December 14, 2010

Wikileaks UPDATES (2010-12-14)

Assange, who has been in isolation in Oscar Wilde's old cell, has been ordered released on bail. He's had no access to the internet or even newspapers other than The Daily Express. He won't actually be released until the cash for bail has been delivered, which could take several days. Meanwhile, Swedish officials are appealing his release, and the hearing on that may take place within 48 hours (see Mitchell's blog for links re- all of the foregoing) – meaning, among other things, that Assange will go through yet another hearing without having had the opportunity to participate fully in the preparation of his own defense (unless authorities relent and decide to give him fuller access to news and other resources). UPDATE: Apparently to the surprise of everyone other than British officials, it's they, not the Swedes, who are appealing the decision to release Assange on bail. This is odd because, while the Swedes' basis for wanting him held seems slight enough, the Brits have none at all.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald says the leaker of the cables, Bradley Manning, is being subjected to inhumane treatment, even torture. Manning may be the only card US officials have: they probably have no legal basis for prosecuting Assange or Wikileaks unless they can extract a "confession" from him that Assange/Wikileaks conspired with or at least actively encouraged Manning to obtain the leaked cables.

If the US gets possession of Assange, the investigation/prosecution could keep him and Wikileaks occupied for a long, long time (à la Clinton).

But maybe it would be worth it to offer a trade? is back online, "less than 10 days after domain name service provider EveryDNS terminated the whistleblower organization's domain name, citing stability concerns." More at ComputerWorld (which has been the source for a number of good articles on this story).

Naomi Wolf has another great article at HuffPo; a sample: "Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response [to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Assange] that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism."

I'd been wondering how energetically Sweden usually pursues alleged sexual miscreants. A quick search today indicates that (notwithstanding the title of a recent NYT article proclaiming, "[i]n Sweden, sex assault gets little tolerance"), although the laws are indeed stricter and women may report sexual misconduct more often, when it comes to prosecution of sex crimes – not so much. On the contrary, in a 2009 article, The Local reported Sweden's National Council of Crime Prevention had found that "less than 13 percent of the 3,535 rape crimes reported in 2007 resulted in a decision to start legal proceedings . . . . [and] Amnesty [International] slam[med] the Swedish judicial system and the prevalence of attrition [i.e., the phenomenon of alleged offenses never reaching court] within it, concluding that, 'in practice, many perpetrators enjoy impunity.'" (Emphasis supplied.) Dave Lindorff says Swedish authorities have submitted only one other request in 2010 for Interpol's assistance in capturing the suspect of a sex crime, and in that case, the suspect was wanted on multiple charges including sex crimes against children (he unfortunately cites no source). [UPDATE: In a new article the following day, Naomi Wolf confirms my impression.]

Slate has a good defense of Anonymous' DDoS attacks here, as a form of civil disobedience.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned about the actions taken by Mastercard, Visa, and others against Wikileaks and says they could be interpreted as an attempt to censor free speech. Iceland may ban the credit card companies.

The Guardian has a profile of Assange. Near the end, it mentions that OpenLeaks' spokesman, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, says the new organization "'will act only as the receptacle for leaked documents – the leaker will be able to designate which media organisations can publish the details." According to Forbes, if the designated organization doesn't publish the leaked info, the documents will be sent to other publishers. "Resource constraints, as Assange told [the author, Andy Greenberg] last month, have forced WikiLeaks to choose only its 'highest impact' material for publication. But those constraints have also politicized WikiLeaks and forced it to make subjective decisions about its targets, Domscheit-Berg argues. 'We want to be a neutral conduit,' he says.' That’s what’s most politically sustainable as well.'"

Good description of some of the legalities re- extradition here. In short, it suggests it might be easier for the US to extradite Assange from Sweden, but Sweden may need Britain's consent to send him to the US.

In case you hadn't heard, US officials have instructed employees and contractors not to look at the published cables; and now apparently the Air Force is blocking its personnel's access to the websites of the newspapers publishing the cables. UPDATE: Hey, US Air Force, employees, and contractors: there are over 2,000 WL mirror sites listed here.

Here are some good sources for additional info:

Greg Mitchell's blog at The Nation (you may have to click around a bit to get to the current day);
Wikileaks Infopool;
The UK Guardian's daily update on the content of new releases (they've also had the best analysis I've seen from among the traditional media outlets); and
Foreign Policy
's Wikileaked blog.

For previous posts with my selection of highlights re- this story, click here.

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