At midday on Friday 5 February, 2016 Julian Assange, John Jones QC, Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzon will be speaking at a press conference at the Frontline Club on the decision made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the Assange case.

Monday, January 17, 2011

PORTUGUÊS - Assange elege China como maior inimigo da WikiLeaks



Assange elege China como maior inimigo da WikiLeaks

14 Janeiro 2011

"A China tem uma tecnologia de intercepção agressiva e sofisticada, que se interpõe entre cada leitor dentro da China e cada informação do exterior", declarou Julian Assange numa entrevista ao semanário britânico New Statesman. Por isso mesmo, o fundador da WikiLeaks elegeu a China como "inimigo tecnológico do seu site, que ele garante estar a conseguir ultrapassar as restrições impostas pelo Governo de Pequim. 

"Temos estado a travar uma batalha contínua para garantir que conseguimos passar a informação e agora há todo o tipo de maneiras para os leitores chineses acederem ao nosso site", afirmou ainda Assange. Em prisão domiciliária no Reino Unido, onde aguarda a decisão sobre um pedido de extradição apresentado pela Suécia por supostos crimes sexuais, Assange criticou as tentativas dos Estados Unidos para montar uma acusação legal contra ele e contra terceiros, incluindo o soldado Bradley Manning. 

O militar americano é acusado de ter passado os telegramas diplomáticos dos Estados Unidos à WikiLeaks. O fundador do site garantiu que a primeira vez que ouviu o nome de Manning foi quando apareceu na imprensa e que o soldado está a ser usado para montar um caso contra ele. "Quebrar Manning é o primeiro passo. O objectivo é claramente quebrá--lo e obrigá-lo a confessar que de alguma forma conspirou comigo para prejudicar a segurança nacional dos Estados Unidos", disse Assange ao New Statesman.

Segundo o fundador da WikiLeaks, tal conspiração não seria, contudo, possível, uma vez que "a tecnologia [do site] foi concebida desde o princípio para garantir que nunca soubéssemos as identidades das pessoas que enviassem o material. É a única forma de garantir a protecção das fontes". 

Apesar destas garantias de Assange, a verdade é que a WikiLeaks já doou mais de 15 mil dólares para a defesa do soldado Manning, apesar de nas últimas semanas ter enfrentado dificuldades para movimentar as suas contas. O anúncio foi colocado no próprio site fundado pela australiano, segundo o qual a defesa do militar poderá custar até 115 mil dólares.

Jan. 17 - Julian Assange vows to reveal tax details of 2,000 wealthy people

Julian Assange vows to reveal tax details of 2,000 wealthy people

Swiss banker gives WikiLeaks founder data 'to educate society' about amount of potential tax revenues lost to offshore schemes
  • Article history
  • Julian Assange 
    Julian Assange (l) receives CDs containing data on offshore bank account holders from Rudolf Elmer. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters 
    Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, today pledged to make public the confidential tax details of 2,000 wealthy and prominent individuals, after being passed the data by a Swiss banker who claims the information potentially reveals instances of money-laundering and large-scale illegal tax evasion. In a carefully choreographed handover in central London, Rudolf Elmer, formerly a senior executive at the Swiss bank Julius Baer, based in the Cayman islands, said he was handing the data to WikiLeaks as part of an attempt "to educate society" about the amount of potential tax revenues lost thanks to offshore schemes and money-laundering. "As banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong," he said. "I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. I wanted to let society know how this system works because it's damaging society," he said. Elmer will appear in a Swiss court on Wednesday charged with breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws, forging documents and sending threatening messages to two officials at his former employer. He denies the charges. He refused to comment on the period of time covered by the data, contained on two compact discs, or the precise source of the information; nor would he give the names of any corporations or individuals whose details he was handing over, saying that the information needed to be "investigated" before it was released into the public domain. Assange, making his first public appearance since being bailed in December on sex assault allegations, for which Sweden is seeking his extradition, said he would pass the information to the Serious Fraud Office(SFO), examine it to ensure sources were protected, and then release it on the WikiLeaks site, potentially within "a couple of weeks". "Once we look at the data, yes, there will be full disclosure," he said. He would not be drawn on questions relating to the extradition case, which will be heard at Belmarsh magistrates court on 7 February, or on other leaks the site has promised are forthcoming, including information involving a "big US bank", which many believe to be Bank of America. The site was not yet fully functional, he said. "We are not open yet for public business. The volume of material that we would receive is too high for our internal mechanisms, but we are receiving in other ways, like this, in this manner," he said. The release of leaked US diplomatic cables, which the site originally released through the Guardian and four other international media organisations, would continue, however. Elmer said he was passing the information to WikiLeaks because he had previously approached universities with the information but it had not been followed up. He said his attempts to interest the Swiss media had resulted only in his being dismissed as "a paranoid person, a mentally ill person". "I was close to giving up, but then a friend of mine told me: 'There's WikiLeaks.' I looked at it and thought: 'That's the only hope I have to [let] society know what's going on.'" In 2008, he released to the site a much smaller collection of documents, also detailing the tax details of some of the bank's clients. Though the site has never published that information, Julius Baer succeeded briefly in shutting down before the site, supported by a number of US media and civil liberties organisations, succeeded in overturning the injunction. He also passed the information to the US tax authorities. The data was later seen by the Guardian, which found "details of numerous trusts in which wealthy people have placed capital. This allows them lawfully to avoid paying tax on profits, because legally it belongs to the trust"; the data also "[appeared] to include several cases where wealthy individuals sought to use trust money as though it were their own". In a statement to the Observer on Friday, Julius Baer said: "The aim of [Elmer's] activities was, and is, to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public. With this goal in mind, Mr Elmer spread baseless accusations and passed on unlawfully acquired, respectively retained documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks. To back up his campaign, he also used falsified documents." A spokeswoman for the SFO said it would "consider allegations made to it to determine if the matter is within its jurisdiction and criteria for investigation or possibly for another authority to consider".

