US Must Stop Spying on WikiLeaks

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Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organizations. In the developing world, these range from the appalling assassination of two related human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March (an armed attack on my compound there in 2007 is still unattributed) to an unsuccessful mass attack by Chinese computers on our servers in Stockholm, after we published photos of murders in Tibet.

In the West this has ranged from the overt, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, threatening to prosecute us unless we removed a report on CIA activity in Kosovo, to the covert, to an ambush by a “James Bond” character in a Luxembourg car park, an event that ended with a mere “we think it would be in your interest to…”.

Developing world violence aside, we’ve become used to the level of security service interest in us and have established procedures to ignore that interest.

But the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely publishing due to fundraising, are excessive. Some of the new interest is related to a film exposing a U.S. massacre we will release at the U.S. National Press Club on April 5.

The spying includes attempted covert following, photographing, filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks’ volunteer in Iceland on Monday night.

I, and others were in Iceland to advise Icelandic parliamentarians on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a new package of laws designed to protect investigative journalists and internet services from spying and censorship. As such, the spying has an extra poignancy.

The possible triggers:

  • our ongoing work on a classified film revealing civilian casualties occurring under the command of the U.S, general, David Petraeus.
  • our release of a classified 32 page US intelligence report on how to fatally marginalize WikiLeaks (expose our sources, destroy our reputation for integrity, hack us).
  • our release of a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the U.S. and the U.K. over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees.
  • pending releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic “oligarchs”.

We have discovered half a dozen attempts at covert surveillance in Reykjavik both by native English speakers and Icelanders. On the occasions where these individuals were approached, they ran away. One had marked police equipment and the license plates for another suspicious vehicle track back to the Icelandic private VIP bodyguard firm Terr. What does that mean? We don’t know. But as you will see, other events are clear.

U.S. sources told Icelandic state media’s deputy head of news, that the State Department was aggressively investigating a leak from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik. I was seen at a private U.S Embassy party at the Ambassador’s residence, late last year and it is known I had contact with Embassy staff, after.

On Thursday March 18, 2010, I took the 2.15 PM flight out of Reykjavik to Copenhagen–on the way to speak at the SKUP investigative journalism conference in Norway. After receiving a tip, we obtained airline records for the flight concerned. Two individuals, recorded as brandishing diplomatic credentials checked in for my flight at 12:03 and 12:06 under the name of “US State Department”. The two are not recorded as having any luggage.

Iceland doesn’t have a separate security service. It folds its intelligence function into its police forces, leading to an uneasy overlap of policing and intelligence functions and values.

On Monday 22, March, at approximately 8.30pm, a WikiLeaks volunteer, a minor, was detained by Icelandic police on a wholly insignificant matter. Police then took the opportunity to hold the youth over night, without charge–a highly unusual act in Iceland. The next day, during the course of interrogation, the volunteer was shown covert photos of me outside the Reykjavik restaurant “Icelandic Fish & Chips”, where a WikiLeaks production meeting took place on Wednesday March 17–the day before individuals operating under the name of the U.S. State Department boarded my flight to Copenhagen.

Our production meeting used a discreet, closed, backroom, because we were working on the analysis of a classified U.S. military video showing civilian kills by U.S. pilots. During the interrogation, a specific reference was made by police to the video—which could not have been understood from that day’s exterior surveillance alone. Another specific reference was made to “important”, but unnamed Icelandic figures. References were also made to the names of two senior journalists at the production meeting.

Who are the Icelandic security services loyal to in their values? The new government of April 2009, the old pro-Iraq war government of the Independence party, or perhaps to their personal relationships with peers from another country who have them on a permanent intelligence information drip?

Only a few years ago, Icelandic airspace was used for CIA rendition flights. Why did the CIA think that this was acceptable? In a classified U.S. profile on the former Icelandic Ambassador to the United States, obtained by WikiLeaks, the Ambassador is praised for helping to quell publicity of the CIA’s activities.

