Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land.

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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:37 am

"Before lulzsec broke apart they came to us to hack the entire government of iceland,” wrote Sabu about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in 2011.

Leaked chat logs on hacks may be part of case against Julian Assange

Jenna McLaughlin and Luppe B. Luppen
Yahoo NewsNovember 16, 2018
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in 2017. (Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters)
In December 2011, two former members of Lulz Security, or LulzSec — a hacktivist group notorious for penetrating or disrupting a number of corporate and governmental targets like, Sony Pictures, gaming websites and the CIA — were discussing a new friend and partner.

That contact, according to Hector Xavier Monsegur, writing under the fictitious name Leon Davidson, was WikiLeaks founder and CEO Julian Assange.

“Between you and me, I’ve been working a lot with the internals of WikiLeaks,” wrote Monsegur, who commonly went by the nickname “Sabu” — and who became infamous for becoming an FBI informant.

“Before lulzsec broke apart, they came to us to hack the entire government of iceland,” he continued, sending a message over encrypted chat service Jabber to fellow hacker Jeremy Hammond, who was later convicted in 2013 for hacking private intelligence firm Stratfor.

The chats appear to reveal a specific instance when Assange may have specifically solicited a crime — the theft of official documents from within the Icelandic government.

While the chat log references an apparent request made by Assange, it does not include any direct communication from the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange, who had gained notoriety for publishing hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and Army reports revealing classified details about the Iraq War from Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, has consistently shielded his work behind the First Amendment — while simultaneously selling his brand, on cellphone cases and mugs, as the “first intelligence agency of the people.”

The chat logs, part of a 100,000-page trove of documents currently in the Department of Justice’s possession, were obtained and published by independent national security journalist Emma Best on Thursday. Best tells Yahoo News the chats are part of the Justice Department’s sealed files, and which the department has verified across multiple sources, including Monsegur’s hard drives and WikiLeaks’ own devices.

“They have a fairly good idea of what Julian knew and when,” she told Yahoo News.

Neither the Justice Department, nor Assange’s attorney, Barry Pollack, immediately responded to a request for comment.

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Also on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government had a sealed indictment awaiting Assange — a revelation that was mistakenly revealed in an unrelated court transcript out of the Eastern District of Virginia, first discovered and shared on Twitter by Seamus Hughes, a counterterrorism researcher at George Washington University.

It’s unclear what those charges under seal might include, however, the chat transcripts could provide some clues.

While transparency advocates and First Amendment activists have consistently worried that Assange’s arrest and conviction would set a bad precedent for the media if Assange is charged with espionage for publishing classified documents, it’s possible the charges will have to do with his solicitation of those materials.

“I believe with a degree of confidence that any charges against Julian Assange originating from the EDVA likely include violations of the [Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] and possibly allegations related to the soliciting of criminal acts,” wrote Andy Stepanian, a former consultant for WikiLeaks and co-founder of the Sparrow Project, a small public relations firm focused on transparency and freedom of information.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, enacted in 1986, makes it illegal to access or remove information from a digital device without permission.

Stepanian has consistently advocated that Assange be held accountable, particularly for allegations of sexual violence against women and his role in publishing hacked material from the Democratic National Committee, passed along by criminals who the U.S. intelligence community has concluded were agents of the Kremlin. However, the case against Assange for publishing classified documents or for acting as a co-conspirator to hackers may be difficult to prove.

“Journalists everywhere should be concerned” if Assange is accused of espionage for publishing classified documents, behavior many journalists routinely engage in,” Stepanian argued on Twitter.

And even if Assange is not charged as a publisher, but rather for aiding or soliciting hacks, “the sentencing guidelines associated with the law are so broad and draconian the accused can face decades for merely sharing hacked materials,” Stepanian wrote.

Because the reported charges against Assange were disclosed through an inadvertent court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia, there is no information about what conduct the charges relate to or what crimes are alleged. Whatever the content of the charges, however, evidence of collusion between WikiLeaks’ founder and hackers would make it hard for Assange to defend himself on First Amendment grounds.

“You always needed one more thing,” said Matt Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department during the Obama administration, of the First Amendment issues involved with prosecuting figures like Assange, “not just publishing, but somehow working with the leaker in a way that was criminal.”

In 2011, authorities in Iceland launched their own investigation into WikiLeaks and the hackers.

Sabu, or Monsegur, resurfaces his work with WikiLeaks and Assange in a second chat log session in January 2012. “Is it out that we gave emails to WikiLeaks yet?” he asks Hammond, appearing to confirm that WikiLeaks’ request to steal information had been fulfilled.

“No,” replies Hammond, suggesting that they “wait to see what WL/JA think of all this first,” referring to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

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Monsegur continues to say he is waiting to hear from WikiLeaks on the Icelandic hacks they had requested, as he was “able to own islandics governments secretary [SIC].”

However, Assange had not received the material yet because his “assistant” who they refer to as “Q”, Sigurdur Thordarson, had been traveling. (Thordarson also later became an FBI informant.)

According to Best, who is in possession of the remainder of the chats, there “were other targets” of hacks.

There are multiple high-profile thefts of information the government is also interested in, including WikiLeaks’ publication in March 2017 of detailed descriptions of CIA hacking tools, which it titled “Vault 7.” One source familiar with the matter told Yahoo News that both the intelligence agencies and Justice Department, separated by a firewall, were both immediately interested in investigating WikiLeaks and Assange for that particularly painful disclosure, exposing CIA tools and potentially allowing criminals to imitate their techniques.

The theft and publication of secret hacking tools such as Vault 7 would be evaluated on the same legal basis as the publication of any other stolen information. “Classified is classified,” explains Miller, the former Justice Department spokesman.

The inadvertent court filing indicated that the reported charges against Assange were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia by prosecutors associated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in that district. The jurisdiction and the prosecutors involved indicate that it’s unlikely that the charges relate to the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and WikiLeaks’ role in publishing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

A prosecution for those activities would more likely be filed in Washington, D.C., where the affected Democratic National Committee servers were located, and brought by the special counsel’s office itself.

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That said, it’s notable that this summer, federal prosecutors with the special counsel’s office included hints in the indictment of a group of Russian intelligence officials that they may also charge WikiLeaks and Assange as part of the underlying conspiracy to steal documents from the hacking victims.

The indictment, which refers to WikiLeaks as “Organization 1,” includes quotations from messages sent by WikiLeaks to the Russian intelligence team’s Guccifer 2.0 persona. “On or about June 22, 2016,” the prosecutors wrote, “Organization 1 sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to ‘[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.’” The bracketed text indicating Assange was asking for stolen material was added by the prosecutors.

The indictment also quotes a message from WikiLeaks that specifically seeks “anything [H]illary related” on an urgent basis “because the [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify [B]ernie supporters behind her after.”

None of the messages included in the special counsel’s indictment are smoking gun evidence that Assange was in league with the Russians; however, they suggest federal prosecutors, who have appear to have access to communications between the Russian intelligence officials and WikiLeaks, are operating on that theory.

“I think the Special Counsel may have far more evidence than we’ve seen publicly about Assange’s cooperation with Russia on a number of matters over the years,” former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega said, pointing to a news article from 2017 as evidence for her suspicion. “When you combine that history and the evidence of active Hillary-related info, and view it through the lens of a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in the election, it’s no longer solely an Espionage Act violation that would raise issues of press freedom.”

For any indictment and prosecution of Assange to proceed, he would need to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he’s sought refuge since June 2012, and be brought to the United States. Ecuador’s new President Lenín Moreno has indicated he has become weary of his longtime guest, and may be more open to releasing him to British authorities.

CNN reported in late May that Assange’s status in the embassy was “in jeopardy,” a reality his lawyers have become increasingly worried about, particularly now that a sealed indictment has been revealed. ... 02522.html
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:03 am


1. Lulzsec, I remember that name. Blamed for the SONY hack, which the USG attributed to North Korea! But no problem, I guess they can be retconned back into Western bad-boys. Now that their man is an FBI informant -- what's the background to that, I wonder? - have they also been rehabilitated into a valid source? Is this guy's testimony supposed to be credible? Is he giving us a preview of his appearance in court? Well, that's okay: I doubt we will be seeing that. This "trial" is already complete in the form of a Yahoo News hit-piece meant to influence public opinion.

2. The claim, apparently, will be that Wikileaks asked them to hack the Icelandic government? So that would be a violation of Icelandic law, right? I guess the UK will be extraditing Assange to Iceland? Or maybe the U.S. will hand him over, if that's the case they've helped to build, especially given they probably don't have the case to convict him under U.S. law?


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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:00 am

The WikiLeaks Mole
How a teenage misfit became the keeper of Julian Assange’s deepest secrets – only to betray him

David Kushner January 6, 2014 2:00PM ET
Siggi Thordarson with Julian Assange in London 2011.

Allen Clark
On a recent frigid night near Reykjavik, Iceland, Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson slips into a bubbling geothermal pool at a suburban swim club. The cherubic, blond 21-year-old, who has been called everything in the press from “attention seeker” to “traitor” to “psychopath,” ends many of his days here, where, like most places around the city, he’s notorious. But even at a spa, he can find only the briefest moment of relaxation. Soon, the local prosecutor who is trying him for leaking financial records joins him in the tub, and Siggi quickly has to flee to another pool. “How does it feel to be the most dangerous man in Iceland?” a bather shouts across the steam.

In person, Siggi’s doughy shape and boyish smile make him seem less than menacing – unless you’re another one of the world’s most dangerous men, Julian Assange. Four years ago, just as WikiLeaks was winning international notoriety, the then-17-year-old hacking prodigy became Assange’s youngest and most trusted sidekick. “It was like Batman and Robin,” says Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and member of the Icelandic parliament. But as Assange became more embattled and besieged, the protégé turned on his mentor in the most shocking of ways: becoming the first FBI informant inside the group.

Siggi’s story of international espionage and teenage high-roller antics plays like James Bond meets Superbad, starring a confounding mash-up of awkward man-child and balls-out tech savant. And his tale reveals not only the paranoia and strife within WikiLeaks, but just how far the feds were willing to go to get Assange.

Siggi still lives with his parents in a nondescript high-rise, sitting at his computer in a bedroom lined with stuffed animals, including an orangutan-size Garfield he bought for $2,000. But his jet-black Mercedes ML350 is parked outside, which, along with his recent conviction for sexual misconduct against a 17-year-old boy (he says the relationship was consensual), speaks to his bizarre double life.

The Trials of Bradley Manning

The revelation of Siggi’s role as an FBI snitch has polarized WikiLeaks insiders. When I met with WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson (Assange declined to talk for this story), he grew red in the face, dismissing Siggi as “a pathological liar,” a party line echoed by the WikiLeaks faithful. “It all sounds rather absurd,” Hrafnsson says, “to go and to spend all this time analyzing the absolute bullshit that is flowing out of this young man, who is so troubled that he should be hospitalized.”

While other WikiLeaks insiders also question Siggi’s credibility, they insist that his story can’t be discounted, and there’s more to it than the organization is letting on. Tangerine Bolen, founder of the whistle-blowing advocacy organization Revolution­Truth, which used to work closely with WikiLeaks, is among those who say the group’s efforts to discredit Siggi are “patently false. They’re scared. The fact is Siggi played a key role in the organization and was very close to Julian.”

The truth, it seems, may be held in the leaks. Siggi has provided Rolling Stone with more than a terabyte of secret files he claims to have taken from WikiLeaks before he left in November 2011 and gave to the FBI: thousands of pages of chat logs, videos, tapped phone calls, government documents and more than a few bombshells from the organization’s most heated years. They’re either the real thing, or the most elaborate lie of the digital age.

Assange himself validated the importance of Siggi’s documents when he filed an affidavit late this past summer asserting that “the FBI illegally acquired stolen organisational and personal data belonging to WikiLeaks, me and other third parties in Denmark in March 2012” and that the FBI “was attempting to entrap me through Sigurdur Thordarson.”

Whatever their origins, the SiggiLeaks are a deep and revealing portal into one of the most guarded and influential organizations of the 21st century – and the extreme measures its embattled leader is willing to take. Of all Assange’s allies who’ve come and gone, few served him as faithfully as Siggi, or betrayed him so utterly. “One thing is sure,” Siggi tells me in his thick Icelandic accent, as the vapors from the thermal pool rise around him. “I have not lived a life like a teenager.”

Like Assange and so many gifted hackers, Siggi had an isolated childhood. The son of a hairdresser and a paint-company sales manager, he grew up with his little sister in a middle­class suburb of Reykjavik. Though puckish and bright, he was bored by school, alienated from his classmates and dreamed of a life beyond bourgeois Nordic comfort. “When I was, like, 12 years old, I wished for a couple of things,” he tells me as we drive one afternoon past some lava fields outside the capital. “I wished to be rich; I wished to be a famous guy; I wished to live an adventureful life.”

He found the excitement he craved in computers, and at age 12 he says he hacked into his first website, a local union’s home page, which he replaced with a picture of “a big fluffy monkey.” The experience empowered him. “When you do something like that, you feel invincible,” he says, “and if you can do that, what else can you do?”

He found out two years later, when, on a plane back from a family vacation, he fixed a laptop for a businessman sitting next to him. The executive was so impressed by his skills that he offered him a job at the Icelandic financial firm Milestone: scrubbing computers of sensitive documents. Siggi figures the company trusted him with such data because he was only 14 and must have thought, as he says, “I wouldn’t understand what I was supposed to delete.” Plus, the pay dwarfed that of his paper route.

Curious about the files he was erasing, he’d copy them and study them at night. What he eventually discovered astonished him: Employees of Milestone seemed guilty of large-scale corruption in collusion with local politicians. At this time, in 2009, Iceland was reeling from the worldwide financial crisis, and Siggi believed the people deserved to know the role of Milestone and their dirty politicians – even if that meant leaking the files. “Someone has to do it,” he thought, “and why not me?”

