January 15, 2011

Wikileaks Update (2011-01-15): Swiss Banker Leaks Data Re- Tax Evasion; Tunisia; J. Waters Re- J. Lennon; & More

Greg Mitchell is still blogging the Wikileaks story more or less continually at The Nation. He's also written a great article on it here, and The Nation's put together an illustrative slide show here. Best way to find Mitchell's current and prior WL-related blog posts is through this page. Among Mitchell's news today:

[From The Guardian:] "Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer [formerly with [Julius Baer Bank] plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks: He will disclose the details of 'massive potential tax evasion' before he flies home to stand trial over his actions." [Can't wait!] UPDATE: Reuters reports that Elmer will deliver two CD's full of info to WL tomorrow (Jan. 17). Elmer's being tried in Switzerland for breaching bank secrecy; but unlike Manning and Assange, he has not been detained and can travel freely. Further UPDATE: The hand-off to Assange has occurred; more at The Globe and Mail.

Scott Shane's new piece at NYT puts him in the camp of those giving a good deal of credit to WikiLeaks for [the] Tunisia revolt. . . . [H]e says the cables "helped fuel the anger on the streets that culminated Friday with Mr. Ben Ali’s flight after 23 years in power," adding, "the diplomats’ disgusted and lurid accounts of the kleptocratic ways of the president’s extended family helped tip the scales, according to many Tunisian commentators."

[Per John Waters, who's about to open a show inspired by John Lennon,] "I think [Lennon would] be thrilled with WikiLeaks. . . . I think the internet has always been potentially a force for freedom of speech and it's proving itself right now. And Lennon would have been just loving that."

Here are some kids' WL-related cartoons; the one shown at right is by #pranav_waghmare.

Award-winning journalist John Pilger has written brilliantly in WL's and Assange's defense; a few excerpts:

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch." US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy the feeling of "trust" which is WikiLeaks’ "center of gravity." It planned to do this with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution." Silencing and criminalizing this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. . . .

* * * * *
"So, Julian, why won’t you go back to Sweden now?" demanded the headline over Catherine Bennett’s Observer column on 19 December, which questioned Assange’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct with two women in Stockholm last August. "To keep delaying the moment of truth, for this champion of fearless disclosure and total openness," wrote Bennett, "could soon begin to look pretty dishonest, as well as inconsistent." Not a word in Bennett’s vitriol considered the looming threats to Assange’s basic human rights and his physical safety, as described by Geoffrey Robertson QC, in the extradition hearing in London on 11 January.

In response to Bennett, the editor of the online Nordic News Network in Sweden, Al Burke, wrote to the Observer explaining that "plausible answers to Catherine Bennett’s tendentious question" were both critically important and freely available. Assange had remained in Sweden for more than five weeks after the rape allegation was made — and subsequently dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm – and that repeated attempts by him and his Swedish lawyer to meet a second prosecutor, who re-opened the case following the intervention of a government politician, had failed. And yet, as Burke pointed out, this prosecutor had granted him permission to fly to London where "he also offered to be interviewed – a normal practice in such cases." So it seems odd, at the very least, that the prosecutor then issued a European Arrest Warrant. The Observer did not publish Burke’s letter.

This record-straightening is crucial because it describes the perfidious behavior of the Swedish authorities – a bizarre sequence confirmed to me by other journalists in Stockholm and by Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig. Not only that; Burke catalogued the unforeseen danger Assange faces should he be extradited to Sweden. "Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," he wrote, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is ample reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."

* * * * *
For example, in December 2001, with the "war on terror" under way, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari. They were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and "rendered" to Egypt, where they were tortured. When the Swedish Ombudsman for Justice investigated and found that their human rights had been "seriously violated," it was too late.

Much more worth reading here.

Finally, here's the unedited version of Colbert's interview of Assange:

From Colbert Nation.

No comments:

Post a Comment