No slack for Manning: Prosecutors to press for life
March 3, 2013

Military prosecutors intend to pursue more serious charges against Pfc. B. Manning despite their having plead guilty to lesser charges. The whistleblower faces life imprisonment if they are found guilty of aiding the enemy.

Manning, 25, admitted on Thursday to handing over a trove of classified documents to WikiLeaks. They voluntary plead guilty to 10 relevant charges, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The move was a ‘naked plea’ – unlike a plea bargain, there is no arrangement with the prosecution to drop other charges. It did, however, give prosecutors the option to only purse the charges to which Manning confessed, and proceed straight to sentencing.

But after the judge accepted the plea, military prosecutors announced they would pursue the 12 other charges, including the rarely used indictment of aiding the enemy. The crime is punishable by the death sentence, but the prosecution earlier ruled that out, saying they would seek life in prison without parole.

“Given the scope of the alleged misconduct, the seriousness of the charged offenses, and the evidence and testimony available, the United States intends to proceed with the court-martial to prove Manning committed the charged offenses beyond the lesser charges to which he has already pled guilty,” a statement from the Washington Military District said.

The court martial will begin on June 3, with 141 prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify. The prosecutors reportedly plan to reveal that some of the documents leaked by Manning were found by the Navy SEAL team that raided Osama Bin Laden’s hideout in May 2011.

Manning’s plea appears to give them little advantage in the trial, apart from probably winning some points from the judge, Col. Denise Lind, for not forcing the government to prove their role in the leak and their breaking the law in the process.

But there may be more strategic consideration, explained Michael Navarre, a former Navy judge advocate and military justice analyst.

"He’s laying the groundwork for a more lenient sentence and laying the groundwork for a potential defense to the aiding the enemy and the espionage charges," Navarre told AP. "You end up with a more reasonable starting position — ‘I admit I did it, but I didn’t think it was going to harm anyone.’"

Manning has many supporters, who see them as a hero for putting their well-being on the line to expose morally questionable secrets of the US government. The Bradley Manning Support Network has raised more than $900,000 for their defense. A vigil in their honor was held in front of the US embassy in London on Friday.

The case could set a worrisome precedent for free speech: Manning’s alleged crime of aiding the enemy constitutes publishing classified documents on the Internet, allowing enemies of the US to read them. A guilty sentence would mean that any leak of government secrets that ends up on the Internet, event through traditional media, could be subjected to similar charges.

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The People’s Record News Update: This week in cyber-activism
February 27, 2013

Bahrain bans ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes mask

The Guy Fawkes mask – which has come to represent a universal symbol of protest – has been banned in Bahrain. The move is the latest in a series of measures implemented by the Gulf state to quell a two-year pro-democracy uprising.

A ban on orders of the mask – which was popularized by the 2005 Hollywood adaption of the comic book ‘V for Vendetta’ – has been ordered by the Gulf kingdom’s Industry and Commerce Minister, Hassan Fakhro.

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DOJ ‘admits’ to targeting Aaron Swartz over his activism

Aaron Swartz’s past activism and ‘Guerilla Open Access Manifesto’ played a part in his prosecution, sources told US media. Prosecutors pursued him even though he had not yet leaked anything, as his manifesto ‘proved his alleged malicious intent’ in downloading documents on a massive scale says Justice Department representatives.

“Some congressional staffers left the briefing with the impression that prosecutors needed to convict Swartz of a felony that would put him in jail for a short sentence in order to justify bringing the charges in the first place,” Huffington Post reported, citing two aides with knowledge of the briefing.

Swartz’s actions were criminalized by the government just because he was an “effective advocate of policies contrary to their views,” human rights lawyer Scott Horton told Mashable.

“Apparently, the DOJ thought it was a reason to throw the book at Swartz, even if he hadn’t actually made any such works available,” Masnick wrote.

The digital library itself has earlier stated it received confirmation from Swartz “that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.”

Amid wide public concern over Swartz’s case, the White House issued a directive expanding access to publicly funded scientific research. Last week’s directive was hailed by Open Access supporters as a major victory in a fight in which Swartz took an active part.

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US Internet providers start spy program to stop file-sharing

Starting this week, Internet Service Providers will start throttling connection speeds for customers alleged to be pirating copyright-protected materials.

Months after a controversial “six-strike” program was slated to be rolled out by the biggest ISPs in the United States, the Copyright Alert System (CAS) confirmed on Monday that the initiative has gone live.

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Google accused of privacy violations yet again

Google is in hot water once again after application developers have discovered that the Silicon Valley giant is sharing its users’ personal information without obtaining their consent.

Non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has sent a letter to the United States Federal Trade Commission that implores for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to intervene in the latest goof-up courtesy of Google.

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The FBI is inside Anonymous: Hacker Sabu has sentencing delayed again for helping the feds

The former LulzSec hacker that turned in his colleagues to the FBI will forego sentencing for another six months while he continues to assist the government in catching supposed computer criminals.

Hector Xavier Monsegur, the man behind the hacker alias “Sabu,” was absent from federal court on Friday despite previously being scheduled to appear for sentencing that morning in regards to the 12 criminal charges he pleaded guilty to in mid-2011.

On Monday, the leaking website Cryptome published a copy [.pdf] of a request from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s in which the court is asked to adjourn Monsegur’s sentencing date until August 23, 2013 “in light of the defendant’s ongoing cooperation with the Government.”

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President Obama’s recent signing of cyber security executive order seems to be a response to Anonymous, not China
February 25, 2013

Last Tuesday, President Obama signed a new executive order seeking to give the executive branch more power over curbing cyber-security threats, calling it a move to protect against “America’s enemies.”

Although many news outlets are running with stories claiming the new plan was a response to hacking from China, it would appear, at least, that it was also a response to recent hacks to government websites by hacktivist group Anonymous.

At the time of this publication, two government sites, ussc.gov and miep.uscourts.gov, are met with “502 Bad Gateway” errors and cannot be accessed.

Anonymous also successfully hacked the Federal Reserve website.

The hacks are part of “Operation Last Resort,” a response to the death of “Internet freedom” activist Aaron Swartz and a demand for judicial reform. Swartz’s family and friends believe his suicide came as a result of legal pressure that did not fit his crime of downloading academic articles he had legal access to.

It appears Anonymous has not been fazed by Pres. Obama’s new cyber-security executive order.

Shortly after signing, Anonymous successfully hacked Goldman Sachs, leaking sensitive information such as names, addresses and bank account information.

Then, again, last week, the State Department’s website was successfully taken offline. In a Tweet, Anonymous asserted the attack was part of the ongoing Operation Last Resort.

The president is urging Congress to take legislative steps to put restrictions on the Internet, something Aaron Swartz was a champion at preventing.

His organization Demand Progress significantly aided in stopping last year’s SOPA, PIPA and CISPA bills many felt would spell the end to online privacy and Internet freedom. It seems that Anonymous is continuing the fight through the operation dedicated to him.

Emilie Rensink writes about civil liberties, counter-terrorism, cyber-security and political activism. Subscribe to get her articles delivered to your inbox.

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Russia Today’s interview with John Kirakou
February 9, 2013

President Obama adopted most of President Bush’s counter-terrorism policies, argues John Kiriakou - the former CIA official who blew the whistle on the agency’s torture practices and is now set to go behind bars for it.

