ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Barbra Streisand effect

Twitter Vs. Unnamed Sportsman.

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Up front, I like Twitter, the ease of accessing masses of information appeals to me, plus the fact that the rich and powerful can’t exert their customary controls and are brought down to the ground by the free availability of Twitter, so the new court case against Twitter should prove very amusing.

Apparently, lawyers on behalf of a Premier league footballer have served an injunction on Twitter, Business Week reports:

“May 20 (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. and some of its users were sued by an entity known as “CTB” in London, according to a court filing.

While the document gave no details, CTB are the initials used by the court in a separate lawsuit to refer to an athlete who won an anonymity order banning the media from publishing stories about his alleged affair with a reality-television star.

The Twitter suit was filed May 18 at the High Court in London according to court records, and named as defendants the San Francisco-based company and “persons unknown responsible for the publication of information on the Twitter accounts” listed in confidential court documents.

A Twitter user on May 8 posted a series of messages claiming a number of U.K. celebrities had received so-called super-injunctions and made claims detailing the activities that the people had sought to keep out of the public eye.

Twitter didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment. Daniel Ingram-Fletcher, a spokesman for the law firm representing CTB, didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment.

The case is: CTB v. Twitter Inc., Persons Unknown, High Court of Justice (Queens Bench Division), HQ11X01814.”

I imagine within an hour or two we will know from tweets on Twitter who CTB is and what’s going on!

It all seems so self-defeating as it highlights these issues and people are naturally going to comment on them, on Twitter, again, leading to the Barbra Streisand effect.

I suppose lawyers love it, they will end up suing tens of thousands of people across the globe who use Twitter, or perhaps they will realise the futility of such actions? When will the legal profession, the rich and powerful finally catch up with technology?

(Hat tip: Index on Censorship)

Update 1: The Guardian has more.

Update 2: Heresy Corner posts on this topic:

“It’s not yet clear how Twitter will respond to the lawsuit. Their terms of service specify that “international users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content”, but the most notorious of the Twitter accounts listing alleged injunctions (@InjunctionSuper, which posted details of six supposed cases on 8th May and then went quiet) has not been taken down. The company is based in the United States and has little to fear from the English courts – although any assets they have in this country might be vulnerable.

In the short term, however, two things are clear. It is impossible for Twitter to delete all references to the alleged affair from their website. It has long since gone viral. It had gone viral even before the @InjunctionSuper account was set up, which is one reason why (unlike David Allen Green) I don’t think there are good grounds for saying that the account was a deliberate leak by someone in the know. (At least, if there are such grounds they do not lie in the content of the Tweets themselves, but rather in the immediate and disproportionate attention they attracted.) Predictably, the main result of today’s news on Twitter itself has been the proliferation of the name Giggs. Twitter, as a company, is powerless to shut this one down.

Secondly, there are now so many thousand “persons unknown” that they cannot all be sued, or even identified (the more likely intention). And even if CTB’s lawyers were able to track them all down and serve them with injunctions, the self-defeating effect would be to confirm the facts. Suspicion would become actual knowledge.

So how can Twitter satisfy the demands of the English courts – assuming, that is, that CTB’s case is found to have merit? The obvious way would be to block Twitter from the UK, putting it permanently out of the reach of British judges. It could happen. Already some US-based news and gossip sites, including National Enquirer, are unviewable in Britain without use of a proxy server, so alarmed are the publishers by English libel law. If CTB’s case succeeds, or inspires other, Twitter’s bosses might begin to see such a course of action as preferable to fighting costly legal battles on foreign soil. “

Update 3: The Guardian explains the Streisand effect: Secrecy in the digital age.

Update 4: TechCrunch is perplexed by the British legal system and I don’t blame them:

“We’ve been watching the British legal system turn itself into knots for the last couple of weeks, largely due to the ability of Twitter users to break just about any legal ‘super injunction’ a ‘celebrity’ (usually footballers) has on the reporting of their private life (usually affairs). So far so normal for Twitter. What’s a super injunction? It’s when someone rich (these things are very expensive) takes out an injunction on the press that not only stops them reporting something but also stops them reporting that the injunction even exists. That makes it ‘super’, which of course it is anything but.