In the fall, Siggi says he brought more than 600 gigabytes of Milestone data to the Icelandic newspaper Dagbladid Vísir, making front-page news and leading to investigations against the politicians and businessmen he exposed. Siggi believed in the importance of exposing the corruption he describes as “illegal as it gets.” With his identity still secret, he kept on leaking to other media outlets until, for reasons he never learned, his childhood friend outed him, a betrayal that changed him. “I literally just stopped believing in humanity,” he says. “Since then, I just basically stopped having feelings.”

But after being arrested and splashed across the news, he found a powerful connection in Kristinn Hrafnsson. A well-known TV reporter in Reykjavik at the time, Hrafnsson considered Siggi’s leaks to be “quite significant” and worthy of an introduction to another up-and-coming whistle-blower, Julian Assange, who was speaking at the University of Iceland. Though WikiLeaks had already exposed death squads in Kenya and financial malfeasance in the Swiss bank Julius Baer, the group was still largely unknown. But at the panel, Siggi found, to his surprise, that Assange was well aware of his work – he even chastised the reporter who revealed Siggi’s name in the Milestone leak. “He was basically just condemning the guy, sayingouting whistle­blowers is wrong,” recalls Siggi, who reveled in the support.

The bond between the two was immediate. Assange too had been arrested for hacking when he was a young man in Australia. He also had a son, Daniel, who was roughly Siggi’s age, whom he had little contact. “I think Julian saw himself in Siggi,” says Jónsdóttir. “Julian felt an immediate sympathy toward the kid.”

After the panel, Siggi says he took Assange to Sea Bar, a small, rustic restaurant on the water. Over lobster soup and whale steak, they spoke about politics, hacking and their shared sense of purpose in exposing the secrets of the elite. Assange struck Siggi as someone with the courage to take on anyone. “He’s the kind of activist that does the thing that has to be done,” Siggi tells me. After talking for a few hours, Assange took out a small metal box. “Have you ever seen this before?” he said.

Assange cracked open the container and revealed three phones inside. “These are encrypted cellphones,” he said. “I’m going to give you one. Just keep it on at all times so I can communicate with you, day and night.”

Within just a few weeks, Siggi was inside Assange’s small inner circle, a complex place where decisions centered on the mercurial leader. “There’s a video I want to show you,” Siggi recalls Assange telling him as they sat inside Jónsdóttir’s small house in Reykjavik one wintry night soon after they met in February 2010.

“Are you sure you want to show this to him?” said Jónsdóttir. She was concerned about Siggi’s involvement in the project and didn’t entirely trust him, but nevertheless felt protective of the boy. “He was just a lonely kid that had been bullied,” she recalls, “and I felt sort of motherly towards him in the beginning.” Before Assange cued up the clip, she warned Siggi, “This is a disgusting video.”

The grainy footage showed an Apache helicopter firing upon men in the streets of Baghdad. “This can cause a World War III,” Assange said. Though Siggi was new, he didn’t hesitate to express his concerns. “We have to be careful about what we publish,” he said. When Assange wanted to call the video “Collateral Murder,” Siggi told him he thought that was too dramatic. Assange seemed to value the bluntness of his new recruit. “I considered him a friend, and I believe he considered me a friend as well,” Siggi recalls. “If I was against something he said, I told him so, and that was something he liked.”

That spring, when the group was riding an international wave of attention after the video’s release, Siggi, whom Assange gave the handle PenguinX (he was later known as Q), became his dependable errand boy and confidant: talking regularly, looking for equipment, making encrypted calls to contacts on Assange’s behalf. After Bradley Manning was arrested for the “Collateral Murder” leak in May 2010, Assange wrote Siggi that it “might help if people think he’s gay. . . . [The] gay lobby in U.S. is very big, and the whole ‘gays in the military’ thing is very contentious.” When Assange eclipsed pop stars in Time‘s person-of-the-year poll, he giddily messaged Siggi, “We beat Gaga!” But the pressure was getting to Assange. In a chat on July 7th, 2010, Siggi asked Assange how he was doing amid all the controversy. Assange replied, “Stressed.”

“Anything i can do to loose some stress?” Siggi typed.

“Find me a pretty girl with lots of warm olive oil;)” Assange replied. But women, too, soon became part of Assange’s worries. One night in August, Siggi’s cryptophone rang with a call from Assange. “Can I trust you?” he said.

“Definitely,” Siggi replied.

“Interpol is most likely going to issue an arrest warrant for me.”

Two women in Sweden alleged he had committed rape and sexual harassment, which Assange denied, saying sex with each was consensual. “The best solution to all this mess might just be going to Sweden and finishing the interrogation,” Siggi told him. But Assange pushed back, saying the U.S. would try to extradite him. “If you get arrested, I’ll just have a backup plan of stealing you from the police,” Siggi said in all seriousness.

But by fall, Assange had other problems: the defection of his closest supporters. His controlling nature had grown overbearing. Hacktivist Daniel Domscheit­Berg, Jónsdóttir, journalist Herbert Snorrason and others in the small group of insiders battled with Assange over his reluctance to redact the Afghan war logs, which, they feared, would put lives at risk. Jónsdóttir spoke out to the media, calling for Assange to step aside and “let other people carry the torch.”

And Assange’s confounding closeness with Siggi, which bordered on a paternal relationship, was also an issue. “The perception was that Siggi basically got to a level where Julian trusted him in a matter of days,” says Snorrason. The core volunteers considered Siggi a dangerous liability, prone to youthful indiscretions and lies. But, as Domscheit-Berg recalls, the rumors were being stoked by Assange himself. “Julian told us we shouldn’t speak to Siggi because he couldn’t be trusted,” he says. “He told me Siggi was a notorious liar, but then again Julian told people I was a notorious liar probably because he’s a notorious liar. I think it’s psychological. We knew Julian was dealing with Siggi all the time – it all implied Julian was using him. These are all kinds of games children get into.”

Jónsdóttir was among those caught in Assange and Siggi’s web. “I told Julian, ‘There’s something weird, I can’t explain it, but I have this feeling,'” Jónsdóttir recalls. “‘You just be very careful with this guy.’ But he didn’t believe me.” Though she continuously tried to get Siggi removed from projects, Assange stood by the boy. “He might have trusted him with something that he didn’t want him to expose,” she says.

For Siggi, there was a simple reason he rose in Assange’s eyes: the old guard’s weakness. “To be blunt, they were just cowards,” he says. “I stayed with Julian through this entire shit. I didn’t leave, so that’s probably why he started to trust me more – I showed him loyalty.”

According to the chat logs, Assange commanded Siggi to insinuate himself with Jónsdóttir, in light of her calls for his resignation, and report back. “But be careful,” Assange warned Siggi. “She is good at smelling lies that are intellectual, though not so good at smelling emotional lies.” Days later, after Siggi returned with updates on Jónsdóttir, Assange wrote to him, “Good work on B.” Siggi suggested Assange confront her in person, to which Assange replied, “I will, but I need to let my anger cool, or it would be with a gun.”

Worried that logs of him discussing the rape allegations could be released by Snorrason, Assange told Siggi to hack into the journalist’s computer and remove them. “The log, get rid of it,” Assange wrote. “His pc must be taken over, and that deleted.”

“How can we delete it from his computer?” Siggi replied. “We would need physical access to his computer.” Assange said he could be fooled into downloading a trojan, a kind of computer virus. Though they never hacked Snorrason, the schism within WikiLeaks was tearing the group apart. That fall, Domscheit-Berg, Jónsdóttir, Snorrason and others left. But Siggi remained, and he wanted to make sure that Assange understood his dedication. “What about me?” Siggi wrote him late one night in a chat. “Any trust issues at all?”

“No. I know your difficulties and I accept them,” Assange replied. “Good intent and loyalty is more important to me.”

By October 2010, Assange had appointed Siggi to Snorrason’s old post of running the WikiLeaks chat room. It was an important position, vetting the faceless flood of potential allies and leakers, and passing along the cream to Assange. “Keep your eye open for people trying to befriend you or others in an attempt to infiltrate WikiLeaks,” Assange instructed him in a chat. “Lives depend on your diligence.”

Assange was on the lookout for FBI agents, informants and betrayers. And there was one unlikely group of people whom he feared might be rallying against him: the Bradley Manning Support Network. In July, Assange had pledged to pay for a substantial amount of Manning’s defense, which was expected to cost more than $100,000, and the group was increasingly angry that, months later, no money had come through. According to Siggi, Assange had simply moved on.

Throughout the fall, Siggi was getting word from BMSN co-founder David House that David Coombs, Manning’s attorney, was threatening to go public. “Coombs will go to the media very soon,” House warned Siggi in one chat. “I need someone in WL to do their job and actually start giving a shit about Manning’s defense.”

But WikiLeaks went on the offensive instead. “Julian wanted to know everything they were doing,” says Siggi. On October 7th, Siggi hacked into a Skype conference call of the BMSN and sent the recording to Assange. In the wee hours of November 11th, with word of another Skype call that evening, he asked Assange if he should do it again. “Do you want me to record the BMSN conference?” Siggi wrote.

“YES,” Assange replied.

“Oki dok:)”

The next night, Siggi reported back: Mission accomplished. “Yey the Recording was successful,” he typed in chat. “Want me to upload and send to you?”

“Yes. But going to bed now,” Assange wrote. “Good work on the record.”

“Ok:) Did you remember to brush your teeths:)”

With still no funds by December, the BMSN did go public, resulting in unflattering headlines, like The Washington Post‘s “WikiLeaks hasn’t fulfilled financial-aid pledge for suspect in leaks.” (Eventually, the group gave $15,000.)

But by the end of 2010, Assange had sought refuge from the Swedish case by retreating to Ellingham Hall, a country mansion in England owned by dilettante investigative journalist Vaughan Smith. Assange deployed the now-18-year-old Siggi as one of his few trusted couriers for WikiLeaks’ most prized and explosive leaks of all – the quarter-million diplomatic cables from Manning – which they were delivering to news outlets around the world. “Do you have an EU passport?” Assange messaged Siggi one night.

“Yes Why:)?”

“Just thinking about various meetings.”

When I met with WikiLeaks spokesman Hrafnsson, he insisted that apart from a trip to Ellingham Hall Siggi “was never traveling on behalf of WikiLeaks anywhere.” But several European journalists I spoke with confirmed their meetings with Siggi, and some insisted that both Assange and Hrafnsson were well aware. “Kristinn told me Siggi was the one to deal with,” says Leonie van Nierop, a reporter for a Netherlands daily paper, NRC Handelsblad, who met with Siggi in Amsterdam. “Siggi was constantly on the phone with Assange,” says Dan Sommer, the former head of security for the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik and a local pastor, who traveled as Siggi’s bodyguard. “It was clear that Assange knew what Siggi was doing.”

Assange had potential publishers vetted in person before giving them the files, and Siggi was among those tasked with the job, arriving in each city with an encrypted thumb drive containing excerpts from the cables. The twisted humor of the transactions – that the biggest leak in U.S. history was being delivered by a baby-faced 18-year-old – wasn’t lost on the reporters and editors with whom Siggi met. Dutch journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal found him to be “an insecure guy who wanted to be something in the world.”

After spending several days with Siggi, van Nierop took a liking to the boy. She had acted as a tour guide for a day, leading Siggi through the famed red-light district in Amsterdam, where she noticed that he didn’t seem very intrigued by the women offering themselves in windows. “He was more interested in the trains in the station than the hookers,” she recalls. She could tell, while listening to her colleague speak with Assange about Siggi after the trip, that the two were geeky pals. She says Assange teasingly said that since she “took Siggi to the red-light district, couldn’t you have bought a girl for him?” Van Nierop thought Siggi’s relationship with Assange also explained why the boy seemed isolated. “If Julian Assange is your best friend,” she says, “you must be a little lonely.”

With media outlets often paying his way, Siggi says he was “having the time of my life.” When he told his parents he was traveling on missions for WikiLeaks, they balked; but as his father told me, “He was 18. There was nothing we could do.” In January 2011, he arrived in Honduras to meet with editors from the newspaper El Heraldo and was greeted by a team of armed bodyguards. When Siggi asked why he needed such heavy security, one of the goons told him, “because you’re white, and you could get stabbed or kidnapped.”

But Sommer, his personal bodyguard on many of the trips, couldn’t get the boy to leave behind his childhood. At every city, Siggi insisted on taking time out to visit the local waterpark and eating McDonald’s. In Budapest, Siggi had Sommer take him to his first strip club. In New York, Siggi wanted to try out a pepper-spray pen his bodyguard bought at a local spy shop. Back at the hotel, a half hour before a meeting, he persuaded his bodyguard to shoot him with it to see how it felt – but vastly underestimated the burn. “It was horrible,” says Siggi, who had to douse himself with milk to relieve the pain. He showed up at his next meeting with bloodshot eyes and a rash. “We had to explain that I wasn’t stoned,” Siggi says.

While in Washington, D.C., he had one mishap that was too close for comfort. His bodyguard was driving a Jeep the wrong way down a street by the Pentagon, when he saw a police car pull out nearby. With the diplomatic cables in the back seat, Siggi freaked. “Fuck me!” he said. “Oh, my God, we could get pulled over. We’re gonna go to Guantánamo Bay!” But as luck would have it, the police car passed him – missing the chance for the bust of a lifetime.

During the half dozen times Siggi arrived at Ellingham Hall to visit Assange, he says he knew what to bring with him: a suitcase full of Malt Extrakt, Assange’s favorite Icelandic soda. “I saw it in his face,” Siggi says, “somebody actually thought about him. He was happy that I remembered.”

Despite his circumstances, Assange was enjoying the comforts of mansion life and the companionship of his close-knit circle of supporters, including Siggi. They went swimming in the nearby lake, had long dinners in the regal dining hall. At Assange’s blowout 40th-birthday party, Siggi got drunk for the first time, on licorice schnapps, and drove his car into a ditch during a midnight junk-food run. “It was hilarious!” Siggi recalls.