After 9/11 Kiriakou served as the chief of counter-terrorist operations in Pakistan. Now he is heading to prison, having been sentenced to two-and-a-half years.

Despite that, he says he is proud to have played a role in outlawing torture. Voting for Obama, Kiriakou believed that it would bring positive change – but it never came, he told RT. “I never believed I would be going to prison under a President Obama. Never.”

You were convicted of revealing the identity of an agent to a freelance reporter who, by the way, never even published it. You said you regretted sharing the name of the agent, of the officer, that you apologized for it. But you also said it was not the reason the government went after you. Why do you think the government went after you?

John Kiriakou: I’ve never believed that my case was about a leak. I’ve always believed my case is about torture. When I went on ABC News in December 2007 and I said that not only was the CIA torturing prisoners, but that the torture policy was an official US Government policy that was approved at the very top, by the President of the United States himself, the CIA filed what’s called “a crimes report” against me the next day with the Justice Department. The Justice Department never stopped investigating me from December of 2007 until I was finally arrested in January 2012. So to say that this case is a result of a name that was found in attorney’s brief at Guantanamo is just simply not true.

So they were looking for something?

JK: They were looking for something to pin on me.

What I find most outrageous about your case is that had you been actually accused of torture, of human right violations, you wouldn’t have gone to jail.

JK: No.

They would dismiss any accusation because US Government has classified everything related to its torture practices. But yet you go to prison because you talked about it. Why do you think this administration, President Obama, who signed an executive order to stop torture at the very beginning of his first term, why do you think he is protecting folks from the previous administration?

JK: Most people don’t realize this but President Obama has surrounded himself with the same Intelligence advisors who advised President Bush. Through most of the first term, the CIA had the same deputy director that Bush had, the same director of operations that Bush had. John Brennan, who is President Obama’s new designee to be the CIA director and until a week ago or so, was the deputy national security adviser, was under President Bush the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center and up to his eyeballs in torture policy. So even if we changed presidents, there was no real change of Intelligence advisors, at least not on counter-terrorism.

John Brennan. You mentioned John Brennan and I want to ask you about him – the future head of the CIA. What kind of the CIA Chief he is going to be in your opinion?

JK: I think he’s going to be somebody who is extremely aggressive. And who will probably be walking on the edge of the law.

You worked with him.

JK: I did, I worked with John Brennan for many years. I know him pretty well.

Mr. Kiriakou, you yourself supported torture before you were against it. What happened? What changed your position?

JK: Well, let me correct you on that. There is something that most Americans missed in my regional NBC interview. I was trying to draw distinction between whether torture was right or wrong, or whether it worked. I believed it was wrong and I called it torture and I said that torture was official policy – that’s on the one side. On the other side, the CIA had told us internally at the time that it was working.

When was that?

JK: That was in 2002–2003. They were telling us it was working. We now know from the Inspector General’s report that was released in the spring 2009 that that was a lie. That the CIA was lying even to those of us inside the CIA. And I think it was just to protect themselves and to protect the policy. But it never worked.

Did you have a personal experience related to torture? Were you personally involved in torture?

JK: No, thank God, I was never personally involved in torture. When I returned from Pakistan in the early summer of 2002 where I had been chief of Counter-Terrorism Operations, I was asked by a senior officer in the CIA’s Counter-Terrorist Center if I wanted to be trained in the use of these torture techniques and I said “no”, I had a moral problem with it and I didn’t want to be associated with it. There were 14 of us at the time who were made the offer. Two of us said “no” and then one of us, not me, the other guy, changed his mind. So I was the only one who was made the offer who declined.

Because at that time you already believed that it wouldn’t work?

JK: I didn’t know if it would work. They were telling us it would. But I just believed it was wrong. You know at the CIA, part of the CIA’s culture is to couch all issues in shades of gray. You have to be very comfortable working in morally nebulous situations or legally nebulous situations. But there are some things that really are black and white. And I believed that was a black-and-white issue.

There is something that I think you will find interesting and something I would like you to comment on. Polls by the American Red Cross show that the majority of Americans find torture acceptable. 60 per cent of young people agree. Whereas four years ago torture was largely condemned in the US. How did this become the new norm? What happened in those four years?

JK: I think that many people who told pollsters in the early or middle part of the last decade were reacting to President Bush. Little by little President Obama adopted most of President Bush’s counter-terrorism policies. And just because he happens to be Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama, most Americans who haven’t paid much attention have just bought in. I think it’s a question of education, here domestically. People need to be informed.

Did Hollywood have a role to play?

JK: I think Hollywood had a role to play. I think that Zero Dark Thirty, for example, did a great disservice to counter-terrorism. Zero Dark Thirty perpetuates this grand lie that torture led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It’s just simply not true.

Myths often become history. One comedian here said, it was about Zero Dark Thirty by the way: “Movies – it’s serious. Movies is where Americans learn their history”.

JK: It’s true.

What myths, what other myths do you see being perpetuated now related to the war on terror?

JK: I think one of the great myths, and I chuckle to myself because it always seems so ridiculous to me, was President Bush’s statement that they hate us because we love freedom. I know Al-Qaeda. I’ve captured Al-Qaeda fighters. I’ve had conversations, sitting across the table like I’m with you with Al-Qaeda leaders. And I can tell you from first-hand personal experience that the reason people take up arms against us is because of a lack of education.

Yes, that I understand, but the United States can’t educate the whole world.

JK: No, we can’t. But we can help other countries develop an infrastructure so that they can educate themselves.

Tell me more about those encounters with those. What other impressions did you have?

JK: The first Al-Qaeda I’ve ever caught was a 19-year-old boy from Tunisia. And the only reason he went to Afghanistan was he had nothing else to do. He had no skills and no way of making a living and he wanted to get married. So the local imam said: “if you want to make some money, you know what you should do? You should go to Afghanistan and make Jihad against the Americans. If you do that, I know somebody who will pay your family $500 and you can use that for a dowry. And you can get a wife.” So this kid had nothing against the United States, he had never really thought about the United States.

So from your experience you saw no ideology?

JK: I saw very little. You see ideology in some of the older fighters, some of the leaders – the camp commanders, for example. Sure, there is ideology there. But in my short time in Pakistan I captured 52 Al-Qaeda fighters and I can count on one hand the number of people who were real ideologues, who really were there for jihad, who were really there to kill Americans. Three out of 52.

The perception of Guantanamo too has gone a long way since 2008 when it was a burning and highly controversial issue. Most recently, you know, the State Department has shut down the office that was working to shut down the Guantanamo prison. Is that this administration way of saying “forget about Guantanamo, let’s move on?”

JK: I think it is. I think it is. Again, where is the outrage? The American people really don’t care if Guantanamo is open or closed.

This administration, it appears, decided not to bother about interrogations, Guantanamo and prisoners and all that and just to bomb whoever seems suspicious with drones. What do you think about this administration’s “no prisoners” policy?

JK: We find ourselves murdering people and in many cases children with no evidence whatsoever that they are involved in any criminal or terrorist activity. And what this does is that it encourages other people to take up arms against us.

