Author Topic: Re: Profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange  (Read 1466 times)

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Offline jujyjuji

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Re: Profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
« on: June 05, 2014, 13:58:53 PM »
Re: Profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Released on 2013-02-20 00:00 GMT

Email-ID    967412
Date    2010-10-24 17:55:45
From    [email protected]
To    [email protected]
List-Name    [email protected]


his ego will be his downfall


On 10/24/10 9:51 AM, Nate Hughes wrote:

October 23, 2010
WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety
LONDON - Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian
restaurant in London's rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice
barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he

He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive
encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He
checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and
floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from

"By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I've
wound up in an extraordinary situation," Mr. Assange said over lunch
last Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy
stubble and trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker
assigned to document any unpleasant surprises.

In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the
WikiLeaks whistle-blowers' Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most
hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832
secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London
on Saturday, saying that the release "constituted the most comprehensive
and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record."

Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization's Web site some 77,000
classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.

Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian,
used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q.
to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets
in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others
determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and

Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own
comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious
behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness
that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan
documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for
NATO troops. "We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he
spoke about it afterwards," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks
volunteer and a member of Iceland's Parliament. "If he could just focus
on the important things he does, it would be better."

He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and
molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the
allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in
Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight
weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his
quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he
characterizes the claims as "a smear campaign," the scandal has
compounded the pressures of his cloaked life.

"When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being
in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a
book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a
little more stressful than you would like," he said over the London

Exposing Secrets

Mr. Assange has come a long way from an unsettled childhood in Australia
as a self-acknowledged social misfit who narrowly avoided prison after
being convicted on 25 charges of computer hacking in 1995. History is
punctuated by spies, defectors and others who revealed the most
inflammatory secrets of their age. Mr. Assange has become that figure
for the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself
and for the keepers of the world's secrets.

"I've been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a
scale that might really make a difference," said Daniel Ellsberg, who
exposed a 1,000-page secret study of the Vietnam War in 1971 that became
known as the Pentagon Papers.

Mr. Ellsberg said he saw kindred spirits in Mr. Assange and Pfc. Bradley
Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under
detention in Quantico, Va., suspected of leaking the Iraq and Afghan

"They were willing to go to prison for life, or be executed, to put out
this information," Mr. Ellsberg said.

Underlying Mr. Assange's anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the
United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice
department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the
1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange "return" all
government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new
ones and not "solicit" further American materials.

Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge.
Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a
residence permit and protection under that country's broad press
freedoms. His initial welcome was euphoric.

"They called me the James Bond of journalism," he recalled wryly. "It
got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of

Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest
warrant on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a
spokesperson for the prosecutor, said last week that the police were
continuing to investigate.

In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the
almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has
not resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted. From Germany,
he traveled to London, wary at being detained on arrival. Under British
law, his Australian passport entitles him to remain for six months.
Iceland, another country with generous press freedoms and a strong
WikiLeaks following, has also lost its appeal, with Mr. Assange
concluding that its government, like Britain's, is too easily influenced
by Washington. In his native Australia, ministers have signaled their
willingness to cooperate with the United States if it opens a
prosecution. Mr. Assange said a senior Australian official told him,
"You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the

He faces attack from within, too.

After the Sweden scandal, strains within WikiLeaks reached a breaking
point, with some of Mr. Assange's closest collaborators publicly
defecting. The New York Times spoke with dozens of people who have
worked with and supported him in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Britain and
the United States. What emerged was a picture of the founder of
WikiLeaks as its prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone
whose growing celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial,
eccentric and capricious style.

Internal Turmoil

Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive's life, his leadership
is enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In
an online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was
obtained by The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate
without him. "We've been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months
now," he said.

When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland,
questioned Mr. Assange's judgment over a number of issues in an online
exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. "I don't like your
tone," he said, according to a transcript. "If it continues, you're

Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. "I am the heart and soul of
this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original
coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest," he said. "If you have a
problem with me," he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should

In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason's conclusion was
stark. "He is not in his right mind," he said. In London, Mr. Assange
was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. "These are not
consequential people," he said.

"About a dozen" disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari
McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent
turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a
German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel
Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified "bad behavior." Many more
activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from
Mr. Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an
organization that Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800
mostly unpaid followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers
and to secure the system against attack - to guard against the kind of
infiltration that WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.

Mr. Assange's detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against
the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an
increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he
said, "we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into
a position where we must defend ourselves."

Even among those challenging Mr. Assange's leadership style, there is
recognition that the intricate computer and financial architecture
WikiLeaks uses to shield it against its enemies has depended on its
founder. "He's very unique and extremely capable," said Ms. Jonsdottir,
the Icelandic lawmaker.

A Rash of Scoops

Before posting the documents on Afghanistan and Iraq, WikiLeaks enjoyed
a string of coups.

Supporters were thrilled when the organization posted documents on the
Guantanamo Bay detention operation, the contents of Sarah Palin's
personal Yahoo email account, reports of extrajudicial killings in Kenya
and East Timor, the membership rolls of the neo-Nazi British National
Party and a combat video showing American Apache helicopters in Baghdad
in 2007 gunning down at least 12 people, including two Reuters

But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International
and Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing
the organization for risking people's lives by publishing war logs
identifying Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan using the pseudonym Zabiullah Mujahid
said in a telephone interview that the Taliban had formed a nine-member
"commission" after the Afghan documents were posted "to find about
people who are spying." He said the Taliban had a "wanted" list of 1,800
Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided.

"After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about
such people," he said.

Mr. Assange defended posting unredacted documents, saying he balanced
his decision "with the knowledge of the tremendous good and prevention
of harm that is caused" by putting the information into the public
domain. "There are no easy choices on the table for this organization,"
he said.

But if Mr. Assange is sustained by his sense of mission, faith is fading
among his fellow conspirators. His mood was caught vividly in an
exchange on Sept. 20 with another senior WikiLeaks figure. In an
encrypted online chat, a transcript of which was passed to The Times,
Mr. Assange was dismissive of his colleagues. He described them as "a
confederacy of fools," and asked his interlocutor, "Am I dealing with a
complete retard?"

In London, Mr. Assange was angered when asked about the rifts. He
responded testily to questions about WikiLeaks's opaque finances,
Private Manning's fate and WikiLeaks's apparent lack of accountability
to anybody but himself, calling the questions "cretinous," "facile" and
reminiscent of "kindergarten."

Mr. Assange has been equivocal about Private Manning, talking in late
summer as though the soldier was unavoidable collateral damage, much
like the Afghans named as informers in the secret Pentagon documents.

But in London, he took a more sympathetic view, describing Private
Manning as a "political prisoner" facing a jail term of up to 52 years,
without confirming that he was the source of the disclosed war logs. "We
have a duty to assist Mr. Manning and other people who are facing legal
and other consequences," he said.

Mr. Assange's own fate seems as imperiled as Private Manning's. Last
Monday, the Swedish Migration Board said Mr. Assange's bid for a
residence permit had been rejected. His British visa will expire early
next year. When he left the London restaurant at twilight, heading into
the shadows, he declined to say where he was going. The man who has put
some of the world's most powerful institutions on his watch list was,
once more, on the move.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Dexter Filkins
from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Nathan Hughes
Military Analysis


Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.