by Ann Garrison
Since April 11, when British police forcibly removed Julian Assange from Ecuador’s London Embassy, there has been talk of renewing an investigation of rape allegations made against him in Sweden in 2010, even though the case was closed after all parties had been interviewed and Assange was never charged. As with most rape allegations, the only evidence is witness testimony, evaluated on the credibility and consistency of the witnesses, and the context. On the April 26 Unity4J
YouTube vigil for Julian Assange, Kiwi journalist and exile Suzie Dawson said that the context of the allegations against Assange included a Pentagon manhunt initiated well before the incidents in Sweden.
“At the Hackers on Planet Earth Conference in New York City, Jacob Appelbaum appeared in Julian Assange’s place on July the 7th, 2010, six weeks prior to the incidents in Sweden. The reason that Jacob Appelbaum appeared on Julian’s behalf is because the Pentagon had already issued a manhunt notice on Julian Assange. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were already searching for him.
“So the fact that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security were launching this manhunt for Julian Assange six weeks prior to the Swedish incidents completely reframes the context of the situation that Julian was in in 2010. And the idea that he was only wanted for any issue relating to Sweden is a complete fallacy. They were after him six weeks prior to the Swedish incidents.”
Here’s what Jacob Appelbaum said in his opening remarks at the 2010 Hackers on Planet Earth Conference:
“I want to make a little declaration for the federal agents that are standing in the back of the room and the ones that are standing in the front of the room and, to be very clear about this, I have on me, in my pocket, some money, the Bill of Rights, and a driver’s license and that’s it. I have no computer system. I have no telephone, I have no keys, no access to anything. There’s absolutely no reason that you should arrest me or bother me. And just in case you were wondering, I’m an American born and raised. I’m an American who’s very unhappy with the way things are going.”
Shortly thereafter, Appelbaum explained his motivation for working with WikiLeaks:
“I believe that we are complicit in crimes against humanity when we know about them and when we don’t stop them. I think that it is quite clear that every single person in this room has in some way contributed to the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan, and I wonder how you all feel about knowing that you were the ones, I am the one who has funded every bullet that has shot a child and every woman who has to come home to a family that has been decimated by troops, where there is no justice, where people don’t have recourse of any kind whatsoever, and where the standard operating procedure is for someone to take a 50-caliber machine gun, shoot across the engine block, and kill the driver.”
I believe that we are complicit in crimes against humanity when we know about them and when we don’t stop them.
He also said that WikiLeaks’s goal is justice and that it is fundamentally democratic.
“When you’re talking about how some information might be worth hiding and maybe there are sometimes some secrets that should be kept, remember what you’re saying is that someone else is more qualified to make a decision than you are. This is an extremely anti-democratic thought process, and you should reject it.”
At the end of Appelbaum’s speech, conference organizers played the full version of the Collateral Murder video of U.S. soldiers shooting Iraqi civilians from an Apache helicopter. Appelbaum, who lives in Berlin, did not return to the podium.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.