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Assange tried to use embassy as 'centre for spying', says Ecuador's Moreno (theguardian.com)
43 points by kudu 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 38 comments





So the big winner here really is the US.

They got Assange in a virtual prison for ~7 years at no cost to them (that cost was borne by the UK and the Metropolitan Police). You can't argue that being holed up in an embassy is that much better than prison.

What's more none of that ~7 years counts towards actual jail time he'll like serve in the UK (for absconding) and the US (the publicized charges are only the beginning). The one (?) remaining charge in Sweden will quickly fall apart no doubt.

Arguments that Assange deserve protection as a journalist are (IMHO) a stretch at best. Getting a hold of classified information is one thing. Aiding in defeating security measures to obtain it is quite another story.

But to me at least, the big problem is that Assange lost all credibility as a journalist over the Wikileaks handling of the 2016 election and related hackings (eg the DCC emails). You'll have a hard time arguing that Assange (and Wikileaks by extension) wasn't picking a side here and doing what they can to influence the outcome of the election.

A traditional media outlet with an op-ed section is one thing. Playing an active part in illegally obtaining emails and other materials as well as arguably passing on that information to a presidential campaign is quite something else.

Even Snowden filtered his classified material through reputable media outlets.

So now we have embassy (~7 years), fighting extradition to either the US or Sweden (2+ years probably), whatever prison time he has to serve in the UK (which will run concurrently to fighting extradition no doubt as it's typical to serve that time first) and then years, perhaps many years, in US prisons. He may not see the light of day until 2030, maybe 2040.


You can't argue that being holed up in an embassy is that much better than prison.

I’ve seen footage of where he was in the embassy, it’s a lot better than prison. He also didn’t have to be counted five times a day, no one was trying to rape him or stab him, he woke up and went to sleep when he wanted, ate an array of foods, and until the end had access to people who wanted to visit in person. No guards abused him, and if he wanted to he could leave. Plus, he made a choice to enter the embassy and stay there.

What's more none of that ~7 years counts towards actual jail time he'll like serve in the UK (for absconding) and the US (the publicized charges are only the beginning). The one (?) remaining charge in Sweden will quickly fall apart no doubt.

On what planet would time spent after jumping bail and seeking asylum in an embassy count toward time served? That’s... insane. As far as the charges falling apart we’ll have to wait and see, if they’re even filed. Of course if the charges were nonsense then 7 years in an embassy was a really stupid choice.

Arguments that Assange deserve protection as a journalist are (IMHO) a stretch at best. Getting a hold of classified information is one thing. Aiding in defeating security measures to obtain it is quite another story. But to me at least, the big problem is that Assange lost all credibility as a journalist over the Wikileaks handling of the 2016 election and related hackings (eg the DCC emails). You'll have a hard time arguing that Assange (and Wikileaks by extension) wasn't picking a side here and doing what they can to influence the outcome of the election. A traditional media outlet with an op-ed section is one thing. Playing an active part in illegally obtaining emails and other materials as well as arguably passing on that information to a presidential campaign is quite something else. Even Snowden filtered his classified material through reputable media outlets.

Yes, that all sounds about right. He’s also not being charged with what he carelessly published, but rather how he attempted to obtain it. Journalism isn’t even in the room.

So now we have embassy (~7 years), fighting extradition to either the US or Sweden (2+ years probably), whatever prison time he has to serve in the UK (which will run concurrently to fighting extradition no doubt as it's typical to serve that time first) and then years, perhaps many years, in US prisons. He may not see the light of day until 2030, maybe 2040.

The common factor here is his series of bad decisions.


"it’s a lot better than prison"

I think our definition of imprisonment is different. To me being confined within the limits of a single house suffices. No need for that... other stuff.

I'm don't think the court will count the times his body should have been violated as a factor.


> no one was trying to rape him or stab him ... no guards abused him

Raping, stabbing and abusing people is still illegal in prison, you know. It isn't supposed to be part of the process. Assange isn't a violent offender either, so it'd be a little unfortunate if he was imprisoned with people who are.

Nobody is saying that the time he spent in the embassy should or could count towards his eventual prison sentences, but the 7 years he has spent there looks a lot like a self-imposed prison sentence.

> He also didn’t have to be counted five times a day, ... he woke up and went to sleep when he wanted, ate an array of foods

Those are clearly luxuries vs being imprisoned, but if that is the margin between being imprisoned or not the distinction is really irrelevant.

> Plus, he made a choice to enter the embassy and stay there.

