Dear Readers,

Due to lack of time (you can see that I am not even posting my other blogs)

but being an unconditional supporter of Julian Assange/Wikileaks

I kindly ask you to follow daily updated news at

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With Gratitude and Appreciation,

luisa

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

07:12:2012 - Julian Assange: the fugitive

Julian Assange: the fugitive

Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for six months. In a rare interview, we ask the WikiLeaks founder about reports of illness, paranoia – and if he'll ever come out
Julian Assange
Julian Assange: 'I suppose it’s quite nice that people are worried about me.’ Photograph: Gian Paul Lozza for the Guardian
 
 
The Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge looks rather lavish from the street, but inside it's not much bigger than a family apartment. The armed police guard outside is reported to cost £12,000 a day, but I can see only three officers, all of whom look supremely bored. Christmas shoppers heading for Harrods next door bustle by, indifferent or oblivious to the fact that they pass within feet of one of the world's most famous fugitives.

It's almost six months since Julian Assange took refuge in the embassy, and a state of affairs that was at first sensational is slowly becoming surreal. Ecuador has granted its guest formal asylum, but the WikiLeaks founder can't get as far as Harrods, let alone to South America, because the moment he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested – even if he comes out in a diplomatic bag or handcuffed to the ambassador – and extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange says he'll happily go to Stockholm, providing the Swedish government guarantees he won't then be extradited on to the US, where he fears he will be tried for espionage. Stockholm says no guarantee can be given, because that decision would lie with the courts. And so the weeks have stretched into months, and may yet stretch on into years.

Making the whole arrangement even stranger are the elements of normality. A receptionist buzzes me in and checks my ID, and then a businesslike young woman, Assange's assistant, leads me through into a standard-issue meeting room, where a young man who has something to do with publicity at Assange's publishers is sitting in front of a laptop. There are pieces of camera equipment and a tripod; someone suggests coffee. It all looks and feels like an ordinary interview.

But when Assange appears, he seems more like an in-patient than an interviewee, his opening words slow and hesitant, the voice so cracked as to be barely audible. If you have ever visited someone convalescing after a breakdown, his demeanour would be instantly recognisable. Admirers cast him as the new Jason Bourne, but in these first few minutes I worry he may be heading more towards Miss Havisham.

Assange tells me he sees visitors most days, but I'm not sure how long it was since a stranger was here, so I ask if this feels uncomfortable. "No, I look forward to the company. And, in some cases, the adversary." His gaze flickers coolly. "We'll see which." He shrugs off recent press reports of a chronic lung infection, but says: "I suppose it's quite nice, though, actually, that people are worried about me." Former hostages often talk about what it meant to hear their name on the radio and know the outside world was still thinking of them. Have the reports of his health held something similar for him? "Absolutely. Though I felt that much more keenly when I was in prison."

Assange spent 10 days in jail in December 2010, before being bailed to the stately home of a supporter in Suffolk. There, he was free to come and go in daylight hours, yet he says he felt more in captivity then than he does now. "During the period of house arrest, I had an electronic manacle around my leg for 24 hours a day, and for someone who has tried to give others liberty all their adult life, that is absolutely intolerable. And I had to go to the police at a specific time every day – every day – Christmas Day, New Year's Day – for over 550 days in a row." His voice is warming now, barbed with indignation. "One minute late would mean being placed into prison immediately." Despite being even more confined here, he's now the author of his own confinement, so he feels freer?

"Precisely."

And now he is the author of a new book, Cypherpunks: Freedom And The Future Of The Internet. Based on conversations and interviews with three other cypherpunks – internet activists fighting for online privacy – it warns that we are sleepwalking towards a "new transnational dystopia". Its tone is portentous – "The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen" – and its target audience anyone who has ever gone online or used a mobile phone.

"The last 10 years have seen a revolution in interception technology, where we have gone from tactical interception to strategic interception," he explains. "Tactical interception is the one that we are all familiar with, where particular individuals become of interest to the state or its friends: activists, drug dealers, and so on. Their phones are intercepted, their email communication is intercepted, their friends are intercepted, and so on. We've gone from that situation to strategic interception, where everything flowing out of or into a country – and for some countries domestically as well – is intercepted and stored permanently. Permanently. It's more efficient to take and store everything than it is to work out who you want to intercept."

The change is partly down to economies of scale: interception costs have been halving every two years, whereas the human population has been doubling only every 20. "So we've now reached this critical juncture where it is possible to intercept everyone – every SMS, every email, every mobile phone call – and store it and search it for a nominal fee by governmental standards. A kit produced in South Africa can store and index all telecommunications traffic in and out of a medium-sized nation for $10m a year." And the public has no idea, due largely to a powerful lobby dedicated to keeping it in the dark, and partly to the legal and technological complexity. So we spend our days actively assisting the state's theft of private information about us, by putting it all online.

"The penetration of the Stasi in East Germany is reported to be up to 10% of the population – one in 10 at some stage acted as informers – but the penetration of Facebook in countries like Iceland is 88%, and those people are informing much more frequently and in much more detail than they ever were in the Stasi. And they're not even getting paid to do it! They're doing it because they feel they'll be excluded from social opportunities otherwise. So we're now in this unique position where we have all the ingredients for a turnkey totalitarian state."

In this dystopian future, Assange sees only one way to protect ourselves: cryptography. Just as handwashing was once a novelty that became part of everyday life, and crucial to protecting our health, so, too, will we have to get used to encrypting our online activity. "A well-defined mathematical algorithm can encrypt something quickly, but to decrypt it would take billions of years – or trillions of dollars' worth of electricity to drive the computer. So cryptography is the essential building block of independence for organizations on the internet, just like armies are the essential building blocks of states, because otherwise one state just takes over another. There is no other way for our intellectual life to gain proper independence from the security guards of the world, the people who control physical reality."
Assange talks in the manner of a man who has worked out that the Earth is round, while everyone else is lumbering on under the impression that it is flat. It makes you sit up and listen, but raises two doubts about how to judge his thesis. There's no debate that Assange knows more about the subject than almost anyone alive, and the case he makes is both compelling and scary. But there's a question mark over his own credentials as a crusader against abuses of power, and another over his frame of mind. After all the dramas of the last two and a half years, it's hard to read his book without wondering, is Assange a hypocrite – and is he a reliable witness?

Julian Assange Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy: ‘It would be nice to go for a walk in the woods.’ Photograph: Gian Paul Lozza for the Guardian 
 
 
Prodigiously gifted, he is often described as a genius, but he has the autodidact's tendency to come across as simultaneously credulous and a bit slapdash. He can leap from one country to another when characterising surveillance practices, as if all nations were analogous, and refers to the communications data bill currently before the UK parliament in such alarmist terms that I didn't even recognize the legislation and thought he must be talking about a bill I'd never heard of. "A bill promulgated by the Queen, no less!" he emphasises, as if the government could propose any other variety, before implying that it will give the state the right to read every email and listen in on every mobile phone call, which is simply not the case. It's the age-old dilemma: are we being warned by a uniquely clear-sighted Cassandra, or by a paranoid conspiracy theorist whose current circumstances only confirm all his suspicions of sinister secret state forces at work?

But first, the hypocrisy question. I say many readers will wonder why, if it's so outrageous for the state to read our emails, it is OK for WikiLeaks to publish confidential state correspondence.

"It's all about power," he replies. "And accountability. The greater the power, the more need there is for transparency, because if the power is abused, the result can be so enormous. On the other hand, those people who do not have power, we mustn't reduce their power even more by making them yet more transparent."

