Tag Archives: Julian Assange

Cryptocurrency Round-Up: Nakamoto Pleaded with WikiLeaks and Bitcoin Boosted by DCC

Bitcoin has seen its price fall slightly over the last 24 hours, dropping to its lowest price since mid-August.

The meme-inspired dogecoin also saw its value drop since yesterday, however significant gains over the last week will mean that this is less keenly felt.

Other major cryptocurrencies, including peercoin, darkcoin and namecoin, have seen their prices surge by between 8% and 16%.

Bitcoin creator pleaded with WikiLeaks

Satoshi Nakomoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, reportedly asked WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to not accept bitcoin for donations to the whistleblowing website.

The revelations come from Assange’s latest book that comes out this week, titled When Google Met WikiLeaks.

When a member of a bitcoin forum suggested WikiLeaks could accept bitcoin, Nakamoto apparently claimed such integration would “provoke unwanted government interest” in the nascent cryptocurrency.

“The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way,” Nakamoto said. “I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use bitcoin.

“Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.”

Bitcoin gets boost from Digital Currency Council

digital currency council

A new association has launched that will offer training, support and digital currency certification for those within the cryptocurrency space.

The Digital Currency Council (DCC) is backed by the investment vehicle Bitcoin Opportunity and was founded by David Berger, the former CEO of the Institute of Private Investors.

“The emergence of digital currencies and their growing acceptance as a form of both commerce and investment is creating significant new business opportunities for financial advisors, brokers and other professionals,” said Berger in a statement.

“Our goal is to provide a place where financial advisors and their firms can go to get comprehensive training in digital currencies, and to create a standards-based designation that will be recognized as conveying a professional level of expertise in digital currencies: ‘DCC Certified.'”

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Wikileaks releases FinFisher files to highlight government malware abuse

Germany has been criticised by the whistleblowing site for failing to block a ‘weaponised malware’ dealer selling to regimes with poor human rights records

WikiLeaks has released more information on controversial commercial surveillance tools, criticising the German government for not blocking a “weaponised malware” developer from shipping its code to countries with regimes with poor human rights records.

WikiLeaks’ latest Spy Files publication included some previously unreleased versions of the malware in question, produced by FinFisher, a German firm that used to be part of UK-based Gamma International.

FinFisher can infect Apple OS X, Windows and Linux computers as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone devices.

The files, originally obtained by a hacker going by the name Phineas Fisher in August, should be used to improve detection systems to protect people’s PCs and mobiles, WikiLeaks said.

The organisation also believes the files will help researchers uncover further human rights abuses related to FinFisher, which can be used to siphon off data from machines and spy on communications, from email to Skype.

According to the leaks, FinFisher customers include law enforcement and government agencies in Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa and Vietnam.

This backs up data from Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based non-profit that focuses on protecting activists online, which last year released details on apparent use of FinFisher in 25 countries.

The FinFisher suite of spy software was originally brought to light when documents were found in the offices of Egypt’s secret police after former president Hosni Mubarak was deposed.

Since then, activists from Ethiopia and Bahrain, amongst other nations, claimed to have been targeted by governments using FinFisher.

WikiLeaks said Germany should take action to stop the malware spreading.

“FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world. The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise,” said Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ editor in chief.

“Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher? This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FinFisher including by tracking down its command and control centres.”

Assange’s organisation claimed FinFisher’s revenue from the sales documented in the leak amounted to around €50m (£40m), though Bill Marczak, a researcher from Citizen Lab, suggested this could have been over-estimated.

FinFisher and its previous owner Gamma have previously claimed they only sold their products to responsible governments, though researchers and activists believe the firm has lied about its customer list. It had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Claudio Guarnieri, an independent researcher who has been investigating FinFisher on behalf of Citizen Lab, told the Guardian the release should have a positive effect.

“I think it’s a good release. Firstly because now it collects the material from the breach and make some sense out of the data, when nobody really made the effort to do some decent work around it.”

Eric King, deputy director at Privacy International, also praised the release. “These new documents from Wikileaks give us greater insight into how companies like FinFisher and the governments they supply compromise our personal devices, and spy on the most private parts of our lives,” he said.