But today the story took a new turn when it emerged that Twitter Inc. itself is being sued. Oh yes. They are going there.”

Update 5: David Allen Green blogs on it, carefully:

“It is important at this stage to be aware of what one cannot know for certain:

1. that the “CTB” is actually the same person as “CTB” in the recent privacy case (though it appears the same law firm is instructed);

2. what the claim is for in terms of law – is it a privacy claim or is it under some other form of law; and

3. what the remedy requested is – is it a damages claim or is it for disclosure by Twitter of third party information (for example the information of those who have used Twitter accounts to break – rather than repeat – allegations), or for something else.

As yet, we simply do not know.”

Bickering, Assange And Wikleaks.

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I hadn’t realised it but apparently there is a lot of bickering behind the recent leaks on Gitmo:

“The fight over who had what when, and was supposed to use it how, is leading to some especially hard feelings, including between folks who once got along. The gist seemed to be, “Is there no decency anymore?” Over here we have Wikileaks (presumably Julian Assange), tweeting annoyance over former colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s alleged sneakiness.
“Domschiet, NYT, Guardian, attempted Gitmo spoiler against our 8 group coalition,” tweeted the Wikileaks account. “We had intel on them and published first.” And over there we have Pentagon press secretary and former NBC correspondent Geoff Morrell complaining about the New York Times’ Easter offensive. “Thx to Wikileaks we spent Easter weekend dealing w/NYT & other news orgs publishing leaked classified GTMO docs,” Morrell tweeted earlier today.

That Wikileaks earns the sarcastic thanks in Morrell’s account, considering that Times executive editor Bill Keller says in Calderone’s piece that “WikiLeaks is not our source.” But I guess it’s still a bit easier and less relationship damaging for the Pentagon to go after Assange and company than Keller and his team. “

Michael Calderone at HuffPost covers it too.

TPM LiveWire seems to get to the nub of the issue:

“Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's reputation as a fighter for transparency and destroyer of secrets ought to be thoroughly demolished by today’s spectacle of the New York Times literally forcing him to give up the Guantanamo Bay files he’d been hoarding for months.

Assange has been sitting on the 700-plus Gitmo detainee files since at least May of last year, when accused Wikileaker Bradley Manning confessed in a chat session to passing them to Wikileaks along with a plethora of classified military reports and diplomatic cables. They were the final sizable arrow in Assange’s anti-government quiver, and for months we’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their inevitable release. But Assange kept holding back.

They were published last night, at long last, only because the New York Times finagled its own copy–presumably from Wikileaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg–and shared it with NPR and the Guardian. Wikileaks, which had been working with the Washington Post and other papers on the Gitmo papers but was still keeping the information embargoed, scrambled to get its own version up. “

Update 1: Lest I forget, the NY times a good piece, a History of the Detainee Population.

Julian Assange at Kensingston Town Hall.

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The New Statesman failed to organise Live Streaming of their recent event with Julian Assange and couldn’t even get themselves organise to put it on YouTube.

Still, someone has done the job for them.

The clip below is just Assange, more might turn up later, but it is funny that the British media go on and on about ‘new media’ ‘Internet 2.0′, Twitter, and other buzz words they clearly don’t understand, yet they don’t have the wherewithal to upload a simple video to YouTube, how useless.

Update 1: Read more of the New Statesman’s self congratulatory guff at:

This house believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place: Part I

This house believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place: Part II

Julian Assange, Secrets And The Metropolitan Elite.

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It is very hard in the Internet age to keep a secret, as Wikileaks have shown. Someone will normally release a document or better still an incriminating video, and then the whole world knows.

YouTube is replete with every form of embarrassing video clip known to humanity, and then some.