But in private moments, Assange told Siggi that the political and personal battles were wearing on him. “He said that he was really tired,” Siggi says. “I’d just like to give up,” Assange told him.

As the increasingly besieged WikiLeaks leader’s profile grew, so did his paranoia. Assange asked his protégé to write up psychological profiles of WikiLeaks core members. Siggi, however, initiated more recon on his own. Late one night, he clandestinely cloned their hard drives, including the laptops of Hrafnsson and longtime associate Sarah Harrison, and he provided Assange with a report of their contents.

Though Assange hadn’t asked him to do this, Siggi claims he read the findings and Assange allowed him to continue snooping during visits to Ellingham Hall. At one point, Siggi says, Assange asked him to search through the computers of Vaughan Smith, the journalist who owned the home, because he thought Smith was secretly video­taping him. Siggi sneaked into Smith’s office, rifling through his things until he found computer-memory cards and drives, which he promptly began wiping clean. I ask Siggi if he felt that spying on the volunteers and their host was wrong. “Privacy is just a myth, you know,” he replies. “It doesn’t really exist.”

But Assange’s spy games grew worse. BMSN co-founder House told Wired that Assange asked him in January 2011 to swipe a copy of former insider Domscheit-Berg’s WikiLeaks exposé prior to publication. Around the same time, Siggi claims Assange asked him to set up hidden cameras to spy on guests inside Ellingham Hall. “Julian just had this idea that everybody was after him,” he says. “He wanted this to be done. It made him feel more secure.” Siggi bought coat-hook spy cams and affixed them on the back of doors throughout the house, including bedrooms. He says he also installed a spy cam in a room used for meetings with visitors like Eric Schmidt of Google and Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes.

When I call Smith to ask him if he had ever seen any of these items in his house, he said he recalled finding a coat hook in a box and wondering why it was there. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s weird,'” he says. “‘Why would someone bring a coat hanger into my house?'”

Siggi’s infiltrations soon spiraled well beyond Ellingham Hall. While WikiLeaks has always maintained that they are, as Hrafnsson puts it, “passive recipients” of leaks, Siggi spent much of 2011 conspiring with the most renowned hackers on the Net. The operation fulfilled what was now a common pattern: Siggi going rogue but with what he said was his boss’s tacit approval. “I understood what Julian wanted,” Siggi says.

In the wake of the Manning cables, Assange wanted more newsmaking leaks, but the material coming in wasn’t meeting his insatiable appetite or ambitions. So Siggi reached out to Gnosis, a hacker group that made its name in December 2010 for compromising more than a million registered accounts on Gawker websites.

Gnosis tipped Siggi off to a notorious 16-year-old female from Anonymous named Kayla who had just helped hack HBGary, an IT security firm that worked for the U.S. government. Gnosis claimed to have an unpublished copy of HBGary’s database, including its clients’ names and e-mails. “Don’t release it,” Siggi messaged back. “Allow us.”

Anonymous, however, ended up leaking the files themselves, and Siggi told Gnosis that his boss was pissed. “You can’t really control Anonymous,” Gnosis replied. “You can kinda herd them in the right direction but other than that lol good luck.”

But that didn’t stop Siggi from trying. In January 2011, Siggi got word that DataCell, the hosting service behind WikiLeaks, had valuable contracts pulled by an Icelandic power company called Landsnet, and he wanted revenge. “I have a funny request for you,” Siggi wrote Kayla in one chat. “ is something ‘Anonymous’ should take down if it’s possible.” Two minutes later, Kayla replied that she’d just unleashed a botnet against the website, a form of a cyberattack that swamps the site with requests. Siggi tried logging on to the Landsnet site. “Haha request timed out,” he wrote.

The attack didn’t stop there. When Siggi explained that the Icelandic government had made a deal to assume DataCell’s contracts, Kayla asked if he wanted her to take down one of its sites too. “Definitely,” Siggi replied. Minutes later, a ministry site was down. But as the sites fell, Siggi joked that Kayla might inadvertently knock Iceland’s power offline too. “If you see a button that says turn off electricity don’t press it please,” he wrote.

With his connections to the Anonymous cell more secure, Siggi suggested that the group could be of even greater help – getting them more secret documents that WikiLeaks could release. “I don’t care where the information comes from,” Assange had told him, which Siggi took as carte blanche to solicit stolen material. So Siggi had Gnosis introduce him to one of the most infamous hackers of all: Sabu, leader of the Anonymous offshoot LulzSec. In the spring of 2011, LulzSec had taken down the sites of high-profile targets including Fox, the CIA and PBS, whose Web page they replaced with the title “FREE BRADLEY MANNING. FUCK FRONTLINE!” But Sabu wanted proof that Siggi was who he said he was by speaking with Assange directly. Siggi claims to have complied and arranged the Skype call.

With Sabu convinced, Siggi put him on a job: to dig further into the Icelandic government’s computers to see if it had intel on the DataCell deal. Soon, Sabu delivered. Siggi says Assange told him to have LulzSec upload the files to a WikiLeaks FTP server, which they did. And Sabu soon had more secrets to offer. He told Siggi his crew had recently hacked Stratfor, a “global intelligence” agency and government contractor, and found more than 5 million confidential e-mails between Stratfor and companies such as Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, as well as government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

But as the e-mails poured in, Siggi began to grow anxious and questioned the scale of the operation. Even though he was the one who initiated the relationship with the hackers, he worried that they were going too far. “Crossing this line by accepting stolen information and publishing this is literally just breaking the law,” he says he told Assange. “You’re going away from being a journalist organization and threatening national security.” But, once again, Assange told him he didn’t care how the information was obtained.

Back at home in his bedroom, Siggi couldn’t sleep. He lay in bed imagining the FBI breaking down his door, storming into his house, past his giant Garfield doll, his sleeping parents and his little sister, and hauling him off to Gitmo for good. For months, he’d had insomnia, but now his mind and heart were racing like never before. When he did manage to fall asleep, he woke up screaming.

Just after 3 a.m. on August 23rd, 2011, the pressure Siggi felt finally broke him. Crawling from bed, he e-mailed the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik and asked for a meeting. It wasn’t just the LulzSec association that concerned him. Assange seemed to have changed from the man he met the year before. While he was unwilling to donate the amount he’d promised to Manning’s defense, he was ready to blow large sums rehabilitating his ailing image. “I don’t care,” Assange told him. “We have a million bucks, and we can spend it on buying publicity.” For Siggi, it was a turning point. “I realized that this wasn’t the same ideology as before,” he says. But truth is, Siggi was also trying to save his own ass. Going to the FBI, he hoped, would inoculate him against prosecution. And, he admits, he thought being a spy for the feds would be a thrill. There was just one price to pay: “I would be betraying WikiLeaks, Julian, my friends,” he says.

The next day, Siggi got called to the U.S. Embassy and was soon taken to a nearby hotel, where he was met by the FBI. They wanted to know WikiLeaks’ physical security, their technical security, locations of computer servers, how Assange lived, his daily routine, “literally, everything,” Siggi says. And he had plenty of data to share: several hard drives of WikiLeaks private files that he had amassed during his time with the organization – just in case he ever needed them.

Signing a nondisclosure agreement, he spoke daily with the FBI, passing along the chats he was handling, the leaks that were in negotiation. And, as he told the FBI, there were big ones to be had, courtesy of Sabu. As they were getting the Stratfor files from LulzSec, Siggi had heard that Assange was trying to get Sabu to join the WikiLeaks team. “Did J say anything about recruiting you permanently?” Siggi asked Sabu in one chat.

“Well he emailed me once but we didn’t get to talk,” Sabu replied. “Guess he’s been busy/careful or whatever but let him know we have intercepted 92GB of mails from so this can be one of the biggest leaks in history.” In November 2011, Sabu began passing excerpts of this data, later published by WikiLeaks as the “Syria Files,” to Siggi – 2 million internal e-mails, going back to 2006, from companies, politicians and ministries in Syria. According to Siggi, when he told Assange about the new information, “He said, ‘OK, cool,'” Siggi recalls. “‘They can upload it.'”

But Siggi’s spy work was jeopardized that same month when he got an angry call from WikiLeaks’ spokesman Hrafnsson, accusing him of embezzling $50,000 in proceeds from selling WikiLeaks merchandise online. Siggi insists that he had run the money through his account with Assange’s permission, and that any extra cash went to cover his own expenses. With both sides warring, it isn’t clear whom to believe. But even if Siggi was guilty, the accusations raised more questions about why the boy, whom the group says had no role in the organization, had access to such funds in the first place. Hrafnsson threatened to report him to the police. Siggi e-mailed the FBI telling them the news. “No longer with WikiLeaks – so not sure how I can help you more. Sorry I couldn’t do more :(

To his surprise, the FBI still had more work for him. Shortly after WikiLeaks published the Stratfor files in February 2012, Siggi was flown to Washington, D.C., where he met with members of the CIA, the DOD and the FBI at a Marriott hotel. The questions became dizzying: They wanted to know about others besides Assange – Jónsdóttir, Hrafnsson and more.

It didn’t take long for the hammer to fall. On March 5th, LulzSec hacker Jeremy Hammond was arrested for hacking the Stratfor files leaked to WikiLeaks (he’d later be sentenced to 10 years in prison). The next day, Kayla, the LulzSec hacker Siggi had conspired with, was indicted on conspiracy charges – and revealed to be a man, 25-year-old Ryan Ackroyd, from England. But the biggest shock came when Siggi read in the news that Sabu was an FBI informant, and had been since June 2011. It suddenly all made perfect sense. For months, he had been informing the FBI of his conversations with Sabu, and they hadn’t seemed to care. And since Sabu had been an informant during the time of the Stratfor and Syria files, that meant something incredible: The FBI had been well aware of the Stratfor and Syria hacks all along, and done nothing to intervene. Their target had always been Assange. The biggest and most famous hack in recent years was a carefully built plot by the FBI to snare a man it considered as an enemy of the state.

“Ultimately, the FBI’s mission is to apprehend criminals and prevent the commission of serious crimes,” says Glenn Greenwald, the journalist whom Edward Snowden leaked NSA files to last year. “In this particular case, they purposely allowed the commission of serious crimes they could have easily stopped. To treat an American firm like Stratfor and the privacy of Syria as sacrificial lambs in a campaign to entrap Julian Assange into criminality is unbelievably radical – you can even say corrupt.”

During a meeting in Denmark in March, the FBI had Siggi sign over eight hard drives containing his WikiLeaks files. When Siggi asked them about Sabu, the agents just smiled and gave him $5,000 to cover his cost of living, then sent him on his way. He never heard from them again.

In January 2013, Siggi watched TV in horror as Hrafnsson told a reporter how he had learned the previous summer that the FBI had come to Iceland to secretly interview someone about WikiLeaks – he just didn’t know who it was. But after meeting with Ögmundur Jónasson, who had just left the position of Iceland’s Minister of the Interior, he pieced together that Siggi was the one who had gone to the FBI.

I met with Jónasson, who told me how, in June 2011, Iceland received a warning from U.S. authorities of “an imminent attack on Icelandic computer systems.” Two months later, Jónasson found out that a plane full of FBI agents had arrived in Iceland for another purpose: to investigate WikiLeaks. Because they didn’t have authorization for this, he turned them away – only to find out later that they had taken Siggi to Copenhagen. “I still have suspicion,” he says, “that this was part of an attempt to put a case against Julian Assange.”

Hrafnsson remains just as outraged, though he tells me he and Assange weren’t shocked. “We have stopped being surprised about anything,” he says. When I ask if Assange feels betrayed by Siggi, Hrafnsson arches his brow. “Inherently in your question is the assumption that there was a very close relationship, which I never saw.”

While Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Siggi faces the repercussions of coming clean. Among other things, for the first time in this story, he’s admitting to the Milestone leak. “It’s probably going to lead to my conviction,” he says. “But I just have to face that.” In the meantime, in addition to unrelated fraud charges, he’s appealing his sentence of eight months for sexual misconduct. Siggi claims the victim’s father pressed the charges after learning of Siggi’s relationship with his son; Siggi calls his homosexual tryst a “phase.”

As for WikiLeaks, should he ever get asked one day to testify against Assange, Siggi isn’t sure whether he will comply. He knows that he betrayed his former mentor and friend. But he says he did it all for the very same reasons he believed in WikiLeaks and Assange: “The truth needs to come out.”

This story is from the January 16th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone. ... le-102787/

Just Security
Just Security
Top law professor on Internet and press freedoms—who was witness for defense of Chelsea Manning—writes that Assange's actions in 2016 may be very different.

Prosecuting Wikileaks, Protecting Press Freedoms: Drawing the Line at Knowing Collaboration with a Foreign Intelligence Agency
The inadvertent disclosure of the likely existence of a sealed indictment against Julian Assange raises the question of what the constitutional implications of such an indictment might be. Only an indictment narrowly focused on knowing collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency, if in fact the evidence supports such a finding, would avoid the broad threat that such a prosecution would otherwise pose to First Amendment rights and press freedoms.

Any prosecution for the publication of the Chelsea Manning disclosures (war logs; embassy cables) or for involvement in the Edward Snowden disclosures would meet the same constitutional difficulties that arose at that time. As I argued in detail in 2011, and then as a witness for the defense in the Manning trial, for purposes of constitutional protection it is impossible to distinguish Wikileaks from more traditional media on stable grounds that cannot be leveraged against all manner of media organizations over time, including both partisan and mainstream media. No distinguishing line can usefully be drawn in organizational terms. Central to this discussion are federal cases concerning journalists’ privilege under state law, as well as the Supreme Court’s clear statement that “Liberty of the press is the right of the lonely pamphleteer who uses carbon paper or a mimeograph just as much as of the large metropolitan publisher who utilizes the latest photocomposition methods” from Branzburg v Hayes.

