Monday, April 20, 2015

WikiLeaks: The Sony Archives

The following are WikiLeaks' tweets regarding The Sony Archives.


Middle East: 


Treaties, Agreements, and Deals:

Internet, Copyright, and Censorship:


Monday, April 6, 2015

Courage Foundation Reddit AMA

EDIT: Thanks for the questions, all. We're signing off now. Please support the Courage Foundation and its beneficiaries here: Edward Snowden defence fund: Bitcoin: 1snowqQP5VmZgU47i5AWwz9fsgHQg94F Jeremy Hammond defence fund: Bitcoin: 1JeremyESb2k6pQTpGKAfQrCuYcAAcwWqr Matt DeHart defence fund: Bitcoin: 1DEharT171Hgc8vQs1TJvEotVcHz7QLSQg Courage Foundation: Bitcoin: 1courAa6zrLRM43t8p98baSx6inPxhigc

We are Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison, Renata Avila and Andy Müller-Maguhn of the Courage Foundation which runs the official defense fund and websites for Edward Snowden, Jeremy Hammond and others.

We started with the Edward Snowden case where our founders extracted Edward Snowden from Hong Kong and found him asylum.

We promote courage that involves the liberation of knowledge. Our goal is to expand to thousands of cases using economies of scale.

We’re here to talk about the Courage Foundation, ready to answer anything, including on the recent spike in bitcoin donations to Edward Snowden’s defense fund since the Obama Administration’s latest Executive Order for sanctions against "hackers" and those who help them.

Julian is a founding Trustee of the Courage Foundation ( and the publisher of WikiLeaks (

Sarah Harrison, Acting Director of the Courage Foundation who led Edward Snowden out of Hong Kong and safe guarded him for four months in Moscow (

Renata Avila, Courage Advisory Board member, is an internet rights lawyer from Guatemala, who is also on the Creative Commons Board of Directors and a director of the Web Foundation's Web We Want.

Andy Müller-Maguhn, Courage Advisory Board member, is on board of the Wau Holland Foundation, previously the board of ICANN and is a co-founder of the CCC.


Q: What did you think of the Edward Snowden/John Oliver interview? Has that effort to make the mass surveillance talk colloquial and simple been lacking so far in the debate?

Assange: Great to see Oliver making it real -- though I felt great sympathy for Edward having to go through that. Public commentators are obsessed with influencing the public, but the reality is the US public isn't going to solve this. A powerful, invisible, intangible, complex, global system, with a scale only the deeply numerate can appreciate has been erected. Until we see the bulk release of individual's emails or SMS messages, the average person isn't going to believe its real. Until then, the pushback is going to come from technical organisations and other state's counter intelligence units.

Avila: My reaction is mixed: on one hand John Oliver made a point. Journalists have a hard task in connecting the issues with the daily lives of people. But on the other hand, Mr. Oliver showed a lack of knowledge on what public interest whistleblowing, internationally. The effort localize the debate for certain audiences in U.S., short term.

Q: If "the public" can't solve surveillance, then what is the point of publishing information about it? Did you read the recent "Hackers can't solve surveillance" thread on the Cypherpunks mailing list?
If we imagine both these are true, then who can solve surveillance? Doesn't believing we can't solve surveillance just promote inaction?

Assange: I have read HCSS. The public includes many people who are not "joe average". I don't believe the problem will be solved in any direct manner. But direct attacks can buy us a few more years. Indirect time-geometric attacks are more promising and may change the landscape at a rate faster than mass surveillance can adapt.

The purpose of mass surveillance is to make control possible through mass knowledge of the population, in time to formulate and activate control measures. But the time factors are rapidly changing as populations interact at speed. Essentially, the sigularity may eat mass surveillance by limiting prediction periods (hopefully not shortly before it grinds us up for atoms).

Q: On a related note, how do you feel about so many Americans thinking of Edward Snowden as the "WikiLeaks guy" when he had no affiliation with the organization whatsoever?

Assange: Oliver selected for the gag, but the press and the public memory are brutal in their complexity reduction. There isn't the conceptual space for two "leaking" avatars and WikiLeaks is already over-associated with that conceptual space. There's no significant figure in the "Mr. privacy" space other than Edward, so this seems like a good place for him to pitch his flag and less devisive anyway than the leaking space. 

Q: I recently donated to Courage through a PayPal account linked to my bank account. Am I on some sort of 'watch list' for supporting whistleblowing/activist organizations?

Assange: There's a variety of means (including bitcoin) through which you can donate to Courage. Mass surveillance combined with mass storage means everyone on the planet with a phone or internet connection is on the "watch list" now. Rather than a categorization problem, it's a ranking problem. 

Q: Question for all of you/whoever wants to answer: Many whistleblowers and anti-surveillance folks (ex.Snowden), even though they disagree with the extent of the policing that goes on by the state nowadays, still believe in "the system" ie. colonial capitalism and think that our governments just need to be more responsible with what secrets they keep, as secrecy is essential for "the system" to work the way it does.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with the idea of certain things being kept secret by governments, military & the like? Or should there be 100% transparency, which would probably result in a complete overhaul of everything because everyone would realize how fucked up it all really is? Also, regardless of differences in opinion, those of us who are in this fight need to be able to work together so do you have any tips for how to bridge these gaps that doesn't involve self-censorship?

Müller-Maguhn: Thank you for reminding us about the elephant in the room; the question of the system. From my observation, Whistleblowers have taken a rather long journey into it, as they have been part of the system and the process of personal dissociation takes time. While they bring the details, the question of the system stays often in the room for the moment.

While not everything was bad in capitalism and not all governments concepts are wrong, the security and surveillance discussion tends to cover the fact that from a human point of view, governments and borders and the view and language they create are not always part of the solution.

Essential is freedom of information and a human and technical infrastructure to question authority, also the very existence of institutions and mechanisms based on reasons thought to be reasonable decades ago. In this sense it is vital to support those who support the public discussion with facts and documents but also to ensure that we can discuss the implications openly.

In an ideal world, governments act in a transparent way for the people and balance the interests out that exist. In the real world, governments consists of individuals and groups that also have their own interests and human factors. Those in the intelligence agencies are most likely to misunderstand justified secrecy with the ability to act without accountability.

The whole wording of the "Cyber-Enabled Activities" is dangerously near to a potential limitation to freedom of information and communication. I don´t think the human race can afford limitations in this area.

Assange: Most whistleblowers concentrate on their issue and their own legal cases, which can absord a lot of time and attention as it's their life or liberty on the line. Some also want to stick to one issue or another inorder to not generate additional opposition or muddy their messages. It's hard to fault them on this--if only we could fault the rest of the population for such intellectual provincialism!

We shouldn't expect specialists to be wise generalists, in say the manner Chomsky has become. That said, many of them do take on a more geopolitical or systemic view after 10 years of so of exposure. Look for example at the development of Thomas Drake.

Particular government departments have the responsibility to keep some information secret for a limited period of time inorder to forfil their public mission, for example, the massive FBI investigation of legal violations at the NSA (ha). However the primary responsibility of international publishers of last resort (i.e WikiLeaks) is publish fearlessly and not to cover up for the incompetancies or malign behavior of other actors in international society. 

Q: What can the public do to help whistleblowers other than donate to their defense fund? Whistleblowers are being prosecuted at an alarming rate under recent governments, is there something that can be done to reverse this policy at the governmental level?