However, if you were to look for a video clip of Julian Assange’s latest outing at the Kensington Town Hall, you won’t find anything, yet.

Not only that, but if you weren’t part of the Metropolitan Elites, a New Statesman reader or an interested media type then you probably wouldn’t know it was actually going on, in the first place.

If you did make it, then entry would cost you £20, concessions costing £15.00, not cheap in the age of austerity.

Hunting around assiduously you might find a slightly incoherent page on the New Statesman which purports to be live blogging, but it is next to impossible to follow the debate between Julian Assange and Douglas Murray, etc

Certainly, from the photos it seems to be well attended, by the Metropolitan Elites, but that doesn’t help anyone outside of London wanting to follow the debate.

I would speculate that the New Statesman might have considered doing Live Streaming during the planning of this event, as it is cheap and easy to do, but could have been overruled by a paranoid Julian Assange?

I say that as Assange has a bit of a track record with this type of behaviour. When doing the rounds in Cambridge and sucking up to the would-be elites Assange forbade video recording when he spoke.

It is all rather peculiar, all rather 1950s, keeping discussions within a self selecting few and restricting information on the wider issues.

Readers might think that goes against the ethos of Wikileaks, but it’s hardly surprising, those who have power and control, however, small it is, will often abuse and use it for their own ends. Julian Assange and the Metropolitan Elites are no different in that respect.

Still, I am not sure that Julian Assange or his hosts have a sufficiently well developed sense of irony to see the problem with their own conduct!

Who knows, perhaps, someone will secretly release a bootleg video of the event?

Update 1: Esther Addley adds more:

“But the political commentator Douglas Murray, director of the centre for social cohesion, challenged Assange over the website’s sources of funding, its staffing and connections with the Holocaust denier Israel Shamir, who has worked with the site.

“What gives you the right to decide what should be known or not? Governments are elected. You, Mr Assange are not.”

Murray also challenged the WikiLeaks founder over an account in a book by Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding, in which the authors quote him suggesting that if informants were to be killed following publication of the leaks, they “had it coming to them”.

Assange repeated an earlier assertion that the website “is in the process of suing the Guardian” over the assertion, and asked if Murray would like to “join the queue” of organisations he was suing.

The Guardian has not received any notification of such action from WikiLeaks or its lawyers.

Jason Cowley, the editor of the New Statesman and chair of the debate, interjected to ask: “How can the great champion of open society be using our libel laws to challenge the press?” “

Continuing Coverage: Wikileaks And Assange.

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Some new material has been released into the public domain concerning the allegations against Julian Assange.

I can’t make my mind up on it. I think it tends to detract from the issues which have come out during these Wikileaks, Techworld reports:

“Text messages sent by the two women who accuse WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of rape and assault mention “revenge” and “economic gain,” according to testimony during the second day of his extradition hearing.

Defense witness Björn Hurtig said he was allowed under police supervision to examine hundreds of messages, which “suggest things that go against what the claimants have said regarding the rape.”

Hurtig, who is Assange’s attorney in Sweden, said he saw text messages “speaking of revenge” and taking “economic advantage” of Assange, who is wanted for questioning related to alleged incidents with two women in mid-August 2010.

He faces possible charges of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, but his legal team presents those accusations as a veiled attack related to WikiLeaks’ release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.”

His solicitors, Finers Stephens Innocent, have other material on their site here.

I haven’t looked through it if anyone finds anything good then please let me know.

And some of my other posts on the matter:

Sorry To My Female Readers.

Julian Assange: Fool? Historically illiterate ? Or Worse?

Julian Assange And The English Middle Class.

Shamir, Stupidity And Julian Assange.

Wikileaks Bits.

Wikileaks, Cyber-attacks And Wandsworth Prison.

Conspiracies, The CIA And The Racist, Israel Shamir.

Sorry To My Female Readers.

