WikiLeaks without Assange or WikiLeaks without Internet?

511004-keyboard-hackNew Orleans   First there was a note that the daily surge of WikiLeaks email dumps had suddenly stopped for two days prompting speculation that maybe Ecuador had cut the internet connects to Julian Assange in his hideout apartment in the Ecuadorian embassy in an upscale London district. Then there was confirmation, including commentary from Raphael Correa, Ecuadorian’s President, that, yes indeed, they had cutoff Assange’s internet access until after the United States Presidential election.

The explanation was short and sweet from Ecuador. Having had long experience with foreign intervention in Latin American elections, Ecuador didn’t want to be accused of having any role with interfering with another country’s election, and that included the current one in El Norte.

Clearly they were also bridling over the argument being made by US cyber-pros and politicians that WikiLeaks was essentially funneling emails in a silent partnership with whatever the Russian name for the KGB is now. Assange undoubtedly has also stepped on some toes with his blatant partisanship and disdain for the Clinton candidacy, while welcoming the sudden surprising embrace of the alt-right wing of the Republican Party and its banner man, Donald Trump. Correa had indicated earlier that he favored Clinton in the contest, though he felt, somewhat contradictorily, that Trump might be so bad that he would be good for the resurgence of left parties in Latin America, making an argument that was extremely hard to follow. At the same time Correa and the official Ecuadorean statements were clear that Assange would still be harbored in the embassy, and they had rescheduled the Swedish interviews on Assange’s remaining rape charge until after the election as well, presumably to allow Assange access to the internet to prepare with his lawyers.

What an interesting turn of events! Now, we’ll see if WikiLeaks is more or less than the sum of Assange’s parts these days.

WikiLeaks claims, likely truthfully, that it has no idea who is sending them these hacked emails, no more than we can name the individuals who are named in our daily spam messages. Computer pros can suss out some clues from the IP addresses in messages, but it would be surprising if these dumps weren’t encrypted and sent through VPN channels making them hard to trace as well. But, surely these dumps are not going directly into Assange’s personal account for goodness sakes. The WikiLeaks website has the ways and means to receive blind data transmissions for goodness sakes, so technically, if they had something, they could continue to merrily attempt to poke their emails in the eyes of US-voters and the candidates.

Maybe despite the internet anarchist reputation of WikiLeaks, we are going to find that it’s really top down, command-and-control. Now we’ll find out if there is anything or anybody really involved in WikiLeaks other than Assange and a close clutch of comrades. There was a time when WikiLeaks seemed to be an organization of sorts that had people who could flesh out their claims to being a journalistic enterprise of a sort. As Assange’s legal troubles increased along with his bizarre efforts to find safe houses and escape extradition to Sweden, WikiLeaks seemed to be imploding around him.

The internet certainly hasn’t been shut down, so we might find out if WikiLeaks is just a one-man band or has a life separate from Assange. Or, alternatively, was there a message to Assange from Ecuador that said not only, “dude, sorry about that internet,” but also, “stop this stuff until after the US election or you are so out of here!” We’ll seen soon!

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Time to Make a Deal for Time Served for Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a UN report as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Friday. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a UN report as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Friday. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

New Orleans    Remember Julian Assange, the founder and director of Wikileaks that back in the day, you know before Edward Snowden, released a Pandora’s Box of leaked information that brought down governments and exposed some of the nasty little secrets and weird dealings of so-called diplomacy? Well, the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared that Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the actions of the British and Swedish government over sexual assault allegations back in the day as well. Assange is now better known for having been an asylum seeker holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, than he is for his Wikileaks’ work.

As organizing dictum always holds, you live by the press, you die by the press. Assange a master media mini-mogul in his own right had smartly declared the day before the UN report release that if the Working Group said he was NOT arbitrarily detained, then he would present himself to the British and be done with it. I imagine this was a cheap thrill of a headline since anyone who can mastermind releasing millions of pages of documents outlining the secret activity of governments around the world, certainly would have known ahead of time exactly what the report was going to say. Come on, man!

And, the British and Swedish governments didn’t yawn at the report, finding Assange aggrieved and wrongly restricted, as much as spit at the report and tossed it towards the garbage bin. Both stories were web-lines more than head-lines and virtually buried as footnotes to the news, rather than news itself.

The report actually was pretty clear that the Swedish prosecutors had botched the mess badly. There is still no clear allegation of a crime and in most countries even the accusation would not have necessarily been an offense given the largely consensual nature of the experience according to reports. I’m not sure there’s even a felony charge attached to this embarrassing and shameful mess. The problem, if you recall, is that the Swedes want to question Assange, and stubbornly refused to do so except on their own soil. Assange, convinced he is still on the Most Wanted List in the US, has argued that he would be extradited to the US if he went to Sweden, and round and round the merry-go-round goes. The UN group was clear that this is all past the pale, no matter what anyone’s opinion of Assange might be, and, essentially argue, let’s get on with it!

The press clearly doesn’t think this is news. The governments are just letting the clock run out on Assange until the Ecuadorians get tired of having him as a houseguest or President Rafael Correa loses power, and they can try a do-over.

In the United States it would be time for the lawyers to have a sidebar and maybe take a nolo contendere plea and call the Ecuadorian encampment “time served.” Like it or not, Assange should take the deal and get a life again and do the work. The governments have also made their point about their great power and impunity. Enough said. Let’s move on.

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