Assange: If you're a good system admin, programmer, writer or lawyer, you can volunteer (if you're serious and dedicated). Otherwise you can encourage others to donate and spread the word either in a systematic fashion or at moments of opportunity (push these issues to influential people). We are starting to get some traction at the UN and EU level, although the 5-eyes countries are a wasteland.

Q: How can a lawyer help? Serious question.

Avila: You can offer pro bono legal services, some hours a month, for instance. You can learn more about the regulations in your country and try to challenge those not protecting whistleblowers, you can analyse the current policies and publish about those. There are plenty of ways to help! 

Q: What is it about the Matthew DeHart case that makes him worthwhile of the Courage Foundation's support?

Assange: Matt DeHart has been the subject of significant abuse by the FBI, but the case is very important legally as it involves an interplay between asylum, crypto-extradition, deportation, anonymous, WikiLeaks, espionage and pariah charges. You can read more about Matt's case here: 

Q: Hi Mr Assange. Do you think that the work you have done will lead to a radical shift slowly in the government and society as we know it, or do you think the instruments of the government are enough to throttle any such efforts (based on your personal experiences)?

Assange: These are cascading effects with geometric amplifiers in both directions. It's hard to say, but at least we can say we fought and gave people a choice to know themselves and their civilization. 

Q: Hi, folks. What would you say to people like my parents, who believe that leakers and whistleblowers are dangerous traitors who are supporting "the enemy?"

Harrison: This propaganda happens a lot. What is very important here is to explain that throughout the whole of the Manning trial the US government was desperate to prove that some "harm" had come. In fact if could prove none. What did happen, is that the US troops began to withdraw from Iraq. What has happened since Snowden's revelations is that citizens around the world began to protect their communications. And still not one reported "harm". In fact we still get bombs by known person's of suspect. It is a matter of US interests the government is protecting, not US security.

Assange: "Nice knowing you."
You can work at them a little bit every day. There's no one argument you can use. They need a shift in world view. Frankly, they need to be politically educated and, with some exceptions, the older generation, having been deprived of the internet, exists in some provincial dark age. If they're smart they'll adapt and delight in learning. If they keep learning their perspective will change. 

Q: As an average American citizen, what specifically can I do to influence our government to stop the illegal breaches of individual privacy by the US government?

Assange: Nothing. There's nothing you can do. As soon as you do something you'll no-longer be average. Do that. Don't be average. There's a few really effecient organizations working in this area or projects that promise vast economies of scale. So small contributions can make a big difference. Support them financially, or with your skills. Other than the ones I'm involved in, there's a lot of promising crypto-projects starting. Some are here: 

Q: What's the easiest way to change the "I've got nothing to hide" mentality, and how can one best demonstrate the potential for abuse that mass surveillance has to the average person?
Thanks, and keep up the great work.

Assange: There is no killer answer yet. Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) has a clever response, asking people who say this to then hand him their phone unlocked and pull down their pants. My version of that is to say, "well, you're so boring then we shouldn't be talking to you, and neither should anyone else", but philosophically, the real answer is this:
Mass surveillance is a mass structural change. When society goes goes bad, its going to take you with it, even if you are the blandest person on earth.

Müller-Maguhn: As a suggestion: You might have nothing to hide, but certainly something to protect. And that is not only yourself, but also your family, friends and relationships next to your assets. It is natural to protect your privacy and vital relationships and so is encryption and operational security measures not a sign of paranoia but an indicator of sanity. On top, it would be pretty unwise to trust third parties to "protect you" through surveillance without seeing the threads, the methods create.
Security and Surveillance are not the same things. Mass Surveillance creates data that can be abused, and it will. So avoiding (unencrypted) data and surveillance are security measures. Think about "data out of context". 

Q: What happened to The World Tomorrow, That was exposure for me to some interesting characters and I found the discussion and perspective unusually thoughtful. Edit: Thank you for doing the work that you do!

Assange: I ended up in an embassy surrounded by a massive police siege, for almost the last three years:

Though, now you mention it, it does seem like a sexy context for a TV show, but it's painful trying to get gear in and out. 

Q: What do you think the long term affects of Snowden's actions will be? What do you think the rest of his life will be like?

Harrison: The long term effects of Snowden's actions remain to be seen. What I hope is that the public around the world will stand up for their rights and demand change, and their governments will listen to them. I think a lot rests with users understanding the threats and protecting themselves against them.
I think the rest of Edward's life will forever be complex, as it will for all that have stood up to the most powerful and speak the truth: Jeremy Hammond, Chelsea Manning, Barrett Brown, Julian Assange and many others. However, he has been granted asylum which offers immediate protection. I hope that in the future more countries stand up to protect him, and all those that have worked for the public's right to know.

Assange: As long as there is an NSA and it is a significant part of the US deep state, Edward is not going to be safe in the US or in the territories of its allies. 

Q: What legal protections would you recommend for intelligence whistleblowers?

Harrison: This is a complex question. The reality of the situation is that alleged journalistic sources like Snowden and Manning will rarely, if ever, be fully protected regardless of domestic laws. At the very least all cases of whistleblowing, publishing and journalistic sources should have the ability to have a public interest defence. I think the real solutions in such cases will always rely on international measures though. However, these will always also still rely on the reality of international politics - few countries have the balls to stand up to the US. 

Q: This question is for Sarah -- when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Harrison: Funnily enough, the first sentence of my first ever CV said "I want to find the untold truth and tell it to the world." Didn't quite predict this - but who could! 

Q: I have a question for Andy, hopefully not too distantly in the past for you - I know ICANN has advocated the adoption of IPv6, but the world has basically said an overwhelming "um, no thanks". Do you see any realistic fallback options other than an increasingly fragmented collection of CGN/LSN private subnets, or have we basically reached the point where we all need to either convert or give up on the idea of a globally-visible public internet except that controlled by a handful of IP-haves?

Müller-Maguhn: Thanks for the question, although it´s slightly off-topic. I think it´s fair to say that the centralisation of services in "social media" sites and the centralisation of it-services into the so called "cloud" is independ from your (correct) analysis of the IP resources dilemma. As we all know, there is no Cloud - just other people´s computers - and services who are made to market the users data are not exactly social by nature. What we need is more people creating decentral services - and there is still plenty of options to do so.

In the context of this discussion here it´s propably important to emphasize the observation that the united states governments relationship to "freedom of information" seems to have become an issue. It was once an undisputed goal, today it is reason for the US president to declare a "national emergency". 

Q: I'm from Pakistan. Recently, there have been cases which proved that our govt.'s been tapping phone calls and using them for political purposes. Now, my question is, how do u think we (ppl of an under-developed country, who are still struggling to find solutions of drought and malaria etc) can raise awareness for the whistleblowers and privacy cause on the level of our country?

Avila: Coming from a similar country, I will say that those are precisely the countries where advocates for the right to truth and access to information in hands of the powerful are crucial. You need to directly connect it as follows: the less the people know about their governments, the more opaque they are, the more they colude with corporations and divert their actions and increase the problems distracting funds to their pockets. 

Q: How has Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning's whistleblowing affected other potential whistleblowers? Do you get a sense that they are emboldened by their efforts, or more apprehensive after seeing the response to it?

