Recently in Harassment of WikiLeakS activists Category

We have criticised the wikileaks.org propensity to use the social media networking service Twitter, to broadcast short (140 characters maximum) "tweets" without any accompanying full page press releases or web page detailed explanations. - https://twitter.com/wikileaks

To their credit, Twitter , which parts of the US government have praised and supported, when it has been used by say Iranian, Burmese, Zimbabwean or Chinese political dissidents has notified some, but not yet all, of its subscribers, who have been named on a Court Order which demands their private Communications Data details i.e. subscription names and addresses and phone numbers, as well as any credit card details and any IP address details.

This applies to the half a dozen or so twitter account named in the Subpoena.

However this Subpoena is not narrowly targeted against specific criminal communications, it is a generalised "fishing expedition" / data trawling exercise.

[UPDATE 9th January 2011: it turns out that this is not actually a Subpoena, but a 18 USC 2703(d) order, a controversial legal power introduced by the anti-terrorism "PATRIOT Act, which is, inevitably,,just as was pointed out at the time it was rubber stamped into law, now being abused for non-terrorism purposes.

See this blog article by Chris Soghoian Thoughts on the DOJ wikileaks/twitter court order

The order, issued under 18 USC 2703(d) is not a subpoena (even though the AP, New York Times, Salon and many other outlets have reported that it is). Subpoenas are essentially letters written by law enforcement officers, on official agency letterhead, and have not been reviewed or signed by a judge. The 2703(d) order in question was issued by a magistrate judge.

It also attempts to demand "All records and other information" including "user name and source and destination IP Protocol address(es);" of all of the other Twitter accounts which these named accounts have communicated with from November 2009 to mid December 2010, including all non wikileaks related matters.

The https://twitter.com/wikileaks account currently broadcasts to at least 634,892 followers.

There may have been a few thousand fewer such followers on the 14th December 2010, when the Subpoena was signed, but snooping on hundreds of thousands of innocent people, worldwide, is unethical and entirely disproportionate. and will provoke even more bad publicity for the United States government.

Which other social networking and email providers have been served with similar Subpoenas, for similar wikileaks related "fishing expeditions" ?

Which US Government investigative agency actually got the US Department of Justice to apply for the initially secret "sealed" Subpoena ?

If only there was a working Anonymous Whistleblower website where such information could be published - unfortunately that does not include either WikiLeakS.org nor OpenLeakS.org at the moment, or for the foreseeable future.

It is apalling that Julian Assange has been refused bail following his arrest in London today.

The Daily Mail explains the likely fortcoming legal complexities:

UK court refuses WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange bail on rape charge... despite Jemima Khan and friends offering £180,000 in sureties

[...]


WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Assange will appear before the City of Westminster Magistrates Court on December 14 when his lawyers are expected to outline their case against extradition and make a renewed bail application.

The WikiLeaks founder has indicated he will fight all the way to the High Court which could take over a year.

Legal sources believe he may argue to stay in Britain on the grounds that any trial in Sweden would be prejudiced because of his political notoriety.

He could take his case to the High Court and even the Supreme Court on 'a point of law of general public importance' which could take around two years to resolve.

If that fails, he could take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

If he were to be extradited to Sweden what would happen?

Assange is likely to be immediately charged with rape. He would face a trial by a judge as Sweden does not have a jury system for criminal cases. If convicted he faces up to six years in jail. On release he could face the prospect of extradition to other countries.

Can the US extradite him from Britain?

His detention yesterday on a European Arrest Warrant means that Sweden's request would take precedence over any extradition bid from America. Only if a district judge refused Assange's extradition to Sweden, could the US apply to have him extradited there.

Can the US extradite him from Sweden?

US Attorney General Eric Holder claims to be taking 'significant steps' in a probe into the leaks, but it is unlikely that America will ever get its hands on Assange. The US has had an extradition treaty with Sweden since the 1960s, when the nations agreed to 'make more effective the co-operation of the two countries in the repression of crime'.