Jan. 17 - * WikiLeaks: the latest developments

WikiLeaks: the latest developments

Whistleblower Rudolf Elmer hands over Swiss bank documents, Dutch media publishes Afghan cables and more of today's WikiLeaks news and views

Rudpolf Elmer and Julian Assange 
Julian Assange is given two CDs by former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer Photograph: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP

Swiss banking whistleblower Rudolf Elmer is in London today, where he intends to give WikiLeaks the "offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous" ahead of trial later this week in Switzerland. From the Observer's story yesterday:
British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, "approximately 40 politicians".

Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information
• Julian Assange has said it is "no coincidence" he gave cables from the US's embassy in The Hague to two Dutch media organisations. Dutch MPs are about to vote on whether to participate in a Nato police training mission in Afghanistan. Assange said: "If there is relevant material, it has to come out before they do."

One story to come out so far is that Dutch civil servants urged US officials to pressure former Labour party leader Wouter Bos to support a continued military mission in Afghanistan. "They complain 'he just doesn't get it'," the cables says of the Dutch officials attitude to Bos.

The US ambassador, Hartog Levin, suggested the following tactic for the Pittsburgh G20 summit in her cable back to Washington (pdf):
A pull-aside for Bos by a senior USG official such as NSA General Jones at the Pittsburgh Summit would be beneficial. It would make Bos aware of how important we view international leadership -- measured by a country's actions across the board. A pull-aside would also demonstrate to Prime Minister Balkenende our support for his efforts to get Cabinet approval of continued Dutch deployment
If you can read Dutch (or skip the Dutch and read the English quotes) RTL has a page on the Netherlands and the G20, with pdfs of relevant cables. 

• Question: what links Muammar Gaddafi and Teresa Scanlan, winner of Miss America 2011? The answer is they both made strong statements over the weekend against WikiLeaks.

Gaddafi blamed the Tunisia uprising on cables written by "ambassadors in order to create chaos". In answer to a question on WikiLeaks at the pageant, Scanlan, who (more conventionally) also played the piano and wore a bikini, said the release of the cables "was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people's right to know."

• Here is a link to Friday's WikiLeaks blog.

The bank lost their injunction on first ammendment (freedom of speech) grounds with WikiLeaks supported in the case by US campaigners and media organisations, Assange tells the conference. He compares this to what he calls the "McCarthyist" state of play today.

Assange says he won't be taking questions on his own legal process as it is Elmer's press conference – and the Swiss whistleblower himself has a court date this week.

• Assange says he wants to go the "safe route" and have professionals look at the Elmer CDs; he also says WikiLeaks has found "sources need to be protected before the information is passed out to others."

• He says some journalists can be opportunists who "twist and hype up the material and distort the historical record" so WikiLeaks makes "primary source documents available so honest journalists rise high and dishonest journalists struggle."

• He is also asked about the embassy cables release. Assange says 2.3% has been released and the process will continue over the coming months.