Assange: Edward Snowden has said that he was inspired by Chelsea Manning. The US government wanted to publically destroy Manning, in a grotesque way, as a warning. They did not succeed but I realised we can do even better! This is part of the reason why we put a lot of resources and risk into getting Edward Snowden asylum. He is now mostly free, living a forfilling life of respect, an inspirational symbol for whistleblowers world wide and not a general deterrant suffering in a US prison unable to defend himself or promote his cause in public.

Here's what I wrote about Manning as his trial started. These words are still true:
As I type these lines, on June 3, 2013, Private First Class Bradley Edward Manning is being tried in a sequestered room at Fort Meade, Maryland, for the alleged crime of telling the truth. The court martial of the most prominent political prisoner in modern US history has now, finally, begun.

It has been three years. Bradley Manning, then 22 years old, was arrested in Baghdad on May 26, 2010. He was shipped to Kuwait, placed into a cage, and kept in the sweltering heat of Camp Arifjan.

"For me, I stopped keeping track," he told the court last November. "I didn’t know whether night was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became these cages... I remember thinking I’m going to die."

After protests from his lawyers, Bradley Manning was then transferred to a brig at a US Marine Corps Base in Quantico, VA, where - infamously - he was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of his captors - a formal finding by the UN. Isolated in a tiny cell for twenty-three out of twenty-four hours a day, he was deprived of his glasses, sleep, blankets and clothes, and prevented from exercising. All of this - it has been determined by a military judge - "punished" him before he had even stood trial.
"Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched, I believe, in our nation’s history, as a disgraceful moment in time" said his lawyer, David Coombs. "Not only was it stupid and counterproductive, it was criminal."

The United States was, in theory, a nation of laws. But it is no longer a nation of laws for Bradley Manning.
When the abuse of Bradley Manning became a scandal reaching all the way to the President of the United States and Hillary Clinton’s spokesman resigned to register his dissent over Mr. Manning’s treatment, an attempt was made to make the problem less visible. Bradley Manning was transferred to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

He has waited in prison for three years for a trial - 986 days longer than the legal maximum - because for three years the prosecution has dragged its feet and obstructed the court, denied the defense access to evidence and abused official secrecy. This is simply illegal - all defendants are constitutionally entitled to a speedy trial - but the transgression has been acknowledged and then overlooked.

Against all of this, it would be tempting to look on the eventual commencement of his trial as a mercy. But that is hard to do.

We no longer need to comprehend the "Kafkaesque" through the lens of fiction or allegory. It has left the pages and lives among us, stalking our best and brightest. It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a "show trial". Those invested in what is called the "US military justice system" feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is. No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success.

Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder. In Bradley Manning’s court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the ’victim’ is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm.
But of course. Did you forget whose show it is?

The government has prepared for a good show. The trial is to proceed for twelve straight weeks: a fully choreographed extravaganza, with a 141-strong cast of prosecution witnesses. The defense was denied permission to call all but a handful of witnesses. Three weeks ago, in closed session, the court actually held a rehearsal. Even experts on military law have called this unprecedented.

Bradley Manning’s conviction is already written into the script. The commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces, Barack Obama, spoiled the plot for all of us when he pronounced Bradley Manning guilty two years ago. "He broke the law," President Obama stated, when asked on camera at a fundraiser about his position on Mr. Manning. In a civilized society, such a prejudicial statement alone would have resulted in a mistrial.

To convict Bradley Manning, it will be necessary for the US government to conceal crucial parts of his trial. Key portions of the trial are to be conducted in secrecy: 24 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony in closed session, permitting the judge to claim that secret evidence justifies her decision. But closed justice is no justice at all.

What cannot be shrouded in secrecy will be hidden through obfuscation. The remote situation of the courtroom, the arbitrary and discretionary restrictions on access for journalists, and the deliberate complexity and scale of the case are all designed to drive fact-hungry reporters into the arms of official military PR men, who mill around the Fort Meade press room like over-eager sales assistants. The management of Bradley Manning’s case will not stop at the limits of the courtroom. It has already been revealed that the Pentagon is closely monitoring press coverage and social media discussions on the case.

This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.

The alleged act in respect of which Bradley Manning is charged is an act of great conscience - the single most important disclosure of subjugated history, ever. There is not a political system anywhere on the earth that has not seen light as a result. In court, in February, Bradley Manning said that he wanted to expose injustice, and to provoke worldwide debate and reform. Bradley Manning is accused of being a whistleblower, a good man, who cared for others and who followed higher orders. Bradley Manning is effectively accused of conspiracy to commit journalism.

But this is not the language the prosecution uses. The most serious charge against Bradley Manning is that he "aided the enemy" - a capital offence that should require the greatest gravity, but here the US government laughs at the world, to breathe life into a phantom. The government argues that Bradley Manning communicated with a media organisation, WikiLeaks, who communicated to the public. It also argues that al-Qaeda (who else) is a member of the public. Hence, it argues that Bradley Manning communicated "indirectly" with al-Qaeda, a formally declared US "enemy", and therefore that Bradley Manning communicated with "the enemy".

But what about "aiding" in that most serious charge, "aiding the enemy"? Don’t forget that this is a show trial. The court has banned any evidence of intent. The court has banned any evidence of the outcome, the lack of harm, the lack of any victim. It has ruled that the government doesn’t need to show that any "aiding" occurred and the prosecution doesn’t claim it did. The judge has stated that it is enough for the prosecution to show that al-Qaeda, like the rest of the world, reads WikiLeaks.

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people," wrote John Adams, "who have a right and a desire to know.”

When communicating with the press is "aiding the enemy" it is the "general knowledge among the people" itself which has become criminal. Just as Bradley Manning is condemned, so too is that spirit of liberty in which America was founded.

In the end it is not Bradley Manning who is on trial. His trial ended long ago. The defendent now, and for the next 12 weeks, is the United States. A runaway military, whose misdeeds have been laid bare, and a secretive government at war with the public. They sit in the docks. We are called to serve as jurists. We must not turn away.

Harrison: Obama and the US government generally have tried to offer each truthteller as an deterrent. Manning was sentenced to 35 years, Hammond to 10 years, Brown to 5 years, WikiLeaks secret Grand Jury is ongoing in its 5th year. Yet, their deterrent method is clearly failing. Snowden came forward.
I was always very aware, and driven whilst we worked to get Snowden asylum to the fact that this could be another potential example, counter to that of the US government. Granted Snowden isnt as protected globally as he should be, but he is not in prison.
I look forward to when the next truthteller comes forward. Courage is building the safetynets for when they do.

Avila: My perception is that their acts of courage are not only encouraging others to scrutinise their government secrecy, inspiring others to reveal information in the public interest but also highlighting the importance and urgency of an international frame to protect whistleblowers. 

Q: Renata: How do you perceive Internet rights awareness in latinamerica?

Avila: It varies. Latin America is not as uniform as many picture it. In South America, in the Southern cone, especially in Chile, Argentina, to some extend Uruguay and the main cities of Brazil there is a broad understanding of the issues, and a very progressive approach: remember that Chile was the first country with a Net Neutrality law, that Brazil passed the Internet Bill of Rights, Uruguay is a model country in matters of access... But other countries, especially the Caribbean, Central America are still catching up, dealing with more urgent issues. What is really valuable is the network. All organisations working in internet rights support each other, they are limited in resources but big in solidarity, with a broad network of young volunteers and activists. That makes it inspiring. With small victories from now and then and constructive conversations going on all the time. 