“More transparency is needed to hold companies like FinFisher to account, as well as the governments purchasing such equipment. Without public scrutiny of the surveillance technology industry, activists will continue to be targeted by repressive regimes and the damaging practices of FinFisher will be allowed to continue unabated.”

The wider fight against so-called “lawful interception” technologies continues. In the UK, Privacy International has been leading the charge, recently uncovering data implicating Swiss surveillance tech company Neosoft in “trying to equip and train a brutal government unit in Bangladesh”.

The Pirate Bay Blocking Is Effective Suggests MPAA Research – Pirate Bay hacking case starts in confusion

Hollywood and other entertainment groups have tried time and again to block The Pirate Bay in many countries. Of course, they have succeeded in blocking access to TPB. Recently, the MPAA conducted a research in order to show that blocking a website like The Pirate Bay can prove to be effective. 

Among many other tools to curb piracy, entertainment groups love the website blocking and have been urging ISPs to block access to ‘copyright-infringing’ websites.

TorrentFreak noted that despite countries opting for website blocking as a solution to piracy, many have questioned the effectiveness. A Dutch court announced to unblock The Pirate Bay a few months ago.

Now, MPAA states in an internal research that blocking a website is a good idea.

The website revealed that a leaked draft mentioned the internal MPAA research that different copyright agencies want to present to the Australian government.

“Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,” the report reads.

So, the MPAA suggests that blocking websites helps in curbing piracy.

Chris Dodd, MPAA chief stated that ISPs blocking websites, like The Pirate Bay, is a great tool.

“In particular, Section 97A of the Copyright Act allowing courts to issue injunctions against service providers who know their services are being utilized for infringing purposes, has been one of the most effective tools anywhere in the world,” Dodd states.

TorrentFreak questioned the MPAA’s intention to take an interest in the blockades in UK. The website pointed out that the U.S. is the biggest source of traffic for The Pirate Bay and it is likely that the MPAA wants to block websites like Pirate Bay in the U.S.

Pirate Bay hacking case starts in confusion

Pirate Bay hacking case starts in confusion

The largest hacking case in Danish history began in confusion on Tuesday, after lawyers representing Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and his 21-year-old Danish co-defendant accused the prosecution of “unreasonable” tactics.

The prosecution submitted a new 27-page document, and a USB stick containing 92 slides the morning the case began – documents that the defence complained should have been shown to them in advance, were confusing, and contained factual errors. 

“It is unreasonable to produce this kind of factual and technically difficult material in a case of this nature,” Michael Juul Eriksen, who is representing the 21-year-old told the court. “I believe that the proceedings should be postponed if the material is to be permitted.”

Judge Kari Sørensen announced a 30-minute pause just 22 minutes after the proceedings began, and then after the case resumed, and the two sides were still unable to reach an agreement, she put proceedings on hold until after lunch.

The two men are accused of hacking into Danish computer mainframes operated by US IT giant USC, stealing social security numbers from Denmark’s national driving licence database, illegally accessing information in a Schengen Region database and hacking into police email accounts.

The security breach has been a serious scandal in Denmark, with CSC and the police both coming under intense criticism. 

Warg, 29, arrived in court early dressed in a crumpled white shirt and a grey hooded top, his once straggly hair shaven close. 

Despite being held in solitary confinement in one of Denmark’s highest security prisons since November, he appeared in good spirits, intensely scrutinising the new documents submitted, and joking with his lawyer Louise Høj. 

His Danish co-defendant looked comparatively smart in a crisp check shirt, blue jumper and thick black-rimmed designer glasses, inscrutable apart from when he waved and grinned at family and friends seated with the press behind a perspex screen. 

After the senior prosecutor Maria Cingali read out the charges, Warg, speaking through his lawyer, pleaded “not guilty”.

 
Eriksen then objected to the new documents entered into the trial. 

When Anders Riisager, the deputy public prosecutor, who has been called in to assist Cingali in the case, retorted that the prosecution is under no obligation to provide all documents in advance, Eriksen argued that the fact that he had come prepared indicated he had expected the defence to object. 

The prosecution’s indictment, submitted at the start of July, ran to just two pages, and contained very little information on what evidence they had amassed in their 15-month investigation of the case. 