John Brennan, the architect of the drone program basically, and it was last year, I think, when he claimed that US drone strikes caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year which was an outright lie by so many accounts. Do you think we are going to see more transparency with regards to drones with John Brennan at the helm of the CIA?

JK: No, I don’t. With John Brennan “secrecy” is the key word. Unless of course, you know, he chooses to leak for the benefit of the administration.

What did you expect when you decided to go public, to come clean on torture at the CIA. I mean your wife worked at the CIA and she was fired because of you. You are a father of five and you are going to prison. What future did you envision for yourself five years ago?

JK: I didn’t envision prison in my future five years ago. I expected there to be a national debate on whether or not we wanted to use torture as an official US policy. Now I’m very happy, proud actually, that I played a role in that debate and now the law of the land is that torture is illegal – I’m very proud of that. I didn’t expect that the government would go after me so relentlessly. I stood in the snow for two hours to vote for President Obama. I really believed that this was positive change. I believed that he deserved that Nobel Peace prize only because I expected things to change so dramatically at the beginning of his first term. So no, I never believed I would be going to prison under a President Obama. Never. That’s been I think my biggest disappointment.

But you haven’t seen a dramatic change?

JK: I haven’t seen any change.

But he stopped torture.

JK: He stopped torture, sure, but in terms of counter-terrorism policy I think the Obama Administration is largely an extension of the Bush Administration.

Source

Right after whistleblowing CIA torture practices, the CIA launched an investigation into CIA veteran John Kiriakou resulting in a two and a half year sentence for leaking the identity of an agent.
January 27, 2013

He was charged on January 23 for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists.

The former chief of counter-terrorist operations in Pakistan pleaded guilty to the charges set against him as part of a deal with prosecutors, “accepting responsibility for his actions.” In return, prosecutors dropped the charges of making false statements under a World War I-era Espionage Act.

“I want to start by saying I accept my sentence of 30 years in prison – oh my God – 30 months in prison…Oh boy. It was the 30 years I was trying not to get. Kiriakou said, at press conference on Wednesday.

The charges in question related to an email sent by Kiriakou in August 2008, revealing the name of a covert CIA officer involved in waterboarding to a freelance journalist.

However, Kiriakou and his defense claimed that the email is merely a pretext and the real reason for his sentence is an interview he gave ABC News in 2007, blowing the whistle on torture practices conducted by the CIA that he regards as "wrong and ineffective.”

"I’m headed to prison while the torturers and the lawyers who papered over it and the people who conceived it and the man who destroyed the proof of it, the tapes, will never face justice. And that’s the saddest part of the story," Kiriakou said.

Kiriakou’s lawyers argued that though initially her client also viewed torture in the CIA as’something the US needed to do,’ he eventually felt compelled to change his mind. As he became more vocal on the issue, publishing a book in 2010 on his experiences called “The Reluctant Spy,” he irritated the CIA, which then launched the “vindictive prosecution” against Kiriakou.

The case against Kiriakou originally came about when authorities stumbled upon a security breach at Guantanamo Bay in which inmates were found in possession of photographs of their interrogators. The subsequent investigation led to the discovery of Kiriakou’s security leak and his indictment in April 2012.