Q: Of course, that Southern cone seems to be a land of contradictions. You've got heads of state who've been direct victims of Security apparatus, and the police states that existed, but now that they're the ones in charge, they have had to get a little dirty to maintain their power.

At least, this is the impression that I get; particularly of the government in Argentina.

Avila: But in the case of Argentina, a strong civil society with deep knowledge of privacy and free software, to counterbalance and react when a bad policy is enacted. Not the same case everywhere. 

Q: Julian, why 'dump' data and files without releasing the full extent of the repercussions, unlike say Snowden, whom handed his files over to journalists to make that decision?

Harrison: To be clear, Julian Assange is a publisher - he is the editor if chief of the award winning media organisation WikiLeaks. The comparison you are attempting to make is between WikiLeaks and The Intercept. WikiLeaks has an ethic of publishing full archives. We believe our historical archive belongs in the public domain. We publish without conferring to seek permission with governments about redactions. We have published millions of classified and suppressed documents, many of which originate from the US government, and yet not even they can give one single actual example of harm done.

WikiLeaks specialises in strategic global publishing. For example in publishing Cablegate originally WikiLeaks worked for months with over 100 media from all over the world, causing many concrete reactions globally. We eventually published the full archive, with its own dedicated search engine: which is added to with all available US diplomatic cables, making it the largest online publicly accessible database of US history in the world. 

Q: Obviously, the optimal end-goal of this is to free whistleblowers through legal representation.
However, other than that, what sorts of less tangible goals would you wish to get out of these campaigns -- in terms of justice systems, whistleblower support, public awareness, and otherwise?

Avila: Courage Foundation is also an organisation advocating for legal reforms through the world. We believe that whistleblowers are human rights defenders and, as such, they should be protected instead of criminalised.

Assange: When cases are high profile they are always political. All the legal cases we are fighting are also political cases so influencing the politics is vital. There is no justice in the "justice" system, but you can bring justice to it. At the international level we're having some success. Only last week the UN created a special Rapporteur for Privacy. 

Q: Julian, I cant help but feel that your public persona and troubles have interfered with the wikileaks mission. What has been the impact of your public image and portrayal by the media on wikileaks?

Assange: There are always counter attacks. If your attack is on a powergroup's reputation, you can expect to receive similar treatment. I've learned the hardway how to handle these attacks and we built up a network of people to deal with it, part of which has now been absorbed by Courage, part of which is represented by its large advisory board. We deployed it with good effect with Edward Snowden, but also WikiLeaks broader support network, especially Glenn Greenwald and Ben Wizner, who had seen the PR attacks on me and Manning, knew what to do when the attacks on Edward Snowen (and Glenn himself) started. Edward himself is also no slouch and learned quickly. Our network was "surprised" in 2010, but not by 2013. 

Q: Policy question here: Going forward, how can the NSA do it's job, while maintaining secrecy, not violating constitutional rights AND gaining the trust of the American people and its allies?
Signals intelligence saved countless allied lives in World War II, and it is probably even more important today. It seems like we can't just shut the NSA down, but I'm not sure how we run it either.

Assange: It's important to understand what the NSA's actual "job" is. The NSA is a piratical organization, that specializes in stealing information from accross the world and selling it to its "customers", in exchange for money and political support. That's it. 

Q: Is there really no legal recourse to fight the 10 year sentencing of Jeremy Hammond?

Harrison: Very sadly (and unjustly) there is no legal recourse for his conviction. However, we are working to ensure his situation is monitored, preventing further retaliation and seeking accountability for the retaliation (including solitary confinement) that he's endured. You can read more about Jeremy's case at our site: ( -

Jeremy Hammond is a member of the hacktivist network Anonymous and a gifted computer programmer whose case has attracted the attention of activists, civil libertarians and those concerned about the rights of whistleblowers. He is currently spending a decade in prison for allegedly disclosing information about the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), revealing that they had been spying on human rights defenders at the behest of corporations and governments. WikiLeaks published these files in partnership with 29 media organisations worldwide as the Global Intelligence Files.

After being threatened with 40 years to life in prison for his brave actions and suffering numerous injustices at the hands of the legal system, Jeremy accepted a non-cooperating plea deal to one count of violating the arcane and draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Despite lodging nearly 265 letters of support calling for leniency, Jeremy was sentenced to the maximum allowed under his plea agreement and is currently serving his ten-year sentence at a medium-security federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky. 

Q: My questions

Sarah: What do you think of Snowden on a personal level?

Julian: What was it like in the Ecuadorian Embassy? You have been there for a long time.

Both Of You: How did it feel being in the international spotlight for so long?

Thank you both

Harrison: Snowden clearly did a brave and heroic action for the public's right to know about the mass surveillance against them. He is very patriotic and it saddens me he is not properly celebrated in his homeland. I talk about Snowden and that time in a long interview I did in, of all places - Vogue! its a bit embarrassing in its vogue-ness, but if you read down though it has a lot of the details - "Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport is, like so many international airports, a sprawling and bland place. It has six terminals, four Burger Kings, a sweep of shops selling duty-free caviar, and a rivering flow of anonymous travelers—all of them headed out or headed in or, in any event, never planning to stay long. But for nearly six weeks in the summer of 2013, the airport also housed two fugitives: Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who had just off-loaded an explosive trove of top-secret U.S. government documents to journalists, and a 31-year-old British woman named Sarah Harrison, described as a legal researcher who worked for the online organization WikiLeaks.

It was a tableau sprung from a spy novel—a turncoat intelligence contractor on the lam with an enigmatic blonde by his side. Snowden had based himself in Hong Kong for several weeks as his disclosures about government surveillance ripped across the global media. When the U.S. charged him under the Espionage Act on June 14, an extradition order was sent to Hong Kong. But it came too late: Before anybody made a move to capture him, Edward Snowden—led by Sarah Harrison—had quietly boarded a flight to Moscow and basically vanished." (

We also talk about it in a documentary - Snowden's Great Escape.

With regards to Julian, I found something when I was in the airport, just for one month, that when I stepped out it physically hurt my eyes to see further than one wall infront of me. And that was just for one month. I can not even imagine what it feels like for Julian, and will feel like when he is free, after so long. He has been in the small Ecuadorian embassy in London, a legal asylee, for 1022 days now. 

Q: Mr. Assange and the rest of you guys: In your experience, how do you think most non-americans view Edward Snowden?

I kinda feel that around 50 percent of Americans hate him (because they see him as a traitor) while the other 50 percent and the rest of the world see him as a hero. Does that assumption seem reasonable?

Avila: Actually, even if not general among all population, I can say with confidence that he has a very supportive and active network around the World. He is a global symbol. In some countries, he is seen very positively, like Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Spain, Germany. I am not aware of the exact numbers, the perception of US citizens. 

Q: Collateral Murder is still by far the Wikileaks release that has had the most impact on me. Seeing this type of thing so clearly with little to no repercussions by those committing the act still is a bit haunting. All the way from the smallest police force to the largest military this seems to be common place.

Do you think we will ever end up with a society that is able to hold those in power responsible for their obvious crimes? 