Many people would say Assange himself is immensely powerful, and should be held to a higher standard of accountability and transparency. "I think that is correct," he agrees. So was WikiLeaks' decision to publish Afghan informers' names unredacted an abuse of power? Assange draws himself up and lets rip. "This is absurd propaganda. Basic kindergarten rhetoric. There has been no official accusation that any of our publications over a six-year period have resulted in the deaths of a single person – a single person – and this shows you the incredible political power of the Pentagon, that it is able to attempt to reframe the debate in that way."

Others have wondered how he could make a chatshow for a state-owned Moscow TV station. "I've never worked for a Russian state-owned television channel. That's just ridiculous – the usual propaganda rubbish." He spells it out slowly and deliberately. "I have a TV production company, wholly owned by me. We work in partnership with Dartmouth Films, a London production company, to produce a 12-part TV series about activists and thinkers from around the world. Russia Today was one of more than 20 different media organizations that purchased a licence. That is all." There is no one to whom he wouldn't sell a licence? "Absolutely not. In order to go to the hospital, we must put Shell in our car. In order to make the maximum possible impact for our sources, we have to deal with organizations like the New York Times and the Guardian." He pauses. "It doesn't mean we approve of these organizations."

I try twice to ask how a campaigner for free speech can condone Ecuador's record on press controls, but I'm not sure he hears, because he is off into a coldly furious tirade against the Guardian. The details of the dispute are of doubtful interest to a wider audience, but in brief: WikiLeaks worked closely with both the Guardian and the New York Times in 2010 to publish huge caches of confidential documents, before falling out very badly with both. He maintains that the Guardian broke its word and behaved disgracefully, but he seems to have a habit of falling out with erstwhile allies. Leaving aside the two women in Sweden who were once his admirers and now allege rape and sexual assault, things also ended badly with Canongate, a small publisher that paid a large advance for his ghosted autobiography, only to have Assange pull out of the project after reading the first draft. It went ahead and published anyway, but lost an awful lot of money. Several staff walked out of WikiLeaks in 2010, including a close colleague, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who complained that Assange was behaving "like some kind of emperor or slave trader".

It clearly isn't news to Assange that even some of his supporters despair of an impossible personality, and blame his problems on hubris, but he isn't having any of it. I ask how he explains why so many relationships have soured. "They haven't." OK, let's go through them one by one. The relationship with Canongate…

"Oh my God!" he interrupts angrily, raising his voice. "These people, we told them not to do that. They were wrong to do it, to violate the author's copyright like that." Did he ever consider giving his advance back? "Canongate owes me money. I have not seen a single cent from this book. Canongate owes me hundreds of thousands of pounds." But if he hasn't seen any money, it's because the advance was deposited in Assange's lawyers' bank account, to go towards paying their fees. Then the lawyers complained that the advance didn't cover the fees, and Assange fell out with them, too.

"I was in a position last year where everybody thought they could have a free kick. They thought that because I was involved in an enormous conflict with the United States government. The law firm was another. But those days are gone."

What about the fracture with close colleagues at WikiLeaks? "No!" he practically shouts. But Domscheit-Berg got so fed up with Assange that he quit, didn't he? "No, no, no, no, no. Domscheit-Berg had a minor role within WikiLeaks, and he was suspended by me on 25 August 2010. Suspended." Well, that's my point – here was somebody else with whom Assange fell out. "Be serious here! Seriously – my God. What we are talking about here in our work is the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people – hundreds of thousands – that we have exposed and documented. And your question is about, did we suspend someone back in 2010?" My point was that there is a theme of his relationships turning sour. "There is not!" he shouts.

I don't blame Assange for getting angry. As he sees it, he's working tirelessly to expose state secrecy and save us all from tyranny. He has paid for it with his freedom, and fears for his life. Isn't it obvious that shadowy security forces are trying to make him look either mad or bad, to discredit WikiLeaks? If that's true, then his flaws are either fabricated, or neither here nor there. But the messianic grandiosity of his self-justification is a little disconcerting.
I ask if he has considered the possibility that he might live in this embassy for the rest of his life. "I've considered the possibility. But it sure beats supermax [maximum security prison]." Does he worry about his mental health? "Only that it is nice to go for a walk in the woods, and it's important – because I have to look after so many people – that I am close to the peak of my performance at all times, because we are involved in an adversarial conflict and any misjudgment will be seized upon." Does he ever try to work out whether he is being paranoid? "Yes. I have a lot of experience. I mean, I have 22 years of experience." He'd rather not say to whom he turns for emotional support, "because we are in an adversarial conflict", but he misses his family the most. His voice slows and drops again.

"The situation is, er, the communication situation is difficult. Some of them have had to change their names, move location. Because they have suffered death threats, trying to get at me. There have been explicit proposals through US rightwing groups to target my son, for example, to get at me. The rest of the family, having seen that, has taken precautions in response." But it has all been worth it, he says, because of what he's achieved.
"Changes in electoral outcomes, contributions to revolutions in the Middle East, and the knowledge that we have contributed towards the Iraqi people and the Afghan people. And also the end of the Iraq war, which we had an important contribution towards. You can look that up. It's to do with the circumstances under which immunity was refused to US troops at the end of 2011. The documents we'd published directly were cited by Iraqis as a reason for discontinuing the immunity. And the US said it would refuse to stay without continued immunity."

Assange says he can't say anything about the allegations of rape and sexual assault for legal reasons, but he predicts that the extradition will be dropped. The grounds for his confidence are not clear, because in the next breath he adds: "Sweden refuses to behave like a reasonable state. It refuses to give a guarantee that I won't be extradited to the US." But Sweden says the decision lies with the courts, not the government. "That is not true," he snaps. "It is absolutely false. The government has the final say." If he's right, and it really is as unequivocal as that, why all the legal confusion? "Because there are enormous powers at play," he says, heavy with exasperation. "Controversy is a result of people trying to shift political opinion one way or another."

And so his surreal fugitive existence continues, imprisoned in a tiny piece of Ecuador in Knightsbridge. He has a special ultraviolet lamp to compensate for the lack of sunlight, but uses it "with great trepidation", having burned himself the first time he tried it. His assistant, who may or may not be his girlfriend – she has been reported as such, but denies it when I check – is a constant presence, and by his account WikiLeaks continues to thrive. Reports that it has basically imploded, undone by the dramas and rows surrounding its editor-in-chief, are dismissed as yet more smears. The organization will have published more than a million leaks this year, he says, and will publish "considerably more" in 2013. I'm pretty sure he has found a way to get rid of his electronic tag, because when I ask, he stares with a faint gnomic smile. "Umm… I'd prefer not to comment."

Assange has been called a lot of things – a terrorist, a visionary, a rapist, a freedom warrior. At moments he reminds me of a charismatic cult leader but, given his current predicament, it's hardly surprising if loyalty counts more than critical distance in his world. The only thing I could say with confidence is that he is a control freak. The persona he most frequently ascribes to himself is "gentleman", a curiously courtly term for a cypher–punk to choose, so I ask him to explain.

"What is a gentleman? I suppose it's, you know, a nice section of Australian culture that perhaps wouldn't be recognized in thieving metropolises like London. The importance of being honorable, and keeping your word, and acting like a gentleman. It's someone who has the courage of their convictions, who doesn't bow to pressure, who doesn't exploit people who are weaker than they are. Who acts in an honorable way."

Does that describe him? "No, but it describes an ideal I believe men should strive for."

