report continues in quite a critical manner as to Assange’s intrinsic “nature”, independent of his stressful situation, stating that his “evident anger” and “feelings of superiority” could cause stress to those around him — “especially the personnel who work in the embassy, mainly women”.

It adds that the stress on those personnel also stems from media pressure, police, and “most worryingly, the hard core of people who are either for or against Mr Assange’s cause”, risking the embassy’s capacity to function as usual.

The report contains multiple recommendations to improve the situation, including a proposal from “Mr Blue” for regular assessments of Assange’s physical and mental health, regular meetings with Assange’s confidantes to assess his demeanour and state of mind, and efforts to prevent Assange becoming isolated.

The report also notes a need to “control access to alcohol”.

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Other documents set out the external security challenges faced by the Ecuadorians through the activities of the Metropolitan police, who at one point had up to 50 officers in and around the building containing the embassy.

A 2012 presentation shows handwritten instructions to officers at the scene – embarrassingly caught by a photographer’s long lens and made public – instructing them on what to do if Assange emerged from the embassy.

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“Action required – Assange to be arrested under all circumstances,” it states. “He comes out with dip[lomatic] immunity, as dip bag, in dip bag (risk to life) in dip vehicle. ARRESTED.”

Asked whether the Metropolitan police would violate diplomatic immunity to arrest Assange, a Met spokesperson said: “Our objective is to arrest Julian Assange for breach of bail. Under no circumstances would an arrest be made in breach of diplomatic immunity.”

In the Ecuadorian slides, the police orders are translated into Spanish and given a short analysis before a later slide sets out a series of options of ways to get Assange out of the UK.

assange-escape

The first option considered was to obtain diplomatic immunity for Assange by making him Ecuador’s representative to the UN. While there was a risk that the UN General Assembly could revoke this status, the report notes that this would take some time, which could be exploited to get Assange on to Ecuadorian territory.

A second consideration was to attempt to smuggle Assange out in an inviolable diplomatic car. However, the officials concluded that this would probably be impossible as Scotland Yard had even placed officers inside the embassy building, which was shared with other tenants.

“Police are located in the hall, on the stairs, and the exits of the lifts,” it states. “The British police can be found in all the routes that would allow Assange to take a diplomatic car.”

Elsewhere the document notes that officers had come still closer: “Last night (28/08/2012), security at the Ecuadorian embassy had to remove a policeman who entered without permission, in the department above the embassy.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police declined to respond to a query on the incident.

Another option for exfiltrating Assange considered by embassy staff was to put him in a diplomatic bag, considered inviolable by treaty, but only if they solely contain documents relating to the normal practice of an embassy.

Officials dismissed this plan as they knew police outside the embassy had “advanced technology that can detect body heat”. Elsewhere, embassy staff had noted a police van across the road from the embassy was “bombarding” the building with microwaves, and was capable in the view of staff of collecting most if not all signals from within.

police-surveillance-truck-1 police-surveillance-truck-2

Related: Ecuador Says London Embassy Bug Hidden in Socket

The final plan contemplated on the slide was that of a “discreet exit”.

“Assange could leave in fancy dress,” the document suggests, “or try to escape across the rooftops towards a nearby helipad, or get lost among the people in Harrods.”

In the event, it seems none of the plans were followed through. Three years later, Assange remains in the embassy.

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Operation Hotel & SENAIN

Fernando Villavicencio/FocusEcuador (Translation via WikiLeaksForum):

Operation Hotel (PDF) was designed in three phases by the Ecuadorian intelligence agency (SENAIN) with three specific objectives: to generate adequate living conditions for the “guest”, to resume full activities at the Embassy to avoid possible information leakage and to optimise the security processes in the diplomatic home quarters.

Phase I sought to guarantee the conditions under which Assange was staying at the Embassy and prepare a plan for a possible attack which could force the “guest” and his security team to evacuate in case of a deliberate fire and the ensuing smoke ; it even prepared for a situation in which the opposing force could use hidden chemical agents obliging the “guest” to go outside for lack of oxygen.

At this stage the technical adjustments to the site, such as installing a shower in the bathroom, carpentry and painting services in areas that would be available to Assange were also made. In addition, a meticulous record of all the people working in every area of the Embassy was kept, especially of those who were close to him.

“We understand that Mr. Guest is used to interact with the Embassy staff, especially those with whom he has a lot of contacts and a friendly relationship”, stated the SENAIN report. There was so much control around him that part of the Operation Hotel strategy was to limit the contacts he had with the embassy employees. It was even determined that it was very important that those who provided security inside the embassy should speak Spanish, to ensure they would be able to communicate without any problems and thus ensuring a basic communication only with the “guest.”

In some instances, the “guest” requested that he be able to chose his own Security Service inside the embassy, suggesting the use of Russians. For the SENAIN agents, such choice would have meant, among other problems, the loss of control of the Embassy itself leaving the “guest” free access to control and manage the flow of information. The report even asserts that it would have been the equivalent of “a coup in the embassy.”

During Phase II of this surveillance operation, the aim would be to strengthen measures, protocols and security systems designed to match the level of sensitivity of the situation in which the Embassy and its occupants found themselves, and also to visually and technically improve the safety measures as well as the screening of the staff and the detection of leaks.