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I have had time to reflect and I wish to say sorry to my female readers, who I may have inadvertently offended in the discussions around Julian Assange’s Arrest And The Broken Condom.

I feel I was often too caustic, and not sufficiently attuned to the issues, as seen from a different perspective.

Regrettably, I tend to focus on political matters, sometimes to the exclusion of more intricate points.

So my apologies, particularly to any of my female readers who were rightly offended by my unnecessary and direct comments.

Sorry.

Julian Assange: Fool? Historically illiterate ? Or Worse?

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Access to the Internet doesn’t confer intelligence, but you would like to think that those with high-speed connections to the web could at least educate themselves on the basics.

The web is a positive encyclopaedia and with a few clicks you can find out most things.

So it is all the more annoying to see a constant, almost obsessive, Internet user demonstrate major historical illiteracy, that person is Julian Assange.

Readers will remember how I am somewhat enamoured of Wikileaks, as I think that it is good for information to come out into the public domain and stimulate debate. How I find the timing of the charges against Assange too coincidental.

Nevertheless, as the story unfolds in the media you get the impression that Julian Assange is a bit of a fool, or at the very least rather naive and unworldly.

His failure to do an elementary Google search on Israel Shamir/Jöran Jermas/Adam Ermash was rather worrying.

Assange’s profile on the free dating site, OkCupid.com, is indicative of someone not fully in touch with reality.

His latest comments, comparing his treatment to that of the Jews, is unbelievable, the JC has more:

“The founder of WikiLeaks has compared his treatment by the Swedish authorities seeking his extradition over sexual assault allegations to the persecution of the Jewish people in the last century.

Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian behind the extraordinary leaks of US diplomatic cables and documents, told The Times that he believed the allegations and the publicity surrounding them were unfounded and motivated by “a mixture of revenge, money, and police pressure.”

He said: “All sorts of abusive statements were made against the Jewish people in the 1950s and before.

“I’m not the Jewish people, but the people who believe in freedom of speech and accountability [are in the same position].”

Julian, it was considerably more than just “abusive statements”. Try searching Google with pogrom, Soviet antisemitism and mass murder.

I am lost for words.

Shamir, Stupidity And Julian Assange.

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The debate on Wikileaks has shifted somewhat, and I think that is not useful, as from my cursory reading there is plenty of excellent material.

Michael C. Moynihan has a story on Israel Shamir, the well-known Far Rightist and hardcore antisemite, and his association with Wikileaks in Russia.

I can well imagine that the photo with Julian Assange is staged, but that does not excuse his association with this well-known racist.

I would assume that Shamir wanted to engineer himself into a position of power, disseminating Wikileaks material as he chose and probably pulled the wool over a slightly naive Assange. However, that is no excuse.

Wikileaks should release a statement disassociating themselves from Israel Shamir and his associates.

Update 1: Snoopy has done a far superior post on this topic:

“Whatever you can say about Assange, he certainly captured the attention of the world lately, dividing the audience into haters and admirers. No one remained indifferent, for a wide variety of reasons. It could be said – and I tend to accept the view expressed by Francis Sedgemore – that Assange and his team started something that is far beyond the related scandals and dirt and is of extreme importance to the journalism and politics of this century.

Assange methods and Assange personal habits, though, may undermine the possible good that could come out of the whole endeavor. Enough is said and written about the way Assange published hundreds of documents that endangered people. A lot is written about his persona, so there is no need to repeat all this stuff. WikiLeaks could certainly do with a more sensible leader.”

Update 2: The JC has more on Israel Shamir/Jöran Jermas/Adam Ermash.

Wikileaks Bits.

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I am away from a PC for a few days so here are some useful links and discussions on Wikileaks.

How Has WikiLeaks Managed to Keep Its Web Site Up and Running?

Huff Post’s rolling commentary, which isn’t too bad.

Yaacov Lozowick has his own thoughts on things.

Pfizer in Nigeria.

The Guardian’s WikiLeaks US embassy cables site is well worth a read.

