Julian Assange Being Hunted By Fedz
measl at mfn.org
Fri Jun 11 18:43:45 PDT 2010
Anxious that Wikileaks may be on the verge of publishing a batch of secret
State Department cables, investigators are desperately searching for
founder Julian Assange. Philip Shenon reports. Plus, Daniel Ellsberg tells
The Daily Beast: "Assange is in Some Danger."
(This story has been updated to reflect new developments on Assange's
whereabouts, including the cancelation of a scheduled appearance in Las
Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the
Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that
he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department
cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security,
government officials tell The Daily Beast.
The officials acknowledge that even if they found the website founder,
Julian Assange, it is not clear what they could do to block publication of
the cables on Wikileaks, which is nominally based on a server in Sweden
and bills itself as a champion of whistleblowers.
American officials said Pentagon investigators are convinced that Assange
is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables
leaked by a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning of
Potomac, Maryland, who is now in custody in Kuwait.
And given the contents of the cables, the feds have good reason to be
The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency
computer networks available to the Army and contained information related
to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.
American officials would not discuss the methods being used to find
Assange, nor would they say if they had information to suggest where he is
now. "We'd like to know where he is; we'd like his cooperation in this,"
one U.S. official said of Assange.
Assange, who first gained notoriety as a computer hacker [O,rly?], is as
secretive as his website and has no permanent home.
He was scheduled to speak Friday in Las Vegas at an International
Reporters and Editors conference. But the group.s executive director, Mark
Horvit, tells The Daily Beast that Assange canceled the appearance - he
was on a panel to discuss anonymous sources.within the last several days
as a result of unspecificed .security concerns.. Horvit said he
communicated with Assange through email and did not know where he might
Last week, Assange was scheduled to join famed Pentagon Papers leaker
Daniel Ellsberg for a talk at New York's Personal Democracy Forum. Assange
appeared via Skype from Australia instead, saying lawyers recommended he
not return to the United States.
Assange was in the United States as recently as several weeks ago, when he
gave press interviews to promote the website.s release of an explosive
2007 video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad that left 12 people
dead, including two employees of the news agency Reuters.
Wikileaks has not replied directly to email messages from The Daily Beast.
However, in cryptic messages he sent this week via Twitter, Wikileaks
referred to an earlier Daily Beast article on the investigation of Manning
and said that it .looks like we.re about to be attacked by everything the
In an earlier post, the site said that allegations that .we have been sent
260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables are, as far as we can tell,
This morning, a new Wikileaks tweet went out: "Any signs of unacceptable
behavior by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed
Pentagon investigators say that particular post may have been an effort by
Wikileaks to throw them.and news organizations.off the track as the site
prepared the library of State Department cables for release, officials
.It looks like they.re playing some sort of semantic games,. one American
official said of Wikileaks. .They may not have 260,000 cables, but they.ve
probably got enough cables to make trouble..
In another cryptic Twitter message, the site said that while the State
Department might be alarmed about the prospect of the release of
classified cables, .we have not been contacted..
American officials were unwilling to say what would happen if Assange is
tracked down, although they suggested they would have many more legal
options available to them if he were still somewhere in the United States.
Manning has reportedly admitted that he downloaded 260,000 diplomatic
cables and provided them to Wikileaks. In Internet chat logs first
revealed by Wired magazine, Manning also took credit for leaking the 2007
video to the website.
.Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going
to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire
repository of classified foreign policy is available,. Manning wrote of
the diplomatic cables, according to Wired.
Wikileaks has not confirmed that Manning is a source of any information
posted on the site. .We do not know if Mr. Manning is our source, but the
U.S. military is claiming he is, so we will defend him,. Wikileaks said in
another Twitter message.
Manning was turned in to the Pentagon by a former computer hacker based in
California, Adrian Lamo, after Manning approached Lamo for counsel.
Manning is believed to have contacted Lamo after reading a recent profile
of him in Wired.
In the chat log revealed by Wired, Manning bragged to Lamo about having
downloaded a huge library of State Department cables, as well as the 2007
video of the helicopter attack, and having provided the material to
Manning took credit for having leaked a classified diplomatic cable that
has already appeared on the site.a memo prepared by the United States
embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, that described a meeting there between
American and Icelandic officials over that country.s banking meltdown.
The January 2010 memo may have been of special interest to Wikileaks given
the site.s close ties to Iceland, where Assange has based himself at times
and where he worked with local lawmakers to draft free-speech laws that
give broad freedom to journalists to protect their sources.
A profile this week in The New Yorker magazine depicted Assange feverishly
at work with Icelandic colleagues in Reykjavik in March as he organized
the release of the 2007 video of the helicopter attack. The edited video
was given the title Collateral Murder, and its release infuriated
officials at the Defense Department.
With its network of whistleblowers, Wikileaks has published documents and
videos on its site that have outraged other foreign governments. To
protect the site from attack by intelligence agencies, Assange has placed
Wikileaks on several Internet servers, making it all but impossible for
any government to shut down the site entirely.
Philip Shenon, a former investigative reporter at The New York Times, is
the author of The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11
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