The report stresses that “From a tactical point of view , the use of viewing and listening devices, as well as monitoring and surveillance tools created a containment situation with the opposing forces”

In Phase II, not only recording video and audio systems would be implemented but also the freedom of the guest’s movements would be restricted, especially the way he used to come in and out as well as his nocturnal activities in the offices and annexes, such as the ambassador’s and consul’s offices, because the risks meant a serious lack of security concerning the possibility of leaks of confidential or proprietary information to which Assange could have access to and which should be restricted.

These measures, which were as part of Operation Hotel, are an indication of the level of distrust that the regime of Rafael Correa had for Julian Assange. The following is an excerpt from the report: “Mr. Guest is a host at the Embassy, he is not a member of the staff and should not participate or interfere in the activities of the Embassy, so he must be kept away from activities that are the exclusive responsibility of the management of the diplomatic mission of Ecuador in London. ”

Some of the public activities around the presence of Assange in the Embassy of Ecuador in London were entrusted to the American/Venezuelan lawyer and journalist Eva Golinger, through a contract of service signed with the Ministry.

The Embassy staff had been really worried about the activities of the refugee, because in one of the paragraphs it is mentioned a need “to regain control and manage the necessary protocols to create the state of security needed to allow and redirect the actions in a positive and correct fashion. ”

Inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London there is an hostile environment and concern, together with the fact that the day to day activities are constantly interrupted. The report also reveals that the personality of Julian constantly clashes with the security agents who have to execute the orders and implement the processes.

The report shows that the monitoring levels applied to the “guest”‘s circle of people were very high, this was also the case for one of the painters who worked on the conversion of the apartments during Phase I of this operation. Rafael Paez had previously worked on the carpentry, masonry and other fixtures for Phase II of Operation Hotel.

The bizarre thing is that there was a second person with the same job. The following is an excerpt from the report that reveals the painstaking surveillance process concerning Assange. “The other person is an acquaintance of Silvia Almeida’s, the accountant, (they attend the same church, apparently he is quite religious. The Seguridad Diplomática guards believe he is a bit fanatical and spends all day singing religious songs and talking about God). The peculiar thing is that he said that he once belonged to the guerrillas in El Salvador and had lost three children to the war. It is worth finding out a bit more about Silvia Almeida’s religious connections. ”

Another person mentioned in this report is José María Guijarro (Txema), Under-Secretary for Africa, Asia and Oceania, who has commented that the “guest “had problems with his vision because his field of vision was limited to the dimensions of his room or his computer screen. It was recommended to let him go to the ambassador’s office at night so he could look out the window to alleviate his vision problem.

The report describes in detail that the cameras and systems used for the development of Phase II were exceptional first-generation equipment for the “control and supervision” of this diplomatic mission.

One of the paragraphs in the report directly refers to Julian Assange’s surveillance within the Ecuadorian Embassy. “If the Government of Ecuador finally decided the realization of such actions (obtaining information directly, espionage) they should be part of other operational parameters to avoid potential repercussions towards the Embassy once it was realised that such actions were taking place from inside the embassy itself. ”

Both the WikiLeaks team and the people trusted by Assange were subjected to the restriction of movements and controlled by the staff. According to this document, the intelligence inside the Embassy identified one Benjamin Griffin, British, former British Army soldier and a member of the SAS Special Forces as Assange’s personal trainer. The SENAIN assumed that “he is a potential threat in terms of the information he could have access to and/or provide to third parties because we do not have complete assurance that he does not have any more links to the British military establishment. ”

Given all these constraints, the “guest” had requested that the security installations be audited; the said auditor would have been part of Assange’s team, and at this stage, SENAIN voiced their disagreement on the grounds that such action would involve the transfer of all the keys as well as the systems’ configurations. “This would be another serious violation of the security protocol because neither Mr Guest nor his team can guarantee that the information obtained would not end up in the hands of third parties or used against the interests of Ecuador” says SENAIN.

“This audit requested by Mr Guest would represent a high operational risk, as well as a risk for the ambassador, since the agency in Salamanca would not be able to monitor and control the video surveillance and recording systems, in as much as it would enable the uncontrolled distribution of images which could potentially be counter-productive in regards of Ecuador’s political actions (although initially they could advance Mr. Guest’s cause) ” the report said.

As an example of the recommendations made by Assange, there is one which is particularly striking. He asked for his personal boxing trainer Ben Grifin to take part in supervising the installation of the security system.

It is estimated that at the beginning, Assange’s fame and the global impact of the asylum request itself created a special preferential context for the “guest”, a situation which changed when certain excesses were curtailed and a code of internal living standards was implemented. ”

“We understand that Mr. Guest is used to interact with the Embassy staff, especially those with whom he gets on well.

Understandably, he is also looking to establish similar relationships with the security agents, but this falls outside of the mission’s parameters which are set to maintain a strict protocol of interaction with all the people from outside the Embassy (mainly him and his guests), and up to then everybody enjoyed full freedom of movements inside (without any restrictions) but in some instances, non standard behaviour was witnessed in the building (consumption of alcoholic beverages in the lobby of the Embassy during working hours, walking barefoot through the Embassy during business hours, festive gatherings, inappropriate dress code, etc) and these actions could have had dire consequences in terms of the image of the Diplomatic Delegation and its mission in London and the same could be said of Mr Guest and his cause, ” it reads.

