Assange in Court?
Julian Assange “voluntarily surrendered to police and was put under arrest” this morning in London, the LA Times reported.
Assange is in court today, the Guardian reported in its live blog. Sweden has reportedly requested extradition.
Yesterday, news outlets including the Guardian reported that Assange was expected to turn himself in today. One of Assange’s lawyers in Britain, Jennifer Robinson, confirmed that her firm had “received an arrest warrant” for Assange and was “negotiating a meeting with police,” the Guardian reported.
iMediaEthics will update with any news about the questioning.
As Wired reported back in July, WikiLeaks published an “insurance” file on its site when WikiLeaks started to generate controversy. The file can be downloaded but is encrypted.
“Tens of thousands of [WikiLeaks] supporters” have reportedly downloaded the file. Assange has said that “if something happens” to WikiLeaks or himself, then the password for the file will be made available.
Human Events’ John Hayward questioned if Assange isn’t acting just like the governments he seeks to “open.”
Citing WikiLeaks’ insurance file, Hayward wondered “Isn’t he doing precisely what he so loudly criticizes America and her allies for doing: deciding what data should remained imprisoned behind a veil of secrecy, according to his own agenda?”
The State Department and the Pentagon expressed concern about the document’s publication, the AP noted. State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley is quoted as saying: “Releasing such information amounts to giving a targeting list to groups like al-Qaida.”
The UK also reportedly condemned the leak, as British foreign secretary William Hague called the publication “reprehensible.”
Similarly, the head of the French Centre for Intelligence Research, Eric Dence, is quoted as saying.
“This could give ideas to all sorts of people, not only Islamic terrorists. Animal rights extremists, criminal networks, far-right or far-left groups, anarchists: this could help them put in place a list of priorities.”
Media Outlets on Calling WikiLeaks “Whistleblower”
Meanwhile, Yahoo News noted that”some news outlets” have stopped referring to WikiLeaks as a “whistleblower.”
Spokespersons for both The Associated Press and NBC News are quoted as saying their news outlets would stop referring to WikiLeaks as “whistleblowers.”
Likewise, White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor doesn’t view WikiLeaks as a “whistleblower.”
“Wikileaks is not a whistle-blowing organization,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. “It’s a group with an anti-U.S. government agenda that has recklessly released stolen documents that put at risk diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people working to advance the cause of human rights and democracy around the world.”
Defense Fund & PayPal
WikiLeaks also claimed that PayPal “froze 60Keur of donations to the Germany charity the Wau Holland Foundation.”
WikiLeaks continues to seek donations, and noted in its press release that it has “public bank accounts in Iceland (preferred) and Germany.”
“The technicality used to seize the defense fund was that Mr. Assange, as a homeless refugee attempting to gain residency in Switzerland, had used his lawyers address in Geneva for the bank’s correspondence.”
See WikiLeaks’ press release here.
“PostFinance has ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange.”
According to PostFinance, Assange’s account was frozen because he “provided false information about his place of residence which his application had said was in Geneva.”
WikiLeaks has relied upon its Twitter account as a source of delivering news and criticism the past few weeks. Some tweets feature news stories that WikiLeaks seemingly agrees with, but one notable message yesterday morning struck StinkyJournalism.
The message was a re-tweet — or forward of another Twitterer’s tweet — from something Sarah Palin appeared to have tweeted.
WikiLeaks’ tweet read:
However, a search of SarahPalinUSA’s tweets doesn’t produce that tweet. Business Insider also noted that the tweet was fake.
It’s easy to tweet a message and present it as a re-tweet, or essentially “quote” of another user, iMediaEthics notes. But, by tweeting fake information, is WikiLeaks damaging its already questionable credibility?
iMediaEthics wrote to Sarah Palin to ask for confirmation that she didn’t tweet that.
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MSNBC’s technology blog reported that bloggers questioned if tweets about WikiLeaks are being “excluded” from Twitter’s trending topics, or hot topic categories of tweets.
Blogger Bubbloy apparently analyzed Twitter trends and noticed that it was odd WikiLeaks wasn’t trending. He explained:
“I am absolutely not claiming that Twitter is censoring or removing Tweets. The entire point of the posts is the irregularity I am seeing in how hash tags are trended. I agree this impact has been minimal. As has the impact of Amazon ditching them in the long run. But you could say this too of the bus companies of the sixties or any other institution that has stood in the way of an inevitable phase transition.”
