Julian Assange Being Hunted By Fedz

J.A. Terranson 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 
U.S. has..

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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