In August 2012, former ambassador Ana Alban implemented a special protocol to regulate the “Guest”‘s activities:

  • Visiting hours will be between 08H00 and 19H00.
  • Visitors need to show the diplomatic security agents some kind of photo ID.
  • The Red Permit visitors will have to go though all the Diplomatic Security electronic systems for the duration of their visit at the Embassy.
  • The “Guest”‘s visitors are his responsibility and his team’s and they must ensure that the visitors comply with the Embassy rules and regulations at all times.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited inside the Embassy. It is allowed with moderation in the “Guest’s room” as long as no one leaves the room carrying a drink and as long as their behaviour is professional and suitable for an Embassy environment.
  • Recordings within the Embassy are prohibited without the Ambassador’s or the National Secretary of Communications’ prior permission.
  • Under no circumstances should anyone be allowed inside the control room of the Embassy apart from the Ambassador and the diplomatic security team, this room is where privileged information, the secret files of the Embassy and the security systems, are kept.
  • Visitors will have to stay inside the Guest’s quarters, they can only go out if they need the bathroom or leave the Embassy premises.

And obviously, there was also the distrust of the Ecuadorian government with respect to the specific interests of Assange and WikiLeaks; “We take note that Ecuador’s and Mr Guest’s agendas and interests maybe be aligned, but sometimes they may not converge and they may also be inconsistent with the policy of Ecuador,” said one of the documents.

There is very little information regarding Phase III apart from the fact that “it will be implemented taking into account other solutions, to strengthen the security of the site and its users’.”

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An anecdote in the reports dated early September 4th 2012, records the moment when the Scotland Yard guards were changing shifts, they were in the alley facing the guest’s window where two police vans used to transport the guards are parked.

During the change over, the officers were in a festive mood and joking amongst themselves about the “guest”‘s situation when suddenly one of them reached into his pocket, took a coin and threw it at the guest’s window, hitting one of the panes. According to the report, this incident upset the guest, who wanted to use the pictures and publish them on the net to illustrate Scotland Yard’s aggression. The lawyer recommended that the Embassy should not complain, as it could be used against the Embassy by highlighting the use of special cameras and video equipment to monitor the London police.

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The documents published here are part of a comprehensive report in the possession of Ecuadorian National Assembly member Cynthia Viteri, regarding surveillance activities carried out by SENAIN at the Embassy in London.

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The Ecuadorian embassy did not respond to requests for comment or clarification on any aspect of the documents, although the spokesperson for Scotland Yard said the embassy had been in contact with them about the enquiry. WikiLeaks did not respond to a request for comment.

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AAP:

Assange responded to the media reports in a brief one-line statement on Wednesday, saying: “Yet another predictably false attack in the media during the run-up to the launch next week of our new book on the US-UK relationship The WikiLeaks Files.”

Fernando Villavicencio, who initially reported on Assange’s embassy stay in Spanish for Ecuador Focus, has recently submitted allegations of persecution against him by Ecuador’s government to the UN.

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Hacking Team Hacked: 400GB Data Dump of Internal Documents/Emails/Source Code from Notorious Spyware Dealer

In Archive, Hacking, Hacking Team, Malware, Surveillance, WikiLeaks on July 7, 2015 at 9:07 AM

hacked-team

07/05-09/2015

The controversial Italian surveillance company Hacking Team, which sells spyware to governments all around the world, including agencies in Ethiopia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, as well as the US Drug Enforcement Administration, has been seriously hacked.

Hackers have made 400GB of client files, contracts, financial documents, and internal emails, some as recent as 2015, publicly available for download.

What’s more, the unknown hackers announced their feat through Hacking Team’s own Twitter account.

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Torrent Links:
https://mega.nz/#!Xx1lhChT!rbB-LQQyRypxd5bcQnqu-IMZN20ygW_lWfdHdqpKH3E
http://infotomb.com/eyyxo.torrent
Mirror:
https://ht.transparencytoolkit.org/
Source Codes:
https://github.com/hackedteam?tab=repositories

Last year, a hacker who only went by the name “PhineasFisher” hacked the controversial surveillance tech company Gamma International, a British-German surveillance company that sells the spyware software FinFisher. He then went on to leak more than 40GB of internal data from the company, which has been long criticized for selling to repressive governments.

hacking-team-finfisher-hack

That same hacker has now claimed responsibility for the breach of Hacking Team, that sells a similar product called Remote Control System Galileo.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai/Motherboard:

On Sunday night, I reached out to the hacker while he was in control of Hacking Team’s Twitter account via a direct message to @hackingteam. Initially, PhineasFisher responded with sarcasm, saying he was willing to chat because “we got such good publicity from your last story!” referring to a recent story I wrote about the company’s CEO claiming to be able to crack the dark web.

Afterwards, however, he also claimed that he was PhineasFisher. To prove it, he told me he would use the parody account he used last year to promote the FinFisher hack to claim responsibility.

“I am the same person behind that hack,” he told me before coming out publicly.

The hacker, however, declined to answer to any further questions.

The leak of 400GB of internal files contains “everything,” according to a person close to the company, who only spoke on condition of anonymity. The files contain internal emails between employees; a list of customers, including some, such as the FBI, that were previously unknown; and allegedly even the source code of Hacking Team’s software, its crown jewels.