What’s more, the long history of rabid partisan presses in the nineteenth century, and the rise of frankly partisan media in the present media environment, mean that we cannot anchor the limits of press freedom in the organizational habits and institutional forms of professional journalism of the few decades between World War I and the rise of Fox News. The explosion of online journalism, by individuals and small teams, relying on diverse motivations—commercial, political, or social—makes any legal regime that enables prosecutors to finely thread needles and identify targets for prosecution because they are “not really media” inadequate to the times and the models that pervade contemporary media. The touchstone used in the journalists’ privilege cases from the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits was intent and function at the time of gathering information, not the mode of dissemination. As long as there is intent to gather information for public dissemination, the actor is acting as the role of the press.

It is well settled that a journalist who passively receives illegally obtained information is privileged to publish it (Bartnicki). That’s why the media organizations that published the Manning and Snowden materials could not be prosecuted, and Wikileaks was no different.

The only distinctive feature that might implicate Wikileaks in a criminal case arising from publication of the DNC and Podesta email dumps in the run-up to the 2016 elections was that the underlying illegal action was undertaken by a hostile foreign intelligence service, rather than by a whistleblower or domestic leaker. Whistleblowers play a vital role in checking systemic failures in all major public institutions and organizations. This is true even in the national security system, where disclosing documents to unauthorized third parties is almost always illegal, precisely because errors and abuses in the national security system can exact such high costs. This is why I have argued that national security whistleblowers deserve a robust defense against criminal prosecution. The case is different where a foreign intelligence service is concerned. Because whistleblowers take substantial risks when they disclose materials illegally, we can assume that they will not generally undertake that risky act except when they observe what they, at least, believe is serious wrongdoing involving significant public interests. That has certainly been the case in all major national security leaks investigated or prosecuted criminally in a manner that reached public knowledge since the end of World War II. By contrast, there is little reason to think that a foreign intelligence agency will seek to leak information or hack into systems illegally only where there is strong reason to think that the disclosed facts raise significant public interest considerations and expose wrongdoing. If a newspaper publishes materials it knows were obtained illegally by a foreign intelligence agency, therefore, the outlet should exercise particular care, because there is every reason to believe that the source is using the outlet to manipulate, rather than inform, the public.

But knowing that the materials were stolen by a foreign intelligence agency alone is insufficient to sustain a prosecution.

By October 7, 2016, the day that Wikileaks dumped the Podesta emails immediately after the Hollywood Access tape came out, and on the same day as DHS and ODNI issued a joint statement about the Russian origins of the DNC hacks, most media organizations should at least have suspected, if not worked with the operating assumption, that the DNC and Podesta emails were hacked by a foreign intelligence agency. Nonetheless, I doubt there are many who would argue that if reporters from the New York Times or Fox News decided to dig into the DNC and Podesta emails (as they did) to look for news stories, knowing full well that their source was likely a foreign intelligence agency that released the emails in order to help Russian interests at the expense of American interests, these reporters would be deprived of the protections under the passive receipt framework of Bartnicki.

So where, if anywhere, might the nature of the source of the information—potential whistleblower or foreign intelligence agency—matter? The answer lies primarily in the extent to which the media outlet is protected over time if it continues to coordinate with the source, but did not originally solicit and participate in the illegal action. Even this, however, may be a bridge too far. Let me explain.

There seems to be a broad sense, though no precedent, even among those who support strict limits on prosecution of journalists like Dan Froomkin and Elizabeth Goitein here on Just Security, that if a journalist knowingly solicits and participates in the illegality in advance, even where the source of the leak is a good faith whistleblower, the journalists’ First Amendment defense is on shaky grounds. On the other hand, media organizations coordinate with leak sources as a matter of course, including sources whose act of leaking is illegal, in meeting secretly and receiving the information without exposing the source to prosecution. To treat coordination after the initial illegality, aimed to maintain the secrecy of the source as a prosecutable offense would sweep in too much of normal journalistic practice in leak cases, and severely limit the ability of the press to fulfill its constitutionally-protected role.

So if Wikileaks knew and coordinated in advance around the DNC hacking and leaking, the case would be within the zone that most commentators see as prosecutable. But I doubt that the GRU needed much encouragement or help from Wikileaks before the hack or while continuing to hack. Assuming prosecutors cannot prove such prior active collaboration, under the normal interpretation of Bartnicki, that would be the end of the story. The only question that remains in my mind is whether Wikileaks can be prosecuted if it knowingly coordinated after the hack, knowing specifically that the source was a foreign intelligence agency, beyond what would be appropriate in charging a newspaper that coordinated with a source who had committed a crime to meet in secret, or help arrange a meeting (say, renting a hotel room). Again, the reason for differentiating domestic leakers and whistleblowers from foreign intelligence agencies is that the likely motivations and risks they undertake suggest that the public interest in the disclosures of the former are likely high, whereas the public interest in the latter case will more commonly be that they not reach the public sphere. Or at least we have no systematic reason to think that such disclosures will be aimed toward abuses of power.

Consider two hypothetical cases to mark the boundaries. Say a journalist at the New York Times receives materials from a person she knows to be a foreign intelligence agent (from country X), and knows that the materials were stolen in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Espionage Act. Imagine that the documents show that the U.S. Attorney General was bribed by an American firm to look the other way as the firm violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act while competing for a contract for sale of weapons, in which the American company competed with a company from country X whose intelligence agency is offering the information. Imagine further that the newspaper agrees to meet the intelligence agent two or three times, in secret locations, to receive information that would help in the newspaper’s own investigation to verify the claims. Here we have a case of a journalist who receives true information of enormous public value from a foreign intelligence agency working to advance its country’s military industry at the expense of the U.S. military industry. We even have some active cooperation over time. And yet, given the clear public interest in disclosure, I doubt there would be many who would argue that the publication should be susceptible to prosecution. In part, this is because the story discloses a true case of public corruption at the highest levels and involves only passive receipt of the information. And in part, because the nature of the cooperation was within the normal practice of meeting sources clandestinely because their exposure would subject them to severe negative consequences.

At the other end of the spectrum, consider an individual knowingly recruited, trained, and paid by an intelligence agency of a foreign adversary to be a reporter in the U.S. The aim is to use that reporter’s position to inject into the American media system occasional stories, some true, some false, selected, framed, and timed to inflict damage on the U.S. to the benefit of the foreign power. While maintaining her cover, the reporter regularly files bona fide stories as well. In this case, the risk that prosecution under a conspiracy theory to violate the Espionage Act or CFAA would spill over to other journalistic practices is minimal, since the strict necessity of showing active participation as a foreign agent would all but contain the case either to its facts, or to defense against active measures of a foreign adversary. Moreover, there is no reason to think that the disclosures would tend toward the public interest.

It’s here that I think the distinction between the normal cases of leakers and whistleblowers and the rare (as in, this would be the first) case of knowing active collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency offers the most leeway for a prosecution. The precedent would need to be tightly contained to deal with foreign active measures, and would not touch the overwhelming breadth of cases involving national security whistleblowers and other leakers. Even in such cases, passive receipt on the Bartnicki model, and minimal cooperation to achieve the handover of the documents, would be constitutionally protected.

I don’t know whether there was any knowing coordination between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence, and if there was, of what form. Certainly, the allegations in the DNC lawsuit, focusing on a broad and vague alliance of interests—essentially, hating Hillary and occasionally associating with RT—are woefully inadequate as evidence of knowing active cooperation. But the case may be stronger if there is clear evidence, for example, of direct and knowing collaboration with Russian intelligence to cover up the Russian origins of the hack. Consider, for example, when, on August 9, 2016, Wikileaks offered a $20,000 bounty to anyone who found information leading to the murderer of Seth Rich, or when Wikileaks published Robbin Young Twitter DMs with Guccifer 2.0 in another attempt to obscure the Russian origins of the hack. Again, these activities alone, without direct evidence of knowing collaboration or coordination, would not be enough to sustain a prosecution. After all, all these stories and other clearly Russian-origin stories received continuous amplification from Fox News, ZeroHedge, the Gateway Pundit, and throughout the right wing media ecosystem (you can see the details of these and other interventions, including Wikileaks’, in chapters 5, 7, and 8 of Network Propaganda).

It does not help the cause of protecting journalists and national security whistleblowers, who play a crucial role in holding the American national security establishment to account, to refuse to accept that there is a difference between publishing illegally obtained documents in the normal course of working with whistleblowers, and knowing active collaboration with a foreign adversary’s intelligence agency engaged in information operations aimed against American democracy. The former are a pressure valve who have, particularly in the 1970s and 2000s, served a critical role in exposing errors and abuses in the national security system. The latter present a systemic risk. The trick is to define the level of proof and the elements of the offense narrowly and clearly enough to make sure that this limited exception cannot be used to erode the otherwise broad immunity journalists enjoy under the First Amendment to publish materials, including illegally obtained materials. I think that insisting on the case being narrowly focused on knowing, active collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency could do just that. But if prosecutors cannot find evidence that would support such a limited charge, then the risks that a prosecution based on looser standards like those proposed in the DNC lawsuit, or based on a narrow definition of what “a press function” means, would pose too great a danger to press freedom.

Photo credit: Julian Assange on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images). ... ce-agency/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby Grizzly » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:56 pm

PenguinX (he was later known as Q)

I'm calling Bullshit. I don't believe ANY of the above, This is straight up octopus ink meant to confuse and obfuscate.
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:44 am

District court hearing on application to unseal court records (including the criminal charges) from the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange set for next Tuesday (11/27)


Adam Klasfeld

Verified account

Adam Klasfeld Retweeted WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks tweeted about this murky NY real estate deal involving Trump Int'l and the Erdogan family shortly after Roger Stone lobbied for Assange's pardon.

Multiple parties in the linked email chains are accused money launderers.


Here's what we know. Thread.


Verified account

Follow Follow @wikileaks
Did Trump sell a $28 million New York property to Turkish president Recep Erdoğan's son in 2013? Elena Baronoff (who used to work for the government of Russia as a "cultural attache") used her "" address to discuss the sale. ... archresult


In June 2013, Trump International’s Elena Baronoff - a former Russian “cultural attache” - exchanged several emails discussing pricy Midtown Manhattan real estate with then-head of a Turkish non-profit THO, which were forwarded to Erdogan’s son Bilal + son-in-law Berat Albayrak.

WikiLeaks published the hacked emails under the name “Berat’s Box” in Dec. 2016, but did not tweet this out until Jan. 18 this year.

Mother Jones recently reported Stone’s texts from Jan. 6 showing an effort to secure a pardon for Assange.

Text Messages Show Roger Stone Was Working to Get a Pardon for Julian Assange

Robert Mueller’s investigators have examined Stone’s efforts to neutralize possible criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Dan FriedmanOctober 25, 2018 10:27 AM

Mother Jones illustration; Emily Molli/NurPhoto/ZUMA; Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/ZUMA

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In early January, Roger Stone, the longtime Republican operative and adviser to Donald Trump, sent a text message to an associate stating that he was actively seeking a presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—and felt optimistic about his chances. “I am working with others to get JA a blanket pardon,” Stone wrote, in a January 6 exchange of text messages obtained by Mother Jones. “It’s very real and very possible. Don’t fuck it up.” Thirty-five minutes later, Stone added, “Something very big about to go down.”

The recipient of the messages was Randy Credico, a New York-based comedian and left-leaning political activist whom Stone has identified as his back channel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign—a claim Credico strongly denies. During the election, Stone, a political provocateur who got his start working for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, made statements that suggested he had knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to publish emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and other Democrats, and his interactions with WikiLeaks have become an intense focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. As Mueller’s team zeroes in on Stone, they have examined his push for an Assange pardon—which could be seen as an attempt to interfere with the Russia probe—and have questioned at least one of Stone’s associates about the effort.

“An effort by Stone to try to help Assange secure a pardon could be considered evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice,” says former prosecutor Paul Rosenzweig.
Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime in the United States, though the Justice Department has investigated WikiLeaks over its publication of classified material and role in releasing emails pilfered from Democratic targets by hackers working for Russian intelligence. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described arresting Assange, who for the last six years has taken refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to evade criminal charges in Sweden stemming from a rape allegation, as a “priority.” Justice Department prosecutors have considered charges against Assange since 2010, when WikiLeaks released more than a quarter million diplomatic cables.

Credico says Stone repeatedly discussed his effort to win a pardon for Assange. At one point, he notes, Stone claimed he was working with Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News personality and former New Jersey Superior Court judge, on a plan in which Napolitano would float the idea on his show or directly to Trump. Napolitano said in a statement that he “categorically denies” working with Stone to secure a pardon for Assange.

Stone confirmed the pardon effort but declined to answer specific questions. “I most definitely advocated a pardon for Assange,” he said in an email. He also said he had “most certainly urged my friend Andrew Napolitano” to support an Assange pardon.

It is not clear how far Stone’s effort went, and Credico says he wondered if Stone was being truthful. Stone, he notes, also claimed to have helped convince Trump to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, in August 2017. A supporter of WikiLeaks and its enigmatic leader, Credico says Stone’s text messages concerning an Assange pardon were part of a barrage of communications the Republican operative sent him earlier this year in a bid to convince him not to dispute Stone’s description of Credico as his WikiLeaks go-between. “He was trying to get me not to talk,” Credico contends.

Stone’s pardon efforts have drawn scrutiny from Mueller. Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide who once worked closely with Stone, told Mother Jones that prosecutors asked him during a February interview if Stone “ever discussed pardons and Assange.” Nunberg said he had not heard Stone discuss such an effort, and prosecutors did not raise the subject during his subsequent testimony before a grand jury. Credico declined to say if the topic came up when he testified before a grand jury convened by Mueller last month.

Former federal prosecutors say Mueller’s interest in Stone’s bid to help Assange may be part of an effort to untangle the relationship between the men and could factor in a potential effort to expose a criminal conspiracy involving the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks. “If Stone worked with WikiLeaks on the release DNC emails, an effort by Stone to try to help Assange secure a pardon could be considered evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice,” says Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel to Kenneth Starr on the Whitewater investigation.