Cypherpunks: Freedom And The Future Of The Internet, by Julian Assange, is published by OR Books at £11; available exclusively from orbooks.com.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

32. Julian Assange

32. Julian Assange

The WikiLeaks founder has been at the centre of a media storm this year, attracting both support and controversy
  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Article history
  • Julian Assange
    Julian Assange
    Job: founder, WikiLeaks Age: 40 Industry: digital media Budget: unknown 2010 ranking: 58
    Hi-tech terrorist or beacon of information freedom, this year it has been impossible to ignore Julian Assange, the public face of WikiLeaks. In December his organisation, the self-styled "intelligence service of the people", released hundreds of classified US embassy cables, rattling nerves at the very top of the US government.
    Assange was forced into hiding following the data release, the media storm whipping up even more when he was revealed to have been wanted for questioning over an alleged rape in Sweden, the country WikiLeaks chose as its home, ironically because of its powerful whistleblower protection laws.
    The extradition case saw celebrity backers rush to his banner, from Jemima Khan to John Pilger (and the deputy foreign minister of Ecuador, no less). But the controversy did not end there. Having fallen out with the Guardian and New York Times, he has also attracted criticism over the gagging orders that WikiLeaks staff have to sign. This is probably why Assange was deemed to have "gone up but with downward tendencies", in the words of one panellist.
    WikiLeaks was launched in 2007 with a mission to change the world by abolishing official secrecy.
    The site claims a range of founders but Assange remains its colourful, charismatic, impossible driving force. Even so, only so much is known about the silvery haired, quietly spoken man himself. His background – he was raised in Melbourne and convicted of computer hacking when he was a teenager is as much as we know – is information he thinks it wise not to share with the world at large.
    Source: 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Natália Viana: Como conheci Julian Assange



Matéria produzida para A PÚBLICA


Tudo começou com um telefonema mais do que inesperado e misterioso, em novembro do ano passado; menos de duas semanas depois, o Brasil seria o primeiro país a ter acesso aos documentos diplomáticos da embaixada americana, além dos cinco jornais da Europa e dos EUA.

Por Natalia Viana, da Pública (livre reprodução desde que citada a fonte)



Só às vezes o meu celular pegava. Eu estava em um bangalô à beira do Rio Tapajós, no Pará, onde ia morar por um mês para fazer uma reportagem. O telefone, portanto, não tocou. Ouvi o recado horas depois. Em inglês britânico: “Alô Natalia, aqui é a Hale, trabalhamos juntas em Londres. Agora estou com uma organização muito influente, queria te passar um trabalho…”

Era 14 de novembro de 2010, quinze dias antes do estrondoso lançamento dos 250 mil telegramas das embaixadas americanas pelo WikiLeaks, e no silêncio da floresta o convite soou longínquo, mal explicado. Decidi entrar em contato com meu ex-chefe, Gavin MacFadyen, diretor do Cento de Jornalismo Investigativo de Londres, onde trabalhara com a tal inglesa, para pedir mais detalhes.


Gavin é um dos mais incríveis jornalistas que eu conheço. Adora as reportagens arriscadas, saboreia os resultados, ri sem parar quando lembra que algum ricaço corrupto foi pego com a boca na botija. E sempre me dá as melhores dicas. Pouco depois do contato, ela volta a me escrever, por email.



“Estamos trabalhando em um grande projeto, extremamente empolgante, que vai ter enorme repercussão no mundo todo. Não é seguro escrever os detalhes, mas tenho certeza que qualquer jornalista gostaria de estar envolvido”, explicava a inglesa. “Todos os meus telefones estão grampeados, mas posso te ligar”.




Ao telefone, a proposta, afinal: que eu estivesse em Londres nos próximos dias, num local indicado. Não saberia o que nem para quem. Numa rápida ligação, Gavin deu uma só dica, preciosa: o trabalho envolveria uma pessoa “recentemente famosa”. Como grande parte dos jornalistas investigativos, eu já conhecia a trajetória de Julian Assange e me entusiasmava pela sua cruzada por documentos secretos. Achei que era ele: “Estou dentro”.




Ora, de Santarém para Belém e de lá para o aeroporto de Cumbica, em São Paulo. Mil pequenos receios tomam conta quando tomei o táxi para o aeroporto, afinal. Medos prosaicos: de ser tudo mentira; de perder os parcos 4 mil reais que gastara com as passagens; de ser barrada no aeroporto de Londres como tantos brasileiros da minha idade, sem trabalho fixo nem uma boa explicação para dar. Caprichei no ar blasé quando falei com o oficial da imigração: “estou apenas de férias, vou aproveitar para fazer compras”. Deu certo.




 

Em Londres, devia ir a um endereço – era toda a indicação que eu tinha. Mas quando cheguei ao Frontline Club, em Paddington, um clube aconchegante que promove o jornalismo independente com debates, exibição de filmes e quartos mais em conta para repórteres e documentaristas que vivem de orçamento apertado – ninguém.



Hora e meia depois ela chega, esbaforida. Loira, rabo de cavalo e roupa mal ajambrada que pouco disfarçava a beleza de olhos azuis, boca carnuda e jeito de menina. Hale desabafou: “Sinto muitíssimo, querida, mas você viu o que aconteceu hoje né?”. Eu, não. “Emitiram um mandado de prisão contra ele”.




Ele, como eu imaginara, era Julian Assange, uma das figuras mais controversas do jornalismo mundial – acusado, inclusive, de não ser jornalista. Àquela altura, o WikiLeaks já era conhecido no mundo todo, e já incomodava muita gente. Em julho, havia publicado 75 mil diários sobre a guerra do Afeganistão que provaram assassinatos indiscriminados de civis; em outubro, mais 400 mil relatos secretos sobre o Iraque, provando tortura contra prisioneiros.




Hale parecia mais aborrecida com o atraso nos planos que com a acusação em si. Trava-se de uma queixa na Suécia, feita por duas mulheres, de crimes sexuais. “É uma armação, isso vai embora com o tempo. Mas precisamos ter cuidado”. Muito cuidado, explicou. Meses antes, o Pentágono havia emitido uma ameaça clara: o WikiLeaks deveria devolver todos os documentos secretos e apagá-los do seu site, ou então os EUA “buscariam alternativas de obrigá-los a fazer a coisa certa”. Não tínhamos nem ideia do que podia acontecer.




***
 


A poucas quadras dali, no andar superior de uma casinha insuspeita em uma alameda de paralelepípedos, estavam meus companheiros de viagem. Agora, era só guardarmos as malas e partirmos, disse Hale, sem explicar aonde. Foi assim que vi pela primeira vez o Julian Assange, com seu rosto fino e nariz marcante, pálido, loiríssimo. Falou pouco, mas sua voz forte chamou a atenção, talvez um pouco menos que a vodka que ele ofereceu assim que sentei à mesa. Islandesa, supreendentemente boa.



Do outro lado, o islandês Kristin Hraffnson sorria. Bonitão, grisalho (teria uns 50 anos?) e com seu ar sério, elogiou o produto de sua terra, enquanto ao meu lado outro rapaz, de óculos, também bebia sem culpa. “Não vou dirigir”. Era um rapaz jovem, magricelo, com um aprumado topete e um ar irônico que só os melhores ingleses conseguem ter (embora seja, na verdade, de uma ex-colônia africana). Seguiu-se então uma discussão, que me pareceu infinita, sobre quem afinal seria o motorista – a escolha era entre um islandês meio bêbado, um africano meio cego e uma inglesa que não dirigia há anos. “Como você pode ver, somos uma organização muito eficiente”, brincou Hale, ao se dar por vencida e assumir a direção.





Pouco antes de sair, Julian me chamou para perto. Me entregou um pedaço de papel rabiscado: “Não fale nada”. Lia-se, na sua letra miúda, 250.000 telegramas de embaixadas americanas de 1966 a 2010. 1/10 não valem nada, 1/50 importantes, 1/250 muito importantes.





Na saída, aproveitei para fumar um cigarro. Kristinn se aproximou: “Você está bem?”. “Estou. Queria poder fazer perguntas”. “Quando estivermos na estrada”, respondeu.




