Stand: 13.06.19 16:09 Uhr

Wanted for espionage - the hunt for Wikileaks

von John Goetz

7:28 AM EC Time (1:28 PM UK Time) - QUITO, ECUADOR - Ecuadorian Interior Minister, María Paula Romo: 17 minutes after the Department of Justice issued its press release, while Assange waited to appear in Westminster Magistrates' Court  (still clutching Gore Vidal's book), the Ecuadorian Interior Minister gave a press conference. She said: For several years now, one of the key members of this WikiLeaks organization and a person close to Mr Julian Assange has lived in Ecuador, and we have sufficient evidence that he has been collaborating with the destabilization attempts against the government… We are not going to allow Ecuador to become a hacking center, and we cannot allow illegal activities to take place in the country, either to harm Ecuadorian citizens or those from other countries or any government. She stated that the government of Ecuador was prepared to arrest two Russian hackers and a person close to Julian Assange.

8:07 AM - QUITO, ECUADOR - Ola Bini, Swedish programmer and privacy expert, tweetedMaría Paula Romo, Ecuador Minister of the Interior, this morning held a press conference, claiming there are Russian hackers in Ecuador, and also that there is one person part of WikiLeaks living in Ecuador since several years. She further said this information soon will be handed over to the Fiscalía for potential prosecution. Very worrisome news - this seems like a witch hunt to me.

2 PM UK TIME - HOUSE OF COMMONS, LONDON - Prime Minister Theresa May:

I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy. This goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law. Cheering broke out on the Conservative side of the House.

Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State when Wikileaks released the archive of the State Department diplomatic cables, asked to comment the next day on the Assange arrest, said:

The bottom line is he has to answer for what he has done, at least as it's been charged… I do think it's a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States.

FÜRSTENBERG/HAVEL, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former spokesperson of Wikileaks in Germany, quit Wikileaks after a conflict with Assange in 2010.  Domscheit-Berg had been contacted by the District Attorney prosecuting Assange and asked to testify against Assange. He refused.

I was home and heard about his arrest from friends. My reaction was concern over what will follow mixed with relief that this unsustainable situation in the embassy is finally over. Despite that Julian is an asshole who apparently broke all agreements we had within our team, including that we don’t milk sources like no tomorrow, I still was and still am worried about him.

2:15 PM UK TIME - WESTMINSTER MAGISTRATES' COURT, MARYLEBONE, LONDON: Given no time to prepare a defense, Assange entered a plea of not guilty, but was pronounced guilty of breach of bail and told by the judge that "his behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests", language similar to that used by former head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo. From here, Assange was later driven for about an hour to Belmarsh prison in south-east London.

2:45 PM - MOSCOW - Edward Snowden tweeted: The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking. The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama's DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism.

3 PM UK TIME - QUITO AIRPORT, ECUADOR: Passenger Ola Bini was waiting in the queue to get onto a KLM flight en route to Tokyo. Bini, who had reacted on Twitter to Ecuadorian Interior Minister Romo's press conference, works on privacy software and is a friend of Assange.  His flight was scheduled to take 26 hours; in his bag, he had Gabriel García Marquez's novel, "Love in the Time of Cholera". Unexpectedly he had been upgraded to business class. Yet before he could board the plane, the Bini family reported, he was approached and told there was a problem with his baggage. Could he please come with them?


When I was detained I still wasn't sure what was going on. What they hinted was that they wanted me to testify against Julian. But it was all very confusing. I was also angry:  They never told me why this or that was happening. In fact, they didn't tell me much at all. I wasn't allowed to see any of the legal documents. They kept playing games, like asking me: "Why do you think you are here?" They took my phone and said it was for my own security. I was thinking a lot about my friends. I know they were worried. I managed to send out an SOS before  they took my phone.

Sometime after 3 PM CEST - BRUSSELS - Sofia Celi, Ola Bini’s girlfriend and colleague:

I was at a Cryptology Conference in Brussels when I got a text. I was happy because it was from Ola. Then I read he had been detained. He wrote he had been in the queue to board his flight to Japan when he was taken away. (Panorama, interview with Celi)

Someone mentioned something about a Russian national. Bini is 36 years old and from Gothenburg, Sweden. Maybe there was a mix up? Bini was placed in a zone for "non-admitted persons". 