WikiLeaks Central too.

Wikileaks on Facebook.

If readers come across any other useful sites or links please leave a comment below.

Wikileaks, Cyber-attacks And Wandsworth Prison.

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It is interesting to see how the news agenda has moved away from the contents of the Wikileaks material to discussing cyber-attacks.

Instead of pondering what Wikileaks’ releases tells us about misrule, political complacency and the stupidity of the political classes we are debating what happened with Julian Assange.

Whilst his arrest is important it is also a convenient distraction from the meat of the issue, Cablegate.

Along with the cyber-attacks it is a diversion from what we should be concentrating on, what the Cablegate material tells us, what political issues does it illuminate.

That’s what we should be directing our gaze towards.

But if you are interested in the cyber attacks and counter-attacks then Panda Labs has good coverage:
Read the rest of this entry »

Conspiracies, The CIA And The Racist, Israel Shamir.

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There are conflicting events, overlapping narratives and some downright strange articles being posted concerning Wikileaks and the charges against Julian Assange.

The Raw Story has an accusation, which I find pretty disgusting and slightly improbable, that one of the defendants in the case against Julian Assange is a CIA agent.

It is only when you look into the story that alarm bells start ringing, and if the name Israel Shamir doesn’t mean anything to you, then you are lucky.

Shamir is a Far Rightist and a mean antisemite, as Michael C. Moynihan demonstrates:

“So who is Israel Shamir, Counterpunch’s resident intelligence correspondent? Alternately known as Jöran Jermas and Adam Ermash, Shamir is a fringe writer who has devoted his professional life to exposing the supposed criminality of “Jewish power,” a paranoid anti-Semite who curates a website full of links to Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi sites, defenses of blood libel myths, and references to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Ali Abunimah, Hussein Ibish, and Nigel Parry have warned their fellow Palestinian activists to avoid contact with Shamir, citing his frequent forays into the sewers of Jew-hatred. The British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight (along with its Swedish sister magazine Expo) showed that Shamir is a “Swedish anti-Semite” who has repeatedly lied about his past, not a truth-telling Israeli dissident.

Spend a few minutes on Shamir’s website and here’s some of what you’ll learn: Imprisoned neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel is a “German political prisoner of Zion”; Maria Poumier, a French Holocaust denier whose work Shamir publishes, claims that the “Nazi-jewish H[olocaust] was just a civil war between European brothers”; Shamir himself believes that the Holocaust “narrative is Jewish, it belongs to Jews, and it has no meaning but as manifestation of Jewish supremacy.” Shamir also asserts that the pro-Nazi historian David Irving “was sentenced [to prison] for denial of Jewish superiority,” warning his readers of “Jewish mind-control on a world scale.” On the Auschwitz death camp, Shamir says that “The camp was an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross (as opposed to the US internment centre in Guantanamo).””

I think we know what he’s up to, best disregard this nonsense until there is solid evidence.

Judge Andrew Napolitano On Wikileaks.

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I was astonished to see Judge Andrew Napolitano discuss the issues around Wikileaks and Assange, and actually defend him.

Amazing**, but I am not sure that will please his employers, Fox News, but as Napolitano argues there is little “due process” in the attacks on Wikileaks.

Watch the video here and listen to the arguments.

**I think it is fair to say that Judge Andrew Napolitano is to the right of the political spectrum and, unlike many other conservatives, seems genuinely troubled by how the American State has attacked Wikileaks financially, tried to intimate them and probably assisted in the launching of cyberattacks on the Wikileaks site.

(H/T: Andrew Murphy).

Update 1: Is it news worthy or not? If so, he can’t be prosecuted, according to this clip:

The Ku Klux Klan, MasterCard, Visa And Wikileaks.

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One of the imperatives to stopping an organisation is to limit its funding, that is a well-known concept in the security services and part of the reason that MasterCard, Visa and Paypal have ceased to forward donations to Wikileaks.

