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Entries in Julian Assange (10)

Sunday
Jun302013

Julian Assange: ‘No Stopping’ Release of Additional NSA Secrets

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said Sunday morning in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on This Week that there is no stopping the release of additional NSA secrets obtained by Edward Snowden, a former contract employee of the organization.

“There is no stopping the publishing process at this stage.  Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.  I mean, the United States, by canceling his passport, has left him for the moment marooned in Russia.  Is that really a great outcome by the State Department?  Is that really what it wanted to do?” Assange said, speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“I think that every citizen has the right to their citizenship,” he continued. “To take someone’s principal component of citizenship, their passport, away from them is a disgrace.  Mr. Snowden has not been convicted of anything.  There are no international warrants out for his arrest.  To take a passport from a young man in a difficult situation like that is a disgrace.”

Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit zone of a Moscow airport, after fleeing Hong Kong last week. He faces espionage charges in the United States for leaking information about government surveillance programs.

The Obama administration has called for Snowden’s extradition back to the U.S. and the State Department recently revoked his passport. He is currently believed to be seeking asylum from other countries, and is receiving counsel from Assange and Wikileaks.

Assange told Stephanopoulos that the Wikileaks legal team has “been in contact with Mr. Snowden,” and praised the 30-year-old leaker.

“He is a hero.  He has told the people of the world and the United States that there is mass unlawful interception of their communications, far beyond anything that happened under Nixon.  Obama can’t just turn around like Nixon did and said, it’s OK, if the president does it, if the president authorizes it,” he said.

The United States has asked other countries to turn down Snowden’s requests for asylum. But world leaders have pushed back against that request, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling Snowden a “free person” and allowing him to stay in a Moscow airport.

Assange acknowledged the diplomatic sensitivity of the situation, calling it “a matter of international diplomatic negotiations.”

On Friday Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the president of Ecuador and asked him not to grant Snowden asylum. Assange called that phone call unacceptable.

“Joseph Biden [Friday] personally called President Correa, trying to pressure him.  That’s not acceptable.  Asylum is a right that we all have.  It’s an international right.  The United States has been founded largely on accepting political refugees from other countries and has prospered by it.  Mr. Snowden has that right.  Ideally, he should be able to return to the United States,” he said.

Snowden’s father, Lonnie Snowden, has also called for his son to return to the U.S. and raised questions about Assange’s involvement, saying, “I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history, you know, their focus isn’t necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible. So that alone is a concern for me.”

Assange responded, “Mr. Snowden’s father, as a parent, of course he is worried in this situation.  Every father would be worried in this situation.  We have established contact with Mr. Snowden’s father’s lawyer to put some of his concerns to rest, but I mean this isn’t – this isn’t a situation that, you know, Wikileaks is in charge of, if you like.”

Assange told Stephanopoulos there is “little that I can productively say” about the status of Snowden, who is presumed to still be in a Russian airport.

Wikileaks has also faced criticism for their release of many classified government documents. In a leaked email published by Time magazine in 2010, Assange is quoted as writing that Wikileaks’ revelations are intended to bring about “the total annihilation of the current U.S. regime.” When asked if this was still his goal, Assange denied that the email existed.

“I did not say that and there is no such email,” he said. “That quote is simply false.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec192011

Evidence Shows Bradley Manning Links to Wikileaks

Hemera/Thinkstock(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- Prosecutors in Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing Monday provided the first evidence linking the Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents with Wikileaks and the site’s founder, Julian Assange.

Army investigators said they had found Assange’s name on Manning’s personal computer, an email in which Manning claimed to have leaked a video to the site and a message in which he boasted that hundreds of thousands of military battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan were “possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

In 2010, Wikileaks, published hundreds of thousands of military battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than a hundred thousand State Department cables.

Army Special Agent David Shaver testified Monday that a review of the data card Manning used with two secure computers he used in Baghdad contained hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shaver said he found the reports in an encrypted file after using the password "TWink1492!!" which was also the log-in for Manning’s personal computer. He agreed with the prosecution when they said, “So you got kind of lucky.”

Upon accessing the file, Shaver said, he found 91,000 Afghanistan battlefield reports and more than 400,000 similar reports from Iraq.

