Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

Four Corners – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2013)

Film Review

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange provides a detailed timeline of his 2010 visit to Sweden. It casts serious doubt on the sexual assault allegations against him.

Aug 11, 2010 – Assange arrives in Stockholm with traveling companion Sofia Wilen. The primary purpose of his visit is to negotiate with the Pirate Party for Wikileaks to use their Internet server, located inside a former nuclear bunker to discourage hacking. Anna Ardin, one of his accusers, plans to be away and offers him the use of her apartment.

Aug 13, 2010 – Ardin arrives home a few days early and has consensual intercourse with Assange. They both acknowledge using a condom which broke. Ardin subsequently claimed Assange both pinned her down and deliberately broke the condom.

Aug 14, 2010 – They participate in a public forum together and Ardin organizes a crayfish party for Assange – during which she tweets about being with “the coolest people in the world.” A friend offers Assange alternative accommodation, but Ardin wants him to reman at her apartment.

Aug 15, 2010 Ardin and Assange attend a dinner party together organized by the Pirate Party.

Aug 16, 2010 Assange, with Ardin’s knowledge, travels to a nearby village to have sex with Sofia Walen.*

Aug 17, 2010 He returns to stay with Ardin at her apartment.

Aug 20, 2010 Wilen phones Ardin about Assange’s failure to use a condom and having sex with her when she was half asleep. Ardin and Wilen visit the police together to inquire whether Assange can be forced to undergo testing for STVs. When she learns the police plan to charge Assange with sexual assault, Wilen refuses to sign her statement, claiming she’s been railroaded. The prosecutor leaks the charges to the Swedish tabloid media without notifying Assange of the charges.

Aug 21, 2010 Assange presents to Swedish police for questioning, and a senior Swedish prosecutor withdraws the rape charge but maintains the molestation charge. Assange decides to remain in Sweden to prove his innocence.

Sept 15, 2010 After repeated offers to make Assange available for further questioning, his lawyer is informed there is no arrest warrant against him and he is free to leave Sweden.

Nov 28, 2010 Assange leaks the first of 250,000 embarrassing (classified) cables exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nov 30 2010 At Sweden’s request, Interpol issues a Red Notice for Assange’s arrest

May 2012 After losing his Supreme Court appeal against extradition to Sweden (which he and his lawyers fear will extradite him to the US to potentially face torture and the death penalty), Assange is informed the 14 days granted for his appeal to the European Court has been reduced to 0. He’s seeks, and receives, asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy – based on their fear that his human rights may be violated.

The film makes no reference to Ardin’s past history of involvement with a CIA-linked anti-Cuban group (see Raw Story)

It also makes no mention of the possible role of George Bush’s dirty tricks guru Karl Rove, long time advisor to Swedish Prime Minister Frederic Reinfeldt, in the Swedish decision to prosecute Assange (see Shadow Proof)

Presumably this will all come out at Assange’s extradition trial.


*During Assange’s visit to Wilen, Ardin tweets:  “He’s not here. He’s planned to have sex with the cashmere girl every evening, but not made it. Maybe he finally found time yesterday?”  See Everything Points to Assange’s Accuser Being a CIA-Directed Liar

 

If It’s Free, You’re the Product

Digital Dissidents Part 2

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

“If It’s Free You’re the Product”

In Part 2, Digital Dissidents reminds us that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple daily collect and “monetize” (ie sell) millions of data points about us (including records of financial transactions).

The documentary also features rare commentary by Julian Assange on Sweden’s attempts* to charge him with sexual assault. These charges mysteriously surfaced exactly two weeks after Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammonds released hacked emails between intelligence contractor Stratfor and the US government about potential charges against Assange under the 2017 Espionage Act. Was this mere coincidence? It seems unlikely.

NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney also talk candidly about the devastating effects of whistleblowing on their personal lives. His career in software systems management ruined, Drake presently clerks in an Apple retail outlet.

Binney, who refers to the NSA as “the Stasi** on super steroids, calls for the total dissolution of NSA. He maintains it has too much power to be reformed.


*Sweden dropped the sexual assault charges against Assange in Sept 2017. As Assange points out in the film, neither woman filed a police complaint and one accuses the police of inventing the crimes she supposedly accused him of.

**As the intelligence/security service for the former East German Republic, the Stasi was one of the most viciously repressive secret police agencies ever.