Warg is expected to argue, as he did in the related Swedish case in 2013, that the Macbook computer seized at his flat in Cambodia in August 2012, which contains much of the incriminating information for both cases, was a server he shared with several other people. 

One of those others, he claims, may have accessed the computer remotely and then used it to carry out the intrusion. 

Sweden’s Appeal Court ruled in 2013 that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to rule out the possibility of remote control, as a result clearing Warg of hacking into the Scandinavian bank Nordea. 

Police have failed to break the encryption on the 21-year-old Dane’s computer, despite his long 15-month wait in remand since his arrest. 

The 21-year-old’s grandfather, who was in court to give his support, complained that the police had “absolutely nothing” to go on. 

“I think the prosecution has a very, very meagre case,” he said. “They can’t find their own legs, and I hope Maria Cingali, who has been a big loud mouth in this case, has a very heavy fall.”

A key part of the police evidence cited in the remand hearings has been internet chats from February 2012 between a hacker who calls himself ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat’, who police believe is the Dane, and another called ‘My Evil Twin’, who police believe is Warg. 

According to an article in Politiken on Sunday, the prosecution also has evidence that the Danish defendant travelled

to Cambodia, where Warg was then living in March 2012, just a month before CSC was hacked for the first time. 

“Let me put it this way,” Riisager told the newspaper. “The accused’s comings and goings, including his travel, travel routes and stopping places, are of course interesting and are part of the evidence.”

The police will also look at the timing of the intrusion, pointing out that the incursion into CSC’s mainframe ended on August 30th, 2012, the same day that Warg’s computers were seized. 

Warg’s roles in setting up The Pirate Bay, a website allowing users to share films and music, so bypassing copyright, and advising WikiLeaks on encryption and security, have won him the support of hacktivist circles, in which he goes by the name “anakata”. 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has credited Svartholm Warg with setting up “a key part of our infrastructure”. 

One of the key witnesses the defence plan to call is Jacob Appelbaum, another WikiLeaks collaborator, whose testimony in 2013 was key to exonerating Svartholm at appeal in Sweden. 

In the run up to the trial, the prosecution tried to prevent Appelbaum appearing, complaining that he had described Svartholm as “a political prisoner” in a tweet.

Swedish Court Upholds Arrest Warrant For Julian Assange of WikiLeaks

A Swedish court today upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed.

For a detailed account of today’s court hearing visit Rick Falkvinge’s live blog.

Earlier this month, Democracy Now! traveled to London to interview Assange inside the Ecuadorean embassy. He has been holed up there for more than two years, having received political asylum.

In addition to the probe in Sweden, a secret grand jury in the United States is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing a trove of leaked documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as classified State Department cables.

“My lawyers are confident that either in the lower court, and more likely the appeal court, we will be able to dismiss the case, because the law is reasonably clear,” Assange told Democracy Now!

“You’re meant to proceed with—the Swedish government has an obligation under its own law to proceed with maximum speed, with minimum cost, and also with bringing the minimum suspicion on the person who’s being investigated. And it is in clear violation of all those points of law.”

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Plans to Leave Embassy ‘Soon’

Assange
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, speaks on screen during a panel discussion at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, on March 8, 2014.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he is planning to leave the Ecuadorian embassy “soon,” potentially bringing to an end over two years of self-imposed asylum in London.

Speaking at a press conference inside the Mayfair embassy today, Assange, 43, who risks arrest as soon as he steps outside the building, said the ordeal has caused him heart and lung problems and cost seven million pounds ($11.7 million) in legal costs.

The embassy “has no outside areas, no sunlight,” Assange told reporters in the briefing broadcast live on the Internet. “It’s an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties they would have to manage.”

Assange sought refuge with Ecuador in June 2012, after exhausting options in U.K. courts to avoid extradition to face questioning on allegations of rape and sexual molestation during a 2010 visit to Sweden.

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Says He Will Leave Ecuador Embassy Soon

The Australian national, who says he’s innocent and hasn’t been charged with a crime, has refused to return to the Nordic country, citing risks that he will be extradited to the U.S. over the release of secret documents by WikiLeaks.