Hale pediu meu casaco, uma espalhafatosa peça de lã azul marinho salpicada de bolinhas verdes. Subiu correndo e desceu rindo uma gargalhada gostosa, que tentava abafar com as mãos. “Eu juro que não vou conseguir dirigir se ele vier vestido assim”. Quando Julian finalmente desceu, todos caímos na risada. Vestia um lenço estampado de cetim sobre a cabeça, meu casaco acinturado, óculos e enchimento nos peitos e nas costas, simulando uma bizarra corcova. Fizemos uma breve sessão de fotos, até ser interrompidos por ele: “vamos, vamos!”


***
 

Enfim pudemos conversar quando chegamos a um posto de beira de estrada. Enquanto os demais foram comprar comida, Julian ficou no carro por segurança.





Por que queriam uma brasileira?




- Porque o Brasil é um grande país, independente, assim como a Austrália. Não pode ser visto como América Latina, e também tem uma língua própria…




Ele abriu seu pequeno laptop, onde reluzia um gigantesco arquivo de texto, verde e preto. Digitou “Brazil”: 3 mil documentos. “Você vai ter muito trabalho”, disse.




A principal tarefa seria escrever matérias em português (“temos muitos apoiadores no Brasil”) e conseguir parceiros confiáveis na mídia brasileira. “Ah, uma coisa”, ele acrescentou. “Vamos lançar os documentos no dia 28”.




Trabalhar com o WikiLeaks, percebi, é quase sempre tentar realizar o impossível. Ler e processar milhares de documentos era humanamente impossível.




Mas ser do WikiLeaks é isso: idealistas, apaixonados, todos desdobram-se em cinco para concretizar as empreitadas inventadas por Julian ou pelo grupo que o rodeia a toda hora, todo instante. “Em tempos de mentira universal, dizer a verdade é um ato revolucionário”, diz o site da organização.




Uma organização que usa essa frase no seu site é ingênua, ou revolucionária. Ou os dois.



***
 

Voltando para a estrada, recebemos ordens de desligar computadores e celulares. Ordens mesmo. Entendi rápido que o WikiLeak não é Julian Assange: qualquer decisão será contestada, discutida e rediscutida por todos à sua volta, num exercício de possibilidades e impossibilidades que só vai terminar com o melhor argumento – ou a estratégia mais ousada. Mas, quando se trata de segurança digital, Julian manda, ponto final. No dia seguinte, iria pessoalmente “blindar” todo o equipamento.



Já larga madrugada, a rodovia deu lugar a estradinhas tortuosas, rodeadas por plantações rasteiras e grandes casarões, antigas casas de duques e duquesas. Do lado de fora o campado acolhia as plantações e criações: faisão, patos, pombos brancos. Estávamos em Norfolk, na fazenda de Vaughan Smith, o mesmo dono do Frontline Club.




A mansão dos Smith tem nome próprio, Ellingham Hall. E merece. O estilo é georgiano; e tudo parecia mesmo datar da época de um rei longínquo. Até o odor, e o ranger do piso de madeira, de madrugada.
O casarão guarda histórias de gerações e gerações, que Vaughan e a sua esposa Pramvera, uma inteligentíssima mulher do Kosovo, iam nos contando ao redor da enorme mesa de jantar diante da lareira. 



Nas paredes, retratos a óleo dos antepassados nos seus melhores trajes –para não ser esquecidos no tempo. Vaughan apontava: “essa era minha tia avó”, “esse meu tataravô era capitão de infantaria”, “meu pai era mensageiro real”. Todos haviam morado naquela casa.


 

Ellingham Hall tem 10 quartos, quatro andares ligados por uma escada em caracol. Eu dormia com uma advogada mexicana que chegaria dias depois para dividir comigo uma impressão, digamos, mais latina sobre aquilo tudo. No quarto, confidenciávamos estar com medo de chegar a polícia, o serviço secreto britânico, ou a CIA. “Qualquer coisa, somos apenas empregadas!”, brincava ela.



***
 

No dia seguinte, Julian já se debruçava sobre os nossos laptops. A coisa se mostrou um tanto complicada; a internet funcionava mal e lentamente. Somente à noite conseguimos fazer uma reunião para, finalmente, programar o trabalho.



Para nossa segurança, ficaríamos fechados em Ellingham Hall, evitando chamar a atenção. O local era seguro, isolado de qualquer estrada, e cravado no meio de um enorme terreno de 650 acres – muito difícil, portanto, de ter escutas. Teríamos jornalistas indo e vindo, de muitos países, para escrever sobre os telegramas. As viagens à cidade deveriam ser raras, feitas em pequenos grupos. E só quando muito necessário.




A conversa chegou enfim ao processo sueco, que despertava minha curiosidade e a ansiedade de todos. Tudo indicava que a Interpol iria emitir um mandado de prisão internacional, e Julian não iria mais poder viajar. Ele jamais pensara em se tornar um fugitivo. Mas fato é que se a ordem fosse dada, se tornaria do dia para a noite um homem procurado.





“Me arrependo muito de não ter feito o WikiLeaks como uma empresa” disse, abatido. “Se fôssemos uma empresa que desse lucro, podíamos vender conteúdo sobre os documentos, pronto, todo mundo nos respeitaria”. Raciocínio típico de Julian Assange, perspicaz, original e inesperado; e típico do WikiLeaks, contestado com vigor de manhã cedo até o jantar. Ora essa, uma empresa.




No dia seguinte, recebi enfim os documentos. Quem colocou tudo em tabelas de Excell foi um inglesinho de cerca de 25 anos, de olhos azuis e pouco queixo. James Ball, formado em Oxford, é um jovem jornalista excelente com tabelas, números, documentos, com um tremendo raciocínio lógico – e conservador. Sensato, talvez um pouco demais para o WikiLeaks, sempre batia de frente com Julian ao defender a imprensa britânica. Mas sim, era delicioso assistir ao eterno embate entre o jovem britânico e o hacker (quase) quarentão com tendências a esgarçar limites.




Meses depois, James integrou-se ao time investigativo do Guardian. Deu, em troca, horas de depoimentos sobre o WikiLeaks, recheando o livro sobre Julian que o jornal publicou a toque de caixa e que, meses depois, seria comprado por Steven Spielberg para um filme de Hollywood. Com seu estilo careta, o jovenzinho reclamaria do estilo “errático” da organização, das mudanças de ideia de Julian, e das poucas horas de sono. “Era um grupo de jovens ativistas sem qualquer treinamento profissional”, diria. E são assim contadas as histórias que ficam.




***
 


Trabalhávamos na sala contígua à de jantar, diante da lareira; nos três sofás, cinco, seis pessoas mergulhadas nos seus laptops enquanto a arrumadeira trazia lenha para manter o fogo aceso de hora em hora, com um café bem aguado. Dormíamos mal, pouco, trocávamos o dia pela noite.



Assim que recebi as duas tabelas de Excell – uma, com os 1947 telegramas de Brasília, outra com 909 dos consulados – fiquei cinco dias sem pregar os olhos. Estava ali um relato inédito da nossa história recente, preciso, datado, delicioso. Afinal, era a conta de todos os anos do governo Lula aos olhos do governo americano, primeiro com Bush e depois Obama. A história de um império em decadência, e de uma nação que desponta. Com seus meandros e suas sacanagens, e seus deliciosos flagrantes.




Eram documentos com valor histórico, e não só noticioso. Através deles, aprenderíamos como se dá na prática a política externa: nomes, datas, detalhes. Organizá-los bem e elaborar uma boa estratégia de divulgação era, portanto, essencial. Queríamos que fossem lidos, repercutidos, abraçados pela mídia e pelos sem-mídia.
Nos telegramas desfilavam Serras, Lulas, FHCs, Amorins, Jobins. Aos poucos os furos iam se revelando e eu, pacientemente, os ia classificando, elencando segundo a urgência e importância. Assombrei-me com a colaboração entre a inteligência brasileira e os americanos nas operações anti-terror; com a ajuda do governo para liberar na justiça os pilotos acusados do acidente da Gol; com a transferência dos agentes da DEA expulsos da Bolívia por espionagem para o Brasil, em silêncio, na surdina – e com o apoio do Minsitério da Justiça e do govenro boliviano. Me surpreendi ao ver que o ministro da defesa, Nelson Jobim, era o “homem mais confiável” para o embaixador, enquanto falava mal do Itamaraty.
- Meu Deus! – lembro de ter gritado. Jobim fofocou que Evo tinha um tumor! Que traição!