Avila: Where I come from, in Guatemala, it took almost 35 years to prosecute and sentence the police forces involved in the disappearances of University students. But justice was achieved. With the help of the documents found on a secret archive. That is why Wikileaks function as an archive becomes so important for memory and accountability. For the right to truth. 

Q: So, Julian, you ever gonna face those rape charges? 

Avila: Clarifying: There are no rape charges. According to the legal Swedish system, a person can be extradited just to answer questions about a case. Read this to understand better his case 

Q: Obviously there has been a lot of ridiculous attacks on Wikileaks (the search warrant on Google data , the secret Wikileaks U.S. Grand Jury), but I was wondering what your respective experiences have been like in terms of personal privacy in relations to your careers. Have there been any major changes that you have had to make to protect your personal privacy as well as the privacy of those close to you?

Thank you so much for your work and bravery! (Side note for Andy and Julian; I actually have Cypherpunks next to me right now lol)

Avila: I started using encryption (really hard to use back then) in 2006 when I started working as human rights lawyer for Rigoberta Menchu in Guatemala. We also encrypted our central server and our hard drives were dumb terminals. I did it because we were fearing a raid of the human rights office and because we were filing cases against powerful members of the military. When communications moved from desktops to mobiles, the threat model changed and all lawyers involved became less careful, unaware of the risks of mobile communications. 

Q: Do you four have any advice for young people who want to go into your field of work? If so, what?

Avila: On my field, there is not enough public interest lawyers willing to challenge the powerful and help without fear those who are courageous enough to make sacrifices to expose the corrupt. You do not need to start dedicating fully to that, but organizations like Courage Foundation can benefit a lot from your knowledge and spare time. Volunteer legal advice, research, analysis of policies can make a huge difference for individual cases and for policy reform. 

Q: How do you (all) see the evolution of people's perception of their governments after the Edward Snowden leaks?

Avila: There is an interesting effect in countries outside the five eyes. In countries like Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, the revelations were key to increase awareness among citizens. They are now fighting successfully against laws expanding surveillance or promoting laws to protect citizens privacy. Also, politicians, somehow, opened the eyes to the threat it represents to their sovereign power. 

Q: have you seen the John Oliver Edward Snowden interview yet ?

Avila: I watched it. More than a challenge to Edward Snowden, John Oliver was challenging journalists and media reporting about it. He made a point: they need to connect "surveillance" to matters ordinary people care about. 

Q: In Ecuador, do you enjoy the finest cigars and coffee? 

Avila: Actually the hidden secret of Ecuador is its Cacao Cigars and Coffee are great, but its chocolate is extraordinary. 

Assange: I've been writing and warning people about the NSA since the 1990s, so it's no surprise to me that people don't understand scale and complexity when state power is also pushing against the story. The surprise is that people, for a moment, took notice as a result of the very public and dramatic manhunt against Edward Snowden.

Here's what I wrote in 2012:

Excerpted from Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, by Julian Assange with Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jérémie Zimmermann. OR Books, New York, 2012, 186 pages, Paper. Buy online. Cryptome review of the book.

Pages 1-7.


This book is not a manifesto. There is not time for that. This book is a warning.

The world is not sliding, but galloping into a new transnational dystopia. This development has not been properly recognized outside of national security circles. It has been hidden by secrecy, complexity and scale. The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.

These transformations have come about silently, because those who know what is going on work in the global surveillance industry and have no incentives to speak out. Left to its own trajectory, within a few years, global civilization will be a postmodern surveillance dystopia, from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible. In fact, we may already be there.

While many writers have considered what the internet means for global civilization, they are wrong. They are wrong because they do not have the sense of perspective that direct experience brings. They are wrong because they have never met the enemy.

No description of the world survives first contact with the enemy.

We have met the enemy.

Over the last six years WikiLeaks has had conflicts with nearly every powerful state. We know the new surveillance state from an insider's perspective, because we have plumbed its secrets. We know it from a combatant's perspective, because we have had to protect our people, our finances and our sources from it. We know it from a global perspective, because we have people, assets and information in nearly every country. We know it from the perspective of time, because we have been fighting this phenomenon for years and have seen it double and spread, again and again. It is an invasive parasite, growing fat off societies that merge with the internet. It is rolling over the planet, infecting all states and peoples before it. [..]

Does it even make sense to ask this question? In this otherworldly space, this seemingly platonic realm of ideas and information flow, could there be a notion of coercive force? A force that could modify historical records, tap phones, separate people, transform complexity into rubble, and erect walls, like an occupying army?

The platonic nature of the internet, ideas and information flows, is debased by its physical origins. Its foundations are fiber optic cable lines stretching across the ocean floors, satellites spinning above our heads, computer servers housed in buildings in cities from New York to Nairobi. Like the soldier who slew Archimedes with a mere sword, so too could an armed militia take control of the peak development of Western civilization, our platonic realm.

The new world of the internet, abstracted from the old world of brute atoms, longed for independence. But states and their friends moved to control our new world -- by controlling its physical underpinnings. The state, like an army around an oil well, or a customs agent extracting bribes at the border, would soon learn to leverage its control of physical space to gain control over our platonic realm. It would prevent the independence we had dreamed of, and then, squatting on fiber optic lines and around satellite ground stations, it would go on to mass intercept the information flow of our new world -- its very essence even as every human, economic, and political relationship embraced it. The state would leech into the veins and arteries of our new societies, gobbling up every relationship expressed or communicated, every web page read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then store this knowledge, billions of interceptions a day, undreamed of power, in vast top secret warehouses, forever. It would go on to mine and mine again this treasure, the collective private intellectual output of humanity, with ever more sophisticated search and pattern finding algorithms, enriching the treasure and maximizing the power imbalance between interceptors and the world of interceptees. And then the state would reflect what it had learned back into the physical world, to start wars, to target drones, to manipulate UN committees and trade deals, and to do favors for its vast connected network of industries, insiders and cronies.

But we discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in.

The universe believes in encryption.

It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.

We saw we could use this strange property to create the laws of a new world. To abstract away our new platonic realm from its base underpinnings of satellites, undersea cables and their controllers. To fortify our space behind a cryptographic veil. To create new lands barred to those who control physical reality, because to follow us into them would require infinite resources.

And in this manner to declare independence.

Scientists in the Manhattan Project discovered that the universe permitted the construction of a nuclear bomb. This was not an obvious conclusion. Perhaps nuclear weapons were not within the laws of physics. However, the universe believes in atomic bombs and nuclear reactors. They are a phenomenon the universe blesses, like salt, sea or stars.

Similarly, the universe, our physical universe, has that property that makes it possible for an individual or a group of individuals to reliably, automatically, even without knowing, encipher something, so that all the resources and all the political will of the strongest superpower on earth may not decipher it. And the paths of encipherment between people can mesh together to create regions free from the coercive force of the outer state. Free from mass interception. Free from state control.

In this way, people can oppose their will to that of a fully mobilized superpower and win. Encryption is an embodiment of the laws of physics, and it does not listen to the bluster of states, even transnational surveillance dystopias.

It isn't obvious that the world had to work this way. But somehow the universe smiles on encryption.

Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action. While nuclear weapons states can exert unlimited violence over even millions of individuals, strong cryptography means that a state, even by exercising unlimited violence, cannot violate the intent of individuals to keep secrets from them.

Strong cryptography can resist an unlimited application of violence. No amount of coercive force will ever solve a math problem.

