The Price of Freedom
Although the sole purpose of this site is to showcase my work and share with you the immense pleasure I get from both rock music and photography, I cannot do so today. Today there are darker matters to be addressed. This will be the first time I have deviated from the music related format of this site but recent events have taken a sinister turn and I must speak out against what can only be described as international orchestrated bullying and intimidation. I am of course referring to the pursuit and intimidation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Julian Assange is the head of the Wikileaks organisation and is currently being held in a London Jail awaiting extradition to Sweden on a charge of ‘Sex by Surprise’ which seems to be a crime peculiar only to Sweden relating to unprotected sex. The charges had been previously brought by the Swedish authorities, then subsequently dropped, only to be resurrected again. With recent embarrassing events in mind, our government here in the UK was only too happy to comply with the incarceration of Mr Assange and promptly arrested him and took him into custody. Assange, who it seems has no previous criminal convictions, was refused bail despite sureties of more than £120,000.00 which were offered by a number of famous people such as the human rights author John Pilger and socialite Jemima Khan. The refusal of bail was extremely unusual since issuing bail following rape allegations is routine in the UK. Assange protests his innocence and must of course face his accusers if indeed there is a case to be brought but he must be treated in exactly the same manner as everyone else in similar circumstances. This is plainly not the case.
There is growing worldwide concern that the allegations are part of a smear campaign designed to get Mr Assange to Sweden where American authorities will request further extradition to the USA in order to prosecute him for releasing and publishing confidential and extremely embarrassing government information. The Australian website Crikey reports tonight that the rape accusations against Julian Assange may be falling apart as one of his accusers leaves Sweden. Anna Ardin, one of two women behind the rape charges against the WikiLeaks founder, may no longer be cooperating with prosecutors although this has yet to be confirmed.
It seems that mainstream media organisations are not that keen on delving too deeply into the facts surrounding the whole affair. Even the biggest talk-radio station in London (LBC) has to my knowledge barely discussed the whole Wikileaks issue whereas normal procedure is that they dissect every high profile story for daily comment and discussion. Clive Bull last night commented on his show that “People are not really interested in the Wikileaks story” before moving on to something mind-numbingly mundane. Wikileaks recently gained over 1 million fans on Facebook so I would say that his assumption is gravely mistaken. When the site was threatened with being taken down, hundreds of mirror sites appeared in a matter of days. That doesn’t indicate lack of interest to me. Could it be that pressure is being brought to bear on our media by our government? Could it be that the information we receive every day in our newspapers and on radio and TV is not as clear and un-biased as we might think? Am I right in thinking that Orwell’s dark vision of the future is already here?
The overwhelming impression now is that a number of very powerful governments around the world are exerting an extraordinary amount of pressure on multinational companies to freeze Assange’s movements and to block any financial support he may have. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have all refused to process payments to Wikileaks and Swiss bank PostFinance has shut the Wikileaks accounts held there. PayPal has admitted that tremendous pressure was exerted on its operation by the US State Department and it had no choice but to comply with the ‘requests’. The DNS provider EveryDNS.net deleted all DNS records on its database so that Wikileaks could not be accessed on the web other than by IP address but within days, hundreds of mirror sites sprung up all over the world in support of freedom of speech. All of the companies involved in this shameful action were later attached online with DDoS attacks by an anonymous group called Operation Payback using over 46,000 LOIC server hives which were used to take down the offending companies’ websites. It now appears that Twitter may also be in the firing line as it allegedly censored some Wikileaks data and suspended user accounts although Twitter has officially denied this. It is hard to feel any sympathy for the companies involved since their given role in society is to provide a commercial service, not to act as henchmen for aggressive governments in a very sinister game. It is also incredulous to think that these same companies are happy to act as a conduit for payments and donations to racist groups such as KKK whilst adopting their current stance with Wikileaks. What must not be forgotten however is one very important fact…Julian Assange has not been convicted of any crime in any court of law. It is not for Visa, MasterCard or indeed any of the others to act as judge and jury in this matter.
The hypocrisy of it all is that we in the western world berate countries like China and Russia for curtailing freedom of speech and free access to information. We see them as oppressive and controlling, and we congratulate ourselves on our superiority. Now we see that our own governments are just as rotten and corrupt as any of the tin pot administration we berate. It seems that it is fine to leak secrets…just as long as they are not our secrets! It makes me angry to see smug self-serving politicians, power hungry military chiefs, and attention-seeking warmongers alike accuse a man whose ‘crime’ is airing their top secret dirty laundry of having blood on his hands. These people are the real criminals and they act supposedly in our name. For one high-profile example, just look at the footage released by WikiLeaks on the murder of two Reuter’s journalists (link below) and then tell me who has blood on their hands…the people involved in the actual killing or the guy who told the world about it? The whistleblower who got hold of the tape is now languishing in a US military prison for his efforts. In the four-year publishing history of Wikileaks, no one has been alleged to come to physical harm on the basis of a story published. The ghost of Richard Nixon is alive and well…
The fact is that the truth matters and we have a right to know what these people are doing in our name. We elect our representatives to a position trust and we refer to them as public servants. Their role is to SERVE the public…not to deceive and betray them and they occasionally need to be reminded of that. The electorate deserve to be treated with respect and it is of the utmost importance that we all know what the members of this gentlemen’s club we have elected are getting up to. Politicians run campaigns on the promise of offering greater transparency when looking for your vote then quickly fall in line when elected lest they miss out on the privileges of the elite.
I say support Assange and support Wikileaks in the name of free speech and free access to information. The truth is coming out and there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Governments better get used to it! This whole rotten mess stinks so let’s peel back the thin veil of civilisation and expose any of the wrongdoing carried out in our name. If governments fall, so be it. Maybe that’s the price of freedom.
You know what? I cant wait to see the movie.
On 29 July 2010, WikiLeaks added a 1.4 GB "Insurance File" to the Afghan War Diary page. The file is AES encrypted and has been speculated to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published, similar to the concept of a dead man’s switch. Following the first few days’ release of the United States diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcaster CBS predicted that "If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies”. People are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing to the US government if it were released.