So instead of accepting a state-controlled imprisonment he chose a voluntary period of conditions quite similar to being imprisoned. That is compelling evidence that he was serious about fearing extradition to the US to face whatever horrors they have in store for him.

I mean, objectively, if he believed he was just going to face rape charges in Sweden none of his choices make much sense. I doubt he was going to face more than 7 years for an offense that caused no injuries and that the victims didn't think was outrageously terrible at the time it happened. If he ever claimed his accusers weren't being truthful, the only compelling evidence is that there are two of them.


>So instead of accepting a state-controlled imprisonment he chose a voluntary period of conditions quite similar to being imprisoned.

Yes, that's what anyone who has ever fled an arrest warrant has done. It also apparently worked, as he was able to outlast the Swedish warrant (though I understand that the charges are technically suspended, not dropped).

>That is compelling evidence that he was serious about fearing extradition to the US to face whatever horrors they have in store for him.

If he was serious about that then he probably should have been very careful about not irritating his hosts, which he seems to have done flagrantly and repeatedly.


Didn't he just publish documents obtained by others (albeit illegally)?

The allegation in the indictment claims otherwise, hence the indictment and extradition request. Then there’s the rape issue in Sweden, although I really have no idea how that will stand up if it’s reopened. Still, answering those questions f fact are why courts exist.

However, these allegations have come up before in Manning's trial, and they do not amount to much more than him trying (not succeeding) to help Manning cover her tracks, i.e., protecting his source as a journalist. He did NOT help Manning access more data. This article by Glenn Greenwald is a good read on the subject:

https://theintercept.com/2019/04/11/the-u-s-governments-indi...


> The one (?) remaining charge in Sweden will quickly fall apart no doubt.

There is a lot politics to decide this depending on american, UK and Swedish diplomacy. Everything which should not exist in a legal system.

> Aiding in defeating security measures to obtain it is quite another story.

Conspiring to assist in defeating a security measure. There are plenty of precedent of cases where a person has been charged with attempting to break a password, for both in UK and US, and the expected punishment for a person with no priors is a fine.

> Assange lost all credibility as a journalist over the Wikileaks handling of the 2016 election and related hackings (eg the DCC emails).

People can change when they receive death threats, talk about drone strikes by people in power, death penalty and secretly being throw into Guantanamo.

> Playing an active part in illegally obtaining emails and other materials

The current accusation of offering to help to break a password does not cover that. Getting leaked email sent to them is no different then getting leaked the audio log of someone being recorded without their knowledge.

> Even Snowden filtered his classified material through reputable media outlets.

"reputable media outlets" do not carry the same moral meaning as they once did. The Guardian journalist Claas Relotius is a prime example of reputable media doing less than reputable behavior, and the majority of news papers in the US is own by a handful individuals which endorsement has significant effect on the polls. A lot of media research acknowledge and sorts news paper by political bias. For source see https://cyber.harvard.edu/publications/2017/08/mediacloud


> But to me at least, the big problem is that Assange lost all credibility as a journalist over the Wikileaks handling of the 2016 election and related hackings (eg the DCC emails). You'll have a hard time arguing that Assange (and Wikileaks by extension) wasn't picking a side here and doing what they can to influence the outcome of the election.

How is this any different than most mainstream journalists?


No. Mainstream journalists never pick a side or intend to influence the outcome of the election. At least not pick the wrong side.

Of course they don't. [1] And no one ever tries to hide the fact such things happened, either. [2]

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/07/do...

[2] https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/clinton-received-debate-qu...


Please take your snopes trash elsewhere.

"If an organization like Snopes feels it is ok to hire partisan employees who have run for public office on behalf of a particular political party and employ them as fact checkers where they have a high likelihood of being asked to weigh in on material aligned with or contrary to their views, how can they reasonably be expected to act as neutral arbitrators of the truth?"

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/12/22/the-dai...


I think you misread me...I was trying to make my sarcasm obvious. Did you notice that the snopes article was directly contradicted by the washington post article?

I'm going to hold onto that link you sent. I've been wanting some good data on why snopes is unreliable. I've seen people rely on it far too readily.


>They got Assange in a virtual prison for ~7 years at no cost to them (that cost was borne by the UK and the Metropolitan Police). You can't argue that being holed up in an embassy is that much better than prison.

He was "holed up" by choice. He was free to leave any time. Of course that would have been arrested and sent to Sweden for prosecution, but choosing to run and hide from an arrest warrant isn't the same as prison.


Time served always means in jail as specified by the particular law enforcement agency and court laying and trying the charges. The embassy and Maralogo are the same to them if either is used to evade law enforcement and arrest.