But could we take this strange fact about the world and build it up to be a basic emancipatory building block for the independence of mankind in the platonic realm of the internet? And as societies merged with the internet could that liberty then be reflected back into physical reality to redefine the state?

Recall that states are the systems which determine where and how coercive force is consistently applied.

The question of how much coercive force can seep into the platonic realm of the internet from the physical world is answered by cryptography and the cypherpunks' ideals.

As states merge with the internet and the future of our civilization becomes the future of the internet, we must redefine force relations.

If we do not, the universality of the internet will merge global humanity into one giant grid of mass surveillance and mass control.

We must raise an alarm. This book is a watchman's shout in the night.

On March 20, 2012, while under house arrest in the United Kingdom awaiting extradition, I met with three friends and fellow watchmen on the principle that perhaps in unison our voices can wake up the town. We must communicate what we have learned while there is still a chance for you, the reader, to understand and act on what is happening.

It is time to take up the arms of our new world, to fight for ourselves and for those we love.

Our task is to secure self-determination where we can, to hold back the coming dystopia where we cannot, and if all else fails, to accelerate its self-destruction.

-- Julian Assange, London, October 2012 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Transcript: Julian Assange gives "Thought for the Day" on BBC Radio 4 Today programme (2 Jan 2014)

Transcribed from:

"All men by nature desire to know." Aristotle, when he wrote this, was saying that the thing that makes human beings different from other creatures, the thing that defines us, is the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge. This is not just to say that we human beings are curious creatures; it is to say that our ability to think about and to act on the world around us is bound up with our ability to know it. To be alive as a human being is to know in the same way as it is to have a heart that beats.

We all understand this in mundane ways. We understand, for instance, that part of being a fully independent adult, making choices about life, is learning about the world around us and informing our choices with that learning.

In the Book of Proverbs it says, "By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." But there is something more to all of this. The very next saying in Proverbs is, "The wise are mightier than the strong." This is the earliest occurrence known to me of the now well-known idea: knowledge is power. To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage.

So it follows that the powerful, if they want to keep their power, will try to know as much about us as they can and they will try to make sure that we know as little about them as is possible. I see this inside everywhere: both in religious writings, which promised emancipation from political repression, and in the revolutionary works promising liberation from the repressive dogmas of the church and the state.

The powerful throughout history have understood this. The invention of the printing press was opposed by the old powers of Europe because it spelled the end of their control of knowledge and therefore the end of their tenure as power brokers. The Protestant Reformation was not just a religious movement, but a political struggle: the fight to liberate hoarded knowledge through translation and dissemination. Through the confessional system, the Catholic Church spied upon the lives of its congregants, while Latin mass excluded most people who could not speak Latin from an understanding of the very system of thought that bound them.

Knowledge has always flowed upwards to bishops and kings, not downward to serfs and slaves. The principle remains the same in the present era. Documents disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that governments dare to aspire—through their intelligence agencies—to a God-like knowledge about each and every one of us. But at the same time they hide their actions behind official secrecy. As our governments and corporations know more and more about us, we know less and less about them. The policy, as always, is to channel the decisive information upwards, never downwards.

Today remember that it is good to seek to empower the powerless through knowledge and to drag the machinations of the powerful into the daylight. We must be unapologetic about that most basic of humanities: the desire to know.

The powerful would do well to remember the words of one of history's great activists as recorded in the Book of Matthew: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed at last from rooftop to rooftop."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Transcript: 30C3: Sysadmins of the World, Unite! with Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, and Sarah Harrison (29 Dec 2013)

Transcribed from:

Sarah Harrison: Thank you. Good evening. My name is Sarah Harrison, as you all appear to know. I'm a journalist working for WikiLeaks. This year I was part, as Jacob just said, of the WikiLeaks team that saved Snowden from a life in prison. This act and my job has meant that our legal advice is that I do not return to my home, the United Kingdom, due to the ongoing terrorism investigation there in relation to the movement of Edward Snowden documents. The UK Government has chosen to define disclosing classified documents with an intent to influence government behavior as terrorism. I'm therefore currently remaining in Germany.

But it's not just myself personally that has legal issues at WikiLeaks. For a fourth Christmas, our editor Julian Assange continues to be detained without charge in the UK. He's been granted formal political asylum by Ecuador due to the threat from the United States. But in breach of international law, the UK continues to refuse to allow him his legal right to take up this asylum.

In November of this year, a US Government official confirmed that the enormous grand jury investigation, which commenced in 2010, into WikiLeaks, its staff, and specifically Julian Assange, continues. This was then confirmed by the spokesperson of the prosecutor's office in Virginia.

The Icelandic Parliament held an inquiry earlier this year, where it found that the FBI had secretly and unlawfully sent nine agents to Iceland to conduct an investigation into WikiLeaks there. Further secret interrogations took place in Denmark and Washington. The informant they were speaking with has been charged with fraud and convicted on other charges in Iceland.

In the Icelandic Supreme Court, we won a substantial victory over the extralegal US financial blockade that was erected against us in 2010 by VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, and other US financial giants. Subsequently, MasterCard pulled out of the blockade. We've since filed a $77 million legal case against VISA for the damages. We filed a suit against VISA in Denmark as well. And in response to questions about how PayPal's owner can start a free press outlet whilst blocking another media organisation, he's announced that the PayPal blockade of WikiLeaks has ended.

We filed criminal cases in Sweden and Germany in relation to the unlawful intelligence activity against us there, including at the CCC in 2009.

Together with the Center for Constitutional Rights we filed a suit against the US military against the unprecedented secrecy applied to Chelsea Manning's trial.

Yet through these attacks we've continued our publishing work. In April of this year, we launched the Public Library of US Diplomacy, the largest and most comprehensible searchable database of US diplomatic cables in the world. This coincided with our release of 1.7 million US cables from the Kissinger period. We launched our third Spy Files, 239 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors exposing their technology, methods, and contracts. We completed releasing the Global Intelligence Files, over five million emails from US intelligence firm Stratfor, the revelations from which included documenting their spying on activists around the globe. We published the primary negotiating positions for fourteen countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new international legal regime that would control 40% of the world's GDP.

As well as getting Snowden asylum, we set up Mr Snowden's defence fund, part of a broader endeavor, the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund, which aims to protect and fund sources in trouble. This will be an important fund for future sources, especially when we look at the US crackdown on whistleblowers like Snowden and alleged WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced this year to 35 years in prison, and another alleged WikiLeaks source Jeremy Hammond, who was sentenced to ten years in prison this November.

These men, Snowden, Manning, and Hammond, are prime examples of a politicized youth who have grown up with a free internet and want to keep it that way. It is this class of people that we are here to discuss this evening, the powers they and we all have, and can have, and the good that we can do with it.

I am joined here tonight for this discussion by two men I admire hugely: WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and Jacob Appelbaum, both who have had a long history in defending our right to knowledge, despite political and legal pressure.

(Julian Assange appears via video link)

So Julian, seeing as I haven't seen you for quite awhile, what's been happening in this field this year, what's your strategic view about it, this fight for freedom of knowledge: are we winning or are we losing?

Julian Assange: I have an 18-page speech on the strategic vision, but I think I've got about five minutes, right?

Sarah Harrison: At the most.