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Kim Dotcom will encrypt half of the Internet to end government surveillance (FULL RT INTERVIEW)January 24, 2013 
The United States government says that Dotcom, a German millionaire formerly known as Kim Schmitz, masterminded a vast criminal conspiracy by operating the file-storage site Megaupload. Dotcom, on the other hand, begs to differ. One year after the high-profile raid of his home and the shut-down and seizure of one of the most popular sites on the Web, Dotcom hosted a launch party for his latest endeavor, simply called Mega. On the anniversary of the end of Megaupload, Dotcom discusses the year since his arrest and what the future holds in regards to both his court case and the Internet alike. Speaking with RT’s Andrew Blake from his Coatesville, New Zealand mansion, Dotcom weighs in on the US justice system, the death of Aaron Swartz, the growing surveillance state, his own cooperation with the feds and much more.
RT: You’ve blamed President Obama and the Obama administration for colluding with movie companies in order to orchestrate this giant arrest here in New Zealand. Is this kind of give-and-take relationship between Washington and Hollywood all that you say it is? Or are you just the exception? Does this really exist?
Kim Dotcom: You have to look at the players behind this case, okay? The driving force, of course, is Chris Dodd, the chairman of the MPAA [Motion Picture Association of America]. And he was senator for a long time and he is — according to [US Vice President] Joe Biden — Joe Biden’s best friend. And the state attorney that is in charge of this case has been Joe Biden’s personal counsel, Neil MacBride, and [he] also worked as an anti-piracy manager for the BSA, the Business Software Association, which is basically like the MPAA but for software companies.
And also, the timing is very interesting, you know? Election time. The fundraisers in Hollywood set for February, March [and] April. There had to have some sort of Plan B, an alternative for SOPA [the Stop Online Piracy Act], because the president certainly was aware — and his team at the White House was aware — that if they don’t have anything to give at those fundraisers, to those guys in Hollywood who are eager to have more control over the Internet, they wouldn’t have probably raised too much. And Hollywood is a very important contributor to Obama’s campaign. Not just with money, but also with media support. They control a lot of media: celebrity endorsements and all that.
So I’m sure the election plays an important role. The relationships of the people that are in charge of this case play an important role and, of course, we have facts that we want to present at our extradition hearing that will show some more detail about this and that this is not just some conspiracy theory but that this actually happened.
RT: The US Justice Department wants to extradite you, a German citizen living in New Zealand operating a business in Hong Kong. They want to extradite you to the US. Is that even possible?
KD: That is a very interesting question because the extradition law, the extradition treaty in New Zealand, doesn’t really allow extradition for copyright. So what they did, they threw some extra charges on top and one of them is racketeering, where they basically say we are a mafia organization and we set up our Internet business to basically be an organized crime network that was set up and structured the way it was just to do criminal copyright infringement. And anyone who has every used Megaupload and has any idea about how that website worked knows immediately that it was total nonsense. But they needed to chop that on in order to have even a chance for extradition. But in our opinion, you see, all of that was secondary. The primary goal was to take down Megaupload and destroy it completely. That was their mission and that’s why the whole thing in Hong Kong, for example, they called it Operation Takedown. And I think everything that’s happening now, they are trying on the fly to doctor it around, and found a way to find a case. They probably came here and thought, “We will find something; that these guys have done something wrong.” In the indictment, if you actually read that, it’s more like a press release. There’s nothing in there that has any merits.
RT: When the raid happened one year ago today, it got a lot of people talking both about the Internet and about this character, Kim Dotcom. But it was a lot of talking and not so much action, because here it is one year later and this case is still happening. Back up earlier this month, and we saw Aaron Swartz — an online information activist — pass away, and only in his mid-20s. And it got a lot of people talking, so much so that members of Congress have actually asked for changes to federal computer laws so that this doesn’t happen again. What is it actually going to take to get people to stop just talking and to actually start acting?
KD: Our case is going to be the one that will have much more attention down the road because it is a crucial case for Internet freedom. And I think more and more people realize that and the government is quite exposed here because they really went in with completely prosecutorial abuse and overreach and ignoring due process, ignoring our rights, spying on us, illegal search warrants, illegal restraining orders, illegal spying. The whole picture, when you look at it, shows that this was an urgent mission, done on a rush. “Take them down, I want them to go.” And it was a political decision to do that. And the execution was extremely poor, and the case is extremely poor, because that is something they thought that they could worry about later. It was all about the takedown. “Let’s send a strong message to Hollywood that we are on their side.”
RT:And now it’s been a year and nothing has progressed. At least for them. It seems like the case is falling apart day by day.
KD: Let me give you one example of how crazy this is. We have a judge here who said, “Please show us your evidence about your racketeering allegations. Show us that these guys were setting up some sort of organized crime network,” because that’s what the extradition will focus on primarily. They are using the organized crime treaty to get us extradited. So the US appealed that and said, “We don’t want to show you what we have.” And then they appealed to the high court and the high court then said, “We want to see it.” And they just keep appealing it, all the way to the court of appeals and to the Supreme Court. And what does that tell you? If you don’t even want to show us your cards — show us what you have! If you have such a strong case and are seriously interested about getting someone extradited, why waste all this time? Just show your hand. And they don’t have anything because we haven’t done anything wrong. We were law abiding. We were a good corporate citizen. And they knew that the time they came here to do this. They just wanted to take us down.
RT: The new program, Mega, is fully encrypted, and you’re touting it as an encrypted program so that people will want to use it. Do you think this is even necessary, right now, that people need encryption on the Internet?
KD: I think it’s important for the Internet that there is more encryption. Because what I have learned since I got dragged into this case is a lot about privacy abuses, about the government spying on people. You know, the US government invests a lot of money in spy clouds: massive data centers with hundreds of thousands of hard drives storing data. And what they are storing is basically any communication that traverses through US networks. And what that means they are not spying on individuals based on a warrant anymore. They just spy on everybody, permanently, all the time. And what that means for you and for anybody is that if you are ever a target of any kind of investigation, or someone has a political agenda against you, or a prosecutor doesn’t like you, or the police wants to interpret something in a way to get you in trouble — they can use all that data, go through it with a comb and find things even though we think we have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong. They will find something that they can nail you with and that’s why it’s wrong to have these kinds of privacy abuses, and I decided to create a solution that overtime will encrypt more and more of the internet. So we start with files, we will then move to emails, and then move to Voice-Over-IP communication. And our API [Application Programming Interface] is available to any third-party developer to also create their own tools. And my goal is, within the next five years, I want to encrypt half of the Internet. Just reestablish a balance between a person — an individual — and the state. Because right now, we are living very close to this vision of George Orwell and I think it’s not the right way. It’s the wrong path that the government is on, thinking that they can spy on everybody.
RT: Long before Megaupload was ever taken down, the Justice Department was looking into Ninja Video and you actually cooperated with them. People want to know: how is Kim Dotcom, this guy who is incredibly against Washington and hates everything that they’ve done to him, how is this same guy also helping out the Justice Department?
KD: Let me explain to you how this worked, okay? I was a good corporate citizen. My company was abiding to the laws. If we get a search warrant or we get a request by the government to assist in an investigation, we will comply and we have always complied. And that is the right thing to do, because if someone uploads child pornography or someone uploads terrorist stuff or anything that is a serious crime, of course we are there to help. This is our obligation. And I am not for copyright infringement. People need to understand that. I’m against copyright infringement. But I’m also against copyright extremism. And I’m against a business model: the one from Hollywood that encourages piracy. Megaupload is not responsible for the piracy problem, you see? It’s the Hollywood studios that release a movie in the US, and then six months later in other parts of the world. And everyone knows that the movie is out there and fans of a particular actress want to have it right now, but they are not giving them any opportunity to get access to that content even though they are willing to pay. And they are looking for alternatives on the Internet, and then they find them. They are trying to make me responsible for their lack of ability to adapt to a new reality, which is the Internet, where everything happens now. It doesn’t happen three months later. Imagine you go to Wikipedia. You want to find something, research an article, and they tell you to come back in three months, ‘We’ll give it to you then.’ If you find another site where you can get it right now, that’s where you go, right? So it’s really their business model that is responsible for this issue. And if they don’t adopt, they will be left behind on this side of the road of history like many others who haven’t adopted in the past.
RT: What about your skeptics who point out this big playboy lifestyle and this giant, elaborate house and say ‘He’s not worried about Internet freedoms, he’s just worried about protecting his profits’?
KD: Let me be clear: I am a businessman, okay? I started Megaupload as a business to make money. I wanted to list the company. I am an entrepreneur, alright? I’m not Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz is my hero. He was selfless. He is completely the opposite of me, but I’m a businessman. I’m driven by the success of achieving something in the business world. That’s not a crime. There is nothing wrong with that. And if you create something that is popular and that people want to use, you automatically make money. And I’ve always been an innovator. I’ve always created products that people like. And that’s why I’m successful. I’m not successful because people have used Megaupload for copyright infringement. And what everyone needs to understand [is] there have been massive amounts of legitimate users on Megaupload. We don’t believe that 50 million users a day are all just transferring piracy. That’s wrong. A lot of people have used it to back up their data, to send a file quickly to a friend. Young artists have used it to get traction, to get downloads, to get known. There was a lot of legitimate use on Megaupload. It’s a dual-use technology, just like the Internet. You can go to any ISP right now, anyone who connects customers to the Internet. And if they are honest to you and you ask them the question ‘How much of your traffic is peer-to-peer piracy?’ anyone who will tell you less than 50 percent is lying to your face. This is a problem of the Internet and not Megaupload.
RT: What happens next, though? What are the chances of Mega being shut down. We already saw that radio stations were pulling ads.
KD: The content industry is still very emotional about us.We bought radio ads with one of the major networks here for eight radio stations. Very funny, very cool ads, promoting our service as a privacy service. And the labels called up the radio station, and one advertiser who is in the movie business called up the radio station, and demanded those adds to be taken down or else they will not buy ads from them anymore. And they were forced because they rely, of course, on that advertisement. My campaign was comparably small to the amount that they are sending. So they used their power to interfere in our right to have a media campaign, an ad campaign. And that just shows you that attitude. It’s against the law. They can’t do that. That’s interfering in our business and they have done that many times in the past. Calling payment processors, calling advertisers, telling them, ‘I don’t want you to work with these guys.’ That’s just wrong. If you have an issue with us, go hire a lawyer, sue us, take us to court and then see if you have anything that will give you a judgment against us. But instead, they use that power and their money to get new laws made for them, to lobby politicians, to get the White House to come here and destroy our lives. Destroy 220 jobs. Hardworking innocent people and they don’t give a damn about that. They had an agenda that is about more control over the Internet. And they made a strategic decision to say ‘Who are we going to take out to send a strong message?’ And I was the one.
RT: But what happens if Mega is shut down? You are only on day one right now. How long is it going to take before the government steps up again and what are you going to do if that happens? Are you prepared to just start all over again? It’s been one year and here you are, doing this over again, what happens when Uncle Sam puts his foot down and grinds you into the dirt again? Do you get back up?
KD: Here is the thing. This startup is probably the most scrutinized when it comes to legal advice. Every single aspect of it has been under the looking glass by our legal team. So we are confident that it’s fully compliant with the law, and if they come to attack us it’s just going to backfire. Exactly like the Megaupload case did. The shutdown of our site backfired already, massively. And it’s just going to get worse for them. If they think they can pursue this and get away with this, they are dead wrong. Because the society is not on their side. Everyone who uses the Internet knows what’s going on here. They don’t like what’s going on here. They saw it with SOPA and you will see it with our case. People will come together and fight this kind of aggression against innovation and Internet freedom.
Source
So Kim Dotcom is definitely a flashy, sexist, capitalist jerk…but encrypting half the internet to end government surveillance is an intriguing idea. Thoughts? 