Silêncio na sala. A verdade é que ninguém entendia os vaivéns da nossa política regional e cabia a mim, avaliar o que era bombástico, o que não. Percebi logo que muitos documentos teriam mais impacto se lançados ainda em dezembro: que o governo de Lula ia acabar. Mas, para isso, o Julian teria que comprar uma enorme briga.




Todos concordávamos que deixar apenas cinco jornais – de países centrais, ocidentais – decidir o que é e o que não é notícia era injusto. Mas o acordo rezava que Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais e Der Spiegel teriam exclusividade sobre todos os documentos até janeiro. O problema então era expandir a parceria sem irritá-los.




A solução foi uma verdadeira gambiarra. Eu enviaria à imprensa brasileira, todo dia, as matérias que iria publicar no dia seguinte no site do WikiLeaks. Faltava só achar um parceiro, um grande jornal. E, mais importante, um jornalista confiável.




Fernando Rodrigues, da Folha de São Paulo, tinha uma enorme vantagem: ele conhecia o Gavin, sabia que eu trabalhava com ele, e portanto iria levar a sério o único breve telefonema que eu podia dar com segurança, do isolamento do nosso casarão. Consegui contato afinal através do Facebook. “Fernando, preciso falar com vc urgente. Vc pode me dar seu celular?”, digitei.




Ao telefone, podia falar muito pouco. O WikiLeaks queria um parceiro brasileiro, pois tinha em mãos muitos documentos, inclusive do Brasil. A repercussão seria enorme, a Folha com certeza podia dar destaque. Mas eu só poderia abrir o conteúdo no domingo, dia 28 de novembro, pela manhã. Sem mais detalhes.




Claro que não seria fácil segurar um jornal do porte da Folha com a promessa de um enorme furo que não se sabe direito o que é. Fernando seguiu o faro, e fez muito bem; mas é claro que enviava dezenas de emails checando e rechecando a data, perguntando mais sobre o conteúdo. Consegui acalmá-lo, afinal.




***
 

Na Inglaterra, em pleno novembro, é quase sempre noite. Em volta do casarão, tudo cobriu-se de neve. A rotina seguia intensa. Alívio eram os jantares, com bom papo e bom vinho do porto, tradição que seguíamos todas as noites. Chegaram colaboradores de toda parte – franceses, suecos, israelenses, americanos, ingleses.



Na mesa, evitávamos os temas mais pesados. Ali não estávamos fazendo nada diferente do que as equipes do Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais, faziam nas suas redações. E, no entanto, sob forte ameaça do Pentágono, éramos somente nós que tínhamos o que temer. “Mas esses documentos valem muito mais do que a minha vida. Ou a vida de qualquer um nesta mesa”, disse Julian uma noite. Seguiu-se, claro, um silêncio sepulcral.




A seriedade da situação não impediu que ele, a poucos dias do lançamento, teimasse em ir a Londres para o casamento do Gavin. Isso mesmo: Gavin, beirando os 70, iria se casar com a namorada, e fizera questão de escolhê-lo como padrinho. Mas, àquela altura, com um mandato de prisão iminente, seu paradeiro já gerava especulações em toda a imprensa. Hale o apoiava: “É muito mais romântico!”. Eu argumentava: seria o primeiro lugar onde o procurariam se houvesse um mandado de prisão repentino, ou um processo secreto nos EUA.




Além disso, discutíamos no jantar o meu tópico principal: o nome do lançamento. Julian rejeitava a ideia de algo burocrático como “telegramas das embaixadas”. Também não cabia – e nisso todos concordávamos – nada como “despachos do império”, que cheirasse a sligan de esquerda. Uma manhã mal dormida, Julian apareceu na sala radiante. “Achei um nome: Cablegate”. A maioria não gostou.
Mas ninguém achou nada melhor.




***


Dias depois a notícia do próximo vazamento do WikiLeaks se espalhou na imprensa, embora ninguém soubesse o que íamos publicar. O New York Times procurara o governo americano, e nos dias seguintes Hillary Clinton passou a ligar para governos do mundo todo, pedindo desculpas por antecipação. O Departamento de Estado nos chamava de irresponsáveis: “o material colocará vidas em risco”, anunciou o porta-voz. De nada adiantou a carta, enviada por um emissário em Londres, pedindo que Washington indicasse quais nomes deveriam ser retirados. Não houve resposta.





A internet trazia notícias em quase todas as línguas sobre o que estávamos fazendo ali, naquela sala fria. Julian e Hale já não falavam com ninguém: tudo era terminar os detalhes. Elaboraram um engenhoso esquema que obrigava cada veículo a efetivamente ler os documentos antes de publicá-los. Garantiam, assim, que todos os nomes sensíveis seriam retirados, sob responsabilidade concorrente de todos os parceiros. Ela passava horas conversando com os programadores geeks, rapazes da minha idade, ingleses, franceses. Dava gritinhos de alegria: “eu te amo, você é fabuloso, você é uma lenda”.




No sábado, 27, o casamento do Gavin transcorreu sem maiores percalços. Dois jornalistas do grupo foram até Londres; o padrinho, embora ausente, foi assunto principal e ganhou um brinde dos noivos, com direito a longo discurso do entusiasmado jornalista setentão. A noiva, uma alegre senhora americana, não se importou.
Quanto a nós, em Ellinghan Hall, tínhamos que conter a tensão dos cinco jornais, que começavam a desconfiar um do outro. Quem levaria o “furo do século” ? Será que dava para confiar que segurariam suas reportagens para publicarem todos juntos?




Segurar o embargo para a publicação – domingo, às 21 horas, já parecia impossível. Hale, Julian e Kristinn falavam no chat com um, dois, três jornais ao mesmo tempo. Ninguém deveria furar, e todos torcíamos ferozmente para isso, porque, afinal, o site do WikiLeaks estava longe de ficar pronto.




Mas, no sábado à tarde, o Der Spiegel furou. Publicou, por alguns minutos, uma reportagem que mostrava em detalhes no que consistia o vazamento: 251,287 documentos das embaixadas dos EUA no mundo todo: 15, 652 secretos, 101,748 confidenciais. A redação alegou “erro” e retirou a matéria do ar pouco depois, mas a historia já havia sido reproduzida, pra desespero dos demais jornais.




Para nós, a verdade é que a tensão era boa. Pouco importava quem furaria quem – essa é uma lógica própria das empresas jornalísticas. Para o WikiLeaks, o que importa é espalhar. Que os documentos sejam mais lidos, mais visitados, mais reproduzidos, mais discutidos, que alimentem jornais, TVs, revistas, acadêmicos, ativistas, políticos, cidadãos, sejam de direita, esquerda, de centro, de onde for.




Assim que, quando finalmente liguei para o Fernando na manhã do dia 28, ele mal escondeu a decepção: “Mas é só isso? Não tem nada mais forte?”. Eu abriria a série com uma matéria sobre operações de contra terrorismo no Brasil, dentro da estratégia de priorizar temas internacionais. A Folha receberia esta matéria, e trechos de telegramas.