Assange is accused in Sweden of failing to use a condom with one woman and having sex with another while she was asleep. The women, both supporters of WikiLeaks, let him stay at their homes during a speaking tour in 2010.

Recent changes to U.K. extradition law might help him stay in the country, he said today.

WikiLeaks, which started in 2006, leaks classified documents under a philosophy of increasing government transparency. The group drew condemnation from the U.S. for posting thousands of documents on its website, including U.S. communications about foreign governments and military efforts during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One U.S. soldier, Private Bradley Manning, is serving as long as 35 years in prison for providing the group with classified information.

2 years on, Julian Assange is still a prisoner of process

Bolthole: Julian Assange, pictured with Sarah Oliver in the studio inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been hiding from the law for two years
Bolthole: Julian Assange, pictured with Sarah Oliver in the studio inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been hiding from the law for two years
Julian Assange has developed a potentially fatal heart condition and a number of other health problems while living within the Ecuadorian embassy, it is claimed

Ecuador’s foreign minister has accused the British government of having no real interest in finding a diplomatic solution to the confinement of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has spent more than two years in the country’s embassy in London.

Ricardo Patino told the Guardian that he believed the UK was violating Assange’s human rights by refusing to allow him to leave the building without fear of arrest.

Police presence: The 43-year-old WikiLeaks founder claims policing the embassy costs Britain £240,000 a month
Police presence: The 43-year-old WikiLeaks founder claims policing the embassy costs Britain £240,000 a month

“I do not think there is a will [in Britain] to find a solution,” Patino said, acknowledging that without a political or legal breakthrough Assange could spend years living in a handful of tiny rooms at the country’s small west London embassy.

“The British government hasn’t taken any steps in that direction. We have made proposals, we have submitted documents, and all we have seen on the part of the British government is an increase in security to make sure Julian Assange does not leave the embassy, but there has been no political will or any steps taken towards a diplomatic solution to this.

“Everyone around the world knows that the rights of Julian Assange have been violated.”

No choice: Assange, pictured giving his Christmas address from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy last year, is convinced Sweden or the UK will extradite him to the US if he leaves the embassy
No choice: Assange, pictured giving his Christmas address from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy last year, is convinced Sweden or the UK will extradite him to the US if he leaves the embassy

Assange, 43, has not set foot outside Ecuador’s embassy since June 2012, after seeking political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women.

The anti-privacy campaigner, who denies the accusations, fears he is at risk of onward extradition to the US to face as yet unspecified charges relating to WikiLeaks publications, a concern which prompted the central American country to grant him asylum status.

With the Swedish courts last month rejecting an attempt by Assange’s lawyers to quash the warrant for his arrest, Britain continuing to insist he will be arrested the instant he steps foot outside the building and the Australian refusing to budge, the situation has now reached political and legal deadlock. British police maintain a 24-hour presence outside the embassy, at a total cost to date estimated at more than £7m.

Defence: The 43-year-old Australian is being represented by human rights lawyer - and George Clooney's fiance - Amal Alamuddin, somethign which might change if Clooney runs for office
Defence: The 43-year-old Australian is being represented by human rights lawyer – and George Clooney’s fiance – Amal Alamuddin, somethign which might change if Clooney runs for office

The foreign minister’s comments followed reports on Sunday sourced to WikiLeaks insiders that suggested Assange is suffering from a potentially life-threatening heart condition, has a chronic lung condition and dangerously high blood pressure.

The anonymous comments appeared in a Mail on Sunday interview with Assange in which he made no explicit mention of his health, saying only “I can’t even keep a pot plant alive for long in here.”

Ecuador has asked Britain to allow Assange, in the event of a medical emergency, to be taken to hospital in a diplomatic car without risk of arrest, but the request was refused, said Patino.

Juilan Assange is unable to seek hospital treatment for his deteriorating health problems for fear of being arrested if he steps outside the embassy, his supporters have complained
Juilan Assange is unable to seek hospital treatment for his deteriorating health problems for fear of being arrested if he steps outside the embassy, his supporters have complained

In an interview with the Guardian conducted in London at the residence of the Ecuadorean ambassador Juan Falconi Puig, the foreign minister said he was not at liberty to discuss Assange’s health,

“but if you ask a doctor what happens to someone who has been locked in a place for two years who has not been allowed to get some fresh air … obviously this will have a physical and psychological impact which we will have to see.”