Julian Assange: No, less? Okay. First off, it's very interesting to see the CCC has grown by 30% over the last year. And we can see the CCC as a very important type of institution which does have analogues. The CCC is a paradox in that it has the vibrancy of a young movement, but also now has been going nearly 30 years since its founding in 1981 by Wau Holland...

(Assange video link goes out)

Sarah Harrison: Great point, great point.

Jacob Appelbaum: Blame the NSA? It's the new 'blame Canada'.

Sarah Harrison: Is it here or the embassy they're spying on the most?

(clapping, pause)

Such a good talk, isn't it guys?

Jacob Appelbaum: I wish Bruce Willis (Assange's Skype name) would pick up the phone.

Sarah Harrison: Should we move over while we're waiting to you, Jake. As I was saying, I think it's quite interesting, it does seem to be a trend that there are these young technical people. We look at Manning, Snowden, Hammond... often sysadmins. Why are they playing such an important role in this fight for freedom of information?

Jacob Appelbaum: I think there are a couple important points. The first important point is to understand that all of us have agency, but some of us actually have literally more agency than others in the sense that you have access to systems that give you access to information that helps to found knowledge that you have in your own head.

So someone like Manning or someone like Snowden who has access to these documents in the course of their work, they will simply have a better understanding of what is actually happening. They have access to the primary source documents as part of their job. This, I think, fundamentally is a really critical, I would say a formative thing.

When you start to read these original source documents you start to understand the way that organisations actually think internally. I mean, this is one of the things that Julian Assange has said quite a lot, it's that when you read the internal documents of an organisation, that's how they really think about a thing. This is different than a press release. And people who have grown up on the internet, and they're essentially natives on the internet, and that's all of us, I think, for the most part. It's definitely me. That essentially forms a way of thinking about organisations where the official thing they say is not interesting. You know that there's an agenda behind that and you don't necessarily know what that true agenda is.

And so people who grow up in this and see these documents, they realise the agency that they have. They understand it, they see that power, and they want to do something about it. In some cases, some people do it in small starts and fits. So there are lots of sources for lots of newspapers that are inside of defense organisations or really, really large companies, and they share this information. But in the case of Chelsea Manning, in the case of Snowden, they went big. And I presume that this is because of the scale of the wrongdoing that they say, in addition to the amount of agency that was provided by their access and their understanding of the actual information that they were able to have in their possession.

Sarah Harrison: And do you think that it's something to do with being technical; they have a potential ability to find a way to do this safer than other people, perhaps?

Jacob Appelbaum: I mean, it's clearly the case that this helps. There's no question that understanding how to use those computer systems and being able to navigate them, that that is going to be a helpful skill.

But I think what it really is is that these are people who grew up in an era, and I myself am one of these people, where we grew up in an era where we are overloaded by information but we still are able to absorb a great deal of it. And we really are constantly going through this.

And if we look to the past, we see that it's not just technical people, it's actually people who have an analytical mind. So, for example, Daniel Ellsberg, who's famous for the 'Ellsberg Paradox'. He was of course a very seriously embedded person in the US military—he was in the RAND corporation, he worked with McNamara—and during the Vietnam War he had access to huge amounts of information. And it was the ability to analyse this information and to understand... in this case how the US Government during the Vietnam War was lying to the entire world. And it was the magnitude of those lies combined with the ability to prove that they were lies that I believe, combined with his analytical skill... It was clear what the action might be, but it wasn't clear what the outcome would be. And with Ellsberg, the outcome was a very positive one. In fact it's the most positive outcome for any whistleblower so far that I know of in the history of the United States and maybe even in the world.

What we see right now with Snowden and what we've now seen with Chelsea Manning is unfortunately a very different outcome, at least for Manning. So this is also a hugely important point which is that Ellsberg did this in the context of resistance against the Vietnam War. And when Ellsberg did this, there were huge support networks, there were gigantic things that split across all political spectrums of society. And so it is the analytical framework that we find ourselves with still, but additionally with the internet. And so every single person here that works as a sysadmin, could you raise your hand?

Right. You represent, and I'm sorry to steal Julian's thunder, but he was using Skype and well... We all know Skype has interception and man-in-the-middle problems, so I'm going to take advantage of that fact. You see, it's not just the NSA.

Everyone that raised their hand, you should raise your hand again. If you work at a company where you think that they might be involved in something that is a little bit scary, keep your hand up.

Right. So here's the deal: everybody else in the room lacks the information that you probably have access to. And if you were to make a moral judgment, if you were to make an ethical consideration about these things, it would be the case that as a political class you would be able to inform all of the political classes in this room, all of the other people in this room, in a way that only you have the agency to do. And those that benefit from you never doing that are the other people that have that. Those people are also members of other classes as well.

And so the question is, if you were to unite as a political class, and we are to unite with you in that political class, we can see that there's a contextual way to view this through a historical lens, essentially. Which is to say when the industrialized workers of the world decided that race and gender were not lines that we should split on, but instead we should look at workers and owners, then we started to see real change in the way that workers were treated and in the way the world itself was organizing labor. And this was a hugely important change during the industrial revolution. And we are going through a very similar time now with regard to information politics and with regard to the value of information in the information age.

(Assange video link comes back up)

Jacob Appelbaum: Fantastic, Bruce Willis.

(Assange video link goes out again)

Jesus Christ, Julian, use Jitsi already.

Sarah Harrison: And so, we've identified the potential people that you're talking about and you've spoken about how it's good for the to unite. What are the next steps? How do they come forth? How do they share this information?

Jacob Appelbaum: Well, let's consider a couple of things. First is that Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning; Daniel Ellsberg, still Daniel Ellsberg; Edward Snowden, living in exile in Russia unfortunately.

Sarah Harrison: Still Edward Snowden.

Jacob Appelbaum: Still Edward Snowden, hopefully. These are people who have taken great actions where they did not even set out to sacrifice themselves. But once when I met Daniel Ellsberg he said, 'Wouldn't you go to prison for the rest of your life to end this war?' This is something he asked to me, and he asked it quite seriously. And it's very incredible to be able to ask a hypothetical question of someone that wasn't a hypothetical question. What he was trying to say is that right now you can make a choice in which you actually have a huge impact, should you choose to take on that risk.

But the point is not to set out to martyr yourself. The point is to set out...

(Assange video link comes back up)

Are you going to stick around this time, Julian?

Julian Assange: I don't know, I'm waiting for the quantum hand of fate.

Jacob Appelbaum: The quantum hand that wants to strangle you?

Julian Assange: Yeah.

Jacob Appelbaum: Yeah. We were just discussing right now the previous context, that is Daniel Ellsberg, the Edward Snowdens, the Chelsea Mannings, how they have done an honorable, a good thing where they've shown a duty to a greater humanity, a thing that is more important than loyalty, for example, to a bureaucratic oath, but rather loyalty to universal principles.

So the next question is, how does that relate to the people that are here in the audience? How is it the case that people who have access to systems where they have said themselves they think the companies they work for are sort of questionable or doing dangerous things in the world? Where do we go from people who have done these things previously to these people in the audience?

Julian Assange: Well, I don't know how much ground you've covered, but I think it's important that we recognize what we are and what we have become. And that high tech workers are (inaudible) a class. In fact, very often (inaudible) a position to in fact prompt the leaders of society (inaudible) cease operating (inaudible, sound goes out completely)

(audience laughs)

Sarah Harrison: Should we just leave him like that and continue?