The video, which can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, can be viewed for free at the Al Jazeera website: Digital Dissidents

The Whistleblowers Who Exposed the Surveillance State

Digital Dissidents Part 1

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

Digital Dissidents is about six whistleblowers who risked their careers, financial ruin and imprisonment to expose secret government crimes. In Part 1 of this two-part series, the whistleblowers introduce themselves and speak briefly about the circumstances that led them to leak illicit secret government information – at great risk to themselves.

  • Daniel Ellsberg, who worked in the US Embassy in Saigon, leaked 7,000 pages of documents to the New York Times in 1971 revealing the US government had systematically lied to Congress for decades about US military involvement in Vietnam. He was charged with theft and illegal possession of secret documents. The case against him collapsed when it came out that Nixon was illegally wiretapping him and had ordered “plumbers” to break into his psychiatrist’s office.
  • Thomas Drake, who worked for the CIA prior to being transferred to the NSA on 9/11/01. When he learned the NSA was illegally spying on journalists, he spent months “going through channels” to raise the alarm with his superiors. After he went to a Baltimore Sun reporter in 2007 with evidence of his concerns, the US government charged him with 10 felonies under the 1917 Espionage Act. After a lengthy trial that virtually bankrupted him, Drake pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor of misusing a government computer. He was sentenced to one year probation and 240 hours of community service.
  • William Binney, who also worked for the NSA (for 30 years) developing a wiretap program capable of filtering large numbers of domestic and foreign communication. He left the NSA in October 2001 and became a whistleblower in 2002. Although the FBI raided his home at gunpoint, he was eventually cleared of criminal charges.
  • Edward Snowden, who worked for both the CIA and the NSA, leaked thousands of files substantiating Drake’s and Binney’s allegations to a number of journalists worldwide. The US canceled his passport while he was at the Moscow airport (en route from Hong Kong to South America), and he was forced to seek asylum in Russia.
  • Julian Assange, an Australian national and former hacker, who founded Wikileaks in 2006. The purpose of this website is to allow whistle blowers from all over the world to safely and anonymously leak documents implicating their governments in criminal activities.
  • David Shayler and his former partner Anne Machon, former MI5 operatives who passed secret documents to The Mail on Sunday about British intelligence involvement in illegal activities. In 2002, Shayler received a six month prison sentence for violating the Official Secrets Act.

 

Although the video can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, it can be seen for free at the Al Jazeera website: Digital Dissidents

Barrett Brown: Standing Up for Journalistic Freedom

Field of Vision – Relatively Free

Alex Winter (2016)

Field of Vision is the first media interview journalist Barrett Brown gave (in November 2016) after spending four years in federal prison. He was originally arrested for publishing (on his website) publicly available material that had been hacked from private intelligence/security contractor Stratfor. When these charges were eventually dropped, he pled guilty to making threats against an FBI office, obstruction of justice and being an accessory to cyber threats.

While in federal prison, he spent six months in solitary confinement.

***

The link below is a Democracy Now clip from a May 2017 interview from Brown’s halfway house. It delves more deeply into ongoing federal harassment again him, owing to his role in publicizing illegal collusion between the FBI, Stratfor and other private security contractors. Among others, Brown published emails in about private corporations who received Department of Justice assistance in discrediting activists who tried to expose their various criminal activities.

One particular email revealed a request by Bank of America to discredit Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald, based on fears they were about to publish leaked documents about their illegal BoA activities.

During the interview, Brown reveals the FBI re-arrested him in April to prevent him from appearing in a PBS documentary. The FBI claims (erroneously) that he’s prohibited from speaking to the media as a condition of his probation. He was only released after a first amendment lawyer threatened to sue the Department of Justice for violating federal law.

Brown is thinking strongly of immigrating after he completes his probation.

Democracy Now: Jailed Reporter Barrett Brown

Chasing Edward Snowden

Chasing Edward Snowden

Anonymous (2016)

Film Review

Chasing Edward Snowden is an extremely well made documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s escape from Hong Kong to Moscow and the role played by Wikileaks and the Hong Kong government in facilitating his escape.

Prior to seeing the film, I was unaware Snowden (under US indictment for treason) had reached out for Wikileaks’ help nor that Putin initially turned down his asylum request when he refused to work for the FSB.

All this changed, when France, under US pressure, denied the Bolivian presidential jet access to French airspace. Acting on false rumors spread by Wikileaks, the US and France believed President Morales had smuggled Snowden onto his plane.

Because the French action contravened Geneva conventions, world opinion turned in Snowden’s favor, persuading Putin to reverse himself and grant his asylum petition.


*FSB is the Russian state security agency that replaced the KGB.

The History of Wikileaks

WikiRebels

Directed by Bosse Lindquist, Jesper Huor (2010)

Film Review

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.