Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment

Julian Assange has been sentenced  to 50 weeks imprisonment in the UK on charges of skipping bail, which he did by holing up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden. So he has moved from a virtual prison into a real prison.

Reuters: Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in British jail for skipping bail

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a British court on Wednesday for skipping bail when he holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for seven years until police dragged him out last month.

The case in Britain arose after Australian-born Assange, 47, was accused by two Swedish women of sexual assault and rape in 2010. Assange fought through the courts to get an extradition order and the preliminary investigation dropped.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid an extradition order to Sweden.

His lawyer argued it was an act of desperation to avoid being passed to the United States to face action over the release of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

But handing down what was nearly the maximum possible sentence, Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange he had exploited his privileged position to flout the law and express his disdain for British justice.

“Whilst you may have had fears as to what may happen to you, nonetheless you had a choice,” Taylor told Assange, dressed in a black jacket and gray sweatshirt, at Southwark Crown Court.

“It is difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offence.”

And Assange still faces the possibility he will be extradited to the US.

Reuters: U.S. extradition request for Julian Assange to be heard on Thursday

A request by the United States to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information will be heard by a London court on Thursday.

“Julian Assange will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court at 1030 tomorrow for ‘violating his bail conditions’ whilst seeking & obtaining political asylum,” WikiLeaks said.

“On Thursday at 10AM there will be a hearing in Westminster Magistrate Court on the US extradition request,” it said.

The U.S. Justice Department said Assange was charged with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and American diplomatic communications.

With the defence support he is likely to have this could be a lengthy process.

 

 

 

Leaked Wikileaks memo to media on what not to say about Assange

It’s anyone’s guess what the intent of this the confidential memo from Wikileaks to media telling them what they couldn’t publish about Julian Assange – ars Technica Please don’t repeat these things WikiLeaks says you can’t say about Assange

A representative of WikiLeaks has sent a “confidential” memo to news outlets including an updated “defamation list” (version 1.2), advising reporters not to mention or publish it. The memo was promptly leaked (update: the first out of the gate to leak was Emma Best of MuckRock). WikiLeaks then linked to a revised, heavily edited and redacted version (version 1.3) they posted “anonymously” on a text paste site.

Here, without further comment or editing, and in its entirety, is the WikiLeaks advisory.

The memo is published.

It is well documented that there is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise “reputable” media outlets.

Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.

A number of items on the list start with “It is false and defamatory to suggest…”. Eg:

It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is, or has been, “hiding” in the embassy [in fact, his location is well known and his formal legal status is “political refugee”; it is incorrect to suggest that refugees, by virtue of being in the jurisdiction of refuge, are “hiding”].

It is bizarre for a transparency organisation to be trying to tell media what they shouldn’t say.

Media should carefully fact check, but consulting the Wikileaks list should not be the end of any investigation.

I expect that some journalists will take up the challenge and go through the list doing some fact checking of points raised. This one might be worth a look.

It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks does not have a perfect record of accurately verifying its publications.

 

Roger Stone under scrutiny in Mueller investigation

Roger Stone, a supporter of and adviser to Donald Trump, is under increasing scrutiny in the Mueller investigation.

He has been connected to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, who drip fed hacked emails related to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

CNN: Roger Stone’s finances examined by special counsel

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been probing Roger Stone’s finances as it summons a series of witnesses to gather more information about one of President Donald Trump’s longtime advisers, according to people familiar with the situation. Mueller’s team has questioned associates about Stone’s finances, including his tax returns.

The interest in Stone’s finances could be tied to Mueller’s charge of investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion, though another possibility is Mueller is pursuing something unrelated that turned up in the course of the investigation.

Even after he officially parted ways with Trump’s presidential campaign in its early days, Stone remained a staunch supporter and friend of Trump’s. During the campaign, he launched a pro-Trump super PAC called Committee to Restore America’s Greatness.

Now, the interest in Stone’s finances has created a new sense of alarm among his associates.