But extradition is likely to face a number of obstacles, not least the fact that the likely charges facing Assange in the US - under the Espionage Act or other legislation protecting national security - are not included in the exhaustive list of offences set out in the law.
Extradition is barred for military or political offences, under Swedish law.

There may also be issues of jurisdiction, since the offences Assange is alleged by the US to have conducted did not take place within the country.

Any extradition from Sweden to other countries could take place only after the current rape proceedings have been concluded.

[...]

We note that the Extradition case involving Gary McKinnon, who is accused of hacking in to US Military NIPREnet systems has lasted over 8 years now. This is another case involving US government pride and computer system incompetence, which has resulted in plenty of political pressure from the US Government.

See FreeGary.org.uk for the full panaoply of Extradition Hearings, Submissions to the Home Secretary, Appeals to the High Court, Judicial Reviews, Appeals to the House of Lords (now to the UK Supreme Court), Appeals to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. etc.

It looks as if Julian Assange will also now fall foul of the hated previous Labour governmet's controversial Extradition Act 2003, which prevents even incomplete prima facie from being heard and cross examined by defence lawyers in a British court, if the Extradition request is from a European Arrest Warrant country like Sweden or from the USA.

Gary McKinnon has been free on bail throughout his Extradition case, but others facing Extradition to the USA, such as British born computer techniocian Babar Ahmed have been locked up in high security prisons, without trial for even longer.

See FreeBabarAhmad.com

Instead of rebuilding their insecure SIPRENET infrastructure, their personnel security vetting procedures or their systems for handling Confidential Human Intelligence Sources, the US Army appears to be stupidly harassing WikiLeakS.org associates, or even people merely suspected of being associated with WikiLeakS.org i.e. "shoot the messenger"...

CNET report

July 31, 2010 4:16 PM PDT

Researcher detained at U.S. border, questioned about Wikileaks

by Elinor Mills

LAS VEGAS -- A security researcher involved with the Wikileaks Web site was detained by U.S. agents at the border for three hours and questioned about the controversial whistleblower project as he entered the country on Thursday to attend a hacker conference, sources said on Saturday.

He was also approached by two FBI agents at the Defcon conference after his presentation on Saturday afternoon about the Tor Project.

Jacob Appelbaum, a Seattle-based programmer for the online privacy protection project called Tor, arrived at the Newark, New Jersey, airport from Holland flight Thursday morning when he was pulled aside by customs and border protection agents who told him he was randomly selected for a security search, according to the sources familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous.

Appelbaum, a U.S. citizen, was taken into a room, frisked and his bag was searched. Receipts from his bag were photocopied and his laptop was inspected but it's not clear in what manner, the sources said. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained, the sources said. They asked questions about Wikileaks, asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and asked where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is, but he declined to comment without a lawyer present, according to the sources. He was not permitted to make a phone call, they said.

After about three hours, Appelbaum was given his laptop back but the agents kept his three mobile phones, sources said.

[...]

There is obviously no evidence that Jacob Appelbaum has committed any crimes,

The fact that there were US Army investigators present makes a nonsense of any claim that this was a "random security search".

What happened to the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution ?

Nobody who lives in a free society should tolerate being interrogated about their political opinions by Government bureaucrats or military officials. They are meant to protect freedom of speech and freedom of association, not to collaborate with our enemies by infringing or destroying these rights and freedoms.

The New York Times reports:

Army Broadens Inquiry Into WikiLeaks Disclosure

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: July 30, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Army investigators are broadening their inquiry into the recent disclosure of classified military information to include friends and associates who may have helped the person they suspect was the leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning, people with knowledge of the investigation said Friday.

Two civilians interviewed in recent weeks by the Army's criminal division said that investigators were focusing in part on a group of Private Manning's friends and acquaintances in Cambridge, Mass. Investigators, the civilians said, apparently believed that the friends, who include students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, might have connections to WikiLeaks, which made the documents public.