Julian Assange: Am I back?

Sarah Harrison: Yeah. You've got three minutes to say something. Make it good.

Julian Assange: Those high tech workers, we are a particular class and it's time that we recognized that we are a class and look back in history and understood that the great gains in human rights and education and so on that were gained through powerful industrial workers which formed the backbone of the economy of the 20th century, and that we have that same ability but even more so because of the greater interconnection that exists now economically and politically. Which is all underpinned by system administrators.

And we should understand that system administrators are not just those people who administer one UNIX system or another. They are the people who administer systems. And the system that exists globally now is created by the interconnection of many individual systems. And we are all, or many of us, are part of administering that system and have extraordinary power in a way that is really an order of magnitude different to the power industrial workers had in the 20th century. And we can see that in the cases of the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations, it is possible now for even single systems administrators to have a very significant change, or rather apply very significant constructive constraint to the behavior of these organizations. Not merely wrecking or disabling them, not merely going out on strikes to change policy, but rather shifting information from an information apartheid system which we're developing from those with extraordinary power and extraordinary information into the knowledge commons, where it can be used not only as a disciplining force, but it can be used to construct and understand the new world that we're entering into.

Now, Hayden, the former director of the CIA and NSA, is terrified of this. In "Cypherpunks" we called for this directly last year. But to give you an interesting quote from Hayden, possibly following up on those words of mine and others, "We need to recruit from Snowden's generation," says Hayden. "We need to recruit from this group because they have the skills that we require. So the challenge is how to recruit this talent while also protecting ourselves from the small fraction of the population that has this romantic attachment to absolute transparency at all costs." And that's us, right? So, what we need to do is spread that message and go into all those organisations. In fact, deal with them. I'm not saying, 'Don't join the CIA'. No, go and join the CIA. Go in there. Go into the ballpark and get the ball and bring it out, with the understanding, with the paranoia, that all those organizations will be infiltrated by this generation, by an ideology that is spread across the internet. And every young person is educated on the internet. There will be no person that has not been exposed to this ideology of transparency and understanding and wanting to keep the internet which we were born into free.

This is the last free generation. The coming together of the systems of governments, the new information apartheid, across the world, linking together in such that none of us will be able to escape it in just a decade. Our identities will be coupled to the information sharing such that none of us will be able to escape it. We are all becoming part of the state, whether we like it or not. So our only hope is to determine what sort of state it is that we are going to become part of. And we can do that by looking and being inspired by some of the actions that produced human rights and free education and so on by people recognizing that they were part of the state, recognizing their own power and taking concrete and robust action to make sure they lived in the sort of society they wanted to and not in a hell-hole dystopia.

Sarah Harrison: Thank you. So basically all those poor people Jake just made identify themselves, you have the power to change more systems than the one you're working on right now. And I think it's time to take some questions because we don't have long left.

Julian Assange: While we wait for the first question, I'd like to say, it looks like there's quite a lot of people there, but you should all know that due to the various sorts of proximity measures that are now employed by NSA, GCHQ, and Five Eyes Alliance, if you've come there with a telephone, or if you've been even in Hamburg with a telephone, you are all now coupled to us. You are coupled to this event. You are coupled to this speech in an irrevocable way. And that is now true for many people. So either we have to take command of the position that we have, understand the position we have, understand that we are the last free people, and the last people essentially with an ability to act in this situation. Or we are the group that will be crushed because of this association.

Question: So you were talking about the sysadmins here. What about those people who are not sysadmins? Not only joining CIA and those companies, what else can we do?

Sarah Harrison: Jake, do you want to have a go at that one?

Jacob Appelbaum: Sure. This is a question of agency.

(Assange video link goes out again)

Sarah Harrison: Good timing.

Jacob Appelbaum: It's a question in which one has to ask very simply, what is it that you feel like you can do? And many of the people in this audience I've had this discussion with them. For example, Edward Snowden did not save himself. I mean, he obviously had some ideas, but Sarah, for example, not as a system administrator, but as someone who was willing to risk her person. She helped, specifically for source protection, she took actions to protect him. So there are plenty of things that can be done.

To give you some ideas, Edward Snowden, still sitting in Russia now, there are things that can be done to help him even now. And there are things to show, that if we can succeed in saving Edward Snowden's life and to keep him free, that the next Edward Snowden will have that to look forward to. And if we look also to what has happened to Chelsea Manning, we see additionally that Snowden has clearly learned, just as Thomas Drake and Bill Binney set an example for every single person about what to do and what not to do.

It's not just about systems administrators, it's about all of us actually recognizing that positive contribution that each of us can make.

(Assange video link comes back up)

Question: Hi Julian, I'm wondering, do you believe that transparency alone is enough to inject some form of conscience into evil organizations, quote and quote "evil" organizations? And if not, what do you believe the next step after transparency is?

Julian Assange: It's not about injecting conscience, it's about providing two things: one, an effective deterrent to particular forms of behavior and two, finding that information which allows us to construct an order in the world around us, to educate ourselves in how the world works and therefore be able to manage the world that we are a part of. The restriction of information, the restriction of those bits of information, colors it. It gives off an economic signal that information is important when it's released, because otherwise why would you spend so much work in restricting it? So the people that know it best restrict it. We should take their measurements of that information as a guide and use that to pull it out where it can achieve some kind of reform.

That, in itself, is not enough. It creates an intellectual commons which is part of our mutual education. But we need to understand, say, if we look at the Occupy event, a very interesting political event, where revelations and perhaps destabilization led to a very large group wanting to do something. However, there was no organizational scaffold for these people to attach themselves to, no nucleus for these people to crystallize onto. And it is that problem, which is an endemic problem of the anarchist left, actually.

The CCC. Why are we having this right now? Because the CCC is an organized structure. It's a structure which has been able to grow to accommodate the 30% of extra people that have occurred this year. To shift and change and act like one of the better workers' universities that are around. So we have to form unions and networks and create programs and organizational structures. And those organizational structures can also be written in code. Bitcoin, for example, is an organizational structure that creates an intermediary between people, it sets up rules between people. It may end up as a quite totalitarian system one day, who knows, but at the moment it provides some kind of balancing.

So code and human structures do things. WikiLeaks was able to rescue Edward Snowden because we are an organized institution with collective experience.

Sarah Harrison: Okay, I think there's one question left that's coming from the internet.

Question: On IRC there was the question, what was the most difficult part on getting Snowden out of the US?

Jacob Appelbaum: That's quite a loaded question.

Julian Assange: Yeah, that's interesting to think whether we can actually answer that question at all. I'll give a variant of the answer because of the legal situation it is a little bit difficult.

As some of you may know, the UK Government has admitted to spending £6 million a year approximately surveilling this embassy in the police forces alone. So you can imagine the difficulty in communicating with various people in different countries in relation to his diplomatic asylum and into logistics in Hong Kong in a situation like that. And the only reason we were able to succeed is because of extemely dilligent...

(Assange video link goes out again)

Jacob Appelbaum: Perfectly timed.

Sarah Harrison: And we didn't use Skype.

Jacob Appelbaum: Do we have time for one more question? That was such a fantastic, perfect way that you didn't learn the answer to that question.

Announcer: Unfortunately that is all the time we have for this talk.

(end talk)