Frenemies in a Time of Revolution
Julian Assange has had mixed luck when it comes to picking friends, co-publishing partners, romantic lovers and employees over the past decade. Some have been loyal, passionate, driven and talented at the start but deviated from the vision and work of Wikileaks and even betrayed him personally. Others have simply latched onto him for “intelligence” about his work or his vision for the future. Some treated him as their parasitic host for fame, money and a launchpad for their career advancement or narcissistic Supply. In times of revolution, it is hazardous to make friends or connections with others, but if you don’t, then the revolution will not happen. Counter-activism tactics seek to infiltrate relationships of trust, gather information and then betray.
Assange’s experience with betrayals is epic and tragic. Here is a brief list of some of the more significant betrayals, in no particular order:
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, campaigned for presidency under a Socialist platform, leveraging his deep friendship (frenemyship) with the former leader President Rafael Correa. Shortly after assuming power he betrayed Correa and began a plot to oust Assange from his asylum at the embassy in London. President Moreno literally sold Assange to the US and Britain as Assange teeters on the brink of death today in the damp, infected environment of Covid19-Belmarsh prison. This is the worst betrayal of all in so far as it literally put a price tag on Assange’s life, robbed him of human rights and will endanger press freedom and democracy going forward.
German computer consultant Daniel Domscheit-Berg (DDB) made alliance with Assange, became a staffer for Wikileaks and eventually a spokesperson. Later, he edited the catalogue of unpublished Wikileaks holdings, possibly stole Wikileaks funds and then spent years making money by public speaking and giving interviews which generated aspersions against Assange. He was an early adopter and developer of the GaslightingAssange tactics which I have outlined in a multi-part series on Medium. He gleaned “best practices” of Wikileaks employees, met loyal friends, supporters and family members and had access to a massive trove of unpublished documents. [update: Given the most recent superceding indictment (June 2020), I expect the US to also indict DDB unless he has an immunity protection deal with the US.]
An Icelandic computer consultant named Siggy Thordasan made an alliance with Assange, became a staffer for Wikileaks and an insider within the tight-knit community of colleagues, friends, family and supporters. He came and went freely from Vaughn Smith’s home which was Assange’s first bail residence and eventually became an FBI informant. He abused his privileged access by taking audio and video recordings of Assange and staff within the house arrest conditions at Ellingham Hall, where the Smiths live. He too gleaned “best practices” of Wikileaks and had access to a massive trove of unpublished documents. He was involved in developing a chat group of Assange / Wikileaks supporters, embezzled funds and became very familiar with the linguistic styles of many key people in the organization. Siggy’s ability to participate in GaslightingAssange efforts was weak. He was charged and convicted for grooming and pedophelia and pretty much ruined his own celebrity, thence his ability to take advantage of a soured relationship with Assange for inflammatory and slanderous purposes.
I cannot stress enough how important such information would be to any adversary of Assange or Wikileaks. Having access to unpublished “leaks”, learning the verification processes and technical contact information of skilled volunteers, engaging in texts, phone calls and facetime interactions with insiders, knowledge of future plans as well as the funding status of the organization are all extremely valuable. The information falls under the category of “intelligence” or actionable gossip in almost real time.
There’s David Leigh, Nick Davies, Jim Ball, Alexa O’Brien, Brigitta Jonsitter, Press Freedom, Kevin Poulsen, Laura Poitras and a few others who have betrayed Assange directly and later, close associates like Sarah Harrison. O’Brien now works for the US Department of Defense and for some reason blocked me on Twitter (two accounts). Brigitta blocked me as well. I have never had a negative interaction with either woman on twitter and have admired their work over the years. I considered myself an ally. But along the way, something shifted.
Each person who betrayed Assange, benefitted from Assange’s celebrity and attempts to slander him publicly. There were book deals, movies, interviews and access to people with influence and money. It is sickening. Over the years I have learned that a person can become a full time troll, careerist and celebrity just for betraying Assange and then joining the GaslightingAssange troops. And it is a troop. Military style command structure, training and operatives. All designed to take Assange down and any hint of a future for Wikileaks.
Hindsight is 20/20. If Assange had known how vehemently the United States wanted to destroy him he may have been more cautious or paranoid about whom he allowed into the organization or his personal life. It’s hard to imagine him being more paranoid than he already was. Some accused him of disproportionate paranoia and being a conspiracy theorist with respect to his privacy, personal relationships and professional allegiances. They were wrong.
I am not Deanna from Star Trek’s “Next Generation” aboard the Enterprise, but my prediction is that more betrayal is nigh.
Given the pattern of personal betrayals, it is likely that Assange, Wikileaks and Courage Foundation should be on the alert for the next big betrayal. The next big betrayal has been in the making for many years. The US and UK have learned to play a “long-game”, embedding persons into the inner sphere of Julian Assange to gather actionable intelligence and learn a thing or two for themselves. The next betrayal will span the remaining lifetime of Assange and the near future of Wikileaks and Courage Foundation. The next betrayal will seal the coffin on Assange and behave like a sleeper cell within the organizational structure of Wikileaks and Courage. Time is on the adversary’s side. Prolific and passionate advocates for Assange have already died and more death is on the horizon, natural or otherwise. My Grandpa used to say “We get too soon old, and too late smart”, and I think that applies to the current situation for Assange, Wikileaks supporters and lawyers and the Courage Foundation. It also applies to any journalist or activist who cannot fast forward the ramifications for themselves or society should Assange be extradited and tried for Espionage in the United States. Too soon old. Too late smart. Democracy will die sooner rather than later.