Often when a bold new government arises, bureaucratic institutions remain loyal to the old regime and it can take time to change the guard. Former regime loyalists must be discovered, dissuaded and removed. But for the security services, that first vital step, discovery, is awry. Congenitally scared of the light, such services hide their activities; if it is not known what security services are doing, then it is surely impossible to know who they are doing it for.

Our plans to release the video on April 5 proceed.

We have asked relevant authorities in the Unites States and Iceland to explain. If these countries are to be treated as legitimate states, they need to start obeying the rule of law. Now.

-Julian Assange (editor@wikileaks.org)

Fundraising drive

We have received hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others that we do not currently have the resources to release to a world audience. You can change that and by doing so, change the world. Even $10 will pay to put one of these reports into another ten thousand hands and $1000, a million.

We have raised just over $360,000 for this year (our yearly budget is around $600,000.).

The Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world- successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Index on Censorship-Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.

We are releasing some time sensitive disclosures on this page until the moment of our re-launch.


Recently released documents

26. Mar. 2010: CIA report into shoring up Afghan war support in Western Europe, 11 Mar 2010
This classified CIA analysis from March, outlines possible PR-strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. After the dutch government fell on the issue of dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF-mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany’s standing in the NATO. The memo is an recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential / No Foreign Nationals.


17. Mar. 2010: Update to over 40 billion euro in 28167 claims made against the Kaupthing Bank, 3 Mar 2010
This document contains an update to a list of 28167 claims, totaling over 40 billion euro, lodged against the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing Bank hf. The document is significant because it reveals billions in cash, bonds and other property held with Kaupthing by a vast number of investors and asset hiders, including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanly, Exista, Barclays, Commerzbank AG, etc. It was confidentially made available to claimants by the Kaupthing Winding-up committee.


15. Mar. 2010: U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks, 18 Mar 2008
This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN) 32 page U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks. ”The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing sensitive or classified information to WikiLeaks.org cannot be ruled out”. It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses ”trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers”, the report recommends ”The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site”. [As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks’ source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective]. As an odd justification for the plan, the report claims that ”Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the WikiLeaks.org website”. The report provides further justification by enumerating embarrassing stories broken by WikiLeaks—U.S. equipment expenditure in Iraq, probable U.S. violations of the Chemical Warfare Convention Treaty in Iraq, the battle over the Iraqi town of Fallujah and human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay.


15. Mar. 2010: Turks & Caicos Islands government asks for US$85M credit line from FirstCaribbean, 28 Jan 2010
Quote for a US$85 million line of credit from FirstCaribbean to the government of the Turks & Caicos Islands. The loan is to be used for refinancing existing liabilities held by FirstCaribbean & Citibank ($26M), reduce an overdraft facility ($15M), cash reserves (US$10M), pay creditors $(US$33M) and “transactions costs”. The intern TCI Government is controlled by the Consultative Forum. Our source states that forum members demanded access to this document but were denied access to it.


15. Mar. 2010: Over 40 billion euro in 28167 claims made against the Kaupthing Bank, 23 Jan 2010
This document contains a list of 28167 claims, totaling over 40 billion euro, lodged against the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing Bank hf. The document is significant because it reveals billions in cash, bonds and other property held with Kaupthing by a vast number of investors and asset hiders, including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanly, Exista, Barclays, Commerzbank AG, etc. It was confidentially made available to claimants by the Kaupthing Winding-up committee.


15. Mar. 2010: BBC High Court Defence against Trafigura libel suit, 11 Sep 2009
This document was submitted to the UK’s High Court by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in September 2009, as a Defence against a libel claim brought against them by the oil company Trafigura. A May 2009 BBC Newsnight feature suggested that 16 deaths and many other injuries were caused by the dumping in the Ivory Coast of a large quantity of toxic waste originating with Trafigura. A September 2009 UN report into the matter stated that 108,000 people were driven to seek medical attention. This Defence, which has never been previously published online, outlines in detail the evidence which the BBC believed justified its coverage. In December 2009 the BBC settled out of court amid reports that fighting the case could have cost as much as 3 million pounds. The BBC removed its original Newsnight footage and associated articles from its on-line archives. The detailed claims contained in this document were never aired publicly, and never had a chance to be tested in court. Commenting on the BBC’s climbdown, John Kampfner, CEO of Index on Censorship said: “Sadly, the BBC has once again buckled in the face of authority or wealthy corporate interests. It has cut a secret deal. This is a black day for British journalism and once more strengthens our resolve to reform our unjust libel laws.” Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, said: “Forced to choose between a responsible broadcaster and an oil company which shipped hundreds of tons of toxic waste to a developing country, English libel law has once again allowed the wrong side to claim victory. The law is an ass and needs urgent reform.” Now that this document is in the public domain, the global public will be able to make their own judgment about the strength of the BBC’s case.