Now consider this absurdity, whatever you think of Wikileaks, both Visa and MasterCard will still process payments to the Ku Klux Klan.

Yes, you read it right. The Ku Klux Klan.

These companies won’t forward payments to Wikileaks, but they will happily forward money to people who dream about doing lynchings and racial mass murder.

Evidence for this can be seen at the KKK website (called the Knights Party) with these links to the appropriate Google cache [best not go there directly, it will only up their site hit counter and please them].

This clip from their site shows it:

Mastercard and Visa still allow KKK funding.

Mastercard and Visa allow KKK funding.

It all tells you something about these companies priorities .

Update 1: Paypal now admit they were pressurised into that decision, the BBC reports:

“PayPal has said that its decision to stop users from using its service to make donations to Wikileaks was made after advice from the US government.

A senior official at the online payments firm said the State Department had told it that the activities of the website were illegal in the US.

PayPal suspended payments to Wikileaks last week, and has been followed by Visa Europe and Mastercard. “

Julian Assange and Prison.

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I really mean to get down to covering the contents of the Wikileaks’ material or at least another topic, but events are moving fast and Julian Assange has been remanded to Wandsworth nick.

Perhaps some of my readers might want to send him a postcard or reading material?

I imagine he’ll be in there for some time, the address is:

HMP Wandsworth,
PO Box 757
Heathfield Road
Wandsworth
London
SW18 3HS

More details can be found here.

Update 1: Assange has released a statement of sorts in the Australian, and I can see why the Swedish Government might be very annoyed at him:

“But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay . Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees. “

[My emphasis.]

Update 2: The Indy has more on how he might be shipped to the US:

“Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources.”

Governments, Retribution and Julian Assange.

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A reader of mine has suggested that I am trivialising the rape charges against Julian Assange. So I wanted to deal with this issue head-on.

I am not trivialising those charges, rather I am aware of how governments and secret services act, and unless we see these unfolding events in a wider context then I am afraid we will get lost.

Firstly, we need to remember that governments have for many centuries used indirect means to get at their enemies.

Secondly, Assange has seriously annoyed some very powerful people and it is highly likely that they would want some form of revenge.

Thirdly, within living memory governments have done far worse, such as overthrowing elected democracies, causing panic and shortages, manipulating whole countries.

I would heartily recommend reading through Philip Agee’s CIA Diary for a small glimpse into what governments can do to others.

Fourthly, we shouldn’t forget that even the US Congress investigated how security agencies manipulated, controlled and tried to destroy perceived enemies by indirect means.

Fifthly, these allegations against Julian Assange only really came to light after Wikileaks had released some 75,000+ documents concerning US activities in and around Iraq last year.

So when considering this issue we need to bear those points in mind.

As commentators have remarked how Julian Assange was, until today, beyond the grasp of those he annoyed, primarily the current US administration:

“Besides, even if current law were sufficient, how would authorities bring Assange, an Australian native in hiding outside the U.S., into this country to stand trial?

Presented with this question, Holder told reporters that no one’s foreign citizenship or residence would prevent them from being targeted. But that brings us back to this question: on what charge could he be indicted?”

That again “… that no one’s foreign citizenship or residence would prevent them from being targeted.…”

Which suggest to me on the balance of probability that the US administration had for many months been looking at a way of “acquiring” Julian Assange.

I have no doubt that soon after Assange’s time in Sweden that he will be deported to the United States.

Once more, if governments and security services are perfectly capable of overthrowing elected governments in Latin America and across the world then organising for some form of charges to be the pretext for getting Julian Assange into custody seems like child’s play to them.

Update 1: This is from the Guardian 2010, August:

Swedish authorities have withdrawn an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, stating that the accusation of rape against him was unfounded.

The move came just a day after a warrant was issued by Sweden’s prosecutors’ office in Stockholm in response to accusations of rape and molestation in two separate cases.

“I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape,” the chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, said.

