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Entries in WikiLeaks (59)

Wednesday
Feb232011

WikiLeaks: Beyonce, Usher, Mariah Carey Party with Gadhafi Son

Photo Courtesy - NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A paradise island getaway, private concerts from A-list American celebrities like Beyonce and Usher, and "copious" amounts of alcohol -- this is what it's like to party with the Gadhafi family, according to leaked U.S. documents.

In U.S. State Department cables posted on the website WikiLeaks, U.S. officials say Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's son Mutassim threw two major New Year's bashes at St. Barts island in the Caribbean -- one in 2009 and the next the following year -- with price tags reportedly over a $1 million each.

As Moammar Gadhafi struggles to maintain control over the North African nation -- and amid reports that his own daughter was attempting to flee the country -- the leaked documents offer a glimpse into not only the lavish, "hard-partying, womanizing" ways of some of the Gadhafi sons, but also the intense in-fighting and rivalry between all the Gadhafi offspring.

"The family has been in a tailspin lately, trying to put a stop to one rumor or another, in the name of defending the family's honor," a leaked 2010 cable from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli said, citing a "local political observer."

After the 2009 party, international media reported the lavish affair -- which included a purported $1 million private performance by Mariah Carey -- had been thrown by one of Mutassim's brothers, Saif al-Islam. Saif al-Islam quickly denied the report in a Libyan media outlet he owned, and just as quickly pointed the finger at Mutassim.

The 2010 party featured performances by Beyonce and Usher along with other performers that were not named in the cable.

"Mutassim seemed to be surprised by the fact that his party was photographed and the focus of international media attention," the cable said. "His carousing and extravagance angered some [Libyan] locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation."

Just days before the 2010 party, another of Mutassim's four brothers, Hannibal, popped up in the media for allegedly physically abusing his wife, who was later told to tell investigators she had been injured in an "accident," a U.S. official said in one cable.

Hannibal and another brother, Saadi, have "checkered histories of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere," the official said.

Some of Gadhafi's sons brought so much negative attention to the family that the Libyan dictator assigned a high government official to play the role of a "minder of the more troublesome [Gadhafi] offspring," according to the documents. After an incident in which Saadi disobeyed his father's orders and traveled to Rome, Italy, that minder was removed and Gadhafi's daughter, Aisha, reportedly filled the void.

On Wednesday, military officials in Malta, an island between Libya and Italy, said Aisha was on a plane that attempted to land in Malta but was turned away, Italian and Maltan news outlets reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

WikiLeaks on Moammar Gadhafi: Very Strange, Very Wily

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may be fighting desperately in his characteristically unusual way to stem a popular uprising that threatens his 42-year reign, but dozens of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show that in dealings with the eccentric strongman, U.S. officials have learned one thing: do not mistake personal quirks for weakness.

From a fear of the upper floors of buildings to his flair for flamenco dancing and horse racing, U.S. ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz said of Gadhafi in one 2009 cable, "While it is tempting to dismiss his many eccentricities as signs of instability, [Gadhafi] is a complicated individual who has managed to stay in power for nearly forty years through a skillful balancing of interests and realpolitik methods."

That cable, which was posted along with the others on the website WikiLeaks, allows a rare glimpse into Gadhafi's abnormal proclivities ahead of his 2009 U.N. appearance in New York. In the cable, Cretz describes Gadhafi as having a fear of flying over water, a near obsession with those closest to him, including his "voluptuous blond" Ukrainian nurse, and a refusal to climb more than 35 steps at a time. The cable notes that Gadhafi does not like to fly more than eight hours at a time and plans overnight layovers to accommodate his rest.

The cable also discussed his plans to erect a massive Bedouin tent during his visit to New York -- the one that was temporarily erected on property owned by Donald Trump.

"Moammar Gadhafi has been described as both mercurial and eccentric, and our recent first-hand experience with him and his office... demonstrated the truth of both characterizations" said Cretz, who was called back to Washington after the cable's publication by WikiLeaks.

Descriptions of personal foibles, however, are mixed with allegations of cold-blooded backroom finagling that would make any despot proud. Long before Gadhafi used a foreign mercenary army and his own air force to allegedly kill and injure hundreds of protesters, the leaked cables describe years of savvy political strong-arming that includes secret arms deals, regional power grabs, international blackmail and corruption.

One series of cables describes Libya's nuclear disarmament -- announced in December 2003 and hailed as a victory for then-President George Bush -- as a grueling process in which Libyan officials argued six years after the agreement that they had not been properly "rewarded" by the U.S. government, while U.S. officials claimed Libya was intentionally delaying the dismantling program.

Since the agreement, the U.S. has taken Libya off a list of states that sponsor terrorism and spent millions in aid to Libya "focused on bolstering Libya's commitments to renouncing weapons of mass destruction," according to the State Department and USAID.

Other cables describe arms deals with contacts in China, Romania and the U.K. that indicate Gadhafi wanted to buy far more weapons than were needed by the Libyan military, either because of regional ambitions or a foreseen need for more armed men within his own borders. In August of 2008, a cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli alerted the State Department offices in Washington, D.C., that Libya had reportedly ordered 130,000 Kalashnikov rifles from a British arms company that acted "as an intermediary" for an unnamed Ukrainian manufacturer.

The problem, the cable said, was that current estimates put Libya's entire number of ground-force soldiers around 60,000, fewer than half the number of rifles the country had ordered.

"Attempts to solicit further information... have raised more questions than they answered," the cable said. One British official believed Gadhafi's government intended to turn around and sell the guns to "armed rebel factions... in the Chad/Sudan conflict," according to the cable. At the time, U.N. officials said up to 300,000 people had been killed by warring factions in Sudan alone.

Because of that concern, a later cable reported that the British stopped the deal after a month-long investigation. In the same cable, however, a Libyan businessman told a U.S. official he had signed a deal with a Romanian company to import 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. The businessman was "open about the contract, but avoided the question as to whether the rifles were to be used in Libya or re-exported to another destination."

Another cable reported that in February 2007, Italian police arrested arms dealers who were allegedly brokering an agreement between Libya and Chinese manufacturers for 500,000 automatic rifles, the first half of a million-rifle deal.

In 2008, Gadhafi's government was accused of using outright blackmail and extortion to force visa approval for "well-connected" Libyans from two European countries, another cable said.

In one case, 12 unnamed Libyans were requesting visas from Greece -- not because they wanted to visit there, the cable said, but because "Greece has not yet incorporated biometric requirements into its visa application procedure." When Greece refused, officials from the Libyan government informed their Greek counterparts Libya would not be clearing shipments of diplomatic goods through customs until the visa matter was resolved.

In a similar case, a Swiss official told the U.S. the Libyans had refused to register one of their embassy employees until Switzerland approved a tourist visa for a Libyan applicant who had been denied, the cable said.

"The willingness of the [government of Libya] to extort other diplomatic missions to issue visas to prominent but unqualified Libyans reflects the extent to which politically-connected individuals are able to manipulate public institutions for their own benefit," a U.S. official said in the cable. "In an opaque regime in which lines of authority are deliberately blurred to obscure power structures and mitigate accountability, corruption is pervasive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb082011

WikiLeaks Founder's Extradition Hearing Wraps Up in London

Photo Courtesy - Bertil Ericson/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared at the Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London again on Tuesday for the second and final day of his extradition hearing.

Assange's lawyers tried to hammer home the idea their client doesn't have a case to argue.  They said Assange could be questioned in the United Kingdom and there was no need for him to return to Sweden.

If Assange were to go back to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault, he would put himself at risk of being extradited to the United States, his lawyers have said.  But at Tuesday's hearing, a defense witness revealed under cross examination that the chances that Sweden would extradite Assange to the U.S. would be almost impossible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

Extradition Hearing Begins for WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Photo Courtesy - Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A two-day hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange kicked off Monday as Swedish authorities seek his extradition in connection to sex crime allegations.

Assange appeared at the Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London to fight extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault.

During the two-day hearing, Assange's lawyers will strongly argue that he should not be extradited because he has not been charged with a crime.  As such, they say, it's an abuse of the European Arrest Warrant.

His legal team also contends Swedish prosecutors are politically-motivated to get to Assange after he published thousands of classified documents that have proved to be embarrassing to a number of governments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Receives Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NORWAY) -- A Norwegian parliamentarian has nominated WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, saying his publication of thousands of secret government documents has helped to promote human rights, democracy and freedom of speech.

Snorre Valen, 24, a member of the country's Socialist Left Party, announced his submission to the Nobel Committee Wednesday on his blog.

"WikiLeaks have contributed to the struggle for those very values globally, by exposing (among many other things) corruption, war crimes and torture -- sometimes even conducted by allies of Norway," he said. "Most recently, by disclosing the economic arrangements by the presidential family in Tunisia, WikiLeaks have made a small contribution to bringing down a 24-year lasting dictatorship."

Valen acknowledged the controversy surrounding WikiLeaks' actions but insisted the whistleblower organization was working for the public interest.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee declined to comment on Valen's nomination of Assange or on any other potential nominations submitted ahead of Tuesday's deadline. The group's website noted it receives more than 200 nominations per year.

The Nobel committee will announce the next Peace Prize winner in October and formally present a medal and $1.6-million award to the laureate in a December ceremony.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Jan272011

FBI Executes Searches in WikiLeaks Cyber Attack Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) – Both the FBI and Scotland Yard executed search warrants Thursday in relation to cyber attacks that targeted major  corporations on behalf of WikiLeaks.

In a statement, the FBI said that more than 40 search warrants were served in the U.S. In the United Kingdom, police arrested five people for their alleged role in the attacks. 

WikiLeaks has claimed that they have no official connection to the group that calls itself “Anonymous” and carried out cyber attacks that crippled websites such as those for Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.

The FBI has reiterated that such cyber attacks, known as distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), are illegal and carry with them a prison sentence of up to 10 years and potential civil action.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan272011

Police Arrest Five in Connection to 'Anonymous' Web Attacks

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Police in England made five arrests Thursday morning in connection to web attacks carried out last month supporting the leak of top secret documents by WikiLeaks.

According to police, three males, ages 15, 16 and 19, and two men, ages 20 and 26, were arrested around 7 a.m. local time.  Metropolitan police, in conjunction with European and international law enforcement agencies, made the arrests in London, Surrey, West Midlands, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire.

The five males are believed to be part of the online group called Anonymous that hacked into and crippled the websites of Mastercard, PayPal and other companies that pulled their financial support of WikiLeaks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Former Swiss Banker Found Guilty In WikiLeaks Leak

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ZURICH, Switzerland) – A former Swiss banker has escaped a prison sentence for charges he breached Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws by leaking confidential banking files to WikiLeaks.

Rudolf Elmer was found guilty and fined, but the judge in Zurich declined the eight-month prison sentence sought by prosecutors.

Elmer had said he leaked files from the bank he used to work for, Julius Baer, in order to expose tax evasion by rich businessmen and politicians.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the files will be posted on the whistleblowing website once they are verified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Swiss Whistleblower Hands WikiLeaks Over 2,000 Bank Files

Photo Courtesy - Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Whistleblower and former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer handed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange two CDs Monday that contain details of the Swiss bank accounts of more than 2,000 American, European and Asian individuals and multinational companies.

Among the bank account owners, Elmer says, are some 40 politicians, as well as business leaders, celebrities, organized crime leaders, and three major financial institutions, including his former employer Bank Julius Baer.   He claims the documents give evidence of massive potential tax evasion as well as other potentially illegal activity by banks.                                                                                                                     
“WikiLeaks is my only hope to get society to know what’s going on,” Elmer said, adding that he had attempted unsuccessfully to give the material to tax authorities and members of the media.

Elmer said he would not immediately release the names of any individuals or institutions, in part to ensure that the names on the accounts are real and not aliases for individuals or companies involved.
 
“The investigation is for government authorities to sort out," Elmer said.

Elmer repeatedly emphasized that he, not Assange, takes full responsibility for the information.

Assange himself said, "This is not my news conference.  This is Mr. Elmer's news conference."  And he added it will take several weeks for WikiLeaks to vet the documents.   “We haven't seen the material,” Assange said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan122011

New Statesman: Assange Levels Threat on Mainstream Press

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) – In an exclusive interview with the New Statesman, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called China the site's biggest “technological enemy” and leveled a threat against the mainstream news media.

In the interview, Assange claims that if he is indicted by the United States, he will release so-called “insurance” cables.
 
"There are 504 U.S. embassy cables on one broadcasting organization and there are cables on Murdoch and News Corp.," Assange said. He added that should he be indicted, the press should be worried that the protection provided to them by the First Amendment is fading.

Despite his current problems with the U.S., Assange said that China is the sites biggest technological enemy due to the country’s censorship. He did say, however, that WikiLeaks has made significant strides in getting their content through to readers there.

Assange also weighed in on Bradley Manning, saying he “never heard” of the U.S. soldier who has been accused of leaking diplomatic cables to the site. Assange said the first time he heard of Manning was when his name was published in the press because WikiLeaks was designed to allow complete anonymity for those who submit documents to the site.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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