Para o jornal, a história – que já havia ventilado pela imprensa – não era um “furo”. Fui firme. “É isso por hoje”. E assim as histórias que eu havia colhido nas noites diante da lareira foram criando vida, repercutindo, pautando a mídia nacional: jornais, rádio, TVs. E enquanto comentaristas apostavam o que mais haveria no balaio do WikiLeaks, era só eu, jornalista independente – sem veículo, sem patrão – quem tinha a resposta. Sinal do tempo em que vivemos, definitivo e sem volta.




Às 6 horas do domingo, três horas antes do previsto, não deu mais pra segurar. Hale digitava furiosamente no seu laptop: “O Guardian vai furar”, “O El País quer publicar”. Finalmente o El País soltou a notícia, seguida pelos demais como uma verdadeira enxurrada. Enfim: o maior vazamento da história do jornalismo.




Na cozinha, Pramvera acompanhava pelo twitter a frenesi mundial. As linhas subiam histericamente, centenas de entradas por segundo, impossível de ler. Quanto a mim, olhei para o campo lá fora: não tinha a menor idéia do que seria da minha vida. Em algumas horas, meu nome estaria no site do WikiLeaks, duas palavrinhas que iam mudar tudo.




Já comia a madrugada quando conseguimos estourar a gigantesca champagne, dessas de cinco litros. Brindamos alto: “Ao WikiLeaks!”





***




 

Depois do lançamento fiquei apenas três dias na mansão.


 

Os documentos, claro, trouxe comigo para o Brasil. Improvisei, com apoio da diligente Maria Luisa: enfiei o pendrive dentro de uma meia usada, na mochila de roupas sujas. A despedida foi rápida e intensa. “Vamos ficar com saudade”, disse Hale.



Parti, de trem, agarrada à mochila. Foram horas longas, contornadas pela neve que me seguiu até a capital. Em Londres, causou um caos enorme: os trens não saíam das estações, os ônibus fugiam da rota usual. Consegui um ônibus até o bairro periférico onde passaria a noite, mas ele me deixou a meia hora do meu destino final. Fui andando, arrastando a mala sobre os bocados de gelo que se formavam na calçada. A rua estava deserta. Então voltou a nevar, e o caminho me pareceu infinito. E belo.







Source: 

http://www.revistaforum.com.br/blog/2011/07/12/natalia-viana-como-conheci-julian-assange/

http://apublica.org/2011/07/como-conheci-julian-assange-e-como-o-wikileaks-veio-parar-o-brasil/

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Julian Assange extradition appeal hearing – day two live coverage

Julian Assange extradition appeal hearing – day two live coverage

Robert Booth at the high court and Paul Owen at the Guardian office bring you full coverage of the second day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's battle to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations


Click here for today's key point

Julian Assange arrives at the high court in London on 13 July 2011.
Julian Assange arrives at the high court in London this morning. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Live blog: recap
5.16pm: The high court has reserved judgment on whether Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. A judgment is not expected for at least three weeks.

Here are the key points from today's hearing:

Clare Montgomery QC, acting for the Swedish authorities, said that public prosecutors have long issued arrest warrants that were processed by UK courts as grounds for extradition. She said it did not matter that Assange was wanted for questioning, rather than facing charges. The wording of the warrant was deliberately vague on this point, she said. She dismissed the Assange team's claims that there were crucial differences between the complaints in the witness statements and those in the warrant, saying there was nothing to suggest the prosecutor was going to use the witness statements as the basis of the case rather than the warrant.

She said that Assange's alleged victims "did not consent without coercion", spelling out the accusations in detail. In the case of AA, "nobody suggests" the alleged victim "was positively consenting", with "Assange lying on top of her trying to force his unprotected penis into her, which she did not want". In the case of SW, there is "evidence that she [SW] was penetrated while asleep ... in a way she made clear she did not consent to" if unprotected. Montgomery said the fact that the woman may later have agreed to let Assange continue did not change the "initial" act. "She may later have acquiesced," said Montgomery. "That didn't make the initial penetration anything other than an act of rape."

Assange's team argued that there were "more proportionate" ways to proceed than using the European arrest warrant. Mark Summers, for Assange, questioned whether the Swedish prosecutor could be considered a "judicial authority [which] is independent of both the executive and the parties" and was therefore able to issue the warrant. But Lord Justice Thomas said many prosecuting authorities in Europe issued European arrest warrants.

Ben Emmerson QC, acting for Assange, said the idea of isolating a moment of lack of consent in an encounter that was consenting both before and after "is crazy". Yesterday he argued at length that Assange's behaviour may have been "disreputable, discourteous, disturbing, or even pushing towards the boundaries of what [the alleged victims] were comfortable with" but was not a crime in the UK.

Thomas appeared to support Montgomery's position that the definition of an extradition offence "means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence." The judge said: "We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime."
Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted to answer questions on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape involving AA and SW, in Stockholm last August. He denies wrongdoing.

4.51pm: Lord Justice Thomas said there would be another hearing to hand down the judgment. He thanked both sides and said: "We will take time to consider the numerous arguments and authorities."

It is estimated that it could be at least three weeks before the judgment is handed down.

4.45pm: Mark Summers is speaking now for Assange: "The prosecutor has never sought to explain why she has not engaged all other mechanisms [ie other than extradition] to progress this investigation ... The reason there is a stand-off is entirely of Sweden's making. What a waste of time."

And that's it. The judgment will be reserved so we will not be getting it today.

4.25pm: AA, who slept with Assange, "did not even say she had been exposed to abuse; she didn't even want to go to the police," says Emmerson.

4.24pm: The Italian journalist taking a photo in court earlier provoked a warning from the judge that members of the media and the public attending court can "tweet – but not snap", the Press Association reports.

Alessandro Carlini, a freelance writer, had his mobile phone confiscated and was told that he had committed contempt of court and under normal circumstances would be taken down to the cells until legal representation could be provided and the matter dealt with.

Alessandro apologised in court and said later he had mistakenly pressed "the wrong button" on his mobile.
Lord Justice Thomas ordered him to stand up in the crowded court after the midday break and warned him he was committing contempt of court.

Thomas said the media were now allowed to use mobiles and other technology to keep the public informed of court proceedings, but "it has always been made very clear photographs are not to be taken".

The judge said he understood Alessandro may not have been entirely to blame, but the case should serve as a warning to everyone that in future such conduct would lead to contempt proceedings.

4.19pm: Emmerson, Assange's barrister, says one complainant felt "railroaded" by police and colleagues and only wanted Assange to get a blood test, not to press charges.

4.13pm: Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange, says: "The clearest possible facts have been concealed through the terminology of the warrant. That is wrong."

Ban Emmerson, lawyer for Julian Assange


4.05pm: Emmerson (left) is now restating Assange's case that the charges on the European arrest warrant are not a proper version of the claimants' allegations.

4.01pm: Emmerson, for Assange, says of his client:
He's lying beside her in a single bed, my lord. Men will get erections involuntarily during a night's sleep. In a single bed with a man there's a strong possibility she will come into contact with an erect penis.
The judge replies: "I agree."

3.58pm: The question is did she consent to his getting an erection, says Emmerson, Assange's barrister.
"The question is what he does with it," says Mr Justice Ouseley.

3.50pm: Emmerson goes into detail about Assange's sharing a single bed with a woman – to laughter in the court.

3.42pm: From the high court, Robert Booth says Ben Emmerson is talking in a deliberately emphatic manner in an attempt to change the atmosphere of the court in Assange's favour.

3.36pm: Ben Emmerson, Assange's barrister, says the idea of isolating a moment of lack of consent in an encounter that was consenting both before and after "is crazy".

He says: "A lot of what has been said to your lordships is simply a waste of time."

He says, a little facetiously, that Clare Montgomery, for Sweden, posited "some very progressive and some may say desirable definitions of consent".

3.24pm: Lord Justice Thomas is vexed about the unwillingness of Sweden to allow Julian Assange to be interviewed without extradition in the spirit of "EU co-operation".