Kim Dotcom will encrypt half of the Internet to end government surveillance (FULL RT INTERVIEW)
January 24, 2013 

The United States government says that Dotcom, a German millionaire formerly known as Kim Schmitz, masterminded a vast criminal conspiracy by operating the file-storage site Megaupload. Dotcom, on the other hand, begs to differ. One year after the high-profile raid of his home and the shut-down and seizure of one of the most popular sites on the Web, Dotcom hosted a launch party for his latest endeavor, simply called Mega. On the anniversary of the end of Megaupload, Dotcom discusses the year since his arrest and what the future holds in regards to both his court case and the Internet alike. Speaking with RT’s Andrew Blake from his Coatesville, New Zealand mansion, Dotcom weighs in on the US justice system, the death of Aaron Swartz, the growing surveillance state, his own cooperation with the feds and much more.

RT: You’ve blamed President Obama and the Obama administration for colluding with movie companies in order to orchestrate this giant arrest here in New Zealand. Is this kind of give-and-take relationship between Washington and Hollywood all that you say it is? Or are you just the exception? Does this really exist?

Kim Dotcom: You have to look at the players behind this case, okay? The driving force, of course, is Chris Dodd, the chairman of the MPAA [Motion Picture Association of America]. And he was senator for a long time and he is — according to [US Vice President] Joe Biden — Joe Biden’s best friend. And the state attorney that is in charge of this case has been Joe Biden’s personal counsel, Neil MacBride, and [he] also worked as an anti-piracy manager for the BSA, the Business Software Association, which is basically like the MPAA but for software companies.

And also, the timing is very interesting, you know? Election time. The fundraisers in Hollywood set for February, March [and] April. There had to have some sort of Plan B, an alternative for SOPA [the Stop Online Piracy Act], because the president certainly was aware — and his team at the White House was aware — that if they don’t have anything to give at those fundraisers, to those guys in Hollywood who are eager to have more control over the Internet, they wouldn’t have probably raised too much. And Hollywood is a very important contributor to Obama’s campaign. Not just with money, but also with media support. They control a lot of media: celebrity endorsements and all that.

So I’m sure the election plays an important role. The relationships of the people that are in charge of this case play an important role and, of course, we have facts that we want to present at our extradition hearing that will show some more detail about this and that this is not just some conspiracy theory but that this actually happened.

RT: The US Justice Department wants to extradite you, a German citizen living in New Zealand operating a business in Hong Kong. They want to extradite you to the US. Is that even possible?

KD: That is a very interesting question because the extradition law, the extradition treaty in New Zealand, doesn’t really allow extradition for copyright. So what they did, they threw some extra charges on top and one of them is racketeering, where they basically say we are a mafia organization and we set up our Internet business to basically be an organized crime network that was set up and structured the way it was just to do criminal copyright infringement. And anyone who has every used Megaupload and has any idea about how that website worked knows immediately that it was total nonsense. But they needed to chop that on in order to have even a chance for extradition. But in our opinion, you see, all of that was secondary. The primary goal was to take down Megaupload and destroy it completely. That was their mission and that’s why the whole thing in Hong Kong, for example, they called it Operation Takedown. And I think everything that’s happening now, they are trying on the fly to doctor it around, and found a way to find a case. They probably came here and thought, “We will find something; that these guys have done something wrong.” In the indictment, if you actually read that, it’s more like a press release. There’s nothing in there that has any merits.

RT: When the raid happened one year ago today, it got a lot of people talking both about the Internet and about this character, Kim Dotcom. But it was a lot of talking and not so much action, because here it is one year later and this case is still happening. Back up earlier this month, and we saw Aaron Swartz — an online information activist — pass away, and only in his mid-20s. And it got a lot of people talking, so much so that members of Congress have actually asked for changes to federal computer laws so that this doesn’t happen again. What is it actually going to take to get people to stop just talking and to actually start acting?

KD: Our case is going to be the one that will have much more attention down the road because it is a crucial case for Internet freedom. And I think more and more people realize that and the government is quite exposed here because they really went in with completely prosecutorial abuse and overreach and ignoring due process, ignoring our rights, spying on us, illegal search warrants, illegal restraining orders, illegal spying. The whole picture, when you look at it, shows that this was an urgent mission, done on a rush. “Take them down, I want them to go.” And it was a political decision to do that. And the execution was extremely poor, and the case is extremely poor, because that is something they thought that they could worry about later. It was all about the takedown. “Let’s send a strong message to Hollywood that we are on their side.”

RT:And now it’s been a year and nothing has progressed. At least for them. It seems like the case is falling apart day by day.

KD: Let me give you one example of how crazy this is. We have a judge here who said, “Please show us your evidence about your racketeering allegations. Show us that these guys were setting up some sort of organized crime network,” because that’s what the extradition will focus on primarily. They are using the organized crime treaty to get us extradited. So the US appealed that and said, “We don’t want to show you what we have.” And then they appealed to the high court and the high court then said, “We want to see it.” And they just keep appealing it, all the way to the court of appeals and to the Supreme Court. And what does that tell you? If you don’t even want to show us your cards — show us what you have! If you have such a strong case and are seriously interested about getting someone extradited, why waste all this time? Just show your hand. And they don’t have anything because we haven’t done anything wrong. We were law abiding. We were a good corporate citizen. And they knew that the time they came here to do this. They just wanted to take us down.

RT: The new program, Mega, is fully encrypted, and you’re touting it as an encrypted program so that people will want to use it. Do you think this is even necessary, right now, that people need encryption on the Internet?

KD: I think it’s important for the Internet that there is more encryption. Because what I have learned since I got dragged into this case is a lot about privacy abuses, about the government spying on people. You know, the US government invests a lot of money in spy clouds: massive data centers with hundreds of thousands of hard drives storing data. And what they are storing is basically any communication that traverses through US networks. And what that means they are not spying on individuals based on a warrant anymore. They just spy on everybody, permanently, all the time. And what that means for you and for anybody is that if you are ever a target of any kind of investigation, or someone has a political agenda against you, or a prosecutor doesn’t like you, or the police wants to interpret something in a way to get you in trouble — they can use all that data, go through it with a comb and find things even though we think we have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong. They will find something that they can nail you with and that’s why it’s wrong to have these kinds of privacy abuses, and I decided to create a solution that overtime will encrypt more and more of the internet. So we start with files, we will then move to emails, and then move to Voice-Over-IP communication. And our API [Application Programming Interface] is available to any third-party developer to also create their own tools. And my goal is, within the next five years, I want to encrypt half of the Internet. Just reestablish a balance between a person — an individual — and the state. Because right now, we are living very close to this vision of George Orwell and I think it’s not the right way. It’s the wrong path that the government is on, thinking that they can spy on everybody.