• Assange says WikiLeaks has had more legal threats from banks "than any other organisations". (Update Elmer said of the Swiss banking system: "I started pulling on the tail of a mouse and it became a fire-breathing dragon.")

The Aftenposten set has also been shared with Politilken in Denmark, Svenska Dagbladet in Sweden and the Dutch broadcaster RTL and newspaper NRC Handelsblad, as mentioned below.

Keen readers may note that Assange has also said he gave the cables to the Dutch pair.

The Forsys deal collapsed that month and is now the subject of lawsuits between the two sides. Canada's Globe and Mail (which has the story following an Aftenposten cable release) notes that what happened is still the subject of some dispute:
GFI's takeover of Forsys died for old-fashioned business reasons in August 2009 – because GFI missed several deadlines for transferring the money to pay for the takeover. But it's not clear whether Industry Canada's intervention to put the deal on hold a week earlier scuttled GFI's attempts to finance it.

Jan 16 - Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks

Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks

He will disclose the details of 'massive potential tax evasion' before he flies home to stand trial over his actions
  • The Observer,
  • Article history
  • Rudolf Elmer in Mauritius
    Rudolf Elmer in Mauritius: “Well-known pillars of society will hold investment portfolios and may include houses, trading companies, artwork, yachts, jewellery, horses, and so on.” Photograph: Rene Soobaroyen for the Guardian
    The offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland. British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, "approximately 40 politicians". Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information. He is also – at a time when the activities of banks are a matter of public concern – one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even potentially criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions. Along with the City of London and Wall Street, Switzerland is a fortress of banking and financial services, but famously secretive and expert in the concealment of wealth from all over the world for tax evasion and other extra-legal purposes. Elmer says he is releasing the information "in order to educate society". The list includes "high net worth individuals", multinational conglomerates and financial institutions – hedge funds". They are said to be "using secrecy as a screen to hide behind in order to avoid paying tax". They come from the US, Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia – "from all over". Clients include "business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates – from both sides of the Atlantic". Elmer says: "Well-known pillars of society will hold investment portfolios and may include houses, trading companies, artwork, yachts, jewellery, horses, and so on." "What I am objecting to is not one particular bank, but a system of structures," he told the Observer. "I have worked for major banks other than Julius Baer, and the one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes, and other things such as money-laundering – although these cases involve tax evasion." Elmer was held in custody for 30 days in 2005, and is charged with breaking Swiss bank secrecy laws, forging documents and sending threatening messages to two officials at Julius Baer. Elmer says: "I agree with privacy in banking for the person in the street, and legitimate activity, but in these instances privacy is being abused so that big people can get big banking organisations to service them. The normal, hard-working taxpayer is being abused also. "Once you become part of senior management," he says, "and gain international experience, as I did, then you are part of the inner circle – and things become much clearer. You are part of the plot. You know what the real products and service are, and why they are so expensive. It should be no surprise that the main product is secrecy … Crimes are committed and lies spread in order to protect this secrecy." The names on the CDs will not be made public, just as a much shorter list of 15 clients that Elmer handed to WikiLeaks in 2008 has remained hitherto undisclosed by the organisation headed by Julian Assange, currently on bail over alleged sex offences in Sweden, and under investigation in the US for the dissemination of thousands of state department documents. Elmer has been hounded by the Swiss authorities and media since electing to become a whistleblower, and his health and career have suffered. "My understanding is that my client's attempts to get the banks to act over various complaints he made came to nothing internally," says Elmer's lawyer, Jack Blum, one of America's leading experts in tracking offshore money. "Neither would the Swiss courts act on his complaints. That's why he went to WikiLeaks." That first crop of documents was scrutinised by the Guardian newspaper in 2009, which found "details of numerous trusts in which wealthy people have placed capital. This allows them lawfully to avoid paying tax on profits, because legally it belongs to the trust … The trust itself pays no tax, as a Cayman resident", although "the trustees can distribute money to the trust's beneficiaries". Now, Blum says, "Elmer is being tried for violating Swiss banking secrecy law even though the data is from the Cayman Islands. This is bold extraterritorial nonsense. Swiss secrecy law should apply to Swiss banks in Switzerland, not a Swiss subsidiary in the Cayman Islands." Julius Baer has denied all wrongdoing, and rejects Elmer's allegations. It has said that Elmer "altered" documents in order to "create a distorted fact pattern". The bank issued a statement on Friday saying: "The aim of [Elmer's] activities was, and is, to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public. With this goal in mind, Mr Elmer spread baseless accusations and passed on unlawfully acquired, respectively retained, documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks. To back up his campaign, he also used falsified documents." The bank also accuses Elmer of threatening colleagues.