She made no comment on the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.

Assange has denied both accusations, first reported by the Swedish tabloid Expressen, which were described as dirty tricks on the Wikileaks’ Twitter account.

He implied that they were linked to the release by the whistleblowers’ website of a huge cache of US military records on the Afghan war, which were published in collaboration with the Guardian and two other newspapers.

Assange wrote: “The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.”

Earlier postings on the Twitter account implied the accusations were part of a dirty tricks campaign against the Wikileaks founder, who has been strongly criticised by the Pentagon.

“Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say, this will prove hugely distracting.

“We were warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’. Now we have the first one.”

Last month Wikileaks released around 77,000 secret US military documents on the war in Afghanistan.”

Update 2: Elsewhere there is a very concious effort to close down Wikileaks’ funding as Visa and Mastercard stop donations, Forbes reports:

“The mounting legal and political forces working against WikiLeaks just scored two major financial blows against the whistleblower site. On Tuesday morning, Visa suspended payments to WikiLeaks, according to the Associated Press. And late Monday, Mastercard told Cnet that it would also attempt to block payments to WikiLeaks, arguing that its “rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal.”

Visa and Mastercards’ moves represent the latest and most serious tightening of the financial vice around WikiLeaks since it released the first portion of a quarter million diplomatic cables last week. On Friday, PayPal blocked payments to the site, and the Swiss bank PostFinance announced Monday that it was freezing Assange’s accounts.

Both PayPal and PostFinance have faced anger as a result of their decisions and even cyberattacks: A group that calls itself Operation: Payback has taken credit for floods of junk web traffic that have temporarily taken down both the Swiss bank’s website and PayPal’s blog. Expect those attacks to now target Visa and Mastercard, too.”

Update 3: There’s a report on AOL News that “sex by surprise” was the issue, I am not sure what to make of it:

“The international manhunt for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a sex-crime investigation in Sweden apparently stems from a condom malfunction.

Assange’s London attorney, Mark Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called “sex by surprise,” which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715.

“Whatever ‘sex by surprise’ is, it’s only a offense in Sweden — not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza,” Stephens said. “I feel as if I’m in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn’t been charged with anything. He’s been told he’s wanted for questioning, but he doesn’t know the nature of the allegations against him.”

The strange tale of Assange’s brief flings with two Swedish women during a three-day period in mid-August — and decisions by three different prosecutors to first dismiss rape allegations made by the women and then re-open the case — has more twists, turns and conspiracy theories than any of Stieg Larsson’s best-sellers.

True, one of Assange’s accusers sounds tailor-made for those who think Assange is being set up in Sweden by dark CIA-backed operatives who want him smeared or silenced for his document dumping with WikiLeaks. She’s a 31-year-old blond academic and member of the Social Democratic Party who’s known for her radical feminist views, once wrote a treatise on how to take revenge against men and was once thrown out of Cuba for subversive activities.

But others say Assange, who denies any wrongdoing and says the sex was consensual, may have just run afoul of Sweden’s unusual rape laws, which are considered pro-feminist because of the consideration given issues of consent when it comes to sexual activity — including even the issue of whether a condom was used.

In fact, the current prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who re-opened the case against Assange, has been active in the proposed reforms of Swedish rape laws that would, if passed, involve an investigation of whether an imbalance in power between two people could void one person’s insistence that the sex was consensual.

Swedish tabloids and the country’s blogosphere have been rife since August with stories and speculation about Assange’s accusers, the flip-flopping prosecutors and just what, if any, crime was committed by Assange during sex with the two women.

“He’s innocent, that I can tell you,” Bjorn Hurtig, Assange’s Stockholm-based lawyer, told AOL News today. Hurtig later issued a statement saying the international arrest warrant for Assange is based on “exaggerated grounds.”

Assange arrived in Sweden on Aug. 11 to speak at a weekend seminar sponsored by the Social Democratic Party and arranged to stay at a Stockholm apartment belonging to the event organizer, a member of the branch of the party who would become one of Assange’s two accusers.