In a separate article written for the Guardian on Monday, Patino writes: “We are concerned about the consequences of an eventual medical emergency without access to hospital facilities or care. The United Kingdom and Sweden should consider whether they are willing to assume such consequences.”

Ricardo Patino with Julian Assange
Ricardo Patino appears with Assange at the window of the embassy. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters

Patino met the then foreign minister William Hague in June last year, after which the two governments agreed, according to a Foreign Office statement at the time, to“establish a working group to find a diplomatic solution to the issue of Julian Assange”.

But Patino said that “different interpretations of the decisions we had taken with William Hague” had led to the group never being established. Rather than being frustrated, the foreign minister said he was “disappointed that countries that [claim] to defend freedom, speak up for human rights, who have taken part in many wars and invasions alleging that the reason in freedom and human rights, in this case, when you are talking [about] the freedom of expression of one person, they do the opposite.” He would not have time to meet the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, on this trip, having come to meet Assange and his advisers.

Ecuador has said it may seek to prosecute the UK in the international court of justice, the United Nations court of arbitration between states, if Britain does not agree to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, something the foreign minister said was still being considered.

“There are international legal instruments which have the agreement of both Ecuador and the British government as well as the Swedish government which would allow the government of Ecuador to take legal action,” he said.

In his interview on Sunday, Assange spoke of missing his children, mother and grandmother, and said his stepfather and grandfather had died during his time in the embassy. “I said when I got out of prison [in 2010] I had enough anger to last me 100 years and 100 years has not passed yet, but that anger also acts as useful fuel to get work done,” he told the newspaper.

The Foreign Office said in a statement: “We remain as committed as ever to reaching a diplomatic solution to this situation. We are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden. As ever we look to Ecuador to help bring this difficult, and costly, residence to an end.”

WikiLeaks Threatens To Reveal Information That Glenn Greenwald Says Could Lead To ‘Deaths’

assange

The @WikiLeaks Twitter handle is widley considered to be run by founder Julian Assange.

“We will reveal the name of the censored country whose population is being mass recorded in 72 hours.” – WikiLeaks on Twitter

America’s National Security Agency (NSA) can “vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation” in the Bahamas and an unnamed country, the new publication The Intercept reported Monday, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Intercept Editor Glenn Greenwald — who wrote about documents leaked by Snowden when he was a columnist for The Guardian — said the publication didn’t reveal the country because it was “very convinced” that doing so would lead to “deaths.”nsa

This graphic shows the countries targeted in the program detailed by The Intercept.

After a heated discussion between WikiLeaks, Greenwald, Intercept Editor-In-Chief John Cook, and American WikiLeaks hacker-turned-Der Spiegal contributor Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks tweeted that it will reveal the name of the second country being spied on by the NSA.

That threat implies that WikiLeaks knows the other country — which would only be possible if the rogue publishing organization deduced it from the redaction or has access to the Snowden documents.

wikileakstweet

The most plausible way for WikiLeaks to have access to a Snowden cache is if Appelbaum, who led the reporting on several Der Spiegel articles based on NSA documents (which may or may not be from Snowden), shared information with his friend and WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange. Applebaum tweeted that The Intercept’s redaction was “a mistake.”

Appelbaum, a close friend of Laura Poitras, the other journalist whom Snowden gave a large set of documents, also gave a presentation detailing a classified document listing technology available to the NSA’s hacking unit, known as TAO. It is not known how he acquired those documents.

These coincidences do not imply that Appelbaum knows the unnamed country, or that he offered this information to Assange — there are other ways WikiLeaks may be able to obtain Snowden documents — but the close association between Appelbaum and the key players involved are significant if they lend credibility to WikiLeaks’ threat.

The threat’s potential for harm is real: Snowden’s closest source and the U.S. government believe that revealing the unnamed country “could lead to increased violence.”

Scary stuff. Journalist Jeremy Duns, who assumes that Assange is behind the WikiLeaks tweets, summed it up like this:

wikileakstweet1

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