Jan 15 - Tunisia: The WikiLeaks connection

Tunisia: The WikiLeaks connection

Mohamed Ghannouchi, former PM now acting as president, described in WikiLeaks cables as well-liked and respected
  • The Guardian,
  • Article history
  • Tunisian PM Mohamed Ghannouchi
    Leaked US embassy cables said Ben Ali 'did not view him as a threat'. Photograph: Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images 
    The man now president, Mohamed Ghannouchi was profiled in January 2006 in a secret US cable in 2006, recently released by Wikileaks. "A technocrat and economist, Ghannouchi has served as prime minister since 1999. Is rumored to have told many he wishes to leave the government but has not had the opportunity. Length of his service as PM also suggests Ben Ali [president until resignation] does not view him as a threat and he is unlikely to be viewed as a qualified successor. However, average Tunisians generally view him with respect and he is well-liked in comparison to other GOT and RCD [ruling party] officials." Then US ambassador William Hudson said: "Given the fact Ben Ali has a dictatorial hold, it is hard to believe he'll voluntarily step down." Even so, "the mere fact an increasing number of Tunisians are talking about the end of the Ben Ali era is remarkable." Publication of WikiLeaks sourced private US comments on the corruption and nepotism of a hated "sclerotic" regime is said to have helped create Tunisia's protest, and generated talk by US commentators of a "Wikileaks revolution".

Jan. 13 - Tunisia's youth finally has revolution on its mind

Tunisia's youth finally has revolution on its mind

We've become used to gossiping about the regime and feeling that we're plotting. But now we see the time to rebel has come.
  • anon
  • Tunisian demonstrators in Sidi Bouzid
    Tunisian demonstrators march through the streets of Sidi Bouzid, where the unrest began last month. Photograph: Str/AFP/Getty Images 
    I am part of the new generation that has lived in Tunisia under the absolute rule of President Ben Ali. In high school and college, we are always afraid to talk politics: "There are reporters everywhere," we are told. Nobody dares discussing politics in public; everyone is suspicious. Your neighbour, your friend, your grocer might be Ben Ali's informer: do you or your father want to be forcibly taken to an undefined place one night at 4am? We grow up with this fear of activism; we continue studying, going out and partying, regardless of politics. During high school, we begin to find out the intricacies of the "royal" family and hear stories here and there – about a relative of Leila [Trabelsi, the president's wife] who took control of an industry, who has appropriated the land of another person, who dealt with the Italian mafia. We talk and discuss it among ourselves – everybody is aware of what's going on, but there is no action. We quickly learn that Tunisian television is the worst television that exists. Everything is relayed to the glory of President Ben Ali, who's always shown at his best. We all know he dyes his hair black. Nobody likes his wife, who has a wooden smile: she never seemed sincere. We do not live, but we think we do. We want to believe that all is well since we are part of the middle class, but we know that if the cafes are packed during the day, it is because the unemployed are there discussing football. The first nightclubs open their doors and we begin to go out, to drink and enjoy the nightlife around Sousse and Hammamet. Other stories are circulating – about a Trabelsi who gave someone a horrible kicking because he felt like it, or another who caused a car accident only to return home to sleep. We exchange stories, quietly, quickly. In our own way, it is a form of vengeance: by gossiping, we have the feeling we're plotting. The police are afraid: if you tell them you're close to Ben Ali all doors open, hotels offer their best rooms, parking becomes free, traffic laws disappear. The internet is blocked, and censored pages are referred to as pages "not found" – as if they had never existed. Schoolchildren are exchanging proxies and the word becomes cult: "You got a proxy that works?" We all know that Leila has tried to sell a Tunisian island, that she wants to close the American school in Tunis to promote her own school – as I said, stories are circulating. Over the internet and under the desks, we exchange "La régente de Carthage" [a controversial book about the role of Leila Trabelsi and her family in Tunisia]. We love our country and we want things to change, but there is no organised movement: the tribe is willing, but the leader is missing. The corruption, the bribes – we simply want to leave. We begin to apply to study in France, or Canada. It is cowardice, and we know it. Leaving the country to "the rest of them". We go to France and forget, then come back for the holidays. Tunisia? It is the beaches of Sousse and Hammamet, the nightclubs and restaurants. A giant ClubMed. And then, WikiLeaks reveals what everyone was whispering. And then, a young man immolates himself. And then, 20 Tunisians are killed in one day. And for the first time, we see the opportunity to rebel, to take revenge on the "royal" family who has taken everything, to overturn the established order that has accompanied our youth. An educated youth, which is tired and ready to sacrifice all the symbols of the former autocratic Tunisia with a new revolution: the Jasmine Revolution – the true one. • This article was originally published in French on