He also found a small text file that referred to the reports as being “Iraq and Afghanistan significant activities (SIGACTS) between 000001 on 31-jan 2004 and 23:59 am on 31 Dec 2009.”  Presumably the note was intended for Wikileaks and recommended sitting on the information “for 90-180 days to figure out how best to send and distribute such a large amount of data and to a large audience and protect the source. ”

It closed, “File is possibly one of the most significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

Mark Johnson, a computer forensic analyst working for the Army, said he had reviewed Manning’s personal computer for instant messaging and Internet chat logs.

His search recovered a buddy list that included a contact for Adrian Lamo, the hacker who notified federal authorities about Manning’s boasts of transferring thousands of classified documents.

The list also contained the email address pressassociation@jabber.ccc.de that was found to be associated with aliases for both Assange and Nathaniel Frank.  Johnson stated that it was “unusual to find two different aliases” assigned to one email address.

From the computer’s deleted files Johnson said he was able to recover 14 to 16 pages of chat logs between Manning and the alias Nathaniel that dealt predominantly with the sending of government information, but also mentioned Wikileaks.

When asked if he believed from these chats that the two parties knew each other Johnson responded, “They talked about ‘did you receive information’” and it appeared they “had known each other in the past.”

A second email address, dawgnetwork@jabber.ccc.de,  was also found to be an alias for Assange.

Johnson also said he had recovered computer data that indicated Manning had uploaded materials from his personal computer to the Wikileaks website.

Additional archived information found on the computer indicated he had documents “clearly marked classified or secret.” Johnson also found that the laptop had been erased in early January 2010.

Johnson also examined Manning’s external hard drive, which contained contact information, a November 2009 text file with a phone number for “24 hour service, Ask for ‘Julian Assange.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb262011

President Bush Cancels Speech over Assange Invite

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DENVER) -- Former President George W. Bush was scheduled to speak at a YPO Global Leadership Summit in Denver on Saturday, but canceled the speaking engagement after learning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was also invited to the event.

A spokesperson for President Bush issued the following statement:

“Six months ago, President Bush accepted an invitation to speak to the YPO Global Leadership Summit in Denver on February 26, 2011.  This week, upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, President Bush decided to cancel his appearance.  The former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Department of Justice Seeks Twitter Records in Wikileaks Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an interesting juxtaposition to Secretary Hillary Clinton's Internet freedom speech, Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Justice Department will be seeking to enforce a court order to direct Twitter Inc. to provide the U.S. government records from three individuals,  including Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic parliament who communicated with others about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange last year when WikiLeaks released their trove of U.S. cables.

In December, the U.S. District Court issued the order to seek the information under a 2703 order which allows the government to seek a service provider's customer communications records in the past 180 days. It is essentially an administrative subpoena.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are seeking to dismiss and challenge the order.  According to a Jan. 26 court filing, the groups are seeking to dismiss on the grounds that it "intrudes upon important First Amendment rights," 4th Amendment protections, and "will not directly further the government's purported interests."

Jonsdottir and two other individuals have been targeted by these orders to turn over details about their Twitter accounts because the suit suggests they discussed Wikileaks and Assange.  The motion to dismiss notes, "The First Amendment guarantees their right to speak up for and freely associate with even unpopular people."

The motion also notes that the U.S. government request creates, "a disturbing precedent regarding a foreign government's ability to collect private data from another country's officials."

The U.S. government is seeking information about their accounts, direct messages, home address, connection records and IP addresses.

The ACLU and EFF are also seeking to unseal all court orders relating to the case and the government's request for the records.  Everything filed by the Justice Department was filed under seal in the case and remains secret.  The court motion and request to dismiss the court order were only recently unsealed in this matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec152010

'WikiLeaks: The Video Game' Stars Assange and Obama

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A new video game called WikiLeaks: The Game allows gamers and those who can't get enough of the WikiLeaks saga to play their own fictional role in the drama.

Downloading classified files off the president's actual computer would land you in jail. But in the gaming world, it makes you a winner.

"After all the serious news, it crossed my mind that people would be ready or enjoy something lighthearted about the subject," Sebastiaan Moeys, who created the game, told ABC News. Moeys runs a network of web sites that include several other video games.

The 21-year-old Moeys said it took him about a week to develop the game. He launched it Dec. 10, and since then, it's been played by more than a million people.

A glance at Facebook and Twitter shows thousands linking to the game.

"The reaction overall has been positive. People think it's fun to play, it's a good laugh, a few minutes of fun," Moeys said.