In August, Stone raised the notion of pardoning Assange in an interview with the Washington Examiner, suggesting that prosecuting him was akin to targeting a journalist. “Even the Obama Justice Department concluded Assange did nothing the New York Times and Washington Post have not done, which is obtain classified information through whistleblowers, verifying its authenticity and publishing it,” Stone said.

Stone has also publicly urged Trump to pardon others ensnared in the Russia probe, including his former business partner, Paul Manafort, who was found guilty of bank and tax fraud in August and pleaded guilty last month to money laundering, illegal lobbying, and other crimes, and Michael Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Both Manafort and Flynn are cooperating with the Mueller investigation. When earlier this year Trump pardoned far-right pundit Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2014, Stone described it as a sign that Trump allies mired in the Russia scandal could expect similar treatment.

“It has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen,” Stone told the Washington Post.

The White House referred questions about Stone’s push for pardons for Assange and others to Trump’s outside counsel. One of Trump’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, declined to comment, saying, “We don’t discuss our ongoing conversations with the Office of Special Counsel.”

Stone’s push was just one of several efforts by Assange allies to help him win a pardon or leniency. Last year, Adam Waldman, a lawyer who also worked as a lobbyist for Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, approached the Justice Department on Assange’s behalf. Waldman sought a deal with US prosecutors where Assange would get safe passage to the United States to discuss his plans to release a stolen archive of documents that WikiLeaks obtained detailing CIA hacking operations. Assange seemed to hope to use the CIA material as a bargaining chip to win a pledge of legal immunity. That effort fizzled: The Justice Department refused to negotiate and WikiLeaks dumped the CIA documents in March.

Subsequently, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who is known for his pro-Russia views, advocated on Assange’s behalf. In August 2017, he met for three hours with Assange in London. Afterward, Rohrabacher pitched White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on a plan where Trump would pardon the WikiLeaks founder in exchange for Assange releasing information that would supposedly contradict the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee. Kelly reportedly declined to pass the idea on to Trump.

Barry Pollack, a lawyer who represents Assange in the United States, said in an email that he is not “involved in any efforts to obtain a pardon on [Assange’s] behalf.” But Pollack said, “A pardon for Mr. Assange is warranted. He has been in legal limbo for far too long, merely for publishing truthful information.”

Mueller’s examination of the pardon push forms part of the special counsel’s broader probe of Stone’s relationship and contacts with WikiLeaks—an investigation that appears to be heating up. The Washington Post recently reported that Credico told Mueller’s grand jury that Stone claimed in September 2016 that a different source was supplying him with inside information concerning WikiLeaks. (Stone told the Post he was referring only to secondhand information passed to him from a journalist.) CNN reported on Monday that Mueller has been looking into whether right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi acted as an intermediary between Stone and Assange.

The special counsel’s scrutiny has many people, including Stone, speculating that the self-described dirty trickster may be indicted after the midterm elections. As Stone recently emailed supporters while drumming up donations to his legal defense fund, “Robert Mueller is coming for me.” ... n-assange/

Adam Klasfeld

The emails involve a vacant 14-story building at 315 W. 35th Street.

The parties are:

Halil Danismaz- Non-profit THO’s then-prez, seen coordinating w/ Erdogan family in emails.
Baronoff- Trump exec w/ Russia ties (now deceased)
Lou Posner- Broker/ex-pimp (aka “Big Daddy Lou”)

Baronoff, who died in 2015, appeared in nine emails from June 2013, on Trump's behalf.

Erdogan implicated in a money laundering scheme during that time. An email mentions two banks involved in this scheme: Vakifbank and Ziraat. (Translation needed.)


Posner, the broker who the Post called Lap Dance Lou, is a disbarred lawyer who pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution at his strip clubs. His plea deal dropped a money laundering count against him.

His name's on the offering memorandum.


Lap dance club owner “Big Daddy Lou” disbarred

By Dareh Gregorian

Lap Dance Lou has been stripped of his law license.

Former Hot Lap Dance Club boss Louis “Big Daddy Lou” Posner was officially disbarred today for having “knowingly advanced and profited from prostitution” at his infamous – and now shuttered – Midtown jiggle joint.

Posner – who’d managed to wrangle a no-jail deal in his criminal case – contended the loss of his law license was too stiff a penalty, and asked the state Appellate Division for leniency.

In a unanimous decision, a five-judge panel denied the request, saying that since he’d pleaded guilty to a felony – promoting prostitution – the disbarment was automatic.

That leaves Posner without a livelihood.

The portly pimp had at at one point been grossing $22,000 a night with his second job, running his red velvet-swathed W. 38th Street nooky palace. During his guilty plea, Posner admitted he knew some of his lap-dancers were turning tricks in the back rooms of the club, a favorite of lawyers, stockbrokers and wealthy businessmen.

He also admitted “auditioning” new talent, granting himself numerous “comps,” and to personally collecting and pocketing some of his pro’s proceeds.

Posner, who could have faced up to 15 years in prison on the original money laundering charges against him, wound up being sentenced to five years probation and 60 hours of community service – but was barred from ever setting foot in a strip club again. ... disbarred/


The WikiLeaks emails do not show whether the real estate deal was completed. Public records show that the deed was sold three years ago to Mazel 315 West 35th LLC, a shell company tied to developer Isaac Chetrit.

Records from NY civil litigation show invoice from Mazel 315 West 35th LLC’s receiver billing for emails with Posner “regarding showing,” roughly two months before dates of Trump Int’l and Erdogan family emails.

Adam Klasfeld

Question for U.S./Turkish readers: What happened to Danismaz/Erdogan family/Trump Int'd deal described in the WikiLeaks emails?

Help me close the loop on this thread, one way or another.

Taking a cue from Fahrenthold's crowdsourcing on Trump Fndn, I tweeted out my research in search for any leads readers could provide. Your help pinning down what happened to this deal one way or another would be much appreciated. ... 8081768448
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Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:25 pm

Will shake-up at London embassy leave Assange out in the cold?

London (CNN)The Ecuadorian government has removed its ambassador to the UK, sparking speculation over Julian Assange's future at the diplomatic mission there.

The 47-year-old founder of WikiLeaks moved into the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London in 2012 while wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden. Assange maintained his innocence and claimed the charges were nothing more than an attempt to extradite him to the United States.

Ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz was forced to leave his post, according to an executive decree signed by Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and published Wednesday. The envoy had been in charge of the diplomatic mission since 2015 and had been an influential figure regarding Assange's future.

After the announcement, WikiLeaks said Thursday on Twitter, "All diplomats known to Assange have now been terminated to transferred away from the embassy."

Carlos Poveda, a member of Assange's legal team in Quito, Ecuador, told CNN he was disappointed with the ambassador's removal, saying it was "not an isolated incident."

"Abad was fully aware of all the details regarding Julian Assange's case, and there was a relationship of trust but with distance with him," he said.

The WikiLeaks lawyer also insisted the situation inside the embassy has continued to sour. "There is a hostile relationship between Assange and the embassy staff in the last few weeks," Poveda said.

Since Moreno took office, Assange has repeatedly claimed Ecuador has been trying to make life more difficult in a bid to force him to vacate the premises. Ecuador has denied it, with Ecuadorian Attorney General Íñigo Salvador telling reporters last month that his country was "not looking to revoke" Assange's asylum.

But the decision to oust Abad has fueled speculation that Ecuador is looking to push Assange out the door.

Fidel Narvaez, the former consul at the embassy, told CNN that Abad's removal should be seen as a bad omen for the WikiLeaks founder and his asylum.

"It seems like Ambassador Abad does not fit in with the strategy that has given up on protecting Julian and that aims to annoy him and make him break (so that) he leaves the embassy on his own," Narvaez said.

Julian Assange: The house guest who overstayed his welcome?
Narvaez considers Assange a friend and was part of the team that processed his asylum request six years ago. He said that career diplomats such as Abad should hold their positions for four or five years, meaning the envoy should have been in his post until sometime around 2020.

"I know Ambassador Abad and I have huge respect for him as a person and as a professional," Narvaez said. "I'm sure he felt uncomfortable with the government's hostile strategy toward Assange."

The former consul told CNN that Abad would have opted to resign before handing Assange over to British authorities and that he expects whoever the successor is to be less welcoming to the Australian.

"The government is probably going to appoint someone who is willing to make an embarrassing move like this one," Narvaez added.

With speculation rife over the WikiLeaks founder's fate, Ecuador released a statement playing down any links between Abad's removal and the Assange case.

"The case of London has nothing to do with the case of Assange," Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said. "We have a relationship with the UK that is handled between the two countries -- for example, the fight against corruption. There is more activity in the UK apart from the situation regarding Assange."

Valencia also reiterated that Ecuador had given Assange multiple options to conclude his endless residency at the diplomatic shelter.

"One is to leave and turn himself over to the British justice, facing the consequences for violating his bail conditions in the UK and the other one is to stay in the embassy but following the protocol rules that try to regulate his cohabitation in a workplace."

Abad's ejection from the London embassy comes a week after a bungled court filing revealed the US government's possible efforts to charge Assange criminally over his work with WikiLeaks.
Clerical error reveals charges against Assange
Clerical error reveals charges against Assange 02:10
WikiLeaks has been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of any links between President Donald Trump's associates and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. WikiLeaks posted thousands of emails stolen from Democrats by Russian agents during the election.

The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010 when the site posted thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

The shake-up in embassy leadership also comes days before new rules regarding Assange's living arrangements are due to come into effect.

According to the new rules established by Ecuador, Assange must start paying for his own food, medical care, laundry and other expenses beginning December 1.

Assange's legal team challenged the new residency conditions in court last month, but a judge ruled against the WikiLeaks founder, ordering that he must obey these rules if he wants to remain at the embassy. Assange's attorneys have appealed the ruling. ... cks/14211/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby Grizzly » Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:59 pm

Hope he makes it through the weekend if he is/isn't or wasn't already dead.... Obviously I have no idea if he's alive or dead then or now. Either way ... He may be soon enough...

If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby Jerky » Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:57 pm


Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?

We live in the age of the leaker. Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange are celebrated as heroes on op-ed pages and across glossy magazine spreads.

By exposing the secrets of the government, they claim to have revealed its systematic disregard for individual freedom and privacy. Theirs are not the politics of left against right, or liberals against conservatives, or Democrats against Republicans, but of the individual against the state. To oppose them is to side with power against liberty, surveillance against freedom, tyrannical secrecy against democratic openness.

What’s astonishing about their ascent to heroism is the breadth of their support. The embrace of the antiwar left and the libertarian right was to be expected. But effusions of praise for the leakers can also be found throughout the liberal establishment. The New York Times, which has come to rely on the leakers as prize sources, is now crusading on Snowden’s behalf. Its editorial page has celebrated him for having “done his country a great service” and supports clemency for the crimes he has committed. A stellar array of liberal intellectuals and pundits, from David Bromwich and Robert Kuttner to Richard Cohen and Ezra Klein, have hailed Snowden, as have elected officials, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Ron Wyden. To criticize the leakers, as the legal journalist Jeffrey Toobin and a few other writers have done, is to invite moral condemnation. Even mild objections to their methods are dismissed as damning proof of either corruption—“principle-free, hackish, and opportunistic,” in Greenwald’s words—or outright complicity with Big Brother.

So far, the adulatory treatment the leakers have received closely mirrors their own self-presentation. But important caches of evidence have gone largely unexamined by the media. Documents are, of course, the leakers’ stock-in-trade—and they have produced quite a few documents of their own. The Internet houses a variety of their writings for message boards, blogs, and magazines. Much of this writing was produced before the leakers entertained the possibility of a global audience. They are documents in which one can glimpse their deepest beliefs and true motives. What they reveal is at odds with the flattering coverage the leakers have received, and goes beyond personal eccentricities or dubious activities in the service of noble goals. They reveal an agenda that even the leakers’ most dedicated admirers should question.

Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange hardly subscribe to identical beliefs, and differ in their levels of sophistication. They have held, at one time or another, a crazy-quilt assortment of views, some of them blatantly contradictory. But from an incoherent swirl of ideas, a common outlook emerges. The outlook is neither a clear-cut doctrine nor a philosophy, but something closer to a political impulse that might be described, to borrow from the historian Richard Hofstadter, as paranoid libertarianism. Where liberals, let alone right-wingers, have portrayed the leakers as truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state and the Constitution from authoritarian malefactors, that’s hardly their goal. In fact, the leakers despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it.

Edward Snowden has presented his decision to steal nearly two million files from the National Security Agency (NSA) and release them to the world as a simple tale of a political awakening. He recounts the story this way: While working for the CIA in Geneva in 2007, he began having serious misgivings about the Bush-era surveillance state. Even then, Snowden considered leaking classified material. He stayed his hand because of the election of Barack Obama, who had vowed to reform the intelligence system. When the changes he had hoped for didn’t arrive, he became bitterly disillusioned. “I watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in,” Snowden later told The Guardian. “I got hardened.”

That’s when Snowden hatched his plan for crippling the NSA. According to a Reuters report, in April 2012, while working as an NSA contractor for Dell, Inc., he began downloading information about eavesdropping programs. Then, last March, Snowden took a job in Hawaii with the government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, intending to steal an even vaster collection of classified material. “[The job] granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position,” he later confessed to the South China Morning Post. Of course, as he explains it, he undertook his illicit mission with the most principled of motivations. The NSA’s activities pose “an existential threat to democracy,” he said. Closer examination of Snowden’s background, however, suggests that his motives were more complicated.

Snowden’s history is very difficult to piece together, not least because the CIA and the NSA are prohibited from confirming or denying details of his work for them. Still, there is enough information available to assemble a provisional profile.

By 1999, a 16-year-old Snowden had moved with his family from North Carolina to Maryland. He had dropped out of high school in his sophomore year and become enamored with computers. Snowden spent increasingly large swaths of his time on Ars Technica, a technology news and information website for self-described “alpha geeks.” Soon, he was posting regularly in the site’s public chat rooms under the user name “TheTrueHOOHA.”1 Snowden, it seems, mostly engaged in postadolescent banter about sex and Internet gaming—and occasionally mused about firearms. “I have a Walther P22,” he wrote. “It’s my only gun, but I love it to death.” The Walther P22, a fairly standard handgun, is not especially fearsome, but Snowden’s affection for it hinted at some of his developing affinities.