FRANÇAIS - Une jeunesse vécue sous l’ombre de Ben Ali


Une jeunesse vécue sous l’ombre de Ben Ali

Lycée Pilote Bourguiba Tunis / LPBT supporte la révolution du Jasmin
Par Sami Ben Hassine,

Je fais partie de la nouvelle génération qui a vécu en Tunisie sous le règne absolu de Ben Ali.
Au lycée, et au collège, on a toujours peur de parler politique : “Il y a des rapporteurs partout” qu’on nous dit. Personne n’ose en discuter en public. Tout le monde se méfie. Votre voisin, votre ami, votre épicier, est un rapporteur de Ben Ali, voulez-vous être emmené de force vous ou votre père vers un lieu indéfini, un soir à 4h du mat ?

On grandit avec cette peur de s’engager, et on poursuit nos études, nos sorties, nos soirées, sans se soucier de la politique.

Aux années lycées, on commence à connaître les méandres de la famille royale, et on entends des histoires ici et là, sur tel proche de Leila qui a pris le contrôle d’un industrie, qui s’est approprié le terrain d’une autre personne, ou qui traitait avec la mafia italienne.

On en parle, on en discute entre nous, tout le monde est au courant, mais on n’agit pas. On poursuit nos études, on apprends vite que la télévision tunisienne est la pire télévision qui existe, toutes les informations relayés sont des effigies à la gloire du président, Ben Ali est toujours montré sous son meilleur jour, on sait tous qu’il se teint les cheuveux en noir. Personne n’aime sa femme au sourire de bois. Elle n’a jamais eu l’air sincère sa femme.

On vit. On ne vit pas, on pense vivre. On a envie de croire que tout va bien puisqu’on fait partie de la classe moyenne, mais on sait que si les cafés sont pleins à craquer en journée, c’est que les chômeurs y discutent foot.

Les premières boîtes de nuits ouvrent leurs portes, on commence à sortir, à boire, à avoir une vie nocturne du côté de Sousse et de Hammamet, d’autres histoires circulent sur un tel Trabelsi qui a explosé la gueule à une personne parce qu’il en a eu envie, d’un autre qui a provoqué un accident de route puis est retourné dormir chez lui, encore un Trabelsi. On s’échange ces histoires, discrètement, rapidement. On se venge à notre manière, en racontant, on a l’impression de comploter.

Les policiers ont peur, si on leur dit qu’on est un proche de Ben Ali, toutes les portes s’ouvrent, les hôtels privés donnent leurs meilleurs chambres, les parkings deviennent gratuits, le code de la route n’existe plus. La Tunisie devient un terrain de jeu virtuel, ils ne risquent rien, ils peuvent tout faire, les lois sont leurs marionettes.
L’internet est bloqué, les pages censurées sont assimilées à des pages non trouvées, à croire que ces pages n’ont jamais existé. Les écoliers s’échangent les proxy, le mot devient légion : ‘T’as un proxy qui marche ?’.
On en a marre, on en discute entre nous, on sait tous que Leila Ben Ali a tenté de vendre une île tunisienne, qu’elle veut fermer l’école Américaine de Tunis pour promouvoir son école, ces histoires circulent. On s’échange sur Internet et dans les sacs “La régente de Carthage”. On aime notre pays, et on a envie que ça change, mais il n’y a pas de mouvement organisé, la tribu est prête, mais le chef manque à l’appel.
La Tunisie, la corruption, les pots de vin, on a simplement envie de partir d’ici, on commence à candidater pour aller étudier en France, au Canada…On veut tout quitter. On est lâche et on l’assume. On leur laisse le pays.

On part en France, on oublie un peu la Tunisie, on y revient pour les vacances. La Tunisie ? C’est les plages de Sousse et de Hammamet, les boîtes de nuits, et les restaurants. C’est ça la Tunisie, un club med géant.
Et là, Wikileaks révèle au jour ce que tout le monde se murmurait.

Et là, un jeune s’immole par le feu.

Et là, 20 Tunisiens sont tués en un jour.

Et pour la première fois, on y voit l’occasion de se rebeller, de se venger de cette famille royale qui s’est tout approprié, de renverser l’ordre établi qui a accompagné toute notre jeunesse.