26. Feb. 2010: Icelandic Icesave offer to UK-NL, 25 Feb 2010
Confidential Feb 25 offer (conveyed around 10AM, GMT) from the Icelandic Icesave negotiation team to their British and Dutch counterparts. Iceland agreed to cover all monies associated with the UK-NL Icesave payouts, but forcefully objects to a 2.75% “profiteering” fee demanded by UK-NL over and above base interest rates.


26. Feb. 2010: Final UK-NL offer to the government of Iceland, 19 Feb 2010
Confidential offer from the UK, dutch Icesave negotiation teams to their Icelandic counterparts. Iceland is to cover all monies associated with the UK/NL Icesave payouts, all currency and recovery risks, base interest as well as an effective 2.75% additional fee. The 2009-2010 period is excerpted from interest charges, which the offer values at 450M euro (how the figure is derived is not specified, but it equates to approx. 5.5% PA on 4 Bil EUR). The offer appears to be designed to be leaked, as it contains rhetoric about “tax payers” and similar irrelevancies. Indeed a sentence from the offer appears in a Reuters article filed at 18:04 UTC, February 19, six hours before the confidential offer was sent to the Icelandic government. In the Reuters’ article, phrases are quoted from the offer by an anonymous source, clearly a sanctioned British official, although this is not stated by Reuters. Similar “sources” selectively quoted the document to other media outlets including Channel 4 and the Guardian on February 25, 2010.


24. Feb. 2010: Cryptome.org takedown: Microsoft Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, 24 Feb 2010
Cryptome.org is a venerable New York based anti-secrecy site that has been publishing since 1999. On Feb 24, 2010, the site was forcibly taken down following its publication Microsoft’s “Global Criminal Compliance Handbook”, a confidential 22 page booklet designed for police and intelligence services. The guide provides a “menu” of information Microsoft collects on the users of its online services. Microsoft lawyers threatened Cryptome and its “printer”, internet hosting provider giant Network Solutions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA was designed to protect the legitimate rights of publishers, not to conceal scandalous internal documents that were never intended for sale. Although the action is a clear abuse of the DMCA, Network Solutions, a company with extensive connections to U.S. intelligence contractors, gagged the site in its entirety. Such actions are a serious problem in the United States, where although in theory the First Amendment protects the freedom of the press, in practice, censorship has been privatized via abuse of the judicial system and corporate patronage networks.


24. Feb. 2010: IGES Schlussbericht Private Krankenversicherung, 25 Jan 2010
Abschlussbericht der Studie “Bedeutung von Wettbewerb im Bereich der privaten Krankenversicherungen vor dem Hintergrund der erwarteten demografischen Entwicklung”, angefertigt durch das Berliner Institut fuer Gesundheits- und Sozialforschung (IGES) im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums fuer Wirtschaft (BMWI). Die Studie, datiert vom 25. Januar 2010, wurde von BMWI Ressortchef Rainer Bruederle (FDP) in den Giftschrank verbannt. Die ZIP Datei enthaelt Kurz- und Langfassung der Studie.


18. Feb 2010: Classified cable from US Embassy Reykjavik on Icesave dated 13 Jan 2010
This document, released by WikiLeaks on February 18th 2010 at 19:00 UTC, describes meetings between embassy chief Sam Watson (CDA) and members of the Icelandic government together with British Ambassador Ian Whiting.

Fri Mar 26 08:44:46 UTC 2010

Source: WikiLeaks

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