RT: Long before Megaupload was ever taken down, the Justice Department was looking into Ninja Video and you actually cooperated with them. People want to know: how is Kim Dotcom, this guy who is incredibly against Washington and hates everything that they’ve done to him, how is this same guy also helping out the Justice Department?

KD: Let me explain to you how this worked, okay? I was a good corporate citizen. My company was abiding to the laws. If we get a search warrant or we get a request by the government to assist in an investigation, we will comply and we have always complied. And that is the right thing to do, because if someone uploads child pornography or someone uploads terrorist stuff or anything that is a serious crime, of course we are there to help. This is our obligation. And I am not for copyright infringement. People need to understand that. I’m against copyright infringement. But I’m also against copyright extremism. And I’m against a business model: the one from Hollywood that encourages piracy. Megaupload is not responsible for the piracy problem, you see? It’s the Hollywood studios that release a movie in the US, and then six months later in other parts of the world. And everyone knows that the movie is out there and fans of a particular actress want to have it right now, but they are not giving them any opportunity to get access to that content even though they are willing to pay. And they are looking for alternatives on the Internet, and then they find them. They are trying to make me responsible for their lack of ability to adapt to a new reality, which is the Internet, where everything happens now. It doesn’t happen three months later. Imagine you go to Wikipedia. You want to find something, research an article, and they tell you to come back in three months, ‘We’ll give it to you then.’ If you find another site where you can get it right now, that’s where you go, right? So it’s really their business model that is responsible for this issue. And if they don’t adopt, they will be left behind on this side of the road of history like many others who haven’t adopted in the past.

RT: What about your skeptics who point out this big playboy lifestyle and this giant, elaborate house and say ‘He’s not worried about Internet freedoms, he’s just worried about protecting his profits’?

KD: Let me be clear: I am a businessman, okay? I started Megaupload as a business to make money. I wanted to list the company. I am an entrepreneur, alright? I’m not Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz is my hero. He was selfless. He is completely the opposite of me, but I’m a businessman. I’m driven by the success of achieving something in the business world. That’s not a crime. There is nothing wrong with that. And if you create something that is popular and that people want to use, you automatically make money. And I’ve always been an innovator. I’ve always created products that people like. And that’s why I’m successful. I’m not successful because people have used Megaupload for copyright infringement. And what everyone needs to understand [is] there have been massive amounts of legitimate users on Megaupload. We don’t believe that 50 million users a day are all just transferring piracy. That’s wrong. A lot of people have used it to back up their data, to send a file quickly to a friend. Young artists have used it to get traction, to get downloads, to get known. There was a lot of legitimate use on Megaupload. It’s a dual-use technology, just like the Internet. You can go to any ISP right now, anyone who connects customers to the Internet. And if they are honest to you and you ask them the question ‘How much of your traffic is peer-to-peer piracy?’ anyone who will tell you less than 50 percent is lying to your face. This is a problem of the Internet and not Megaupload.

RT: What happens next, though? What are the chances of Mega being shut down. We already saw that radio stations were pulling ads.

KD: The content industry is still very emotional about us.We bought radio ads with one of the major networks here for eight radio stations. Very funny, very cool ads, promoting our service as a privacy service. And the labels called up the radio station, and one advertiser who is in the movie business called up the radio station, and demanded those adds to be taken down or else they will not buy ads from them anymore. And they were forced because they rely, of course, on that advertisement. My campaign was comparably small to the amount that they are sending. So they used their power to interfere in our right to have a media campaign, an ad campaign. And that just shows you that attitude. It’s against the law. They can’t do that. That’s interfering in our business and they have done that many times in the past. Calling payment processors, calling advertisers, telling them, ‘I don’t want you to work with these guys.’ That’s just wrong. If you have an issue with us, go hire a lawyer, sue us, take us to court and then see if you have anything that will give you a judgment against us. But instead, they use that power and their money to get new laws made for them, to lobby politicians, to get the White House to come here and destroy our lives. Destroy 220 jobs. Hardworking innocent people and they don’t give a damn about that. They had an agenda that is about more control over the Internet. And they made a strategic decision to say ‘Who are we going to take out to send a strong message?’ And I was the one.

RT: But what happens if Mega is shut down? You are only on day one right now. How long is it going to take before the government steps up again and what are you going to do if that happens? Are you prepared to just start all over again? It’s been one year and here you are, doing this over again, what happens when Uncle Sam puts his foot down and grinds you into the dirt again? Do you get back up?

KD: Here is the thing. This startup is probably the most scrutinized when it comes to legal advice. Every single aspect of it has been under the looking glass by our legal team. So we are confident that it’s fully compliant with the law, and if they come to attack us it’s just going to backfire. Exactly like the Megaupload case did. The shutdown of our site backfired already, massively. And it’s just going to get worse for them. If they think they can pursue this and get away with this, they are dead wrong. Because the society is not on their side. Everyone who uses the Internet knows what’s going on here. They don’t like what’s going on here. They saw it with SOPA and you will see it with our case. People will come together and fight this kind of aggression against innovation and Internet freedom.

Source

So Kim Dotcom is definitely a flashy, sexist, capitalist jerk…but encrypting half the internet to end government surveillance is an intriguing idea. Thoughts? 

One of many ways to pay tribute to the amazing life of Aaron Swartz, champion hacktivist/humanist and immensely influential guardian of internet freedomJanuary 17, 2013 
If you are a scientist, you can pay the best and most effective tribute to the memory of Aaron Swartz by sharing PDFs of your published work on pdftribute.net via the hashtag #pdftribute on Twitter.
Researchers are now offering open-access versions of their work using this hashtag.
I also suggest to boycott the pay-walled journals of the science mafia and publish on arXiv, or one of the many excellent open access science journals like PLoS andeLife. Hit them in the wallet where it hurts; it is the only effective way to protest.
New Scientist | Hundreds of researchers have been sharing PDFs of their work on Twitter as a tribute to Aaron Swartz, the internet freedom activist who committed suicide on Friday.
Swartz was facing hacking charges from the U.S. government after accessing the network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading nearly 5 million articles from the digital library JSTOR.
In a statement following his death, Swartz’s parents criticized the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office for pursuing charges against their son, and MIT for failing to support him. [NOTE: see also Time | Aaron Swartz’s Suicide Prompts MIT Soul-Searching.]
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, tweeted his own tribute: “Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep.”
Update Jan. 15, 2013: ars technica | On Monday afternoon, a group of online archivists released the “Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator.” The initiative is a JavaScript-based bookmarklet that lets Internet users “liberate” an article, already in the public domain, from the online academic archive JSTOR. By running the script — which is limited to once per browser — a public domain academic article is downloaded to the user’s computer, then uploaded back to ArchiveTeam in a small act of protest against JSTOR’s restrictive policies.
Source

One of many ways to pay tribute to the amazing life of Aaron Swartz, champion hacktivist/humanist and immensely influential guardian of internet freedom
January 17, 2013 

If you are a scientist, you can pay the best and most effective tribute to the memory of Aaron Swartz by sharing PDFs of your published work on pdftribute.net via the hashtag #pdftribute on Twitter.