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HIGHLIGHTS:

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Download Spreadsheet


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Download Spreadsheet

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Screenshot shows an email dated 2014 from Hacking Team’s founder and CEO David Vincenzetti to another employee. In the email, titled “Yet another Citizen Lab attack,” Vincenzetti links to a report from the online digital rights research center Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, which has exposed numerous cases of abuse from Hacking Team’s clients.

hacking-team-citizen-lab

Hacking Team has never revealed a list of its clients, and has always and repeatedly denied selling to sketchy governments, arguing that it has an internal procedure to address human rights concerns about prospective customers.

The email about Citizen Lab is filed in a folder called “Anti HT activists.”

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via Thomas Fox-Brewster/Forbes:

In-depth notes on the level of exploitation across a number of Android devices, from the likes of Samsung, HTC and Huawei. It appears the exploits weren’t always successful in accessing voice or texts on phones.

Hacking Team operations manager Daniele Milan’s email from January indicated some imminent features in Hacking Team’s tools included “physical infection of BitLocker protected disks”, thereby bypassing the much-used Microsoft disk encryption technology, as well as “extraction of information from pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter”. It will also soon be able to “capture of documents edited using Google Docs or Office 365”, the roadmap suggested.

Another email from Milan, dated 15 May, indicated the security-focused messaging application Wickr was on the target list too, thanks to a request from the US government. “I had a call this morning with an agent from Homeland Security Investigations [a body within the Department of Homeland Security], and he told me he got some requests to intercept suspects using this application, Wickr… we may want to keep an eye on it and eventually evaluate to add support.”

via Dan Goodin/ArsTechnica:

Another document boasts of Hacking Team’s ability to bypass certificate pinning and the HTTP strict transport security mechanisms that are designed to make HTTPS website encryption more reliable and secure. “Our solution is the only way to intercept TOR traffic at the moment,” the undated PowerPoint presentation went on to say.

Elsewhere, the document stated: “HTTPS Everywhere enforces https and could send rogue certificates to the EFF SSL Observatory.” HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that ensures end users use HTTPS when connecting to a preset list of websites. The statement appears to be a warning that any fraudulent certificates Galileo relies on could become public if used against HTTPS Everywhere users when they have selected an option to send anonymous copies of HTTPS certificates to EFF’s SSL Observatory database.

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Renowned cryptographer Bruce Schneier: “The Hacking Team CEO, David Vincenzetti, doesn’t like me:”

In another [e-mail], the Hacking Team CEO on 15 May claimed renowned cryptographer Bruce Schneier was “exploiting the Big Brother is Watching You FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) phenomenon in order to sell his books, write quite self-promoting essays, give interviews, do consulting etc. and earn his hefty money.”

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Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai/Motherboard:

After suffering a massive hack, the controversial surveillance tech company Hacking Team is scrambling to limit the damage as well as trying to figure out exactly how the attackers hacked their systems.

But the hack hasn’t just ruined the day for Hacking Team’s employees. The company has told all its customers to shut down all operations and suspend all use of the company’s spyware, Motherboard has learned.

“They’re in full on emergency mode,” a source who has inside knowledge of Hacking Team’s operations told Motherboard.

Hacking Team notified all its customers on Monday morning with a “blast email,” requesting them to shut down all deployments of its Remote Control System software, also known as Galileo, according to multiple sources. The company also doesn’t have access to its email system as of Monday afternoon, a source said.

A source told Motherboard that the hackers appears to have gotten “everything,” likely more than what the hacker has posted online, perhaps more than one terabyte of data.

It’s unclear how the hackers got their hands on the stash, but judging from the leaked files, they broke into the computers of Hacking Team’s two systems administrators, Christian Pozzi and Mauro Romeo, who had access to all the company’s files, according to the source.

In a series of tweets on Monday morning, which have been since deleted, Pozzi said that Hacking Team was working closely with the police, and warned everyone who was downloading the files and commenting on them.

“Be warned that the torrent file the attackers claim is clean has a virus,” he wrote. “Stop seeding and spreading false info.”

The future of the company, at this point, it’s uncertain.

Employees fear this might be the beginning of the end, according to sources. One current employee, for example, started working on his resume, a source told Motherboard.

It’s also unclear how customers will react to this, but a source said that it’s likely that customers from countries such as the US will pull the plug on their contracts.

Hacking Team asked its customers to shut down operations, but according to one of the leaked files, as part of Hacking Team’s “crisis procedure,” it could have killed their operations remotely.

The company, in fact, has “a backdoor” into every customer’s software, giving it ability to suspend it or shut it down—something that even customers aren’t told about.

To make matters worse, every copy of Hacking Team’s Galileo software is watermarked, according to the source, which means Hacking Team, and now everyone with access to this data dump, can find out who operates it and who they’re targeting with it.

Hacking Team did not answer to repeated requests for comment, both to its US spokesperson Eric Rabe as well as directly to its office in Milan, Italy.

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When asked about the identity of the person or group who carried out the attack, Rabe indicated that he believed the attack was the work of a nation state or a criminal gang, and not the work of an activist as many have speculated:

“Doing our own forensics here, we think this was a very sophisticated attack, and certainly not the work of an amateur. The press seems to take the view that this was some sort of human rights activist but I think that is far from certain and it could easily have been criminal activity or some government activity,” adding that “this is almost certainly an international crime”.