It is unclear whether the investigators have specific evidence or are simply trying to determine whether one person working alone could have downloaded and disseminated tens of thousands of documents.

[...]

One of the civilians interviewed by the Army's criminal division, who asked for anonymity so that his name would not be associated with the inquiry, said Friday that the investigators' questions led him to believe that the Army was concerned that there were classified documents in the Boston area.

"I was under the impression that they believed that perhaps Bradley had used friends in Cambridge as a mechanism for moving documents," he said.

The civilian also said that the Army had offered him "a considerable amount of money if I were to keep my ear to the ground and be an in with them with WikiLeaks." He said that he had turned the Army down and that he had no connection to WikiLeaks. The other civilian also said in an interview on Friday that he had no connection to WikiLeaks.

The first civilian said it appeared from the questioning that Army investigators "are trying to build a network among Bradley's friends to infiltrate WikiLeaks."

[...]

The reported attempt recruit a paid informant associated with Wikileaks, appears to be rather inept and counterproductive.

Is the US Army also keeping , say, New York Times journalists under surveillance ?

Which other tentacles of the vast, competing US military / security bureacratic empires (comparable to the Russian Siloviki) as outlined recently by the Washington Post Top Secret America articles, are also involved in operations against WikiLeakS.org and against their associates, readers and potential whistleblower sources around the world ?

Is everyone reading this independent WikiLeak.org blog (no "s") also unfairly regarded as a suspect ?

In a front page editorial, Julian Assange gives some more details of the surveillance and harassment of himself and other WikiLeakS.org people in Iceland and on the way to a conference about investigative journalism Norway.

[...]

We have discovered half a dozen attempts at covert surveillance in Reykjavik both by native English speakers and Icelanders. On the occasions where these individuals were approached, they ran away. One had marked police equipment and the license plates for another suspicious vehicle track back to the Icelandic private VIP bodyguard firm Terr. What does that mean? We don't know. But as you will see, other events are clear.

Perhaps it means that Iceland will not become quite the transparent and publicly accountable "investigative journalism publishing data haven", which WikiLeakS.org and the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative hope for.

U.S. sources told Icelandic state media's deputy head of news, that the State Department was aggressively investigating a leak from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik. I was seen at a private U.S Embassy party at the Ambassador's residence, late last year and it is known I had contact with Embassy staff, after.

On Thursday March 18, 2010, I took the 2.15 PM flight out of Reykjavik to Copenhagen--on the way to speak at the SKUP investigative journalism conference in Norway. After receiving a tip, we obtained airline records for the flight concerned. Two individuals, recorded as brandishing diplomatic credentials checked in for my flight at 12:03 and 12:06 under the name of "US State Department". The two are not recorded as having any luggage.

Iceland doesn't have a separate security service. It folds its intelligence function into its police forces, leading to an uneasy overlap of policing and intelligence functions and values.

On Monday 22, March, at approximately 8.30pm, a WikiLeaks volunteer, a minor, was detained by Icelandic police on a wholly insignificant matter. Police then took the opportunity to hold the youth over night, without charge--a highly unusual act in Iceland. The next day, during the course of interrogation, the volunteer was shown covert photos of me outside the Reykjavik restaurant "Icelandic Fish & Chips", where a WikiLeaks production meeting took place on Wednesday March 17--the day before individuals operating under the name of the U.S. State Department boarded my flight to Copenhagen.

Our production meeting used a discreet, closed, backroom, because we were working on the analysis of a classified U.S. military video showing civilian kills by U.S. pilots. During the interrogation, a specific reference was made by police to the video---which could not have been understood from that day's exterior surveillance alone. Another specific reference was made to "important", but unnamed Icelandic figures. References were also made to the names of two senior journalists at the production meeting.

[...]

How many WIkiLeakS.org volunteers are willing or unwilling (e.g. through coercion after having been arrested), agents or informers ("Covert Human Intelligence Sources" in UK legal parlance), for various police, intelligence agencies and private sector interested parties ?