According to a police report obtained by the Daily Mail in August, she and Assange had sex, and at some point the condom broke. While she was apparently not happy about the condom breaking, the two were seen the next day at the seminar, and nothing appeared amiss.

Another woman at the seminar, a 27-year-old art photographer, said in her police statement that she’d come to hear Assange’s lecture because of her fascination with him and his work. She can be seen in video footage on the Internet sitting in the front row during Assange’s lecture, wearing a pink sweater and snapping pictures of him.

According to the police report, the woman managed to get an invitation to go out for lunch with Assange and his entourage after the seminar. They spent time together before he went back to stay at the event organizer’s apartment.

Two days later, on Aug. 16, they reconnected by phone and the woman invited him to her apartment, more than 40 miles outside Stockholm. She paid for the ticket since Assange apparently had no cash and doesn’t like to use credit cards because they could be traced.

She complained in her police statement that during the train ride to her hometown, “he paid more attention to his computer rather than me.” She also said that by the time they arrived at her apartment, “the passion and excitement seemed to have disappeared.”

The woman and Assange also reportedly had sex. According to the Daily Mail account, Assange did not use a condom at least one time during their sexual activity. The New York Times today quoted accounts given by the women to police and friends as saying Assange “did not comply with her appeals to stop when (the condom) was no longer in use.”

According to the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, the photographer contacted the other woman two days after her assignation with Assange, and the two apparently had a conversation in which it became clear they had both had sex with Assange. The photographer was worried about having had unprotected sex and decided she wanted to go to the police.

The other woman accompanied her to the police station on Aug. 20 just to support her but then told the investigating officer on duty that she, too, had had sex with Assange, Aftonbladet reported.

Based on what was said to police, the on-call prosecutor, Marie Kjellstrand, decided to issue an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation, and the next day the story hit the Swedish paper Expressen and newspapers all over the world.

Kjellstrand’s decision was overruled the following day by a higher-level prosecutor, Eva Finne, who withdrew the arrest warrant and said she did not see any evidence for rape allegations.

Then, on Sept. 1, a third prosecutor, Ny, re-opened the rape investigation, implying that she had new information in the case. “

Update 4: This is a useful brief from some legal minds:

“According to Afua Hirsch at The Guardian, Assange will argue, amongst other things, that he would be unfairly deprived of his liberty in Sweden and therefore should be protected under human rights law.

Human rights law is often (some say increasingly) invoked, although rarely successfully, in extradition proceedings. If a person can show that there is a real risk of his rights – such as to a fair trial or against inhuman and degrading treatment – being breached in the receiving state, then a UK court will not extradite him as that would amount to a UK public authority – the court – causing the breach, which is unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

For example, the High Court recently questioned whether the Russian criminal justice system was too corrupt to ensure a fair trial for a man faced with extradition (see my post). The court was asked to decide whether the lack of accountability of prosecutors in Russia would lead to a “flagrant denial of justice” if a man were extradited. The extradition request ultimately failed for other reasons, but the judge expressed significant concerns in relation to the Russian justice system.

But Sweden is not Russia. Assange may argue that since the charges are politically motivated, he will not receive a fair trial. But without solid proof of such serious allegations, he will not succeed. European Arrest Warrants are designed to make extradition between states simple and quick, and it will be difficult even in such a high-profile case to prevent this happening.

He may also invoke the right to freedom of expression. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that everyone has a right to freedom of expression, but a state can restrict that right, amongst other reasons, in the interests of national security and the prevention of crime. If Assange was facing extradition to the United States, which may follow soon, this argument would be at front and centre.

But as things stand, unless he can show that the sexual assault allegations are politically motivated, which seems unlikely, it is hard to see how freedom of expression will play much of a part. The Wikileaks site is still running despite his arrest, and freedom of expression rights can legitimately be breached to prevent crime.”

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