When it was pointed out that if a government or criminal group was behind the attack then posting all the information online seems a strange move, Rabe said: “I am not sure why anybody would do that, but part of the effort here was to disrupt our operations as much as possible so I think that would be a motive for many different people.”

When asked if this could be the work of one of Hacking Team’s competitors such as UK-based Gamma International or Israeli NSO Group, Rabe said: “I think that is unlikely” though he admitted that just like everyone else he was speculating.

While some media reports have suggested the company is working with the Italian police to investigate the attack, Rabe says that all he will say is that the company is “working with law enforcement” reiterating that this was an international attack.

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*This post will be continuously updated as there is much more new information emerging. Post anything you find in the comments below and I will add them to the article. LAST UPDATE: 07/13/2015 @ 8PM EST

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Related Links:

WikiLeaks SpyFiles on HackingTeam

To Protect and Infect: The Militarization of the Internet – Claudio Guarnieri, Morgan Marquis-Boire, Jacob Appelbaum @ 30c3

Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide

Leaked Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Documents; Largest “Trade Deal” in History – WikiLeaks

In Archive, Economy, Politics, TiSA, WikiLeaks on July 5, 2015 at 11:35 AM

tisa-secret

DOWNLOAD ALL TRADE IN SERVICES AGREEMENT (TISA) DOCUMENTS PUBLISHED BY WIKILEAKS HERE
UPDATED 07/02/2015 (44 PDFs & 1 PNG/RAR/16MB)
CONTENTS:

wikileaks-tisa-06-19-2014wikileaks-tisa-06-03-2015wikileaks-tisa-07-01-2015wikileaks-tisa-07-02-2015

WikiLeaks Press Releases:

06/19/2014

Today, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Financial Services Annex, which covers 50 countries and 68.2%1 of world trade in services. The US and the EU are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes, which also covers cross-border data flow. In a significant anti-transparency manoeuvre by the parties, the draft has been classified to keep it secret not just during the negotiations but for five years after the TiSA enters into force.

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures2, proponents of TiSA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.

TiSA negotiations are currently taking place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework. However, the Agreement is being crafted to be compatible with GATS so that a critical mass of participants will be able to pressure remaining WTO members to sign on in the future. Conspicuously absent from the 50 countries covered by the negotiations are the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The exclusive nature of TiSA will weaken their position in future services negotiations.

The draft text comes from the April 2014 negotiation round – the sixth round since the first held in April 2013. The next round of negotiations will take place on 23-27 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

Current WTO parties negotiating TISA are: Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, which includes its 28 member states Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

China and Uruguay have expressed interest in joining the negotiations but so far are not included.

[1] Swiss National Center for Competence in Research: A Plurilateral Agenda for Services?: Assessing the Case for a Trade in Services Agreement, Working Paper No. 2013/29, May 2013, p. 10.

[2] For example, in June 2012 Ecuador tabled a discussion on re-thinking regulation and GATS rules; in September 2009 the Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, convened by the President of the United Nations and chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, released its final report, stating that “All trade agreements need to be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the need for an inclusive and comprehensive international regulatory framework which is conducive to crisis prevention and management, counter-cyclical and prudential safeguards, development, and inclusive finance.”

Read the Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – Financial Services Annex

Read the Analysis Article – Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – Financial Services Annex

Recommended reading:

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06/03/2015

WikiLeaks releases today 17 secret documents from the ongoing TiSA (Trade In Services Agreement) negotiations which cover the United States, the European Union and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan & Israel — which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. “Services” now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy. While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months in the United States, the TiSA is the larger component of the strategic TPP-TISA-TTIP ‘T-treaty trinity’. All parts of the trinity notably exclude the ‘BRICS’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The release coincides with TiSA meetings at the ministerial level at the OECD in Paris today (3–5 June). The ‘T-treaty trinity’ of TPP-TISA-TTIP is also under consideration for collective ‘Fast-Track’ authority in Congress this month. (UPDATE 06/29/2015 Obama Signs Bill Giving Himself Fast-Track Powers for Trade Deals)

The TiSA release today follows the WikiLeaks publication of the secret draft financial services annex of the TISA negotiations on 19 June 2014 showing the aim to further deregulate the financial sector, despite widespread consensus that lack of oversight and regulation was the main cause of the last global financial crisis of 2008. Today’s release confirms the ongoing determination to deregulate. Furthermore, standstill clauses will tie the hands of future governments to implement changes in response to changing environment.

Today’s release is the largest on secret TiSA documents and covers numerous previously undisclosed areas. It contains drafts and annexes on issues such as air traffic, maritime, professional services, e-commerce, delivery services, transparency, domestic regulation, as well as several document on the positions of negotiating parties. WikiLeaks has also published detailed expert analysis of the topics covered in today’s release.

Browse the TiSA documents published by WikiLeaks here.

Read more:

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07/01/2015

Today, 1500 CEST Wednesday, 1 July 2015, WikiLeaks releases a modern journalistic holy grail: the secret Core Text for the largest ‘trade deal’ in history, the TiSA (Trade In Services Agreement), whose 52 nations together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. The negotiating parties are the United States, the 28 members of the European Union and 23 other countries, including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan and Israel.

Today’s publication happens the week before the next TiSA negotiating round that begins on Monday, 6 July. WikiLeaks is also today publishing the full agenda for next week’s negotiations, which shows that discussions will focus on Financial Services, Telecommunications and the Movement of Natural Persons.