Whatever the reasoning, the probe into Stone’s finances should give him cause for concern, Zeldin said. Stone appears to recognize that.

“The special counsel having found no evidence or proof whatsoever of Russian collusion, trafficking in allegedly hacked emails with WikiLeaks or advance knowledge of the publication of (then-Clinton campaign chair John) Podesta’s emails now seems to be combing through every molecule of my existence including my personal life, political activities and business affairs to conjure up some offense to charge me with either to silence me or induce me to testify against the President,” Stone told CNN. “I have no intention of being silenced or turning my back on President Trump.”

Stone has come under public scrutiny, in part, because of a prescient prediction during the 2016 campaign. In a now-infamous tweet, Stone predicted trouble for Podesta, weeks before WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of Podesta’s emails. Stone denies having any advance knowledge of the Podesta leaks.

The email in question:

 

“I sleep well at night because I know what I have and have not done,” Stone told CNN. “There’s no inappropriate activity pertaining to Russian collusion. I obtained nothing from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. I never passed anything on to WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”

But Wall Street reports: Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton From Assange, Emails Show

Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone privately sought information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The emails could raise new questions about Mr. Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Mr. Assange had information about Mrs. Clinton, according to a portion of the transcript…

The rest is behind a pay wall, but more here: The email Roger Stone didn’t want anyone to see

Emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal indicate that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone withheld key documents from the House Intelligence Committee — documents indicating he lied about his communications with a radio host he hoped would serve as a backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

According to the Journal, in a message sent on September 18, 2016, Stone wrote to Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange several weeks earlier, and asked him to:

“Please ask Assange for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30–particularly on August 20, 2011.”

That email, which indicates Stone sought help colluding with a website that the U.S. intelligence community has accused of laundering emails stolen by Russian hackers, contradicts Stone’s September 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he “merely wanted confirmation” from Credico that Assange had information about Clinton. It also contradicts statements Stone has made on his Facebook page and website about how his communications with Credico about Wikileaks merely “asked Randy to confirm that the Australian journalist had credible information on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

The Journal details Credico’s response, which suggests that he had asked Assange for favors on Stone’s behalf on previous occasions.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Credico initially responded to Mr. Stone that what he was requesting would be on WikiLeaks’ website if it existed, according to an email reviewed by the Journal. Mr. Stone, the emails show, replied: “Why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have ???”

In another email, Mr. Credico then asked Mr. Stone to give him a “little bit of time,” saying he thought Mr. Assange might appear on his radio show the next day.

A few hours later, Mr. Credico wrote: “That batch probably coming out in the next drop…I can’t ask them favors every other day .I asked one of his lawyers…they have major legal headaches riggt now..relax.”

About two weeks later Stone tweeted:

That raised suspicions about what he knew, how he knew it, and how this might be linked to the Trump campaign.

The campaign against Clinton by Wikileaks deserves more attention too.

A tangled web that may or may not be unravelled by the Mueller investigation.

 

The Assange contradiction

Today’s ODT editorial No ‘get out of jail free’ card yet  points out the contradiction between what Julian Assange campaigns for through Wikileaks – transparency – and how he holed himself up in the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years to avoid facing responsibilities.

Seven years have done little to diminish the defiance (arrogance?) of Australian Julian Assange.

Many revere whistle-blowers such as Mr Assange. They support WikiLeaks’ goals of freedom of speech to improve transparency and reduce corruption – the same goals espoused by media organisations worldwide. Opinions differ, however, on WikiLeaks’ methods: a reliance on secret sources and leaked material, which governments have argued might put their countries and servicemen and women at risk.

The reverence of Assange diminished somewhat when he avoid facing rape accusations, and when Wikileaks campaigned against Hillary Clinton in last year’s US election.

This newspaper finds the most difficult thing to marry is Mr Assange’s professional crusade for transparency with his refusal to be held to account personally. The allegations are of a serious criminal nature. He maintains his sexual connection with the women was consensual. If he is innocent (and everyone should be assumed innocent until proven guilty) he had nothing to fear from simple questioning. If he was charged as a result, a trial in Sweden would surely have been fair and transparent and in the media spotlight.