He asks: "Why are we precluded from acting with sense in this European Union when the commission talks about [judicial] co-operation?"

3.14pm: The Press Association notes details told to the court about how Assange met the two women.

The first woman, AA, worked for a political group that had invited Assange to Sweden to give a lecture, the court heard. She said that Assange could stay in her apartment in Stockholm, lawyers said.

She had "thrown a crayfish party" in Assange's honour and had sent a tweet saying "... with the world's coolest people, it's amazing ... "

Lawyers said the second woman, SW, became captivated with Assange when she saw a television interview with him. She had found out where he was speaking then attended the talk.

She had "helped" by buying a computer cable for Assange, attended an "intimate lunch" with him and Assange had flirted with her.

The first woman told police that Assange's physical advances were "initially welcomed" but "then it felt awkward" since he was "rough and impatient", Assange's lawyers told judges.

She described one encounter by saying that Assange "continued to have sex" and "she just wanted to get it over". Talking about another encounter, she described Assange's behaviour as "very strange".

The woman told police that "Assange tried to make sexual advances towards her every day after that evening when they had sex"'. She had rejected Assange, which he "had accepted".

"Her words may indicate she was not particularly enjoying what was going on, but they certainly do not go anywhere near what we would regard in this country as lack of consent," said Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange, yesterday.

3.09pm: This is getting baroque: "Assange is accused in a popular sense if not in a technical sense," says Montgomery.

3.07pm: Robert Booth writes from the high court that the way the case is developing in Clare Montgomery's submission on behalf of the Swedish prosecution authority suggests that Julian Assange's future - freedom from house arrest or extradition for questioning - will rest on the application of the controversial and complex European arrest warrant system.

The details of the allegations in the case are vividly clear and have been rehearsed here in court four but they are not the issue the two judges are wrestling with in what often sounds like an academic comparative law exercise.

Among other things, the judges are being taken on a tour of variation in criminal procedure in the EU and in particular when a charge is firm enough for a warrant to apply; how different states use different authorities to press charges; and language, for example whether suspicion, accused and other terms mean the same thing in different languages in different systems.

The complexity of all this is a feature of EU law, it seems: the clash and confusion with member states' different systems when the intent of a single EU system was to simplify.

Even the judges seem to be feeling overwhelmed by the range of variation between say Belgium, France and Germany. So it is no surprise that Assange's destiny is becoming no more clear as the case winds on. Does the supreme court loom or is this case not sufficiently in the public interest?

2.54pm: Regarding the most serious allegation, that Julian Assange had sex with SW while she was asleep, the Associated Press reports that Clare Montgomery, for the Swedish authorities, attacked Ben Emmerson, Assange's barrister, for quoting testimony stating that "she let him continue". Montgomery accused Emmerson
.0of "effectively winding the law on consent back to the 19th century", adding:
At best, the words "I let him" amount to submission, not free consent.
2.45pm: Montgomery says the allegations against Assange are valid for the European arrest warrant. It lists "concrete offences with reasonable specifics" in "unmistakable language"0
2.37pm: Montgomery says the EU directive "deliberately does not identify any point in the process" when the warrant can be issued. "It is deliberately vague," she says.

2.34pm: Montgomery is now detailing the EU framework decision on the European arrest warrant as a rebuff to the Assange team's contention that a charge is needed first before a suspect can be extradited.

2.33pm: More from the Press Association news agency.

Clare Montgomery QC, speaking for the Swedish authorities, said the evidence was "absolutely clear" in relation to the fourth charge – the allegation that Assange raped SW. Montgomery said:


The evidence is absolutely clear that this complainant may be legitimately described as given evidence that she had been penetrated whilst asleep. Furthermore, being penetrated in a way which [it] is absolutely clear ... she had not consented to, namely unprotected. It is doubly clear there is no consent.

Montgomery said the fact that the woman may later have agreed to let Assange continue did not change the "initial" act. "She may later have acquiesced," said Montgomery. "That didn't make the initial penetration anything other than an act of rape."

Montgomery said SW had later told a friend that Assange "had unprotected sex with her when she slept". SW had also told the friend Assange "wanted to impregnate women" and "preferred virgins because he would be the first to impregnate them", as mentioned earlier.

She told the friend she had been "shocked and paralysed" and had "not really understood at first what was happening", said Montgomery. SW's boyfriend had told police that "this is a woman who never had unprotected sex", judges heard.

2.17pm: The case has started again for the afternoon. Alexi Mostrous tweets:

 Live blog: Twitter A foreign reporter just got a VERY scary shock after taking photo in court. Judge made him stand, told if u do it again you go to prison.

2.15pm: Robert Booth has sent his summing up of this morning's exchanges.

The case laid out by Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for the Swedish authorities, is that Julian Assange must be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of rape and sexual assault, because the prosecutors' case against him clearly alleges that there was no consent during a string of sexual encounters in Stockholm last August.

Montgomery said the charges set out on the European arrest warrant and supported by witness statements amount to valid allegations for which the cross-border warrant is appropriate.

Assange's side had yesterday argued there was a discrepancy between the allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion set out in the warrant and the witness statements of the two women who complained and so the warrant should not be supported.

Before rehearsing in graphic detail the allegations against the 40-year old Australian, Montgomery told the court the definition of an extradition offence "means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence."

Lord Judge Thomas appeared to support that position saying: "We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime."

Montgomery said the witness statements of the two women, known as AA and SW, who complained about Assange "describe circumstances in which they did not freely consent without coercion. They were coerced either by physical force or they were trapped into a situation where they had no choice."

She described how Assange "roughed up" one woman, broke her necklace and pressed his penis against her. In this case, she said, her consent "may not have been a free choice". Montgomery said:


AA says in her case the prelude to the offence was Mr Assange ripping her clothes of, breaking her necklace, her trying to get dressed again and then letting him undress her.

He then had sex with her after pinning her arms and trying to force her legs apart to insert his unprotected penis, which she did not want, Montgomery said.

In another incident four days later with the same woman Assange undressed and pressed his penis against her. "The fact she voluntarily shared a bed with him did not mean she consented," said Montgomery.

Montgomery said SW had told a friend Assange "said he preferred virgins as he felt he could be the first to impregnate them".

Earlier, Assange's legal team had advanced more arguments as to why the European arrest warrant was not valid. Mark Summers questioned whether the Swedish prosecutor could be considered a "judicial authority [which] is independent of both the executive and the parties" and therefore able to issue the warrant.

Lord Justice Thomas said that many prosecuting authorities in Europe issue European arrest warrants, and that if Assange's argument was right "it drives a substantial wedge into the application of the European arrest warrant".

By contrast, when Montgomery argued that prosecutors can issue such warrants and have done so for many years, the judge warned of "undermining public confidence" in the warrant system if the definition of judicial authority was drawn too wide.

Summers also said Assange was "suspected with probable cause" in Sweden, but because this stage in an investigation comes before a charge and therefore before him becoming "accused", the arrest warrant was not valid.

The case continues this afternoon.

1.39pm: More from the Press Association's report.
Clare Montgomery QC, acting for Sweden, argued that AA had been a victim of "coercive violent sex". She said:


They [the statements] are clearly describing coercive, violent sex of the sort where the court would be entitled to infer there was no consent and Mr Assange didn't believe there was any. The [first] charge relates to actions [to] which nobody suggested she was positively consenting.

Montgomery said the woman had later made her feelings "crystal clear" to a friend, saying "what had happened had gone beyond the limit of what she consented to".

She said that AA also complained that Assange had "broken a condom" and added: "The complaint is unprotected sexually intercourse where consent had only been given to protected intercourse."

On one night the first woman had agreed to share a single bed with Assange but not to be sexually "touched", Montgomery added.

Prosecutors alleged that the woman's "sexual integrity" had been "violated", judges were told.