Sofia Celi: I was sure it was a mistake. Ola is the last person to ever commit any sort of crime. I also thought that, if it was related to his work, it would be a mistake to detain him, as the kind of work we do is purely in the field of cryptography, as an academic subject with a real world impact. I was mostly confused as word of the detention came out of nowhere and there were was very little reporting on it. ( Panorama, interview with Celi)

3:34 PM - HOUSE OF COMMONS, LONDON - Diane Abbott, Labour Member of Parliament, Shadow Home Secretary, reported in Hansard: 

We should recall what WikiLeaks disclosed. Who can forget the Pentagon video footage of a missile attack in 2007 in Iraq that killed 18 civilians and two Reuters journalists? The monumental number of such leaks lifted the veil on US-led military operations in a variety of theatres, none of which has produced a favourable outcome for the people of those countries. Julian Assange is being pursued not to protect US national security, but because he has exposed wrongdoing by US Administrations and their military forces. Abbott was immediately attacked in the media and by members of her own party for appearing to downplay the allegations of sexual assault against Assange.


When the prosecutor and his gang arrived, I was glad! The waiting was annoying. At this point they “officially” detained me although I had already been detained for eight hours. They once again didn't explain what happened or my rights. They denied access to lawyers again, and I wasn't allowed to see the detention order. For the next three hours, I sat handcuffed in the back of a police car in the parking lot. I was in pain. I was very hungry, worried and scared. What had I done? That is a question Ecuador still hasn't answered 59 days later.

Not only Julian Assange and Ola Bini found themselves in prison that day because of an investigation into Wikileaks.  April 11 began with three people who had been accused of being sources for Wikileaks in jail. Chelsea Manning, the most famous of them all, had been convicted of being the source for some of Wikileaks' most famous releases and publications. She had served nearly seven years in prison from 2010 to 2017. But now she was in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange at a grand jury. 

0-24:00 UTC - Alexandria City Jail, Northern Virginia - Chelsea Manning: 

On April 11, 2019 Chelsea Manning found herself in her 34th day of prison. She was refusing to testify to a grand jury that was seeking to expand the charges against Assange.

Chelsea Manning, frühere Wikileaks-Informantin, spricht auf der Internetkonferenz re:publica 2018 © picture alliance/dpa

Chelsea Manning, former Wikileaks informant.

After two months of confinement, and using every legal mechanism available so far, I can - without any hesitation - state that nothing will convince me to testify before this or any other grand jury for that matter… The way I am being treated proves what a corrupt and abusive tool this truly is. With each passing day my disappointment and frustration grow, but so too do my commitments to doing the right thing and continuing to refuse to submit…I believe this grand jury seeks to undermine the integrity of public discourse with the aim of punishing those who expose any serious, ongoing, and systemic abuses of power by this government, as well as the rest of the international community… I wish to return home. I want to return to my work - writing, speaking, consulting, and teaching. The idea I hold the keys to my own cell is an absurd one, as I face the prospect of suffering either way due to this unnecessary and punitive subpoena: I can either go to jail or betray my principles. The latter exists as a much worse prison than the government can construct.

0-24:00 UTC - Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City - Joshua Schulte: Also in prison was a young man named Joshua Schulte, accused by the US government of being the source of information about CIA malware that Wikileaks published in March 2017.  Schulte, who had high-level security clearance and worked for over five years at the CIA and NSA as a computer scientist, has also been indicted by the government on charges of child pornography and sexual assault.  In March 2019, Schulte's lawyer asked a Manhattan federal court judge to require the CIA to speed up its investigation. Schulte wrote a description of his prison conditions: The shit-filled showers where you leave dirtier then when you entered; the flooding of the tiers and cages with ice-cold water; the constant blast of cold air as we are exposed to extreme cold without blankets or long-sleeve shirts; the uncontrollable lights that are always on as we are sleep deprived; the denial of books, radios, notebooks, and legal work as we are forced to do literally nothing as they torture us in our cages.

0-24:00 UTC - Federal Correctional Institution Memphis, Tennessee - Jeremy Hammond, in prison since March 2012 for being a source for Wikileaks: On April 11, Jeremy Hammond found himself in FCI Memphis, having served over seven years of a ten-year sentence for being a source for Wikileaks. Hammond was convicted of being the source for the email release that compromised the private intelligence firm Stratfor. His Twitter account issued a statement about the arrest of Assange: Assange’s prosecution must be opposed because it has major implications for free speech and the US’s self-entitled right to bully other nations into giving up people who have never even set foot here to face trumped up conspiracy charges and long prison sentences.  But there are plenty of other comrades behind bars who have shown political integrity and loyalty to the movement.  Perhaps we should focus our support on them instead of a sexist white supremacist who helped Trump win the election.

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