In recent days, the U.S. Air Force clamped down on media organizations that posted the classified information released by WikiLeaks, and the Defense Department banned USB drives from military computers. But Moeys said that, so far, he hasn't been asked to shut down WikiLeaks: The Game.

"Some people are asking me, 'Aren't you getting into trouble by using Obama?' I respond by saying I think he would find it funny too," Moeys said.

He said he has no current plans to make a sequel to WikiLeaks: The Game, but he hasn't ruled it out.

"There has to be something new, something interesting, some new development," he said. "I would want it to be original and to really add something."

With the way the WikiLeaks drama continues to unfold, a sequel might be right around the corner.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec142010

Poll: Americans Think WikiLeaks Document Dump Went Too Far

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- More than two-thirds of Americans say WikiLeaks has harmed the public interest by releasing classified U.S diplomatic documents -- a sharp negative turn in views of the website's actions.  And nearly six in 10 say its founder, Julian Assange, should face criminal charges as a result.

On Tuesday, the same day Assange is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom on unrelated charges, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated he’s gone a document dump too far, alienating many Americans who held a more benign view of last summer’s WikiLeaks release of U.S. military field reports from Afghanistan.

Moreover, a recent Pew Research Center poll found the public more or less divided, 42 percent to 47 percent, on whether that release served or hurt the public interest.  Last week, in a Pew poll on the diplomatic documents, it was 29-53 percent negative.  And in this poll it’s even more so, with just 20 percent saying the release served the public interest, while 68 percent call it harmful.

Assange's lawyer was quoted Sunday as saying Swedish authorities had told him a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia was considering possible criminal charges against Assange stemming from WikiLeaks’ release of classified documents.  In accordance with that reported investigation, 59 percent of Americans say that in their view Assange should be charged with a crime for releasing the U.S. diplomatic cables.  Far fewer, 29 percent, said it’s not a criminal matter, with the rest undecided.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec132010

Espionage Act Presents Challenges for WikiLeaks Indictment

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the U.S. Justice Department crafts a legal case against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange for the publication of thousands of secret government cables, legal experts are warning that any indictment under the Espionage Act may also implicate the news media -- and Americans who've read the cables or shared them with their friends.

The World War I-era law is broadly written and criminalizes anyone who possesses or transmits any "information relating to the national defense" which an individual has "reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."

If WikiLeaks, which allegedly did not steal the documents, is guilty of espionage for printing them, so too might be the New York Times, U.K.'s The Guardian, and Germany's Der Spiegel, which have replicated and disseminated the materials worldwide, some experts say.

Individual users of Twitter and Facebook and other social media who spread links to the documents far and wide, or even discussed the contents in public, could also technically be liable.

"One of the flaws in the Espionage Act is that it draws no distinction between the leaker or the spy and the recipient of the information, no matter how far downstream the recipient is," said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law.

"There's no difference in the statute between Assange and someone at home who opens up something that Assange has posted on his website knowing that it's classified," he said.

The sweeping and vague nature of the law may explain why the federal government recently warned all employees not to read WikiLeaks' cables or any news reports pertaining to them because the information is still classified.  Several universities around the country have also warned students who might seek careers with the federal government not to post links to WikiLeaks content or discuss the cables publicly through social media.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov302010

McCain Wants Heads to Roll for Wikileaks, Others Say Not Likely

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain demanded Tuesday that top brass be disciplined for the massive security breach of classified documents that are now spilling out of the Wikileaks website, but former Washington officials said it's unlikely that anyone will be held accountable beyond the lowly private who is now in jail.

"Let's go back to the principle of need-to-know. Why would a private first class have access to all of this information? Somebody is responsible for that and it isn't just the private first class. They should be held accountable for a change," McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News.

Wikileaks' release of the latest tranche of secret diplomatic cables spurred federal agencies to launch investigations, promises of improved regulations, and vows to prosecute Army Private Bradley Manning and Wikileaks' director Julian Assange.

Manning has been held in a Quantico, Va., brig awaiting court martial since July, but no senior officials or military officers have taken responsibility for the historic security breach and none have been threatened with losing their jobs.

"We probably are not going to see heads roll," said Gen. Jack Keane, a retired four star general and former Acting Army Chief of Staff. "The supervisors in this case will likely get a pass because this is a major deception."