1.15pm: Montgomery said earlier that the fact AA voluntarily shared a bed with Assange four days after their first encounter "did not mean she consented" to his pressing his penis against her in that first encounter.

She tells the court that one of the alleged victims said that Assange "preferred virgins since he was the first to impregnate them".

1.09pm: The Press Association news agency has filed its first report on this morning's session.

According to Clare Montgomery QC, acting for the Swedish authorities, Julian Assange faces genuine accusations of "non-consensual, coerced sex".

Statements made by the two women who have accused Assange of sexual misconduct – one of whom said she was "roughed up" – plainly showed they did not freely consent, Montgomery said.

Montgomery said it was "perfectly plain" that the women had made allegations of non-consensual, coerced sex. That was "clearly the only legitimate inference one can draw from the plaintiff's statements".

She told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley that the women described circumstances "in which they did not freely consent without coercion" but agreed to sex because of physical force, or consented "already having been trapped into a position where they had no choice, and they submitted to Mr Assange's attentions".

They had "let him continue", said Montgomery. "This is non-consensual. It is coerced, and the words used - 'I let him' - means non-consent," said the QC.

She referred to a statement made by AA in which she said: "I didn't make a free choice. He had already roughed me up by tearing off my clothes and breaking my necklace."

12.57pm: Montgomery says there is "evidence that she [SW] was penetrated while asleep ... in a way she made clear she did not consent to" if unprotected.

12.46pm: Montgomery says Assange agrees that he knew that AA had rejected sexual invitations from him.
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12.27pm: Judge Thomas says: "We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime."

Helena Kennedy QC has entered court and is sitting on the same bench as Assange.

12.26pm: Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says: "Assange lying on top of her [tried] to force his unprotected penis into her, which she did not want, and held her arms."

12.17pm: The first allegation against Assange "relates to actions to which nobody suggests she [one of the alleged victims] was positively consenting", says Montgomery.

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12.08pm: The Associated Press news agency sums up some of the earlier exchanges:
Ben Emmerson QC [Julian Assange's barrister] today attacked the way in which the extradition request was made, arguing that public prosecutors are not allowed to issue European arrest warrants.

The prosecution rejected the accusation and it was greeted with scepticism from one of the judges.
11.58am: On to the testimonies about Assange – Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says she sees them very differently. "They are describing circumstances in which they [the alleged victims] did not consent without coercion. They were coerced by physical force or were trapped."

Assange's alleged rough conduct, breaking one alleged victim's necklace and lying on top of her, do not add up to consent, she says.

11.51am: Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says there is "nothing to suggest the prosecutor has intent to bring the case as described in some of the witness statements rather than as put in charges".

One of the Assange team's key contentions is that the differences between what is outlined in the witness statements and what is in the European arrest warrant means the warrant is not valid.

11.47am: Clare Montgomery attempts to undermine the Assange team's arguments, saying: "Extradition offence means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence."

11.34am: The court is now debating whether the Assange case is sufficiently developed towards prosecution as to be suitable for a warrant. Sweden's legal team say: "The fact it is in the investigative phase doesn't matter. What matters is the underlying motive of the request."

11.19am: The judge is implying that there is a question over how much the Assange arrest warrant was issued by an arm of the Swedish state, and how much by an independent judicial authority. He is only hinting at that, but it might interest conspiracy theorists who believe US pressure on Sweden precipitated the extradition request.

11.15am: The judge is worried about "undermining public confidence" in the European arrest warrant regime if the definition of judicial authority becomes too wide.

10.59am: Clare Montgomery is sniping at the length of the Assange side's skeleton argument, saying: "I lost the will to live." Ben Emmerson QC, Assange's barrister, is not impressed.

10.56am: Clare Montgomery, for Sweden, starts by saying public prosecutors have long issued arrest warrants that were processed by UK courts as grounds for extradition.

10.54am: Clare Montgomery QC is opening for Sweden now.

10.45am: Judicial authority is independent of both the executive and the parties, Assange's side is arguing – so is the Swedish prosecutor allowed to issue a European arrest warrant?

If this argument is right, the judge replies, "it drives a substantial wedge into the application of the European arrest warrant".

10.37am: Lord Justice Thomas says "looking at this case ... a huge amount of time and publicity has been given that is in no one's interest".

10.34am: Europe requires a proportionality check on warrants, Summers says. Is there "an approach less onerous for the person sought and the prosecuting authority"?

10.29am: Mark Summers, acting for Assange, says this about the European arrest warrant: "There was from the outset of this case an easier way to proceed. A more proportionate way."

10.25am: The argument is currenlty revolving around whether the Swedes are going to prosecute Assange or only want to question him.

10.12am: Mark Summers, who is acting for Julian Assange, says the WikiLeaks founder is suspected "with probable cause" in Sweden but this comes before any charges – so he is not "accused", so the European arrest warrant is not valid

10.00am: Assange is in good spirits in court four: kisses on both cheeks for his lawyer Gareth Peirce. But the QC for Sweden, Clare Montgomery, is limbering up.

9.55am: Julian Assange has arrived at the high court. As yesterday, he said nothing but smiled and nodded to his applauding supporters. Robert Booth took a picture.

9.31am: John Pilger, the campaigning leftwing journalist and Assange ally, got a round of applause as he arrived at the court this morning. He did not look amused at his role as warm-up act.

9.28am: Robert Booth is at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the usual posse of news cameramen have gathered to record Assange's court entrance. A few more protesters against the legal proceedings have also turned up. One placard reads: "Julian Assange dacks the rich and powerful", Australian slang for pulling down their trousers.

9.23am: Julian Assange appeared at the high court in London yesterday for the first day of the latest stage of his fight against extradition to Sweden over sex allegations. The WikiLeaks founder will be back in court this morning for what is expected to be the final day of the hearing.

Clare Montgomery QC, speaking for the Swedish authorities, is expected to argue that the decision to allow Assange to be extradited at the last stage of this legal process was correct. They will contend that the European arrest warrant under which Assange was arrested is nothing less than fair, accurate and proper and there is no justification for an inquiry into the validity or accuracy of the statements it contains, as Assange's legal team suggested yesterday.

Judgment is expected to be reserved, so a ruling might not be made public for days or weeks. If he loses, Assange could take his case to the supreme court, although permission to appeal to the supreme court would only be granted on a point of law considered to be of general public interest.

Here are the key points from yesterday's hearing:

Assange is claiming that the European arrest warrant that led to this hearing contained "fundamental misstatements" of what occurred in Stockholm last August. It falsely claims he used violence and "acted in a manner to violate sexual integrity", Assange's legal team said.

The WikiLeaks founder's team claimed that his encounters with two women who made complaints against him involved consensual sex and would not be considered crimes in England. Ben Emmerson QC, his barrister, admitted that the women involved may have found Assange's behaviour "disreputable, discourteous, disturbing, or even pushing towards the boundaries of what they were comfortable with" – discussing, for example, Assange's initiating sex with one woman while she was asleep – but maintained that no crime had been committed under UK law.

Emmerson also claimed that the use of the European warrant was "disproportionate", as there were other means available to obtain Assange's assistance in the Swedish investigation.

Assange's barrister set out the accusations against Assange in graphic detail yesterday, but as Robert points out Assange's case against extradition does not hinge on whether he accepts these versions of events and testimonies relating to other incidents because there are no charges against him, Emmerson said. Rather, the barrister said, it was a question of whether the arrest warrant in connection with the allegations is valid on "strict and narrow" legal grounds.

Assange – who is appearing before Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley – is wanted to answer questions on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape involving the women, referred to as AA and SW, in Stockholm last August. He denies wrongdoing.

Source:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2011/jul/13/julian-assange-extradition-appeal-hearing-day-two-live-coverage