Researchers are now offering open-access versions of their work using this hashtag.

I also suggest to boycott the pay-walled journals of the science mafia and publish on arXiv, or one of the many excellent open access science journals like PLoS andeLife. Hit them in the wallet where it hurts; it is the only effective way to protest.

New Scientist | Hundreds of researchers have been sharing PDFs of their work on Twitter as a tribute to Aaron Swartz, the internet freedom activist who committed suicide on Friday.

Swartz was facing hacking charges from the U.S. government after accessing the network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading nearly 5 million articles from the digital library JSTOR.

In a statement following his death, Swartz’s parents criticized the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office for pursuing charges against their son, and MIT for failing to support him. [NOTE: see also Time | Aaron Swartz’s Suicide Prompts MIT Soul-Searching.]

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, tweeted his own tribute: “Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep.”

Update Jan. 15, 2013: ars technica | On Monday afternoon, a group of online archivists released the “Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator.” The initiative is a JavaScript-based bookmarklet that lets Internet users “liberate” an article, already in the public domain, from the online academic archive JSTOR. By running the script — which is limited to once per browser — a public domain academic article is downloaded to the user’s computer, then uploaded back to ArchiveTeam in a small act of protest against JSTOR’s restrictive policies.

Source

Russian Wikipedia blacks website out amidst protests against Russian internet censorship
July 10, 2012
It’s blackout time for Wikipedia in Russian.
On Tuesday, the Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for 24 hours to protest a bill making its way through the Russian parliament that Wikipedia says could “create real censorship of the Internet” in the country.
Wikimedia, the nonprofit that oversees Wikipedia, said that the law would make it possible to create “a thing like the great Chinese firewall,” giving the Russian government control over the blacklisting and filtering of sites.
Source

Russian Wikipedia blacks website out amidst protests against Russian internet censorship

July 10, 2012

It’s blackout time for Wikipedia in Russian.

On Tuesday, the Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for 24 hours to protest a bill making its way through the Russian parliament that Wikipedia says could “create real censorship of the Internet” in the country.

Wikimedia, the nonprofit that oversees Wikipedia, said that the law would make it possible to create “a thing like the great Chinese firewall,” giving the Russian government control over the blacklisting and filtering of sites.

Source

"Ecuador will no longer send members of its armed forces nor its police to the sadly famous former School of the Americas in the United States."
June 27, 2012
Ecuador will no longer send troops to the U.S. military training school at Fort Benning, Ga., formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), whose graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses, the country’s foreign minister announced Wednesday afternoon.
The announcement, first reported by the Spanish news agency EFE, comes after a meeting Wednesday between Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa and members of SOA Watch, a group founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois to work for the closure of the military training school.
Confirming the news Wednesday, Ecuadoran foreign minister Ricardo Patiño posted on Twitter in Spanish that “Ecuador will no longer send members of its armed forces nor its police to the sadly famous former School of the Americas in the United States.”
Source

"Ecuador will no longer send members of its armed forces nor its police to the sadly famous former School of the Americas in the United States."

June 27, 2012

Ecuador will no longer send troops to the U.S. military training school at Fort Benning, Ga., formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), whose graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses, the country’s foreign minister announced Wednesday afternoon.

The announcement, first reported by the Spanish news agency EFE, comes after a meeting Wednesday between Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa and members of SOA Watch, a group founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois to work for the closure of the military training school.

Confirming the news Wednesday, Ecuadoran foreign minister Ricardo Patiño posted on Twitter in Spanish that “Ecuador will no longer send members of its armed forces nor its police to the sadly famous former School of the Americas in the United States.”

Source

Final thoughts on Assange allegations
June 27, 2012
Here’s my final response to the few negative responses that have come out of our interview with Christine Assange and her providing facts about the Swedish police rape allegations against Julian Assange.
Here’s the original interview with Christine Assange.
Yesterday, we posted a response to the response to the interview.
This is a response to the response we got from ^that post:
I thought quite a bit about how I wanted to respond to this. At first, I obviously felt angry, annoyed, irked that people seem so invested in Julian Assange’s guilt that they are unwilling to look at any of the facts of the case, of the allegations, etc. I found it frustrating that no sources were provided that contradicted ANY of the facts that we and Christine Assange had presented, and yet, still, the same three people who have aggressively responded to our Assange posts, aggressively responded again, accusing us of loving Julian Assange SO MUCH that we are excusing away the RAPES he committed.
But I believe that the harshest critics of our Wikileaks coverage are sincere and misinformed and passionate about taking sexual-violence seriously. I take rape and sexual violence very seriously. So seriously in fact that I can feel my body physically react (my muscles tense, my stomach turns and I feel incredibly anxious) every time the subject is brought up, every-time I see a scene in a movie or hear a news story or hear about sexual violence. I will never excuse away rape, apologize for rape or dismiss rape.
I hate rape. 
As a survivor of rape and childhood sexual violence, I hate rape with every bone in my body. And I hate that we live in a culture that trivializes and dismisses the claims and allegations of men and particularly of women who survive sexual violence. If Julian Assange was being charged with rape or if there was a victim alleging rape, I would support his extradition.
It would be hard for me, of course, it would be a strange coincidence in the favor of the United States, a bizarre happens-stance that right at the time when the United States has launched an assault on Julian Assange and after several prominent United States politicians have begun suggesting life-in-prison and even the death sentence for Julian Assange, that allegations surface that would allow for an extradition to Sweden which would allow the United States to get their hands on Julian Assange. I literally couldn’t think of a more perfect way to dismantle support for Julian Assange. It would be the United State’s lucky day - a wild coincidence!
But I don’t support Julian Assange’s extradition, because he has not been charged, because he has made repeated attempts to conduct interviews with the police to clear his name and has been ignored, and I don’t find the police allegation, without a victim, a witness, or any non-government -official of any kind alleging rape to be very credible. The information is clear and sourced in easy-to-navigate ways that people who care about supporting truth and transparency have spent time to put together. Read through some of it if you’re interested. 
I hate that anyone would use rape as a tool to achieve their goal. It trivializes rape and makes it into a joke. Rape is not a joke. It is a serious allegation. I wonder if those beating the extradite-Julian-for-his-serial-rapes drum think that Julian is owed any sort of ANYTHING – a victim alleging a crime, a charge, a report from police on why they have come to the conclusion that he might be a rapist, at least?
I literally don’t think there is any amount of information that can persuade you that Julian Assange is not a rapist. For whatever reason (and it really is a mystery to me – you guys don’t actually seem stupid), you seem to need to believe it. I find that incredibly demoralizing but because I care about not trivializing victims of abuse by arbitrarily supporting  dishonest, manipulative, police/government tactics and because I care about continued transparency, The People’s Record will continue to thoroughly and carefully read and understand the specifics of a situation before we come down on a person’s guilt – particularly a person who has angered so many powerful people and particularly in situations with so many bizarre, coincidental and illusory details. If you find yourself certain of Julian Assange’s guilt, you should definitely ask yourself where your certainty is rooted, and what, amidst the available facts and information of this case sustains in?
As for whether he should be extradited to be questioned, without being charged with anything, no. I do think he should continue to reach out to the prosecution and continue his many attempts to answer the prosecution’s questions. But I think considering the fact that the only allegations come from the police and that there have been no charges, and that there is plenty of reason (check out the compiled list of facts that Christine Assange has posted if you don’t believe me) to believe that this might not be about rape allegations at all, considering all that, the prosecution should go out of their way to conduct questioning in a way that doesn’t involve extradition to Sweden and move forward with the investigation from there. If they come up with a credible case, find somebody who will allege rape and charge him, then I think he should be extradited and face trial. If found guilty, I think he should be punished to the full extent of the law.
With the exception of breaking news about the case though, we probably won’t be posting another response to rape-allegation responses. Later today though, we will be posting the second half of the interview, which deals with a whole lot of other Assange/Wikileaks related stuff so look out for that too!
-R.Cunningham

Final thoughts on Assange allegations

June 27, 2012

Here’s my final response to the few negative responses that have come out of our interview with Christine Assange and her providing facts about the Swedish police rape allegations against Julian Assange.