WikiLeaks is also publishing a previously unpublished Annex text – the secret TiSA Annex on Government Procurement. The draft Annex aims to reduce procurement regulation to ensure that TiSA governments will not favour local services over services supplied by foreign multinationals.

WikiLeaks is also publishing the new negotiating texts for three highly controversial TiSA annexes: the annexes on the Movement of Natural Persons, the Domestic Regulation Annex and the Transparency Annex. All three texts include negotiating positions of each of the participant countries in the TiSA negotiations, and illustrate developments from previous versions of the TiSA annexes, also published by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has also released 36 pages of our own expert analysis.

While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) have become well known in recent months, the TiSA is the largest component of the United States’ strategic neoliberal ‘trade’ treaty triumvirate. Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic “grand enclosure”, which excludes China and all other BRICS countries.

According to statements made in April by US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, parts of the triumvirate are “as important” to the US engagement with Asia as “another aircraft carrier”. All three treaties have been subject to stringent criticism for the lack of transparency and public consultation in their negotiation processes. TiSA drafts are classified for a period of five years after the completion of the treaty.

According to NSA interceptions of French treasurer Jean-Francois Boittin published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday “Washington is negotiating with every nation that borders China… so as to ‘confront Beijing’.”

The TiSA Core Text shows how this negotiation aims at going beyond the GATS agreement, substantially further restricting what governments can do in services. There are far more extensive criteria for commercial firms, including foreign ones, to force governments to protect their corporate interests. Changes to scheduling bring more services than GATS under two main rules regarding commercial businesses working in foreign jurisdictions: non-discrimination in favour of local companies and market access abilities to not limit the size and shape of foreign companies in the market.

The text also shows TiSA expanding the GATS agreement to include new “disciplines” such as those on domestic regulation, transparency and eCommerce. TiSA is also of great worry to developing countries, a number of whom will be bound by this agreement, as it does not give any of the GATS provisions for them, but instead gives greater protections for foreign growth into the countries, with protections for national services far lesser than GATS’.

Today’s publication of the TiSA Core Text adds to WikiLeaks’ prior publications of numerous secret TiSA annexes. The text reveals the ideological and legal underpinnings of the TiSA, and provides the overarching context for each of the TiSA annexes.

According to World Bank figures, “services” comprise 75% of the EU economy and 80% of the US economy. For a typical developing country like Pakistan, services comprise 53% of its economy. The TiSA covers the majority of the global economy.

Julian Assange

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07/02/2015

Today, Wednesday July 2, 2015 at 1500 CEST, WikiLeaks continues publishing documents from the secret ongoing TiSA (Trade in Services Agremeent) negotiations, with four Chapters in key areas ahead of the next negotiating round on Monday: Electronic Commerce, Telecommunications Services, Financial Services and Maritime Transport Services. All four texts include the confidential negotiating positions for each of the TiSA participating countries. Today WikiLeaks is also publishing detailed analyses on each of these Chapters, totalling 26 pages, explaining how they have changed since previous rounds, also published by WikiLeaks.

The Annexes show a concerted attempt to place restrictions on the ability of participating governments to regulate services sectors, even where regulations are necessary to protect the privacy of domestic populations, the natural environment or the integrity of public services. Today’s TiSA documents follow WikiLeaks publication yesterday of five TiSA negotiating texts including the Core Text, and brings WikiLeaks’ overall total of published secret TiSA texts to 28.

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Related Links:

Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Documents; WikiLeaks Raising $100,000 Reward for Missing Chapters

EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Draft Leaked

WikiLeaks NSA Docs: Surveillance of France Presidents & Economic Espionage; Investigation Underway for New Whistleblower

In Archive, Assange, France, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance, WikiLeaks on June 30, 2015 at 3:17 AM

wikielaks-nsa-spying-france-presidents

06/23/2015

WikiLeaks:

Today, 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks began publishing “Espionnage Élysée“, a collection of TOP SECRET intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years.

The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. (Related: Snowden Document Reveals NSA Programs Used to Spy on France Embassies in US)

The documents also contain the “selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.

Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.

A founding member state of the European Union and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France is formally a close ally of the United States, and plays a key role in a number of US-associated international institutions, including the Group of 7 (G7), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The revelation of the extent of US spying against French leaders and diplomats echoes a previous disclosure in the German press concerning US spying on the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. That disclosure provoked a political scandal in Germany, eventuating in an official inquiry into German intelligence co-operation with the United States, which is still ongoing.

While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies, including the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the US spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”

Documents Released 06/23/2015:

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06/24/2015

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06/24/2015

RT (1) (2):

French President Francois Hollande has described reports from WikiLeaks that Washington spied on three French presidents as “unacceptable.” The French Foreign Ministry is summoning the US ambassador to shed light on the allegations.

Hollande released the statement following an emergency meeting with key heads of intelligence and ministers at the Elysee Palace in the French capital.

“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” the president’s office said, adding that allegations of spying on French interests had been made in the past.

“Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected,” Reuters reported.

A French government spokesman said Paris will send a senior intelligence official to the US to discuss the spying reports.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also summoned the US ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, to explain reports from WikiLeaks.

Before the hastily scheduled conference, Stephane Le Foll, a politician with the Socialist Party, lashed out at Washington.