When it comes to the “human rights” quoted by Mr Assange, there are still two women whose rights have been denied. This self-professed defender of truth and justice has sent a disturbing message to rape victims and perpetrators of sexual violence: run away and you won’t be held to account.

While he argues he has been unfairly detained, and his children deprived of a father, he could, in fact, leave the embassy at any time and start facing reality. The two former WikiLeaks volunteers had to, as did the supplier of his organisation’s best cache of information.

Assange quotes some UN agency that claimed he was illegally detained, but Assange chose to hide from Swedish justice in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and he chose to stay there to avoid that and other legal challenges.

Assange claims he was innocent of rape charges, but chose not to defend himself in the normal judicial process.

Wikileaks don’t seem to care about accusations they promote against others that avoid normal due process and justice.

Assange’s (and Wikileaks’) methods and political motives, and his supposed holding to account of authorities and politicians while going to extremes to avoid being held to account himself, is a contradiction that seriously diminishes the credibility of Wikileaks.

 

Dotcom’s Seth Rich claim

Kim Dotcom has involved himself in the Seth Rich issuer in the US.

NBR: Dotcom’s Seth Rich claim earns him an invite to appear on Sean Hannity’s show

Kim Dotcom has managed to catch the eye of Fox News’ Sean Hannity — one of Donald Trump’s favourite broadcasters — with his claims over the unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee IT staffer Seth Rich.

Mr Rich was shot in the back near his home in Washington DC last year.

DC police have yet to solve his murder. His family believe it was a robbery gone wrong.

Since his murder, there have been conspiracy theories that Mr Rich was killed because he was the source of DNC emails supplied to Wikileaks, not Russian operatives as FBI investigations have suggested. The narrative is that he was killed in a cover-up.

Last Monday, the rumour mill re-ignited after Rod Wheeler, a Washington private investigator who was hired by the Rich family to look into the death of their son, suggested in an interview with a Fox station in Washington DC that there was “tangible evidence” the slain DNC operative had communicated with WikiLeaks before his death.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, the PI seemed to walk back his story. CNN reported the detective saying he had “no evidence” that Mr. Rich had contacted WikiLeaks and that he had “only learned about the possible existence of such evidence” through a reporter at Fox News.

Then, in a third interview later the same day, Mr Wheeler said he could not say definitively either way if the evidence existed. He had heard about it second hand.

In the middle of it all, The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department issued a statement saying that “the assertions put forward by Mr. Wheeler [on Monday] are unfounded.”

Enter Kim Dotcom, who this weekend tweeted “If Congress includes #SethRich case into their Russia probe I’ll give written testimony with evidence that Seth Rich was @Wikileaks source” and “I knew Seth Rich. I know he was the @Wikileaks source. I was involved.”

I wonder what Dotcom’s motive is for getting involved in that.

Interesting he has come out saying he was that involved in Rich and Wikileaks.

Hasn’t Dotcom claimed there is a heap of data waiting to be dumped on the New Zealand election campaign?

Sweden drops charges against Assange

Sweden has dropped the charges against Julian Assange relating to allegations made seven years ago.

Stuff: Julian Assange all smiles after seven-year rape investigation is dropped

Sweden has dropped its investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who says he won’t forgive or forget the slandering of his name following an “important victory”.

The country’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Marianne Ny, made the announcement in Stockholm on Friday.

“Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny has today decided to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange,” the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

Ny said it was “not possible to take any further steps that would move the investigation forward”.

“All prospects of pursuing the investigation are now exhausted,” she said. “It is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence.

“To continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange’s personal appearance in court. There is no longer any reason to continue with the investigation.”​

Assange, 45, who has been in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, where he was granted political asylum, tweeted a smiling image of himself after the news broke.

In February last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Assange was in effect being arbitrarily detained against international law.

He wasn’t detained, I thought he chose to live in the Ecudorian Embassy to avoid facing the investigation.