Here’s the original interview with Christine Assange.

Yesterday, we posted a response to the response to the interview.

This is a response to the response we got from ^that post:

I thought quite a bit about how I wanted to respond to this. At first, I obviously felt angry, annoyed, irked that people seem so invested in Julian Assange’s guilt that they are unwilling to look at any of the facts of the case, of the allegations, etc. I found it frustrating that no sources were provided that contradicted ANY of the facts that we and Christine Assange had presented, and yet, still, the same three people who have aggressively responded to our Assange posts, aggressively responded again, accusing us of loving Julian Assange SO MUCH that we are excusing away the RAPES he committed.

But I believe that the harshest critics of our Wikileaks coverage are sincere and misinformed and passionate about taking sexual-violence seriously. I take rape and sexual violence very seriously. So seriously in fact that I can feel my body physically react (my muscles tense, my stomach turns and I feel incredibly anxious) every time the subject is brought up, every-time I see a scene in a movie or hear a news story or hear about sexual violence. I will never excuse away rape, apologize for rape or dismiss rape.

I hate rape.

As a survivor of rape and childhood sexual violence, I hate rape with every bone in my body. And I hate that we live in a culture that trivializes and dismisses the claims and allegations of men and particularly of women who survive sexual violence. If Julian Assange was being charged with rape or if there was a victim alleging rape, I would support his extradition.

It would be hard for me, of course, it would be a strange coincidence in the favor of the United States, a bizarre happens-stance that right at the time when the United States has launched an assault on Julian Assange and after several prominent United States politicians have begun suggesting life-in-prison and even the death sentence for Julian Assange, that allegations surface that would allow for an extradition to Sweden which would allow the United States to get their hands on Julian Assange. I literally couldn’t think of a more perfect way to dismantle support for Julian Assange. It would be the United State’s lucky day - a wild coincidence!

But I don’t support Julian Assange’s extradition, because he has not been charged, because he has made repeated attempts to conduct interviews with the police to clear his name and has been ignored, and I don’t find the police allegation, without a victim, a witness, or any non-government -official of any kind alleging rape to be very credible. The information is clear and sourced in easy-to-navigate ways that people who care about supporting truth and transparency have spent time to put together. Read through some of it if you’re interested.

I hate that anyone would use rape as a tool to achieve their goal. It trivializes rape and makes it into a joke. Rape is not a joke. It is a serious allegation. I wonder if those beating the extradite-Julian-for-his-serial-rapes drum think that Julian is owed any sort of ANYTHING – a victim alleging a crime, a charge, a report from police on why they have come to the conclusion that he might be a rapist, at least?

I literally don’t think there is any amount of information that can persuade you that Julian Assange is not a rapist. For whatever reason (and it really is a mystery to me – you guys don’t actually seem stupid), you seem to need to believe it. I find that incredibly demoralizing but because I care about not trivializing victims of abuse by arbitrarily supporting  dishonest, manipulative, police/government tactics and because I care about continued transparency, The People’s Record will continue to thoroughly and carefully read and understand the specifics of a situation before we come down on a person’s guilt – particularly a person who has angered so many powerful people and particularly in situations with so many bizarre, coincidental and illusory details. If you find yourself certain of Julian Assange’s guilt, you should definitely ask yourself where your certainty is rooted, and what, amidst the available facts and information of this case sustains in?

As for whether he should be extradited to be questioned, without being charged with anything, no. I do think he should continue to reach out to the prosecution and continue his many attempts to answer the prosecution’s questions. But I think considering the fact that the only allegations come from the police and that there have been no charges, and that there is plenty of reason (check out the compiled list of facts that Christine Assange has posted if you don’t believe me) to believe that this might not be about rape allegations at all, considering all that, the prosecution should go out of their way to conduct questioning in a way that doesn’t involve extradition to Sweden and move forward with the investigation from there. If they come up with a credible case, find somebody who will allege rape and charge him, then I think he should be extradited and face trial. If found guilty, I think he should be punished to the full extent of the law.

With the exception of breaking news about the case though, we probably won’t be posting another response to rape-allegation responses. Later today though, we will be posting the second half of the interview, which deals with a whole lot of other Assange/Wikileaks related stuff so look out for that too!

-R.Cunningham

Desperate to slow a growing social movement, Sudan government continues deportations of journalists and bloggers.

June 27, 2012

Sudan deported an Egyptian journalist and briefly detained another prominent blogger on Tuesday, as the authorities attempted to stifle a protest movement that started last week. The demonstration came after President Omar Hassan al-Bashir announced spending cuts and austerity measures, like reducing fuel subsidies and raising taxes.

Salma El Wardany, a journalist who has been reporting on the protests for Bloomberg News, said in a brief telephone conversation with Agence France-Presse from the airport in Khartoum, the capital, that the authorities had ordered her to leave.

According to a series of updates posted on Twitter by her sister, Lina, Ms. Wardany was first informed that she was being deported when she went to renew her press accreditation on Tuesday. After she was initially denied permission to pack before leaving, she was then allowed to collect her things, but only under guard.

Source

June 26, 2012
I asked Christine Assange about this specifically. Here’s what she said:

Woman SW stated she was half asleep and that she gave consent to sex without a condom. It was in the morning after sexual relations the night before and after a night of the two of them sharing a bed. She was so upset that the police were alleging rape she could not finish the interview and would not sign the statement. She has stated she felt railroaded by the police.The statement was altered after the interview on EAW to read that she was “fully asleep” and the statement remains unsigned by her. No charges have been filed against Julian. Neither woman has alleged rape. The only party alleging rape are the police.

More from The People’s Record on Wikileaks and Assange case.

June 26, 2012

I asked Christine Assange about this specifically. Here’s what she said:


Woman SW stated she was half asleep and that she gave consent to sex without a condom. It was in the morning after sexual relations the night before and after a night of the two of them sharing a bed. She was so upset that the police were alleging rape she could not finish the interview and would not sign the statement. She has stated she felt railroaded by the police.The statement was altered after the interview on EAW to read that she was “fully asleep” and the statement remains unsigned by her. No charges have been filed against Julian. Neither woman has alleged rape. The only party alleging rape are the police.

More from The People’s Record on Wikileaks and Assange case.