“It is difficult to accept that between allies… there can be this kind of activity, particularly related to wiretapping linked to the president of the Republic,” Le Foll told iTele.

“When we are fighting terrorism, one has trouble imagining or understanding what would motivate an ally to spy on his allies,” he added. “There are enough dangerous crises in the world today.”

US President Barack Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that Washington was not tapping his communications, the White House says.

In the phone call, Obama“reiterated that we have abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president,” the White House said in a statement.

Nothing was said about the period beween 2006 and 2012, wwhich was mentioned by Wikileaks, though.

The statement released by Hollande’s office after the conversation, said in turn that “President Obama reiterated unequivocally his firm commitment … to end the practices that may have happened in the past and that are considered unacceptable among allies.”

Despite the surveillance scandal, the statement then said that French intelligence officials will soon go to Washington to “strengthen cooperation.”

US media cited a statement from the NSA saying it was not targeting and would not target Hollande’s communications. The statement did not deny spying had taken place in the past.

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06/24/2015

Mark Hosenball/Reuters:

U.S. and European security authorities are investigating whether a previously unknown leaker provided sensitive intelligence documents to WikiLeaks about alleged U.S. spying on French politicians, according to sources familiar with the matter.

U.S. and European security sources said the United States and allied governments were actively considering the possibility that someone other than former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided the latest documents to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Two people familiar with documentation which Snowden acquired when he worked as an NSA contractor and later supplied to media outlets said that they do not recall seeing these kind of reports among those materials.

But some sources familiar with the investigations said it was still possible that these documents originated with Snowden.

The U.S. and European sources cautioned that they did not know for sure that Assange had developed a source other than Snowden inside U.S. intelligence. Assange has been in contact with associates of Snowden and helped arrange for him to flee from Hong Kong to Russia, where he was later granted asylum.

But until now, Assange, who three years ago took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London, has published few if any documents directly attributed to either Snowden’s leaks or to the NSA.

Associates of Snowden have said that they believe he deliberately avoided giving sensitive U.S. documents to Assange.

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06/29/2015

WikiLeaks:

Today, 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks continues “Espionnage Élysée”, our ongoing publication of a collection of TOP SECRET documents from United States surveillance operations against France.

Today’s publication comprises seven top secret documents detailing how the US has had a decade- long policy of economic espionage against France, including the interception of all French corporate contracts and negotiations valued at more than $200 million. The documents demonstrate that the US National Security Agency, far from being a rogue organisation, is carrying out an economic espionage policy created by the US Director of National Intelligence. The documents detail the intelligence process, from the tasking of the NSA with collection of desired economic information to the production of developed intelligence reports, which are sent to “Supported Elements” of the US government, including the US Department of Commerce, the US Trade Represenative, the US Treasury and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Central within the cache of documents are two long-term spying orders (“collection requirements”) which define the kinds of intelligence the NSA is tasked with collecting in its surveillance operations against France.

The documents make clear that the NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities. The documents establish that the US economic intelligence operations against France have run for more than a decade and started as early as 2002.

Some of the documents are authorised for sharing with the “Five Eyes” partners – the group of Anglophone countries in close intelligence co-operation with the United States: Canada, New Zealand, Australia and France’s fellow member state of the European Union, the United Kingdom, strongly suggesting that the United Kingdom has also benefited from the United States’ economic espionage activities against France.

The cache also includes five TOP SECRET intelligence summaries from US spying on the conversations and communications of French officials. The documents show US spying on the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the United States, and officials with direct responsibility for EU trade policy. The intercepts reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food programme in Iraq during the 1990s.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The United States has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million. That covers not only all of France’s major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year. The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!”

Documents Released 06/29/2015:

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Related Links:

NSA Spying on France: 70.3 Million Phone Calls Intercepted in 30 Days; Average of 3 Million Data Intercepts Per Day

NSA Document: 2012 “Flame” Cyberattack on France Presidential Computer Network; US Denies Involvement, Israel May Be Culprit

Unsealed Court Docs Reveal How U.S. Secretly Forced Google to Hand Over Email Data of Journalist Jacob Appelbaum as Part of WikiLeaks Investigation

In Appelbaum, Archive, DOJ, Google, Surveillance, USA, WikiLeaks on June 20, 2015 at 8:12 PM

06/20/2015

Ryan Gallagher/TheIntercept:

Newly unsealed court documents obtained by The Intercept reveal the Justice Department won an order forcing Google to turn over more than one year’s worth of data from the Gmail account of Jacob Appelbaum (pictured above), a developer for the Tor online anonymity project who has worked with WikiLeaks as a volunteer. The order also gagged Google, preventing it from notifying Appelbaum that his records had been provided to the government.

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The surveillance of Appelbaum’s Gmail account was tied to the Justice Department’s long-running criminal investigation of WikiLeaks, which began in 2010 following the transparency group’s publication of a large cache of U.S. government diplomatic cables.

According to the unsealed documents, the Justice Department first sought details from Google about a Gmail account operated by Appelbaum in January 2011, triggering a three-month dispute between the government and the tech giant. Government investigators demanded metadata records from the account showing email addresses of those with whom Appelbaum had corresponded between the period of November 2009 and early 2011; they also wanted to obtain information showing the unique IP addresses of the computers he had used to log in to the account.