In May 2004, Snowden enlisted in an Army Special Forces program. He did so, he later told The Guardian, because he felt “an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression.” But he failed to complete the training and was discharged five months later. (He broke both of his legs in a training accident.)

After his discharge, Snowden found work as a security guard for the NSA at its Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, and, later, as an I.T. security specialist for the CIA. In 2007, he was posted to Geneva. Writing on Ars Technica, he described Switzerland as “pretty cool” but also “horrifically classist.” (He was, however, impressed with the country’s Nigerian immigrants: “Motherfuckers have been there like eight months and speak all three languages.”)

Snowden has traced his political conversion to the Bush years. And by the end of Bush’s second term, Snowden certainly held the president in low esteem. But not, apparently, his intelligence policies. Nor, it seems, was he drawn to insiders who exposed details of these programs. Quite the opposite: Snowden vilified leakers and defended covert intelligence ops. In January 2009, Snowden lambasted The New York Times and its anonymous sources for exposing a secret Bush administration operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Such infuriating breaches had occurred “over and over and over again,” Snowden complained. The Times, he railed, was “like wikileaks” and deserved to go bankrupt; sources who leaked “classified shit” to the Times ought to “be shot in the balls.” When an online interlocutor suggested that it might be “ethical” to report “on the government’s intrigue,” Snowden replied emphatically: “VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? No.” He explained, “that shit is classified for a reason.”

The Ars Technica posts also complicate Snowden’s narrative about Obama. It seems as if he never invested great faith in him. It is true that, during the 2008 election, TheTrueHOOHA compared him favorably to Hillary Clinton, whom he called a “pox.” But in the end, he voted for an unspecified third-party candidate.

And nearly as soon as Obama took office, Snowden developed a deep aversion to the new president. TheTrueHOOHA reacted furiously when Obama named Leon Panetta as his new director of central intelligence. But it was Panetta’s credentials he objected to, not his stance on surveillance matters. “Obama just named a fucking politician to run the CIA,” Snowden erupted. And he became furious about Obama’s domestic policies on a variety of fronts. For example, he was offended by the possibility that the new president would revive a ban on assault weapons. “See, that’s why I’m goddamned glad for the second amendment,” Snowden wrote, in another chat. “Me and all my lunatic, gun-toting NRA compatriots would be on the steps of Congress before the C-Span feed finished.”

At the time the stimulus bill was being debated, Snowden also condemned Obama’s economic policies as part of a deliberate scheme “to devalue the currency absolutely as fast as theoretically possible.” (He favored Ron Paul’s call for the United States to return to the gold standard.) The social dislocations of the financial collapse bothered him not at all. “Almost everyone was self-employed prior to 1900,” he asserted. “Why is 12% employment [sic] so terrifying?” In another chat-room exchange, Snowden debated the merits of Social Security:

<TheTrueHOOHA> save money? cut this social security bullshit

<User 11> hahahayes

<User 18> Yeah! Fuck old people!

<User 11> social security is bullshit

<User 11> let’s just toss old people out in the street

<User 18> Old people could move in with [User11].

<User 11> NOOO

<User 11> they smell funny

<TheTrueHOOHA> Somehow, our society managed to make it hundreds of years without social security just fine

<TheTrueHOOHA> you fucking retards

<TheTrueHOOHA> Magically the world changed after the new deal, and old people became made of glass.

Later in the same session, Snowden wrote that the elderly “wouldn’t be fucking helpless if you weren’t sending them fucking checks to sit on their ass and lay in hospitals all day.”

Snowden’s disgruntlement with Obama, in other words, was fueled by a deep disdain for progressive policies. The available postings by TheTrueHOOHA do show concerns about society’s “unquestioning obedience to spooky types,” but those date to 2010. Contrary to his claims, he seems to have become an anti-secrecy activist only after the White House was won by a liberal Democrat who, in most ways, represented everything that a right-wing Ron Paul admirer would have detested.

After Snowden revealed himself as the NSA leaker, Ars Technica editor Joe Mullin published an in-depth investigation of his Ars Technica postings, which concluded, “The Snowden seen in these chats is not the man we see today.” Mullin was referring to Snowden’s views about leaking government secrets, and to that extent, he was certainly correct. However, there is no reason to doubt that, when Snowden stole the files from the NSA, he still held many of the same views that he expressed as TheTrueHOOHA. Snowden’s politics seemed to still be libertarian-right: He sent Ron Paul two contributions of $250 during the 2012 presidential primaries.

Other evidence challenges Snowden’s trustworthiness. Snowden implied that, despite his lack of formal education, he had won posts of considerable authority within the NSA, due to his advanced skills as a programmer. But as Reuters has reported, Snowden gained access to mountains of classified material through more prosaic means: obtaining log-ins and passwords from a small number of highly trained co-workers, some of whom have since been fired from their posts. One of Reuters’s sources suggested that Snowden acquired the log-ins by telling his colleagues that he needed them “to do his job as a computer systems administrator.”

Reading Snowden’s selection of writings on Ars Technica, it’s hard to see evidence of a savvy—or even consistent—mind at work. Snowden doesn’t seem like a man prepared to become a global spokesman against government surveillance. And the posts certainly don’t indicate a man with a master plan. But over a year ago, he began communicating with Glenn Greenwald, a blogger at The Guardian, who possessed precisely the sophistication about politics and media that Snowden lacked.

In the mid-’90s, Glenn Greenwald was an associate at the prestigious corporate law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he had a reputation as a hard-knuckled combatant. But the job bored him—he would later admit to spending hours at work devouring political commentary on the Web.

Greenwald had the background of a conventional liberal. Raised in modest circumstances in South Florida, his first role model was his paternal grandfather, a local city councilman with a socialist bent. At New York University Law School, he was an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Yet in his online travels, he gravitated to right-wing sites such as Townhall, where he could engage in cyber-brawls with social conservatives. Over time, he met some of his antagonists in the flesh and, to his surprise, liked them.

By 1996, Greenwald had co-founded his own litigation firm, where he would spend the next decade. The firm did well, although by Greenwald’s own admission, many of the cases he worked were “shitty.” It was in his pro bono work that Greenwald discovered his true passion: defending the civil liberties of extremists.

In several cases over a five-year span, Greenwald represented Matthew Hale, the head of the Illinois-based white-supremacist World Church of the Creator, which attracted a small core of violently inclined adherents. In one case, Greenwald defended Hale against charges that he had solicited the murder of a federal judge. Hale was eventually convicted when the federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, produced the FBI informant with whom Hale had arranged the killing. Greenwald’s other clients included the neo-Nazi National Alliance, who were implicated in an especially horrible crime. Two white supremacists on Long Island had picked up a pair of unsuspecting Mexican day laborers, lured them into an abandoned warehouse, and then clubbed them with a crowbar and stabbed them repeatedly. The day laborers managed to escape, and when they recovered from their injuries, they sued the National Alliance and other hate groups, alleging that they had inspired the attackers. Greenwald described the suit as a dangerous attempt to suppress free speech by making holders of “unconventional” views liable for the actions of others. His use of a euphemism like “unconventional” to describe white nationalists was troubling, but on First Amendment grounds, he had a strong case and he made it successfully.

Greenwald’s pro bono work is not evidence of anything more than a principled lawyer providing hateful people with constitutionally guaranteed counsel. “To me, it’s a heroic attribute to be so committed to a principle that you apply it ... not when it protects people you like, but when it defends and protects people that you hate,” he recently told Rolling Stone. But Greenwald soon grew restless with litigation of any kind.

In 2005, Greenwald wound down his legal practice and launched his own blog, Unclaimed Territory, producing the sort of impassioned political writing that had fascinated him for a decade. His early postings included detailed accounts of the unfolding Valerie Plame affair and unsparing criticism of Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The blog’s chief interests—intelligence policy, civil liberties, media criticism, and national security—were largely the same as Greenwald’s today. So was its style: several lengthy, deeply informed postings a day, pitting the forces of light against the forces of darkness; mixing lawyerly analysis with bellicose hyperbole. Greenwald seemed to take pride in attacking Republicans and Democrats alike; hence, presumably, the title of his blog.

It wasn’t long before Greenwald had acquired a dedicated following. In 2007, he became a regular columnist for Salon, where his slashing attacks on the Bush White House made him very popular on the left. Over the coming years, he would win enthusiastic praise from, among others, Christopher Hayes, Michael Moore, and Rachel Maddow, who dubbed him “the American left’s most fearless political commentator.”

On certain issues, though, his prose was suffused with right-wing conceits and catchphrases. One example was immigration, on which Greenwald then held surprisingly hard-line views. “The parade of evils caused by illegal immigration is widely known,” Greenwald wrote in 2005. The facts, to him, were indisputable: “illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” Defending the nativist congressman Tom Tancredo from charges of racism, Greenwald wrote of “unmanageably endless hordes of people [who] pour over the border in numbers far too large to assimilate, and who consequently have no need, motivation or ability to assimilate.” Those hordes, Greenwald wrote, posed a threat to “middle-class suburban voters.”

Greenwald has since reversed his position and renounced the post about the “parade of evils.” (In his characteristically combative way, though, he blamed the recent rediscovery of his immigration writing on “Obama cultists” out to discredit him.) He ascribes that particular outburst to callow ignorance—a rather inadequate defense of remarks made by a seasoned 38-year-old New York lawyer.

By this point, Greenwald had come to reside in a peculiar corner of the political forest, where the far left meets the far right, often but not always under the rubric of libertarianism. He held positions that appealed to either end of the political spectrum, attacking, for example, U.S. foreign policy as a bipartisan projection of empire. Like most of his writings, his critique of America abroad was congenial both to the isolationist paleo-Right and to post–New Left anti-imperialists. His social liberalism struck an individualist chord pleasing to right-wing libertarians as well as left-wing activists. Greenwald began to envisage bringing these groups together—to dissolve the usual lines of political loyalty and unite the anti-imperialists and civil-liberties activists on the left with the paleoconservatives and free-market libertarians on the right—in a popular front against the establishment alliance of mainstream center-left liberals and neoconservatives.

Along those lines, Greenwald found common ground with the upper echelons of right-wing free-market libertarianism. In August 2007, he appeared at the Cato Institute’s headquarters in Washington. “I’m a real admirer of Cato,” Greenwald declared, “and of the work that Cato does and has done for the last six years under the Bush presidency.” He was not only referring to Cato’s criticism of the war on terror. Under Bush, Greenwald explained, “a political realignment” had occurred, one that rendered “traditional ideological disputes” irrelevant. Politics now turned on a fundamental question: “Are you a believer in the constitutional principles on which the country was founded and a believer in the fact that no political leader can exercise vast and unchecked powers?” To this question, Greenwald had a ready answer: “I find myself on the side of the Cato Institute and other defenders of what in the 1990s was viewed as a more right-wing view of limited government power.”

Greenwald had identified a vehicle for a political realignment: the presidential candidacy of the old libertarian warhorse Ron Paul. In November 2007, Greenwald called Paul “as vigilant a defender of America’s constitutional freedoms ... as any national figure in some time.” He acknowledged that “there is at least something in Paul’s worldview for most people to strongly dislike, even hate,” and he described Paul as “an anti-abortion extremist” and “near the far end” of the right’s stance on immigration policy. Still, he believed Paul to be a rare truth-teller, prepared to buck a corrupt bipartisan consensus.

This portrayal required highly selective political reasoning, not to mention a basic ignorance of U.S. history. Paul, a longtime supporter of the John Birch Society, is a quintessential paleoconservative, holding prejudices and instincts that predate the post–World War II conservative movement founded by William F. Buckley Jr. and others. Paleoconservatives, in their hatred of centralized government and consequent isolationism, regard U.S. history as a long series of catastrophes, starting with the defeat of the Confederacy. From the 1940s to the present, paleoconservatism has thrived on the fringes, in an ideological family tree that extends from the America First Committee to the Birch Society to Paul’s political operation.

Savvy about media self-presentation, Paul usually obscures the dark underbelly of this ideological legacy. Since the term “isolationism” has been discredited since the days of America First, Paul calls himself a “non-interventionist.” But there’s an entire archive to confirm Paul’s place in the far-right procession. His newsletters, produced over the years under various titles, disclose a disturbing pattern of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia (proposing the slogan, “Sodomy=Death”), and conspiracy-mongering. (Paul has implausibly denied writing the newsletters that were published under his name.) The newsletter’s racial writings are voluminous: “It is human nature that like attracts like,” read one edition of his newsletter. “But whites are not allowed to express this same human impulse. Except in a de facto sense, there can be no white schools, white clubs, or white neighborhoods. The political system demands white integration, while allowing black segregation.” Paul aims not to curtail the liberal state and the progressive taxation that underwrites it, but to obliterate them: “By the way, when I say cut taxes,” he proclaims, “I don’t mean fiddle with the code. I mean abolish the income tax and the IRS, and replace them with nothing.”

After Paul dropped out of the presidential race in June 2008, Greenwald wrote articles tepidly supporting the Obama campaign, emphasizing the “vitally important” task of defeating John McCain. (Paul had gone on to endorse the racist theocrat Chuck Baldwin of the Constitutional Party.) But he also sought to advance the realignment he had described to Cato. Greenwald appeared in February 2008 as a keynote speaker at Cato’s “Annual Benefactor Summit,” a conference of high-rolling donors in Las Vegas. Later that year, he appeared at a conference sponsored by the right-wing free-market libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2008, Greenwald joined with the anti-conservative founder Jane Hamsher to back the Accountability Now/Strangebedfellows PAC, with an assist from some of Ron Paul’s fund-raisers.

