WikiLeaks founder under pressure  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The SMH has a report on what seems to be efforts to discredit Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange - WikiLeaks founder not suspected of rape: prosecutors .

Swedish prosecutors said yesterday that the founder of controversial whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, was not suspected of rape in Sweden and was no longer wanted for questioning.

"Chief prosecutor Eva Finne has come to the decision that Julian Assange is not suspected of rape," said a statement on the prosecution service's website.

Assange was "no longer wanted," the statement said, adding that Finne would make no other comments.

The prosecution service referred a telephone inquiry from AFP to the website.

A prosecution service spokesperson, Karin Rosander, said earlier that "Julian Assange is wanted for two different issues, one of them is that he's suspected of rape in Sweden."

"The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing," said a Twitter message attributed to Assange, whose website is in a stand-off with the Pentagon over secret military documents on Afghanistan.

Prosecutor Maria Haljebo Kjellstrand told the TT news agency that the rape was allegedly committed at Enkoping, near Stockholm, and an assault on another woman in the capital.

A colleague of the 39-year-old Australian, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told AFP: "Julian denies these allegations and says they are false."

Hrafnsson, who spoke to AFP from Iceland, said Assange knew nothing of the charges until he read about them in the Swedish daily Expressen, which broke the story.

"There are powerful organisations who want to do harm to WikiLeaks," Hrafnson said, adding that Assange was still in Sweden and would "go to the police very quickly."

In another statement carried on the website of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, Assange was quoted as asking why the accusations had surfaced now.

"It's an interesting question," he added.

Last week Assange announced at a press conference in Stockholm that the whistleblower website was set to publish a final batch of 15,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan in "a couple of weeks."

The former computer hacker insisted WikiLeaks "will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group."

Crikey has more - Australia can’t plug WikiLeaks saga.
Blonde Swedish bombshell double agents, international espionage, shadowy government forces and computer hackers on the run from the military. It sounds like something from the Cold War but it is just an average day in the life of, the whistle-blower website where anyone can anonymously share confidential government and corporate documents.

And bizarrely, Australia is shaping up as a key player in the saga, with explosive new allegations over the weekend that an Australian intelligence figure warned WikiLeaks about an impending character assassination campaign.

The latest chapter began last Friday. While Australia on the weekend was focused internally on counting votes, news broke worldwide that Swedish authorities had issued a warrant for the arrest of Australian-born WikiLeaks spokesperson Julian Assange on a charge of rape involving two women in Sweden. However, less then 24 hours later the authorities withdrew the charge, announcing there was no evidence that Assange had been involved in a rape crime, but was still under investigation for molestation, a lesser charger.

A complaint has now been filed to the Swedish Ombudsmen of Justice by a Swedian watchdog group against the prosecutor who made the original charge. WikiLeaks itself played a straight bat when the warrant was issued, announcing it would cooperate with any investigation, that it supported Assange, and that the site would continue operations as normally.

This all came less than two weeks after another bizarre moment when some media outlets ran a Daily Beast story by Phillip Shernon, quoting anonymous sources in the US government “as pressing Britain, Germany, Australia, and other allied Western governments to consider opening criminal investigations of WikiLeaks”. This unsourced and nebulous news story was strange in the vague threatening nature of the story, which implied WikiLeaks was operating illegally without actually specifying which laws it had broken or naming a government official.

Australia’s intelligence community is about to be embroiled up to its poisoned-tipped umbrella in the WikiLeaks story, with reliable global news gathering service Al Jazeera reporting explosively that Assange “had been forewarned by Australian intelligence on August 11 to expect a campaign against him”. Australia, despite the best efforts of the government to ignore WikiLeaks, is slowly being enmeshed in the process. WikiLeaks is partly founded by Australians. Australian-born Julian Assange is the current spokesperson for the group. The postal address for WikiLeaks is the Mathematics department at the University of Melbourne. And the appearance of Australian troops in the most recent leaked batch of records from WikiLeaks, first reported here in Crikey earlier this month, has caused the government to launch an extraordinary care taker period investigation.

So what is this all pointing to? Are we seeing the beginnings of a counter intelligence operation by the US army against whistle-blower organisation WikiLeaks?

In 2008, the US Army’s Counterintelligence Center, part of the American Department of Defense Intelligence Analysis Program, prepared a top secret report on WikiLeaks. It concluded that despite the “diverse views … among private persons, legal experts, advocates for open government and accountability, law enforcement, and government officials” that the site was possibly “constitutionally protected free speech, supports open society and open government initiatives, and serves the greater public good” it likely constituted a “threat to the US Army”. It was a threat, the authors wrote, because the site “could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management”. All fair criticisms, and ones which WikiLeaks itself publicly grapples with each time it releases a document.

Interestingly, the army was not concerned with WikiLeaks as much as it was concerned with the people WikiLeaks enabled, from moles within the Department of Defence to foreign terrorist groups. Indeed, the report noted that so far WikiLeaks had mostly caused problems for “oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East”.

The report concluded that the “most important center of gravity” for web sites such as WikiLeaks was “trust”. Destroy people’s trust in WikiLeaks and not only would people no longer send documents to WikiLeaks, the report noted, but it would “deter others from taking similar actions”. Certainly, threats of legal action and withdrawn accusations of rape fit the bill and since mud sticks, they do not even need to be successful prosecuted.


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