The Justice Department argued in the case that Appelbaum had “no reasonable expectation of privacy” over his email records under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rather than seeking a search warrant that would require it to show probable cause that he had committed a crime, the government instead sought and received an order to obtain the data under a lesser standard, requiring only “reasonable grounds” to believe that the records were “relevant and material” to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Google repeatedly attempted to challenge the demand, and wanted to immediately notify Appelbaum that his records were being sought so he could have an opportunity to launch his own legal defense. Attorneys for the tech giant argued in a series of court filings that the government’s case raised “serious First Amendment concerns.” They noted that Appelbaum’s records “may implicate journalistic and academic freedom” because they could “reveal confidential sources or information about WikiLeaks’ purported journalistic or academic activities.”

However, the Justice Department asserted that “journalists have no special privilege to resist compelled disclosure of their records, absent evidence that the government is acting in bad faith,” and refused to concede Appelbaum was in fact a journalist. It claimed it had acted in “good faith throughout this criminal investigation, and there is no evidence that either the investigation or the order is intended to harass the … subscriber or anyone else.”

Google’s attempts to fight the surveillance gag order angered the government, with the Justice Department stating that the company’s “resistance to providing the records” had “frustrated the government’s ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation.”

The Justice Department wanted to keep the surveillance secret largely because of an earlier public backlash over its WikiLeaks investigation. In early 2011, Appelbaum and other WikiLeaks volunteers’ – including Icelandic parlimentarian Birgitta Jonsdottirwere notified by Twitter that the Justice Department had obtained data about their accounts. This disclosure garnered widepread news coverage and controversy; the government says in the unsealed court records that it “failed to anticipate the degree of  damage that would be caused” by the Twitter disclosure and did not want to “exacerbate this problem” when it went after Appelbaum’s Gmail data.

The court documents show the Justice Department said the disclosure of its Twitter data grab “seriously jeopardized the [WikiLeaks] investigation” because it resulted in efforts to “conceal evidence” and put public pressure on other companies to resist similar surveillance orders. It also claimed that officials named in a subpeona ordering Twitter to turn over information were “harassed” after a copy was published by Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald at Salon in 2011.

The only specific evidence of the alleged harassment cited by the government is an email that was sent to an employee of the U.S. Attorney’s office that purportedly said: “You guys are fucking nazis trying to controll [sic] the whole fucking world. Well guess what. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. EXPECT US.”

Google accused the government of hyperbole and argued that the backlash over the Twitter order did not justify secrecy related to the Gmail surveillance. “Rather than demonstrating how unsealing the order will harm its well-publicized investigation, the government lists a parade of horribles that have allegedly occurred since it unsealed the Twitter order, yet fails to establish how any of these developments could be further exacerbated by unsealing this order,” wrote Google’s attorneys. “The proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube, and continuing to seal a materially identical order will not change it.”

But Google’s attempt to overturn the gag order was denied by magistrate judge Ivan D. Davis in February 2011. The company launched an appeal against that decision, but this too was rebuffed, in March 2011, by District Court judge Thomas Selby Ellis, III.

The government agreed to unseal some of the court records on Apr. 1 this year, and they were apparently turned over to Appelbaum on May 14 through a notification sent to his Gmail account. The files were released on condition that they would contain some redactions, which are bizarre and inconsistent, in some cases censoring the name of “WikiLeaks” from cited public news reports.

Not all of the documents in the case – such as the original surveillance orders in the case contested by Google – were released as part of the latest disclosure. Some contain “specific and sensitive details of the investigation” and “remain properly sealed while the grand jury investigation continues,” according to the court records from April this year.

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Appelbaum, who is based in Berlin, called the case “a travesty that continues at a slow pace” and said he felt it was important to highlight “the absolute madness in these documents.”

He told The Intercept: “After five years, receiving such legal documents is neither a shock nor a needed confirmation. … Will we ever see the full documents about our respective cases? Will we even learn the names of those signing so-called legal orders against us in secret sealed documents? Certainly not in a timely manner and certainly not in a transparent, just manner.”

The 32-year-old, who has recently collaborated with Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras to report revelations about National Security Agency surveillance for German news magazine Der Spiegel, said he plans to remain in Germany “in exile, rather than returning to the U.S. to experience more harassment of a less than legal kind.”

“My presence in Berlin ensures that the cost of physically harassing me or politically harassing me is much higher than when I last lived on U.S. soil,” Appelbaum said. “This allows me to work as a journalist freely from daily U.S. government interference. It also ensures that any further attempts to continue this will be forced into the open through [a Mutal Legal Assistance Treaty] and other international processes. The German goverment is less likely to allow the FBI to behave in Germany as they do on U.S. soil.”

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The Justice Department’s WikiLeaks investigaton is headed by prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia. Since 2010, the secretive probe has seen activists affiliated with WikiLeaks compelled to appear before a grand jury and has involved the FBI attempting to infiltrate the group with an informant. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the government had obtained the contents of three core WikiLeaks staffers’ Gmail accounts as part of the investigation.

A dozen outstanding search warrants and court orders have been issued in the WikiLeaks inquiry, says attorney Ahmed Ghappour, who is representing independent journalist Alexa O’Brien in her effort to have the documents unsealed. That is on top of the three disclosed earlier this year, the orders disclosed by Twitter and one more revealed by a small Internet provider, Sonic, for data about whom Appelbaum e-mailed.

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