Let’s face it. We’re all getting old or older. Me. Noam Chomsky. John Shipton. Vivienne Westwood. Craig Murray. Christine Assange. John Pilger. Daniel Ellsberg. Gareth Pierce. Chris Hedges. John Kiriakou. James Goodale. Vivienne Westwood. Assange’s lawyers, colleagues, friends and family. We have lost Michael Ratner, Gavin McFadyen, Michael Hastings. We all have a finite amount of tweets, blogs, interviews and documentaries left to generate. At some point, Covid19, natural ageing, disease, accident or intentional harm will befall each one of us. Time is on the adversary’s side, not ours. All champions die eventually.
Whatever plans are amuck to destroy Assange and Wikileaks are already in motion. Laws are changing to favour the overreach of the US in its ability to extradite anyone from any country to face prosecution and indefinite detention. “Lawfare” is gaining ground. Surveillance technology is gaining ground. Arbitrary detention is gaining ground. Even extrajudicial assassinations are gaining ground. And we are all getting older. The adversaries can leverage their plans over decades while we age, have kids and grandkids, get cancer, get detained, get diagnosed with psychosis or just lose energy.
The perfect person to next betray Assange and the entire human network of supporters of Wikileaks and Courage Foundation would be someone who has been with the organization for years and years, earned the trust of key persons and knows the workings of each. The “Betrayer” would be young enough to outlive Assange and usher Wikileaks into 2030 before retiring (rather comfortably). That person would build alliances with younger parasitic frenemies to Assange, Wikileaks and Courage Foundation and weaken the force of Wikileak’s publications. He or she may cull newly submitted leaks which might otherwise be published. They may divert funding to support the personal promotion of the parasitic frenemies. They will become less fluent and ineffective spokespersons on the public stage for Assange, his legacy or his game changing projects called Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation. They will feign loyalty but they are not loyal. They will bury information which might assist Assange’s legal team to secure him human rights, free speech, internet access, due process or to end the ongoing torture within a dangerous dungeon called Belmarsh.
The current editor of Wikileaks is Kristinn Hrafnsson. I have spoken with him a number of times over the phone in support of Assange and Wikileaks. I always introduce myself as Jude from Canada, say my piece, ask a few questions without being prying and end with a sincere offer to assist in whatever way I can. It has always been polite but always been clipped. The last time I spoke to Hrafnsson was on Feb. 2nd, 2020, as he approached his last visit to Belmarsh prison to meet Assange. I told him I had good news. That I discovered (it was a discovery to me) a cache of emails which the UK said were deleted concerning his case. I gave a precis version of what I learned, used the words “in abeyance”, “adjourned”, Supreme Court corruption and said that it could get him free. I urged him to follow up with Julian directly, confirm the emails as authentic (I found them on a UK government site under FOIA releases), check my Twitter timeline, look out for a blog I was about to write and to give my solidarity and strength to Julian. I followed up with tweets and DM’s, then dove into the blog post, a teaching video and further research.
It has been 7 months since I spoke with Hrafnsson. I have not seen a link to the not-deleted emails posted to Wikileaks nor his own personal twitter account. I had some interactions with the journalist who did the legwork to get the FOIA releases in the first place. I have received backlash, insults and had my twitter account shadowbanned on Feb. 2nd, 2020.
I am bewildered at the stalling and stonewalling. I did the homework on the not-deleted emails and then wrote and published a blog explaining their significance in a very short turnaround time (24 hrs). I have questioned why my article has not been widely shared to the Wikileaks or Maurizi twitter accounts who have 5.5 million and 22 thousand followers respectively. My questions have been met with accusations concerning my ego, having a vendetta toward the FOIA journalist (I don’t), self promotion and even the threat of a libel lawsuit. I have been told that my position is nonsense. I suspect that I have been called “crazy” and people have tried to dismiss my work and me as a person. The facts are not inaccurate. My article is not inaccurate. Is my article not being circulated based on stigma of me as a human being?
Aside from that “static”, dismissals and pejorative interactions I’ve had with some tweeps, the question of why the direct link to the FOIA results on the UK government’s site have not been tweeted or amplified on Wikieak’s twitter account (nor Maurizi) remains.
The ethos of Wikileaks seems to have eluded both journalists with respect to this cache of not-deleted emails: crowdsourcing data, collaboration and an aim to release stories/articles with references to the source information directly. I am shocked that even though both journalists have worked alongside Assange for years, somehow they missed this when it came to FOIA data concerning his own case. For example, had I had access to the full FOIA results, I would have contributed to the reporting which may have changed the unfolding of Britain’s and the US’s abuse of power against him. Others might have as well. Instead, the data was swept under the rug with extremely limited partial quotes from the emails or partial postings of partial emails was done. It’s confounding to me.
The information needs amplification and international attention. It is in the public’s interest. It could save Assange’s life. Hindsight is 20/20 and the new-to-me not-deleted emails show exactly how Assange wound up being arbitrarily detained past June 19, 2012 and now detained in Belmarsh.
I wrote a more detailed blog about my questions, frustration and ongoing suspicions about a month ago. I left it dormant for a while to give Hrafnsson and Maurizi time to consider their positions on either suppressing or amplifying the content. It is a work in progress and needs updating.
There must be some accountability specifically for why Hrafnsson has not drawn more attention to the not-deleted emails which serve as a “smoking gun”, proving the UK’s corruption in a gross miscarriage of justice.
Hrafnsson must be held accountable. Otherwise, he is the most likely next frenemy in the pattern of betrayal in the life of Julian Assange. He will also be the fulcrum in the disintegration of democracy. If Hrafnsson has any integrity, he should resign. He cannot be trusted.
A revolution cannot occur without the collective efforts of a strong group of people uniting together for a cause. It is difficult to make friends in a time of revolution. Frenemies will wound you and eventually destroy you.
I do not trust Stella Morris either. She is part of Assange’s legal defence team but she is functioning as an informant. But that’s an entire blog post for another day.