The military says it will not comment on who, if anyone else might be held responsible until it completes an ongoing investigation.

Manning is alleged to have downloaded vast numbers of secret diplomatic cables and military documents while working as an intelligence analyst, committing the greatest security breach in U.S. history using little more than a memory stick and a Lady Gaga CD.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

WikiLeaker Seeks to Expose 'Lying, Corrupt and Murderous Leadership'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chief WikiLeaker whom the U.S. promised Monday to prosecute said his Internet site was just beginning to unload its diplomatic secrets and said the documents will skewer "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil."

Julian Assange, the Australian who heads the secret-sharing website, told ABC News Monday he believes his safety and freedom are in danger. He responded to questions by e-mail from a clandestine hideout.

He was undaunted by vows from the U.S. and Australia to prosecute him and said the forthcoming diplomatic cables are aimed at "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil."

"We're only one thousandth of the way in and look at what has so far being revealed. There will be many more," he wrote defiantly.

Assange also dismissed a warning Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said the dump of secret documents "puts people's lives in danger," particularly those sources who provided the U.S. with information about abuses in foreign countries.

The Obama administration's top diplomat and lawyer put WikiLeaks and Assange on alert Monday, promising to prosecute any individual, regardless of nationality, who broke U.S. law by making public hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables.

"[To] the extent that we can find anybody involved of breaking American law who has put at risk the assets and the people that I have described...they will be held responsible. They will be held accountable," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference.

"Some mistakenly applaud those responsible," Clinton said. "There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people...nothing brave about sabotaging peaceful relations between nations."

Though dedicated to bringing to light secret government documents, WikiLeaks operates in the shadows, running a sophisticated website, manned by an international team from a bunker in Iceland.

The current raft of documents, some 250,000 diplomatic cables that span decades and include various -- and sometimes embarrassing -- details about the way U.S. envoys see their foreign counterparts, is the latest document dump WikiLeaks received last year from Army Private Bradley Manning, currently awaiting court-martial.

Holder's declaration that he would seek to hold WikiLeaks responsible was met with praise from across the aisle.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he supported the efforts Holder was taking and said Assange's "purposeful intent to damage not only our national interests in fighting the war on terror, but also undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Both Holder and King agreed that WikiLeaks should not treated as a media outlet, but a criminal entity intimately involved in the effort to steal secret documents and make them public.

King also called on Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organization.

Over the course of the year, WikiLeaks has released secret military documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

More Classified U.S. Documents Exposed by WikiLeaks

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- To no avail, the State Department warned the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks that its latest planned document dump puts the lives of “countless individuals” in danger.

Despite the plea to reconsider, Julian Assange went ahead with the massive leak of 250,000 records Sunday although their appearance was delayed by a denial-of-service attack that WikiLeaks blamed on hackers determined to stop their release.  Just the same, Assange provided the materials to The New York Times as well as Britain’s The Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel.

This sensitive trove of information contains information that is at the very least embarrassing to Washington because of some unflattering portrayals of world leaders and at worst, jeopardizes those who expected their conversations with Americans to be confidential while giving enemies of the U.S. a heads-up on formely classified information that they can exploit to their advantage. 

Among some of the revelations:

-- Washington believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that are capable of reaching Moscow and various Western European capitals.

-- Arabian Peninsula governments have implored the U.S. time and time again to launch a military preemptive strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities which they consider a threat to the stability of the region.  In particular, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was said have to repeatedly asked the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” before it’s too late.

-- Israel has always expressed its trepidation about allowing a nuclear Iran to develop.  Last year, Israeli defense Ehud Barak told U.S. lawmakers that attacking Iran later than 2010 “would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”

-- The U.S. has tried unsuccessfully since 2007 to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor that could be used to build an illicit atomic bomb.  The Pakistanis have resisted inspections because they’re worried that an attempt “certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons.”

-- Deep suspicions remain about corruption inherent in the Afghan government as the U.S. tries to work with an unreliable ally.  Last year, Afghanistan’s vice president was caught by the Drug Enforcement Agency carrying $52 million in a suitcase while on a visit to the United Arab Emirates.  The official was still allowed to keep the money without explaining what he was doing with it.

-- China’s Politburo, a group of 24 who oversee the Communist Party of China, authorized the hacking of Google’s computer systems in that country while operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the government have broken into the computers of the U.S. and its western allies since 2002.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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