Since WikiLeakS.org continue to refuse to open up their website wiki for comments and discussion, as before, it is hard to be sure whether their unreliable Twitter stream broadcasts are credible or not.

Are Julian Assange and his WikiLeakS.org activists friends being subjected to intelligence agency / police harassment ?

https://twitter.com/wikileaks

  • To those worrying about us--we're fine, and will issue a suitable riposte shortly.

    Wed Mar 24 19:20:04 +0000 2010

  • We have airline records of the State Dep/CIA tails. Don't think you can get away with it. You cannot. This is WikiLeaks.

    Wed Mar 24 04:04:13 +0000 2010

  • We have been shown secret photos of our production meetings and been asked specific questions during detention related to the airstrike.

What were the specific Questions which were asked ? What were WikiLeakS.org Answers ? Were any legal advisors present during this interrogation ?


Will WikiLeakS.org name and shame this "related person" in the name of "transparency" ?

What exactly were they held for and by which Government / agency ?


Will WikiLeakS.org name and shame these alleged surveillance agents ?


Presumably this is the drone / ground attack aeroplane video footage for which an appeal and a thank you appeared on this Twitter stream, for access to supercomputer numbercrunching to de-crypt as mentioned in our previous blog article (Doubts about the claim that "U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks" - new window">


Is surveillance which is unprofessional or inept enough to be noticed, really just a form of harassment ?

It seems to be a stupid and counterproductive way to conduct any sort of "whistleblower leak" investigation.

What counter-surveillance techniques do WikiLeakS.org activists employ ?

See http://ht4w.co.uk - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

About this blog

This blog here at WikiLeak.org (no "S") discusses the ethical and technical issues raised by the WikiLeakS.org project, which is trying to be a resource for whistleblower leaks, by providing "untraceable mass document leaking and analysis".

These are bold and controversial aims and claims, with both pros and cons, especially for something which crosses international boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

This blog is not part of the WikiLeakS.org project, and there really are no copies of leaked documents or files being mirrored here.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog@WikiLeak[dot]org

Before you send an email to this address, remember that this blog is independent of the WikiLeakS.org project.

If you have confidential information that you want to share with us, please make use of our PGP public encryption key or an email account based overseas e.g. Hushmail

LeakDirectory.org

Now that the WikiLeakS.org project is defunct, so far as new whistleblower are concerned, what are the alternatives ?

The LeakDirectory.org wiki page lists links and anonymity analyses of some of the many post-wikileaks projects.

There are also links to better funded "official" whistlblowing crime or national security reporting tip off websites or mainstream media websites. These should, in theory, be even better at protecting the anonymity and security of their informants, than wikileaks, but that is not always so.

New whistleblower website operators or new potential whistleblowers should carefully evaluate the best techniques (or common mistakes) from around the world and make their personal risk assessments accordingly.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

The WikiLeakS.org Submissions web page provides some methods for sending them leaked documents, with varying degrees of anonymity and security. Anybody planning to do this for real, should also read some of the other guides and advice to political activists and dissidents:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

WikiLeakS Links

The WikiLeakS.org Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

WikiLeakS Twitter feeds

The WikiLeakS.org website does not stay online all of the time, especially when there is a surge of traffic caused by mainstream media coverage of a particularly newsworthy leak.

Recently, they have been using their new Twitter feeds, to selectively publicise leaked documents to the media, and also to report on the status of routing or traffic congestion problems affecting the main website in Stockholm, Sweden.

N.B.the words "security" or "anonymity" and "Twitter" are mutually exclusive:

WikiLeakS.org Twitter feed via SSL encrypted session: https://twitter.com/wikileaks

WikiLeakS.org unencrypted Twitter feed http://twitter.com/wikileaks

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) by Hakim Bey (Peter Lambourn Wilson)

Cyberpunk author William Gibson

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Wikileaks.org - the controversial "uncensorable, anonymous whistleblowing" website based currently in Sweden.

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Recent Comments

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