See Bubbloy’s blog here.
However, Twitter denies that it is influencing WikiLeaks presence on its top trending topics list, the Washington Post reported.
Twitter said in a statement: “Our Trends list is designed to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The list is generated by an algorithm that identifies topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously.”
See Twitter’s complete statement here on the Washington Post’s website.
Washington Post also reported speculation that WikiLeaks is “preparing for the possibility that Twitter will kick it off the site.” WikiLeaks previously wasn’t following anyone on Twitter, but recently began following TweetBackUp, which the Post described as
“an archival company for Tweets.”
US Attorney General on Criminal Investigation
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder explained yesterday that the U.S. government has options outside of 1917’s Espionage Act in its investigation of WikiLeaks, CNN reported. “That is not the only tool we have to use in the investigation of this matter,” he is quoted as saying. “People would be misimpressioned if they think the only thing we are looking at is the Espionage Act.”
Holder reportedly stated that “he has authorized ‘significant’ actions related to the criminal investigation of WikiLeaks.”
Holder claimed that national security has been endangered and called WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents “arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way.”
WikiLeaks has been available not under its usual site, wikileaks.org, because of cyber attacks. Currently, wikileaks.eu works. Despite being kicked off Amazon’s server last week, “the Swiss Pirate Party, which registered the new Wikileaks.ch domain name earlier this year, said the Swiss registrar had confirmed it would not block the site,” Swiss Info reported.
As WikiLeaks reported on its Twitter account, WikiLeaks had 507 “mirror” sites available as of yesterday morning. Mirror sites are websites, which feature copies of the WikiLeaks site. As the New York Times describes them, mirrors result in “making censorship difficult.”
Columbia University Not Banning WikiLeaks
According to Wired, the dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, John H. Coatsworth, “clarified” that the school hasn’t advised a ban of WikiLeaks.
Coatsworth wrote in the e-mail to the school:
“Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution. Thus, SIPA’s position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences. The WikiLeaks documents are accessible to SIPA students (and everyone else) from a wide variety of respected sources, as are multiple means of discussion and debate both in and outside of the classroom.”
See the e-mail from Coatsworth to the school here on Wired’s website.
French Judge Rules Against Ban of WikiLeaks
A French judge ruled yesterday that a French web provider, OVH, doesn’t have to “shut down” WikiLeaks, foreign wire service the AFP reported.
“As far as OVH, the technical provider, is concerned we have done the utmost to clarify the legal situation of the site…. We have tried to be as transparent as possible,” OVH reportedly said.
“It’s neither for the political world nor for OVH to call for or to decide on a site’s closure, but for the justice system,” OVH’s managing director Octave Klaba is quoted as saying. “That’s how it should work under the rule of law.”
“OVH is neither for nor against this site… We neither asked to host this site nor not to host it. Now that it’s with us, we will fulfil the contract. That’s our job.”
France’s industry minister, Eric Besson, had called for France to ban the site.
Assange Safe Haven?
Swiss Info also reported that Assange had said on Swiss French-language TV news “he was considering seeking political asylum in Switzerland.” However, as Swiss Info reported, “We believe that Assange is unlikely to receive political asylum in Switzerland, due to the necessary procedures needed,” Manon Schick, spokeswoman for Amnesty Switzerland, is quoted as saying.
Likewise, United States’ ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, is quoted as telling newspaper NZZ am Sonntag about a potential Swiss asylum for Assange that the country “should very carefully consider whether to provide shelter to someone who is on the run from the law.”
While Australia’s attorney general reportedly said Australia “would provide consular assistance to Assange if he returned there,” Australian police are currently checking to see if Assange has violated Australia’s laws. The attorney general, Robert McClelland, explained that Assange is allowed to return to the country.
Assange Calls for Resignation
Assange has already indicated in an interview with Time magazine that he thinks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “should resign” if “she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations.”
He extended his calls for resignation to include that of U.S. President Barack Obama. In a Dec. 4 interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Assange said:
“The whole chain of command who was aware of this order, and approved it, must resign if the US is to be seen to be a credible nation that obeys the rule of law. The order is so serious it may well have been put to the president for approval.”
“Obama must answer what he knew about this illegal order and when. If he refuses to answer or there is evidence he approved of these actions, he must resign.”
See iMediaEthics’ other reports on WikiLeaks here.