Directed by Bosse Lindquist, Jesper Huor (2010)
WikiRebels is a documentary about the history of Wikileaks. It traces Julian Assange’s early history from his first arrest for computer hacking at 21. A short time later, posting a secret Church of Scientology manual on-line would lead to a run-in with with a private investigator they hired to track him down in Australia.
Convinced that disclosure of government corruption could serve as a preventative against abuse of power, he and a global network of hactivists registered Leak.com in 1999. Inspired by the collaborative nature of Wikipedia, they changed their name to Wikileaks in 2006. Their goal was to publish evidence of government criminality while simultaneously guaranteeing whistleblowers absolute anonymity.
Some of Wikileaks’s earliest disclosures include the Kenyan president who was embezzling funds and organizing death patrols to target political opponents; the private company dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast; email messages from the private account Sarah Palin used to conduct government business; and lists of websites being censored by China, Thailand and Iran.
Enter Bradley Manning
In early 2010, Private Bradley Manning leaked over 100,000 classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. These files provide an hour by hour chronicle of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including details of casualties (on both sides) that the Bush and Obama administration had deliberately concealed.
Recognizing he had no way of releasing such a massive amount of data in in a meaningful way, Assange shared the leaked documents with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, in the hope of widely publicizing them.
The most famous file Manning released is the July 12, 2007 “Collateral Murder File” showing US attack helicopter personnel deliberately firing on unarmed civilians in Baghdad.
US Government Retaliation
The US government instantly retaliated against Assange by leaning on Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to discontinue payment services on the Wikileaks website. This was in addition to threats made in Congress to either assassinate him or kidnap him and try him for espionage.
In August 2010, Assange receives a rock star welcome in Sweden when he arrives for a speaking tour. Within days, he finds himself accused of sexual assault. After comparing notes, two female fans approached Swedish police about compelling him to have an HIV test. After bringing him in for questioning, the police release him without charge.
Filmed in 2010, the documentary ends here – before Assange leaves Sweden for England, a second prosecutor reinstates the charges, a British court orders his extradition to Sweden and he seeks sanctuary in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy. Assange fears, as do his supporters, that the Swedish authorities will extradite him to the US, which has laid the groundwork to try (and execute) him on espionage charges.
According to Mother Jones, the sexual assault charges are extremely murky, especially since the woman he’s accused of raping has asked to have the charges dropped. Assange denies forcing either woman to have sex with him. In both cases, the actual accusation is that he had sex without a condom. In one instance, the condom broke. In the other, after having sexual intercourse with a condom, he allegedly initiated intercourse a second time while the woman was half asleep and refused to put on a condom.
In Sweden, the official term is “withdrawal of consent.” Without knowing all the facts, it’s impossible to ascertain, it’s impossible to ascertain whether one or both women did, in fact, withdraw consent.
However the timing of the charges, the fact that one woman has CIA links and the possible role Republican puppet master Karl Rove (a long time adviser to Swedish Swedish Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt) Karl Rove played in the affair all suggest Assange may have been framed.
Recently it was announced that the Swedish prosecutor has finally agreed to come to London to question Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
I just want to offer a contrarian insight. Assange was born into a family that followed a cult called the Family that dates back to the mid-1960’s. While based in Australia, the Family has international connections with chapters in London and Haight-Ashbury. The cult has been compared to the Manson family and Process Church. Although the net impact of Wikileaks has been great for the informed citizen, the probability that Assange was a tool, used by Mil-Intel, for limited hangout purposes, and, perhaps broader counterintelligence operations, should not be dismissed (that the CIA could have had access to him through Australian intelligence infiltration of the cult is a given).
While you are at it Peacefrog why don’t you tell them what the Process Church is, equating it only with Manson and his paltry made for TV body count, as Terry did, does not do it justice. Geraldo would have but no one would let him through the front door but me.
What’s the point here? The CIA used Assange so he would post that video of the US helicopter gunship neutralizing those Reuters reporters and other unarmed Iraqis? Sounds pretty likely.
Helicopter gunship? I doubt it, the people in that video all looked like they had no idea where that fusillade of bullets was coming from
But was that first video the endgame or merely an appetizer to a well planned series of limited hangouts for political advantage as seen from the perspective of Mil-Intel and their political bosses? Remember that story was very small, in the scope of what was revealed, in toto, perhaps by intentional “leaks”
I guess your viewpoint on Assange’s CIA credentials depends on the type of resistance activity you engage in and whether you have relied on information sourced from Wikileaks. I must admit that the Wikileaks decision to leak drafts of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement were enormously helpful to mobilizing resistance against the TPPA here in New Zealand. What I found really gratifying was a lot of people involved in our anti-TPPA protests went on to help us protest the installation of new fracking rigs in New Plymouth.
According to some analysts, the CIA (via Assange) leaked this information deliberately as a kind of trial balloon to see what the public would accept – allowing the text to be changed in response to popular protests.
This may or may not be true. In any case, the process backfired in NZ as it greatly strengthened our resistance movement.
Overall I support any and all efforts to thwart government secrecy and make the public more aware of criminal activity by their governments. I don’t really care who sponsors it as long as it doesn’t hamper genuine grassroots organizing.
The very extent and reach of the surveillance state is on a collision course with what is left of an informed citizenry, real alternative news and the vast blogosphere. I can’t wait for the perfect storm to create another Watergate moment, and see this police state stopped in its tracks.