So that is now over for Assange, but it may not be the end of his problems.

‘REAL RISK’ OF ARREST, EXTRADITION

​Swedish prosecutors interviewed Assange at the embassy last November and in mid-March received a full translation of the interview, which they have since been reviewing.

In May, Assange’s lawyers asked the Stockholm District Court to review the detention order and arrest warrant against him.

They argued that the US had expressed they were seeking his extradition to the US over alleged crimes relating to Wikileaks’ publication of classified documents.

Assange’s lawyer Per Samuelson said Assange faced a “real risk” of extradition from Sweden. He argued his client’s remand status should be changed so he could leave the embassy to travel to Ecuador.

He is limited to where he can travel in the world to avoid the possibility of extradition proceedings.

However Assange is not likely to celebrate by immediately leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he would still be arrested.

In a tweet, Wikileaks said the “focus now moves to the UK”.

US attorney general Jeff Sessions has said arresting Assange was “a priority”, over alleged crimes relating to Wikileaks’ publication of classified documents.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which has been staking out the embassy for five years, said there was still an outstanding warrant for Assange’s arrest in the UK for skipping bail. Wikileaks claimed the UK would arrest Assange “regardless”.

He may not find it easy to get out of Britain.

Melinda Taylor, a member of Assange’s legal team, said their next step was to push for the US to “clarify” Assange’s legal status.

“Their prosecution has been going on since at least 2010, that’s a hell of a long time,” she said. “He has been deprived of the ability to defend himself.”

His lawyers would approach the Department of Justice in the US and request that they either confirm their decision to seek Assange’s extradition, or drop the case altogether, she said.

Assange argues that he and Wikileaks are protected under freedom of speech laws, so he has no case to answer in the US.

Asked if Assange would consider agreeing to extradition to fight the case conventionally in the US courts, Taylor said Assange had already indicated earlier this year that he would do so “if he could rely on standard due process protections and assert a public interest defence”

Assange’s lawyers will also call on the UK to drop the outstanding arrest warrant against him.

They have a potential legal avenue: to approach the courts arguing that the Swedish decision constitutes a significant change in circumstances that means the warrant should be reviewed.

 

Dotcom – Trump

refers to CNN (from last September): Is Trump right? Could a 400-pound couch potato have hacked the DNC?

Russia might be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee, according to US officials and lawmakers — but not Donald Trump.

The Republican presidential nominee came up with many alternative possibilities at the first general election debate on Monday night.

“It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people,” he said during the first presidential debate. “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

(400 pounds = 181 kilograms)

So a monster bed potato, not a couch potato.

Yesterday:

Dotcom-Trump

I can’t find that on Twitter now, but Dotcom has tweeted since:

Dotcom-Trump-2

Bizarre. How would Dotcom know this?

Why are Dotcom and Wikileaks so keen to help Trump?

I don’t trust US spying but I wouldn’t put much faith in those who think Trump can fix it all. Or are Trump and Assange more interested in getting onside with Trump so he will help them?

 

Paul Ryan: Assange a ‘sycophant for Russia’

The Republicans will dominate all of the presidency, the Senate and Congress in the new term, but the way the year has started suggests it may not be unbridled power – the horses seem to be hitched and pulling in different directions.

There was an attempt to slash oversight of Congress, followed by a Trump frowning via Twitter a rapid u-turn – see The Swamp fights back.

Now Paul Ryan calls Julian Assange a ‘sycophant for Russia’.

Mr. Assange reiterated this week in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Russia was not the source behind the internal communications from Democratic officials that WikiLeaks released during the campaign.

In a series of Wednesday morning tweets, President-elect Donald Trump touted Mr. Assange’s recent testimony and questioned why Democratic officials were so “careless” with their communications.

But…

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he really has no opinion on Mr. Assange, “other than I think the guy is a sycophant for Russia.”

Also:

@Evan_McMullin
.@SpeakerRyan on Julian Assange: “He leaks. He steals data and compromises national security.”

All Press Corps eyes will probably be atwitter and atrump.