When bloggers confronted Greenwald about his associations with libertarians, the darling of the netroots and MSNBC left angrily batted the claims away as distortions. He need not have reacted so forcefully. Accused of working for Cato, for example, he might simply have said that he believed in addressing any organization that wanted to hear from him and left it at that. Instead, Greenwald attacked his critics as “McCarthyite” purveyors of “falsehoods, fabrications, and lies.”

In 2010, Greenwald began attacking the Obama administration from the left on a variety of domestic issues, attacking Wall Street corruption, opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and decrying inequality. Yet even as he insisted on his left liberalism, he remained a steadfast promoter of Ron Paul—“far and away the most anti-war, anti-Surveillance-State, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party.” (After Paul’s son, then senatorial candidate Rand Paul, questioned the Civil Rights Act, Greenwald agreed with criticism that the remark was “wacky,” but insisted that the real “crazies” in American politics were mainstream Democrats and Republicans.) In a debate with The Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, Greenwald justified how progressives could back Ron Paul over Obama. How his vaunted allies would govern over issues that he professes to hold dear—Social Security, Medicare, economic inequality, gay rights—is a subject he has not addressed.

During his political pilgrimage, Greenwald became consumed: For him, the national security apparatus is not just an important issue; it is the great burning issue of our time. He beholds American liberals, and American liberalism, as no less guilty than the so-called conservatives of the Republican Party for expanding and defending, at all costs, brutal American imperialism abroad and tyrannical surveillance at home. It is hard to imagine any system of intelligence gathering Greenwald would endorse.

In 2010, Greenwald spoke to Julian Assange for a Salon column praising WikiLeaks for its “vital” work. His enthusiasm for Assange’s mission drew him into the world of computer hackers and security leakers—a world where it became possible not simply to criticize the national security state, but to sabotage it.

In May 2010, Julian Assange delivered an address that neatly captured his bizarre historical understanding and the messianic sense of mission that pervades WikiLeaks. Speaking to the Oslo Freedom Forum about state censorship and human rights in the West, Assange declared that the American slogan emblazoned on the gates of Guantánamo—HONOR BOUND TO DEFEND FREEDOM—is a worse “perversion of the truth” than the signs at Nazi concentration camps proclaiming that work makes you free.He went on to offer an eccentric sketch of contemporary history. “The alliance that once existed between liberals and libertarians and the military-industrial complex in opposing Soviet abuses in the cold war is gone,” Assange said. Since 1991, the “natural interests” of the malevolent forces in the world—authority, the intelligence agencies, and the military—had taken over. The task for today’s freedom fighters, he concluded, is to “find secret abusive plans and expose them where they can be opposed before they are implemented.” It is an animating ideology that could only have emerged from Assange’s own singular history.

Born and raised into the 1970s Australian counterculture, Assange’s biological father abandoned the family before he was born. In 1980, his mother, Christine, became involved with Leif Meynell, a member of a new-age cult known as the Family. The couple had a son together, but when the relationship broke down, Christine became fearful that Meynell would seize their child. She took the boys on the run, moving dozens of times during Assange’s teenage years. Along the way, Assange developed an entrenched distrust of authority and a prodigious talent for computer-programming. By the time he was 16, he was becoming a gifted hacker.

Working with two other hackers under the name International Subversives, Assange used the pseudonym Mendax to hack into the systems of various major institutions, including the U.S. Air Force’s 7th Command Group. In 1994, he was charged with 31 counts of hacking and related crimes, which carried the possibility of a ten-year prison term. When the case came to trial the following year, Assange pleaded guilty to 25 of the hacking charges and was only required to pay a small amount in damages. The experience set him on the intellectual path that would lead him to found WikiLeaks.

Assange had never understood the charges against him. The way he saw it, he had neither stolen information nor harmed the sites he accessed; his crime was victimless—if it was a crime at all. While awaiting trial, he read Solzhenitsyn and identified with the doctors and scientists who were thrown into the gulag. As Raffi Khatchadourian observed in a New Yorker profile, Assange came to see “the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution.”

Assange’s manifesto, “Conspiracy as Governance,” completed in 2006, lays out his core philosophy. Authoritarian power, he wrote, was lodged in conspiracies of operatives who, “in collaborative secrecy, work[ed] to the detriment of a population.” In order to destroy that apparatus, Assange reasoned, the defenders of “truth, love, and self-realization” must disrupt the authority’s communication systems and cut off its secret information flows. Stealing and leaking a regime’s secrets were thus vital tactics in the struggle against authoritarian evil. In 2006, Assange launched WikiLeaks to put these ideas into practice.

The site’s early scoops exposed a random mélange of material, including protocols for the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, secret manuals of the Church of Scientology, the actor Wesley Snipes’s tax returns, and a list of contributors to Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman. Then, beginning in February 2010, came the Chelsea Manning leaks of a vast trove of classified documents, many of them concerned with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the next 18 months, WikiLeaks would release hundreds of thousands of these documents, including the so-called “Iraq War Logs” (until then the largest leak of classified material in the Defense Department’s history) and a quarter of a million unclassified, confidential, and secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Five major news organizations—The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel—partnered with WikiLeaks to run stories based on the Manning documents. Suddenly, Assange was an international celebrity, and the accolades and awards poured in, including the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

And then, just as suddenly, the whirlwind veered off path. In August 2010, two Swedish women leveled accusations of sexual violence against Assange, and prosecutors sought his extradition from the United Kingdom. It was the beginning of a spectacularly weird sequence of events that landed Assange in asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012, where he remains. He and his defenders protested that the entire affair was a set-up; his U.K. lawyer, Mark Stephens, claimed the heroic leaker had been caught in a “honey trap” laid by “dark forces.”

In the wake of the WikiLeaks frenzy, Assange often tried to clarify where he stood politically. His simultaneous embrace of leftist icons such as Noam Chomsky and right-wing libertarians seemed to indicate that he was open to ideas from either end of the political spectrum, so long as they were directed against authoritarianism. Finally, in 2013, Assange proclaimed, “The only hope as far as electoral politics presently ... is the libertarian section of the Republican Party.”

Yet even that declaration was misleading. In practice, Assange has a history of working closely with forces far more radical than the Republican Liberty Caucus. Late in 2012, Assange announced the formation of the WikiLeaks Party in Australia. The party nominated Senate candidates in three states, with Assange running for office in Victoria. (He stumped via Skype from his refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy.) It had been expected that WikiLeaks would ultimately throw its support to the Green Party—especially after the party’s National Council voted in favor of such a move. Instead, WikiLeaks aligned with a collection of far-right parties. One was the nativist Australia First, whose most prominent figure was a former neo-Nazi previously convicted of coordinating a shotgun attack on the home of an Australian representative of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. Members of the WikiLeaks Party blamed the flap on an “administrative error”; mass resignations from the party’s leadership followed. Those who quit cited a lack of transparency in the party’s operations, and some pointed to remarks Assange had made blasting a Green Party proposal to reform Australia’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers. For his part, Assange welcomed the walkout, saying that it had eliminated elements that were “holding the party back.” He won 1.24 percent of the vote.

Even more disconcerting was Assange’s expanding relations with official Russia. In October 2010, just before WikiLeaks reached the acme of its influence with the release of the State Department cables, Assange vowed that WikiLeaks would expose the secrets not just of the United States but of all repressive regimes, including that of Russia. In an interview with Izvestia, a formerly state-controlled daily, he explained, “We have [compromising materials] about your government and businessmen.” The same day, Kristinn Hrafnsson of WikiLeaks told a reporter, “Russian readers will learn a lot about their country.”

Unlike the Americans, though, the Russians put WikiLeaks on notice. The day after Hrafnsson’s interview appeared, an anonymous official from Russia’s secret police, the FSB, told the independent Russian news website, “It’s essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, [WikiLeaks] can be made inaccessible forever.”

Then, something strange happened: A few days after Assange was arrested on sexual assault charges, Kremlin officials emerged as some of his most vocal defenders. The Moscow Times reported that Vladimir Putin himself had condemned Assange’s arrest: “If it is full democracy, then why have they hidden Mr. Assange in prison? That’s what, democracy?” Putin’s indignation was echoed by other top Russian politicians, including State Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov, who observed, “The real reason for his arrest is to find out by any means who leaked the confidential diplomatic information to him and how.”

Within weeks, contacts commenced between WikiLeaks and elements favorable to Putin’s ruling party. The promised damning documents about Russia never saw the light of day. The Moscow Times article also recounted how the Russian Reporter, a Putin-friendly publication, had gained “privileged access” to “hundreds of [American diplomatic] cables containing Russia-related information.”

These contacts began when, according to The Guardian, Assange made batches of the State Department cables available to Israel Shamir, a Russian-born Israeli journalist who was involved with WikiLeaks. After Shamir took the cables to Moscow, he traveled to Belarus. There, he met aides to the dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who was then campaigning in a sham election. (Shamir, a controversial figure within WikiLeaks, has evolved into a vociferous Holocaust denier, obsessed with Jewish power.) Not long after Shamir arrived, according to accounts published by the Index on Censorship and the American online magazine Tablet, local news outlets started reporting that the official media was preparing to publish secret documents about the Belarusian opposition.

On December 19, 2010, Lukashenko declared himself reelected with 80 percent of the vote. His nearest opponent, the respected dissident Andrei Sannikov, carted off to jail, where he has reportedly been tortured. After the election, Shamir wrote a glowing account of Lukashenko’s government in CounterPunch, denouncing the opposition as “the pro-Western ‘Gucci’ crowd.” He also boasted that WikiLeaks had exposed American “agents” in Belarus, according to an account in the New Statesman.

The boasts were ugly but not idle. The next month, a state-run newspaper published what it claimed were excerpts from cables provided by Shamir, which supposedly identified prominent dissidents, including Sannikov, as paid American agents. James Ball, a former WikiLeaks employee who now works for The Guardian, has written that when he and others raised questions about Shamir’s actions, “we were told in no uncertain terms that Assange would not condone criticism of his friend.”

The Belarusian affair coincided with a deepening of Assange’s connections to Putin’s government. Without much public commentary, Assange has acquired something like Russian government media sponsorship. In April 2012, he launched a half-hour political TV show—eventually named “The Julian Assange Show”—on the Kremlin-funded and -controlled RT television network and website. His first guest was the normally furtive Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. At a moment when Assange’s bright light seemed to be fading, the Russians gave him his own outlet on a network whose primary mission is to advance Putin’s political line. (Greenwald has defended Assange’s association with RT, arguing that working for the Russian network is no different from writing for major U.S. outlets such as The Washington Post, NBC, and The Wall Street Journal, all of them supposedly corrupted by their right-wing corporate ownership.) Assange’s connections to Putin’s regime would appear to have something to do with the next chapter in the NSA controversy—how and why Edward Snowden came to seek asylum in Russia.

On May 20, Snowden fled Hawaii with hard drives full of NSA material and arrived in Hong Kong, where he was joined by Greenwald and his associate, the filmmaker and activist Laura Poitras. The day after the pair revealed to the world Snowden’s identity as the NSA “whistle-blower,” Assange praised him as a “hero” from within the Ecuadorian Embassy. In time, Assange would disclose that WikiLeaks was paying for Snowden’s travel and lodgings and providing him with legal counsel. In mid-June, Assange’s confidante, the WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, arrived in Hong Kong and joined Snowden. From this moment on, Assange and WikiLeaks became central to the Snowden story.

In initial interviews with Greenwald and Poitras, Snowden said he willingly accepted the risk of going to prison and that he wanted to end up in a country with strong protections for privacy rights, possibly Iceland. But the Obama administration indicated that it regarded Snowden as a serious criminal, and before long, it became clear that Snowden’s chief concern was in finding a country that could safely get him out of Hong Kong, no matter how despicable its own record on privacy rights.

On June 21, according to a report in the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Snowden took up residence at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong. Two days later, he and Harrison boarded an Aeroflot flight for Moscow. Reports vary about who exactly steered Snowden to the Russians. But WikiLeaks has claimed the credit, tweeting that it had helped to arrange for Snowden to gain “political asylum in a democratic country.” Izvestia divulged that the Kremlin and its intelligence services, in collaboration with WikiLeaks, had completed Snowden’s escape.

Within days of Snowden’s arrival in Sheremetyevo airport, powerful Russians expressed interest in having him work with the Putin government. Senator Ruslan Gattarov, a Putin ally, offered to hire Snowden as a consultant for a Duma working group that would investigate whether U.S. Internet firms gave information about Russians to Washington. Kirill Kabanov, a member of Putin’s so-called Human Rights Council, called for the Kremlin to grant Snowden political asylum; Putin had offered to consider such a request soon after news broke about Snowden’s thefts.

On July 12, having been holed up at the airport for three weeks, Snowden held an event widely described as a press conference to announce that he would be seeking temporary asylum. He spoke not before the hundreds of journalists who had flocked to the airport, but before a carefully selected group of invitees that included “pro-Kremlin figures in the guise of civic activists,” according to a posting on The New Yorker website by Russia expert Masha Lipman. Also in attendance was Anatoly Kucherena, a prominent attorney who serves on the pro-Kremlin Public Chamber and the body appointed to oversee the FSB, and who has since become Snowden’s lawyer and sole spokesman to the world.

In his statement Snowden praised the international resistance to “historically disproportionate aggression,” by which he meant the U.S. attempts to bring him to justice. “Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world.” No credible public figure has praised Russia’s increasingly vile record on civil liberties for many years. For Snowden and for WikiLeaks, it appears, what really counts in the field of human rights is a willingness to protect Edward Snowden.

The payoff of the Snowden affair for Putin and the Russians thus far has been substantial. Just as the Kremlin’s human rights reputation, already woeful under Putin, has spiraled downward, it is able to swoop in to rescue an American political outlaw, supposedly persecuted by the Obama administration. The dissident journalist Masha Gessen has observed, “The Russian propaganda machine has not gotten this much mileage out of a U.S. citizen since Angela Davis’s murder trial in 1971.”

More than that, the Russians have used Snowden to embarrass the United States with one very specific complaint. The Putin regime has long hated the central role that the United States plays in setting the rules of the Internet through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and wanted to assert maximum control over the Internet within its own borders. With Snowden, it had scored the ultimate data point in its case—the crucial evidence that the United States was manipulating the Internet for its own nefarious means. “We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls,” Gattarov told an interviewer. “This is the lesson Snowden taught us.”

Some of the documents stolen by Edward Snowden have revealed worrisome excesses on the part of the NSA. Any responsible whistle-blower, finding evidence of these excesses, might, if thwarted by her or his superiors, bring the evidence of those specific abuses to the attention of the press, causing a scandal, which would prod Congress and the NSA itself to correct or eliminate the offensive program.

The leakers and their supporters, however, see things very differently. To them, national security is not a branch of the government; it is the government, or it is tantamount to being the government: a sinister, power-mad authority. As Greenwald has argued: “The objective of the NSA and the U.S. government is nothing less than destroying all remnants of privacy. They want to make sure that every single time human beings interact with one another, things that we say to one another, things we do with one another, places we go, the behavior in which we engage, that they know about it.” It is impossible, therefore, to reform this clandestine Leviathan from the inside. And so the leakers are aiming at de-legitimating and, if possible, destroying something much larger than a set of NSA programs. They have unleashed a torrent of classified information with the clear intent of showing that the federal government has spun out of control, thereby destroying the public’s faith in their government’s capacity to spy aggressively on our enemies while also protecting the privacy of its citizens. They want to spin the meaning of the documents they have released to confirm their animating belief that the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions.

According to the leakers’ own evidence, however, this interpretation is simply not the case. The files leaked so far strongly indicate that the U.S. intelligence system, although in need of major reform, is not recklessly spying on its citizens. The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies found serious problems with the NSA’s data collection, and recommended, among other restrictions, outlawing the NSA’s practice of amassing and storing the phone records of virtually all Americans. Yet it also showed persuasively that the NSA has acted far more responsibly than the claims made by the leakers and publicized by the press.

There are many examples of such sensationalism. Early on in the affair, for example, Snowden’s most spectacular charge was that, at his desk, without a warrant, he could eavesdrop on anyone “even the president, if I had a personal email.” Several weeks later, Greenwald, writing in The Guardian, revealed a document that purportedly substantiated that claim—“training materials” for a supposedly “top secret” program called xKeyscore, described in the document as the NSA’s “ ‘widest-reaching’ system for developing intelligence from the internet.” The gist of Greenwald’s article was widely reprinted in the American press.

Inspected carefully, however, the documents are plainly not “training materials.” Instead, they are more likely the PowerPoint version of a puffed-up marketing brochure, possibly or even probably from an outside contractor trying to sell the program to the NSA. The title slide dates from January 2007, which means that they predate important legislation passed in August 2007 and July 2008 that sharply checked the NSA. And the slides say absolutely nothing about giving users the power to read e-mails, with or without a warrant. Greenwald’s article does cite another set of xKeyscore materials which dates from 2012, and which might well prove that the article’s claims and Snowden’s statement were accurate and truthful. But Greenwald and The Guardian have not made those materials public, and when the defense writer Joshua Foust, who pointed out many of these criticisms, subsequently questioned them about the documents, Guardian editors replied that they had no intention of releasing them. The champions of “transparency” have been remarkably opaque when they choose to be.

A similar pattern recurs with other supposedly damning documents. Among those cited by The New York Times, in its editorial supporting clemency for Snowden, is one that purportedly proves “the N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded its authority, thousands of times per year, according to the agency’s own internal auditor.” But the Times was drawing on a Washington Post report that failed to say whether the “thousands” of violations amounted to a significant proportion of the total uses of the database, or only a relative handful, within the margin for human error. The Timesalso failed to emphasize that, according to the document, the vast majority those violations, as audited in the first quarter of 2012, were due to simple human or mechanical error and that there was no way of knowing whether the balance involved serious, as opposed to technical, violations of law. The findings, finally, came from an internal audit by the NSA—an indication that the NSA takes steps to police itself.

The leakers have gone far beyond justifiably blowing the whistle on abusive programs. In addition to their alarmism about domestic surveillance, many of the Snowden documents released thus far have had nothing whatsoever to do with domestic surveillance. As Fred Kaplan has pointed out in Slate, Snowden has exposed NSA operations to track the Taliban in Pakistan, monitor e-mails for intelligence of developments in Iran, and more surveillance abroad. These operations, Kaplan notes, were neither illegal, improper, or, in the context of contemporary global affairs, immoral. Regardless of whether any of these documents in any way compromised U.S. interests abroad, they were plainly not the revelations of “whistle-blowers” seeking to secure Americans’ constitutional rights. They are the revelations of leakers, out to damage their bugaboo national security behemoth.

Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange have largely set the terms in the debate over transparency and privacy in America. But the value of some of their revelations does not mean that they deserve the prestige and influence that has been accorded to them. The leakers and their supporters would never hand the state modern surveillance powers, even if they came wrapped in all sorts of rules and regulations that would constrain their abuse. They are right to worry, but wrong—even paranoid—to distrust democratic governments in this way. Surveillance and secrecy will never be attractive features of a democratic government, but they are not inimical to it, either. This the leakers will never understand.

Sean Wilentz is a contributing editor at The New Republic and the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University.

Ars Technica has released a small selection of his postings. While there’s no absolute proof that TheTrueHOOHA and Snowden are one and the same, overwhelming evidence suggests they are. Snowden used the same screen name on other sites and every aspect of TheTrueHOOHA’s biography lines up with Snowden’s. The New York Times and Reuters both attribute TheTrueHOOHA’s writings to Snowden.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:46 pm


Do I care what Andrew Jackson apologist and rah-rah patriotic historian Sean Willentz thinks? Sometimes. You managed to post this extremely long article without any commentary or introduction, and included the picture, yet omitted the publication, a link, and, most relevantly, a date. The article is from January 2014. That doesn't invalidate it in itself, but is important information to include.

I find it typical of the "Shoot the Messenger" genre, and long enough to make me wish he had just done that already, and not tortured the reader with so much triviality, crusading, and personal skew.

WHERE IS THE NSA? WHERE IS THE STATE DEPARTMENT? Where is the surveillance state? What do I care about Snowden's past chats, by comparison? Where is Clapper's perjury? Where are the tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan that Manning exposed for the first time?

Here is Ta-Nahesi Coates responding Willentz - in January 2014 - and saying a lot more that is important, with far fewer words. ... ct/283323/

Sean Wilentz Tries to Change the Subject
How much does it really matter what Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange believe about politics?

JAN 24, 2014

Eminent Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has published a piece titled, "Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?" Wilentz promises to examine "important caches of evidence" which have been overlooked and reveal the unholy troika's "true motives" which are at odd with the liberal portrayal of them as "truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state."

I think it's worth knowing the politics that animate "the leakers," as Wilentz dubs them, and engaging them. But hasn't this engagement been going on for some years now? Glenn Greenwald's politics have long been a subject of debate among liberals. Haven't Julian Assange's politics also been up for debate, particularly among feminists? I guess Edward Snowden's politics haven't been as closely examined, but that only leads to deeper critique—Edward Snowden is significant because of what he told us about the NSA, not because he's Paul Wellstone reincarnated.

In short, I think we know quite well what "the leakers" are thinking, but we're much more interested in what the NSA is doing. I know Wilentz is a prominent and celebrated historian, this piece just reads like elongated ad hominem. If Edward Snowden was a white supremacist, I would still be concerned about NSA officers spying on their exes, and James Clapper lying to the Senate.

See Henry Farrell's thorough response for more.

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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby Harvey » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:38 pm

I guess it's now or never for Julian. I had my doubts some years ago but he's proved himself not only independent of the machine and 100% reliably authentic but willing to sacrifice everything, no armchair involved. Back him. If you want to consent to be governed and you want that consent to be informed, it matters.


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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:12 pm

Come join the other thread!

Every time you bump this one (sorry, just did) you bump a juvenile joke headline from 8 years ago with the effect of trivializing and personalizing this story.

I know that's like, less than nothing.

What to do, what to do? It will be up to us to show up if he's actually tried in the States...
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:46 am

Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
Exclusive: Trump ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published

Dan Collyns
Last modified on Tue 27 Nov 2018 09.25 EST

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

Manafort was jailed this year and was thought to have become a star cooperator in the Mueller inquiry. But on Monday Mueller said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the FBI, despite agreeing to cooperate two months ago in a plea deal. According to a court document, Manafort had committed “crimes and lies” on a “variety of subject matters”.

His defence team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

Why Manafort sought out Julian Assange in 2013 is unclear. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Manafort’s first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.

A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”.

According to two sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March.

Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.

Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.

Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafort’s visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.

The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Hillary Clinton has said the hack contributed to her defeat.

The previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection is likely to be of interest to Mueller, who has been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and associates of Trump including the political lobbyist Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr.

One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation – and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.

Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.

In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

According to sources, Manafort’s acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Why Manafort sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear. During this period the veteran consultant was involved in black operations against Yanukovych’s chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych had jailed. Manafort ran an extensive lobbying operation featuring European former politicians.

He flew frequently from the US to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev – usually via Frankfurt but sometimes through London, flight records seen by the Guardian show.

Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. In August a jury convicted him of crimes arising from his decade-long activities in Ukraine. They include large-scale money laundering and failure to pay US tax. Manafort pleaded guilty to further charges in order to avoid a second trial in Washington.

As well as accusing him of lying on Monday, the special counsel moved to set a date for Manafort to be sentenced.

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

According to the dossier written by the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, Manafort was at the centre of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin “hated and feared”.

In a memo written soon after the DNC emails were published, Steele said: “The [hacking] operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”

As a candidate Trump warmly welcomed the dump of DNC emails by Assange. In October 2016 he declared: “I love WikiLeaks.” Trump’s comments came after WikiLeaks released a second tranche of emails seized from the email account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

The Trump White House subsequently sent out mixed messages over Assange and his legal fate. In 2017 and behind the scenes Assange tried to reach a deal with Trump’s Department of Justice that might see him avoid US prison.

In May 2017, , Manafort flew to Ecuador to hold talks with the country’s president-elect Lenín Moreno. The discussions, days before Moreno was sworn in, and before Manafort was indicted – were ostensibly about a large-scale Chinese investment.

However, one source in Quito suggests that Manafort also discreetly raised Assange’s plight. Another senior foreign ministry source said he was sceptical Assange was mentioned. At the time Moreno was expected to continue support for him.

Last week a court filing released in error suggested that the US justice department had secretly charged Assange with a criminal offence. Written by the assistant US attorney, Kellen Dwyer, the document did not say what Assange had been charged with or when the alleged offence took place. ... an-embassy
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:32 pm

Federal judge says charges against Assange to remain sealed for now

Megan Keller11/27/18 12:33 PM EST
Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema said federal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain sealed for the time being, adding that she will rule later as to whether or not the public has a right to see the documents.

The comments come after a recently revealed court filing showed U.S. prosecutors have pressed sealed charges against Assange. Details about the charges remain unknown.

"This is an interesting case, to say the least," Brinkema said Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

"Obviously, some kind of mistake has been made," Brinkema added, referring to the government's exposure of Assange's name.

"Given the fact that this statement does appear in a government filing, and given that everybody knows where this man is, what is the rationale for sealing the charge?”

Brinkema told the Post that she knew of no other instance in which a state was forced to unseal a charging document before the defendant's arrest.

The Post reports that attorneys for the nonprofit pushing for the unsealing of the charges, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, plan to file new documents.

"The filing, inadvertent or not ... confirms the speculation” that Assange has been charged with a crime, the group's legal director Katie Townsend said in court.

“At a minimum, Mr. Assange knows that he has been charged," she said.

Therefore, she argued, any reason for keeping the case sealed has “evaporated.”

U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg asserted that it has not been confirmed that Assange has been charged, according to the Post. The paper notes that officials previously told it that the charges were filed.

“Any discussion of why it would be sealed cannot be done in a public forum,” he said. “This court ... doesn’t know what needs to be said.”

The man representing Assange, Barry Pollack, said that he will make a motion to intervene with the proceedings.

“Mr. Assange as a journalist is certainly aligned with the Reporters Committee,” he said. ... ed-for-now

Mueller Probing Manafort Meeting With Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno: Report

James Lawler Duggan
Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a meeting between ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, CNN reported Tuesday. The meeting reportedly took place in 2017 in Quito, and Mueller has made inquiries about whether WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange, came up during the sit-down. The revelation comes hours after The Guardian, citing unnamed sources, reported that Manafort met repeatedly in secret with Assange at London’s Ecuadorian embassy before WikiLeaks published hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Manafort has denied the meetings ever occurred. ... eno-report

Ecuador just finished removing its Ambassador to the United Kingdom, along with essentially every other diplomat who had any kind of relationship with Julian Assange, from its embassy in the UK......I wonder why...someone helping Manafort get into the embassy

Will shake-up at London embassy leave Assange out in the cold? ... index.html

The U.S. State Department posted a blurb today on its official website

The headline is “Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting With Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia and Finance Minister Richard Martinez” and the press release goes on to reveal that the meeting took place yesterday.

Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia and Finance Minister Richard Martinez

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 27, 2018

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:‎

Secretary Pompeo met on November 26 with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia and Finance Minister Richard Martinez. They reaffirmed their commitment to expand bilateral cooperation on a number of political and economic issues, including through the recently relaunched U.S.-Ecuador Trade and Investment Council. Secretary Pompeo confirmed U.S. support for Ecuador’s efforts in strengthening democratic institutions and President Lenin Moreno’s commitment to democratic reforms. He also recognized Ecuador’s significant support to Venezuelan refugees and migrants and welcomed further Ecuadorian cooperation on a democratic solution to the man-made crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby Grizzly » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:09 pm

Can we stop with the 14 damn Assange post's? COMBINE THE ALL, MAYBE????
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Assange Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:12 pm

look at my first post .......this was supposed to be the one...per Jack's request
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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