Une jeunesse éduquée, qui en a marre, et qui s’apprête à immoler tous les symboles de cette ancienne Tunisie autocratique, par une nouvelle révolution, la révolution du Jasmin, la vraie.

Jan 17 - WikiLeaks data gives fresh impetus to Pat Finucane inquiry campaign


WikiLeaks data gives fresh impetus to Pat Finucane inquiry campaign

Leaked US cables could throw fresh light on the level of state collusion in the 1989 murder of Belfast civil rights lawyer

  • jon robins
  • Wikileaks-Pat-Finucane
    Pat Finucane, the Northern Ireland civil rights lawyer killed by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989. Photograph: Reuters 
    "Some Americans might decry Julian Assange as some kind of anarchist – someone who should be locked up for a thousand years," reflects Michael Finucane, a 39-year-old Dublin-based solicitor. "But all WikiLeaks is doing is filling the vacuum created by governments unnecessarily." Readers who know the Finucane name will understand the significance of those words. Michael is the son of Pat Finucane, the murdered civil rights lawyer. In 1989 Douglas Hogg, then junior home office minister, told the House of Commons some solicitors in Northern Ireland were "unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA". Michael Finucane has described these words as "a verbal hand grenade lobbed into the cauldron of Northern Ireland". Three weeks later, two gunmen from the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Freedom Fighters burst into the family home in Belfast, wounding Pat Finucane and his wife, Geraldine. One gunman stood over him as he lay on the ground and fired 14 shots into his body and head. Michael, then 17, was in the house with his brother and sister. Two decades later, the Finucane family is still trying to find out why their father was targeted and whether the government was involved in the killing. They continue to call for a full and independent public inquiry. The WikiLeaks revelations have shone further light on the degree of state collusion. The Guardian reported last month that the leaked US embassy cables revealed Bertie Ahern, the former Irish prime minister, told US diplomats "everyone knows the UK was involved" in the murder and that US diplomats feared "elements of the security-legal establishments" in Britain were fighting to resist an inquiry. Michael Finucane believes the revelation adds to the momentum for a public inquiry. "Progress under the previous [New Labour] administration had stalled and the UK government was displaying a marked reluctance to ever want to reopen it," he said. The family insists that for any inquiry to be legitimate it must operate outside the constraints of the Inquiries Act 2005. That act was introduced in response to the perceived excesses of the Bloody Sunday inquiry (lasting 12 years and costing £191m) and controversially allows the government to block scrutiny of some state actions. The human rights group Amnesty International has argued that any judge hearing such an inquiry would be "presiding over a sham". Pat Finucane set up Madden & Finucane with his co-partner, Peter Madden, in 1979 shortly after they qualified as lawyers. Pat made his name representing people arrested under the emergency legislation. He was one of the first of a generation of lawyers to take cases to Strasbourg, and Madden has paid tribute to his former colleague for "revolutionising" the detention system by taking habeas corpus actions forcing the police to produce prisoners, often beaten, before the court. Some members of Pat's immediate family were in the IRA, including one brother killed in action. But Madden & Finucane were not the "provos in suits" that detractors dubbed them. As Geraldine memorably put it: "Pat would have represented the people who shot him." Michael tells me several meetings between his family and Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland secretary, took place last year. The campaigners remain hopeful they will get the inquiry they have battled for, and on their terms. As Michael said: "It will be very difficult to hold it without my family being a willing participant … like Hamlet without the prince."

    Civil rights focus

    Michael is the same age his father was when he was murdered. He describes his legal practice, which has three lawyers and two trainees, as a civil rights practice.
    He resists the "like father, like son" tag. Michael has said he became a solicitor "in spite of, rather than because of Pat". "I was 17 when he died," he said. "I knew nothing about his legal practice. I learnt about his work in reverse. But his approach was remarkable for a lawyer of his time." Michael recalls his father going on speaking tours, addressing conferences in America and Paris on life under the emergency powers legislation, which left delegates "absolutely horrified" as to the grim realities of Northern Ireland. Clients still approach Michael because he is a Finucane. "There is automatically shared experience of what it's like to be on the receiving end," he once told me. "They aren't coming to see some faceless, suited professional who doesn't understand what it's like." Did the trainees want to work in his firm because they had heard of Pat? "I'd like to think they are aware of him. I'd also like to think they might be approaching the firm because of the work I am doing at this point in my career. I'm getting old. It would be a dishonour to my father if I did not earn the right to carry the name on my own merits." Jon Robins is a freelance journalist and director of the research company Jures