 

Assange denies influencing election: yeah, right

Politico reports that Julian Assange has denied trying to influence the outcome of the US election.

The email jar must be just about empty, and crumbs are all over Assanges face. Plus jam. Plus egg.

Assange denies WikiLeaks trying to influence election outcome

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday defended the group’s decision to post troves of Democratic documents during the height of the election season, saying a moral imperative drove them to do so.

“This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a 1,000 word statement posted as Americans streamed to the polls on Election Day. “The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers … Publishing is what we do. To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favour one of the candidates above the public’s right to know.”

Yeah, right.

There may be public interest in illegally hacked emails.

But drip feeding them throughout the last months of the US campaign is clearly aimed at influencing the election, and using the election to get attention.

If it was important enough and justified to make emails public they would have been made public when they were available, not drip fed through the campaign.

Assange and Wikileaks have lost a lot of credibility and support through this exercise. He has made himself no better than his target, Hillary Clinton, and no better than the person he may enable, Donald Trump.

If Trump wins I expect a lot more disappointment will be directed at Assange in particular.

Power corrupts, and WikiLeaks has been absolutely been corrupted in trying to manipulate the US election.

Pilger interview with Assange

RT has video and a transcript of the John Pilger interview with Julian Assange.

  • ‘Clinton made FBI look weak, now there is anger’

“The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that no-one can resist us.  But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI’s investigation, so there’s anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. ”

  • ‘Russian government not the source of Clinton leaks’

“Hilary Clinton stated multiple times, falsely, that seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That is false; we can say that the Russian government is not the source. ”

  • ‘Saudi Arabia & Qatar funding ISIS and Clinton’

“There’s an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, not so long after she left the State Department, to her campaign manager John Podesta that states ISIL is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  Now this is the most significant email in the whole collection, and perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the Clinton Foundation.”

  • ‘Clinton has been eaten alive by her ambition’

“I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions,  tormented literally to the point where they become sick; they faint as a result of [the reaction] to their ambitions.”

That’s an odd claim.

“She’s a centralising cog. You’ve got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs and major elements of Wall Street, and Intelligence and people in the State Department and the Saudis.”

  • ‘Libya is Hillary Clinton’s war’

“Who was the person championing it?  Hillary Clinton.  That’s documented throughout her emails.She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state — something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for President.”

  • ‘Trump won’t be permitted to win’

“Why do I say that?  Because he’s had every establishment off side; Trump doesn’t have one establishment, maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment, but banks, intelligence [agencies], arms companies… big foreign money … are all united behind Hillary Clinton, and the media as well, media owners and even journalists themselves.”

But he is in the race in a closely contested election. It’s not about permission of ‘the establishment, it’s about permission of a majority of voters (via electoral college votes).

  • Do you yourself take a view of the U.S. election?  Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?

” …he so clearly — through his words and actions and the type of people that turn up at his rallies — represents people who are not the middle, not the upper middle educated class, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with them, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting Trump in any way, including any criticism of Hillary Clinton. If you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, that makes absolute sense.”

An indirect answer that appears to be anti ‘the middle class’.

  • ‘US attempting to squeeze WikiLeaks through my refugee status’

“Now there’s undercover police and there are robot surveillance cameras of various kinds — so that there has been quite a serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador, a country of sixteen million people, and the United Kingdom, and the Americans who have been helping on the side.”

“[It means] that [they] are trying to get at a publishing organisation; [they] try and prevent it from publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.”

  • ‘I am innocent and in arbitrary detention’

“[So it’s] me and the U.N. verses Sweden and the U.K.  Who’s right?  The U.N. made a conclusion that I am being arbitrarily detained illegally, deprived of my freedom and that what has occurred has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden, and that [those countries] must obey. It is an illegal abuse. ”

“Here we have a case, the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared [by the Stockholm prosecutor] and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the State of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum.”

RT: Assange: Clinton is a cog for Goldman Sachs & the Saudis (JOHN PILGER EXCLUSIVE VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT)