LONDON, May 31 -- The reports stating that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was subjected to psychological torture in Great Britain needs clarifying,
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her official Facebook page. Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that WikiLeaks founder Assange is showing symptoms of having been exposed to psychological torture for a number of years in the United Kingdom in a commentary with The Times newspaper published on Friday. “That’s really something. Look at what the freedom fighters and human rights activists are actually doing. We are waiting for official explanations from the [United] Kingdom,” she concluded.
LONDON, May 30 -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange missed a court session Thursday, apparently due to health problems. He had been expected to appear from prison via video link at a brief extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court.
Lawyer Gareth Peirce told the court Assange was "not very well.'' Assange, 47, is in Belmarsh Prison serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in Britain while fighting extradition to the United States, which accuses him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing secret documents containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources. Sweden also seeks him for questioning about an alleged rape, which Assange has denied. It is not clear which claim would take precedence. The decision would likely be made by Britain's home secretary. Judge Emma Arbuthnot said a more substantive extradition hearing set for June 12 may be moved to a court next to Belmarsh Prison for convenience. Roughly two dozen supporters chanted ``Free Assange'' outside the courthouse. His case has attracted fresh support from free press advocates in the week since the U.S. filed serious espionage charges against him. He had earlier been held on suspicion of conspiracy to break into classified computer systems, a less serious charge.
WikiLeaks said in a statement it has "grave concerns" about Assange's health. The anti-secrecy group says he has been moved to the prison health ward. The group says Assange has "dramatically lost weight" and recently "it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him." The complicated extradition process, which involves both Sweden and the United States and deals with press freedom and national security issues, is expected to last for months or years. Assange was arrested by British police in April after Ecuadorian officials withdrew his asylum status. He had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 when Sweden was trying to question him about sexual misconduct allegations.
LOS ANGELES, May 15 -- Authorities in mainland China have blocked Wikipedia, its owner said on Wednesday.
“In April, the Wikimedia Foundation determined that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in China,” Samantha Lien, spokeswoman for the foundation, which owns the online encyclopaedia, said. “After closely analysing our internal traffic reports, we can confirm Wikipedia is blocked across all language versions,” Lien said. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites have long been blocked in mainland China, as have individual Wikipedia articles about sensitive issues, like the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and the Himalayan region of Tibet. Suspicion of a total block on Wikipedia surfaced in late April when some Chinese internet users took to social media to complain the site was no longer accessible. Tests run by GreatFire.org, an organisation that tracks internet censorship in China, showed the site had not been accessible from within mainland China since April 23.
LONDON, May 2 -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces an initial hearing in London on Thursday over an extradition request from the United States, a day after he was jailed for 50 weeks for jumping bail.
The US wants to extradite the Australian whistle-blower, who was arrested on April 11 after spending seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy, to face charges of “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. The US indictment, which was only revealed following his dramatic arrest for breaching bail, accuses him of helping crack a password stored on US department of defence computers in March 2010. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years. Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrong-doing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said on Wednesday that all efforts would now be focused on preventing Assange’s extradition to the US. “It will be a question of life and death,” he warned. Assange’s supporters believe that more serious charges could be filed if he is transferred to the US, and he fears the death penalty. Hrafnsson was speaking outside London’s Southwark Crown Court, where a British judge handed Assange a 50-week jail term for breaching a British court order when he sought refuge in the embassy in June 2012.
‘I apologise unreservedly’
At the time, Swedish authorities wanted to extradite Assange over claims of sexual assault and rape, which he denied. He claimed the allegations were a pretext to transfer him to the United States. There is no longer an active investigation in Sweden and the extradition request has lapsed, but Assange was still accountable for breaching British law, leading to him being dragged shouting from the embassy by police when Ecuador gave him up last month. The 47-year-old, his shaggy beard neatly trimmed, raised his fist to supporters in the public gallery at Southwark Crown Court as he was taken down to the cells. In a letter read out on his behalf, Assange expressed regret, saying: “I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done.” “I apologise unreservedly,” he said. Assange’s team is fighting his extradition and the process could take years. WikiLeaks is also back in the news in the United States, over its alleged role in the leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016 US presidential election. The Swedish claims against Assange date back to 2010, when he was at the centre of a global storm over WikiLeaks’ exposures. The sexual assault claim expired in 2015, but while the rape claim was dropped in 2017, the alleged victim wants the case reopened. If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, Britain must decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States.
LONDON, May 1 -- A UK judge has sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail seven years ago and holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Judge Deborah Taylor said it was hard to imagine a more serious version of the offence as she gave the 47-year-old hacker a sentence close to the maximum of a year in custody. She said Assange's seven years in the embassy had cost UK taxpayers 16 million pounds ($21m) and said he sought asylum as a "deliberate attempt to delay justice". The white-haired Assange stood impassively with his hands clasped while the sentence was read. His supporters in the public gallery at Southwark Crown Court chanted "Shame on you" at the judge as Assange was led away. An Australian citizen, Assange sought asylum in the South American country's London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations. Assange's lawyer Mark Summers told a courtroom packed with journalists and WikiLeaks supporters that his client sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy because "he was living with overwhelming fear of being rendered to the US". He said Assange had a "well-founded" fear that he would be mistreated and possibly sent to the US detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Summers read a letter from Assange apologising for his behaviour in 2012 and saying "I did what I thought was best". "I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances," the letter said. Assange was arrested on April 11 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation's foreign affairs to poor hygiene. He faces a separate court hearing on Thursday on a US extradition request. US authorities have charged Assange with conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer system.
A bedraggled and sickly looking Assange was dragged out of the embassy building in the UK capital by officers and bundled into a police van after the South American country abruptly revoked his asylum.
Assange, 47, was initially arrested for breaching bail terms and was later found guilty before a London court. In the earlier hearing, a judge said Assange displayed the "behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest". Police said they had been "invited into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum". Assange was arrested upon arrival at a police station on behalf of the United States after it requested his extradition, police added. US federal prosecutors charged him with computer hacking and aiding whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, which they said carries a potential five-year prison term. Speaking to reporters outside the court after Assange's arrest, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson said the case sets a dangerous precedent, and that Assange may face even more charges if he is delivered to the US. "Anyone who wants the press to be free should consider the implications of this case. If they will extradite a journalist to the US, then no journalist will be safe." "There is no assurance that there won't be additional charges when he is on US soil," Hrafnsson added.
LONDON, April 13 -- More than 70 British members of parliament have signed a letter urging the home secretary to ensure that WikiLeaks cofounder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden if a case there is reopened against him.
The letter, signed late on Friday by mostly Labour Party MPs, urged UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid to "stand with the victims of sexual violence" and ensure the rape claim against him can be "properly investigated". "We do not presume guilt, of course, but we believe due process should be followed and the complainant should see justice be done," it said. The 47-year-old Australian activist was arrested by British police on Thursday and forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after his asylum was revoked, bringing to an end more than six years in the building. Assange originally sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors wanted to question him over a rape allegation, which he denied. Sweden suspended its investigation of serious sexual misconduct two years ago because Assange was beyond their reach while at the embassy. But on Friday, Swedish prosecutors said they were examining the rape case at the request of the alleged victim's lawyer.
British Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said it was right that he should face justice if charges are brought. "If the Swedish government wants to come forward with those charges, I believe that Assange should face the criminal justice system," said Abbott, who added that the arrest was politically motivated as WikiLeaks has published enormous tranches of sensitive military information. "We all know what this is about. It's not the rape charges, serious as they are, it's about WikiLeaks. All that embarrassing information about the activities of the American military that was made public and that is what it is about." The move by British MPs to push for Assange's extradition to Sweden came hours after the Labour Party called on the government to halt his extradition to the United States, where he has been charged with offences related to his work with whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Abbott said Prime Minister Theresa May should intervene as she did in the case of British hacker Gary McKinnon, whose extradition request she rejected on medical grounds in 2012. But May has shown no desire to interfere with the US's wishes this time. She welcomed the arrest in Parliament on Thursday, where Sajid Javid, the current home secretary, accused Labour of supporting a man with "a track record of undermining the UK and our allies and the values we stand for".
US prosecutors say Assange faces five years in prison if convicted of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion", though further charges are expected to be brought against him. Abbott's comments followed a post on Twitter by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday that praised Assange's exposing of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and said that his extradition to the US "should be opposed by the British government".
KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 --The spectacle of Julian Assange, bearded and haggard, resisting arrest while London police officers dragged him through the street, punctuated the end of seven confounding years inside the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he lived with his cat in a small corner room as the world's most famous self-proclaimed political refugee.
Assange, 47, has long fashioned himself as a crusader for revealing secrets. The Internet group he founded, WikiLeaks, published caches of classified US government communications, as well as e-mails hacked by Russian intelligence clearly intended to damage the presidential candidacy of Mrs Hillary Clinton. Though arrested on Thursday (April 11) morning by the British for skipping bail, Assange was immediately charged in the United States for conspiracy to hack a government computer. To supporters, Assange is a martyr and champion of free speech. To the US government, he is a pariah and a lackey of the Kremlin. But it was the hardened opinion of Ecuador's government that perhaps mattered most. He had become an unwanted houseguest. At the tiny red-brick embassy, he continued to run his Internet group, conducted news conferences before hundreds of fawning admirers from a balcony, rode his skateboard in the halls, and played host to a parade of visitors, including Lady Gaga and Pamela Anderson, a rumoured lover who brought vegan sandwiches.
On Thursday, Anderson sent out a batch of Twitter messages attacking the arrest as a "vile injustice" and called Britain and the US "devils and liars and thieves". In interviews with The New York Times in 2016, as part of a long look at his ties to Russia, Assange denied any link to Russian intelligence, in particular regarding the leaked Democratic e-mails. Mrs Clinton and the Democrats were "whipping up a neo-McCarthyist hysteria about Russia", he said. There is "no concrete evidence" that what WikiLeaks publishes comes from intelligence agencies, he said, even as he indicated that he would happily accept such material. Small as they were, Assange's living quarters at the embassy, close to the lavish self-indulgence of Harrods, the famous department store, did not cramp his desire to remain in the limelight. Assange had an office equipped with a bed, sunlamp, phone, computer, kitchenette, shower, treadmill and bookshelves. Three years ago, one person familiar with the set-up called it "a gas station with two attendants". Mr Vaughan Smith, who had been a long-time supporter of Assange and helped put up his bail money, said: "Julian's a big bloke, with big bones, and he fills the room physically and intellectually." "It's a tiny embassy with a tiny balcony," he added, "small, hot and with not great air flow, and it must be jolly difficult for everyone there." But from there, Assange for years held court for admirers and famous curiosity seekers, among them footabll star Eric Cantona, and Mr Nigel Farage, the pro-Brexit radio host and former head of UK Independence Party.
Still, Assange's isolation was wearing on him, a friend said on Thursday, especially the long, lonely weekends in an essentially empty embassy he could not leave. Even his friends have described him as difficult, a narcissist with an outsized view of his importance and a disinterest in mundane matters like personal hygiene. He was becoming deeply depressed and wondered about simply walking out, the friend said, speaking on condition of anonymity. And relations with his hosts were becoming deeply strained, even adversarial. A copy of a 2014 letter from Mr Juan Falconi Puig, then Ecuador's ambassador to Britain, to the Foreign Ministry, seen by The New York Times, outlined the growing resentment between the diplomats and Assange over his behaviour at the embassy. Among Mr Falconi's top concerns was Assange's penchant for riding a skateboard and playing football with visitors. His skateboarding, Mr Falconi said, had "damaged floors, walls and doors". The ambassador said the football games had destroyed embassy equipment. When an embassy security agent stopped the game and took away the ball, Assange "began to shake, insult and push the agent", reclaimed the ball and then "launched the ball at his body". The letter said Assange had invited a television reporter to interview them at the embassy and had showed the visitor off-limits parts of the building. At one point, according to the letter, Assange used the alarm setting on a megaphone "to attract the police" to record them for the show. "This last action, in the middle of the night, was a clear attempt to annoy the police," Mr Falconi wrote.
Another time, the letter said, Assange "violently hit the embassy control room door" demanding in a "threatening manner" that one of the guards come out to speak to him. The guards came out, only to be harassed by Assange, who yelled and shoved them, Mr Falconi wrote. Assange's long presence in the embassy, long after the Ecuadorean president who granted him political asylum had been replaced, finally became too much for the Ecuadorean government. President Lenin Moreno, elected in 2017, explained the decision on Twitter and in a video. "In a sovereign decision, Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols," he said. He accused Assange of having installed forbidden "electronic and distortion equipment", accessing the embassy's security files without permission, blocking the embassy's security cameras and mistreating its personnel, including guards.
BUENOS AIRES, April 12 -- Ecuador’s police have detained an accomplice of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuadorian Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said on Thursday.
"A person who is close to him lives here, we have convincing evidence that he maintained contacts with former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. He was detained this afternoon," she told Sonorama radio station. Assange’s accomplice was hauled off at the airport when he tried to fly to Japan. At a news conference, Roma said that Ecuador’s authorities had information that a person close to Assange, who lives in Ecuador, "contributed to the attempts of destabilizing the situation in the country with the goal of harming the government." Daily Express reported citing journalist Vijay Prashad that the detained individual was Swedish national Ola Bini, a WikiLeaks software developer. He does not speak Spanish.
In 2006, Assange set up WikiLeaks that published classified documents on certain governments, including the US. In 2012, Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, which had issued a warrant for his arrest on sexual harassment and rape charges. He was holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly seven years. On Thursday, Ecuador terminated political asylum of Assange. British police arrested Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy for breaching bail issued in 2012 and on a US extradition warrant issued in 2018.
Assange’s attorneys fear that in case of his handover to the US, he may face up to 35 years in jail or capital punishment. However, the US Department of Justice claims that the Australian faces just five years behind bars on hacking charges.
The Metropolitan Police Service also said it "had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates' Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum." British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, in turn, said on Twitter that "nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK". "I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation and the Metropolitan Police for its professionalism. No one is above the law," he added.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that Ecuador had decided to withdraw diplomatic asylum from Assange.
The Dark Overlord hacker group has released decryption keys for 650 documents it says are related to 9/11, and promised that future leaks will have devastating consequences for the US 'deep state'.The document dump is just a fraction of the 18,000 secret documents related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks believed to have been stolen from insurers, law firms, and government agencies.
The Dark Overlord initially threatened to release the 10GB of data unless the hacked firms paid an unspecified bitcoin ransom. However, on Wednesday, the group announced a "tiered compensation plan" in which the public could make bitcoin payments to unlock the troves of documents.
A day later, the Dark Overlord said that it had received more than $12,000 in bitcoin – enough to unlock "layer 1" and several "checkpoints," comprised of 650 documents in total.
There are four more layers that remain encrypted and, according to the group, "each layer contains more secrets, more damaging materials… and generally just more truth." The hackers are asking for $2 million in bitcoin for the public release of its "megaleak," which it has dubbed "the 9/11 Papers."
By design, the "layer 1" documents – if authentic – do not appear to contain any explosive revelations. The publications focus mostly on testimonies from airport security and details concerning insurance pay-outs to parties affected by the 9/11 attacks. However, the data dump suggests that the group is not bluffing. The documents – which were immediately scrubbed from Reddit, Pastebin and Twitter – are available for download on Steemit at the time of writing.