> Aiding in defeating security measures to obtain it is quite another story.

How would this hold up if Manning asked for help on StackOverflow instead? It was literally just crunching a password hash and never succeeded.


> Aiding in defeating security measures to obtain it is quite another story.

It is, especially if that actually happened. Fortunately, that will be tested beyond reasonable doubt sometime soon in an open and transparent court.


Did wikileaks filter the manning video through very reputable media partners?

The case is difficult to prove. But facts won't stand in the way here either. The charge isn't defeating a security measures either.


> Assange lost all credibility as a journalist over the Wikileaks handling of the 2016 election

Unlike every other journalistic outlet in the world, not a single thing Wikileaks has put out has ever been proven false. He did not lose credibility. He lost favorability. Just because you don't like the information released does not affect its credibility.


> You'll have a hard time arguing that Assange (and Wikileaks by extension) wasn't picking a side here

He picked the side of truth. That is what it is all about. If Hillary hadn't been crooked, she would have had no problem with Assange.

But damm the truth, it was her turn!


> He accused Assange of repeatedly interfering in the internal affairs of other states, referencing WikiLeaks’ publication of Vatican documents in January 2019 as a recent example. “It is unfortunate that there are individuals dedicated to violating the privacy of people,” Moreno said.

Why even offer asylum then? This is literally what WikiLeaks does.


"Why even offer asylum then?"

The decision of offering asylum to such a controversial figure is clearly political, and Ecuador's president has changed since then...

From what I read, since his election the current one (Moreno) pretty much has been reversing the legislation passed during the government of the former one (Correa), which is a strong supporter of Assange.

https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-47902702

(in Spanish, note that in the article Correa says that one of the latest "leaks" involved people close to Moreno)


Wasn’t that guy Correa’s (prev prez) Vice President as well as anointed successor? Did they have a falling out of some sort?

It seems so :

"(Moreno) He was nominated as the candidate for Correa's PAIS Alliance, a center-left, democratic socialist[1] political party, in the 2017 presidential election and won a narrow victory in Ecuador's second round of voting on 2 April 2017.[2] However, after his election Moreno radically shifted his political stance, breaking with Correa's legacy and making radical changes to both internal and foreign policy.

...

Within months of winning the election, Moreno started moving away from his election platform,[18] thus igniting a feud with ex-president Rafael Correa.

Later that same year, through a referendum,[19] Moreno reversed several key pieces of legislation, passed by the Correa administration, that targeted wealthy individuals and banks, reversed a previous referendum allowing indefinite re-election, thereby blocking future electoral bids by Correa, and established the Consejo de Participación Ciudadana y Control Social [es] (CPCCS-T), which has supra-constitutional powers,[20] to "evaluate control authorities and judges", with the aim of removing what remains of Correa's influence."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len%C3%ADn_Moreno


I haven't looked further into the nature of what you've described, but if that's all factual then that's a pretty damning set of actions.

Contrasting the first paragraph of the "IMF $4.2b loan" article:

The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved a $4.2-billion, three-year loan for Ecuador, part of a broader aid package to help support the government's economic reform program.

With this from wikipedia:

Moreno reversed several key pieces of legislation, passed by the Correa administration, that targeted wealthy individuals and banks

absolutely screams US influence conspiracy.

People don't change their politics that extremely unless it's worth their while.


Makes for a good bargaining chip. Case in point: The timing on a recent IMF loan to Ecuador, over $4.2 billion [0], is really convenient.

[0] https://www.enca.com/business/imf-approves-42bn-loan-ecuador


When you lose your freedom and become a political pawn, you should act the part. You don't see Snowden shitting on Russia do you?


Yeah this was what after 5 years and not saying much other than Russia is corrupt. And if he keeps it up then he may be sent to the US at any point.

He has been critical of them the entire time[1], knowing the risks it entails. It's just not his focus as he has no influence in Russia.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/18/vladim...


Wow. That's brave.

Depending on your values. He clearly valued other things above personal safety.

Isolation is a very bad thing. Seven years is too much. Feeling wronged, with the USA after you, confined to a building for someone used to travelling the world... I can understand a behaviour that I strongly dislike, including all kind of shit suggested by the only people that supported him.

So I'm sorry for him and Snowden, but I wouldn't trust either of them in their current circumstances.


odd to add Snowden to that

Assange was in a building, Snowden is in the largest country on the planet


I get a sense that some think Snowden is hiding somewhere in Russia, under some form of house arrest.

My understanding is that he's pretty much free to move about the country.


He's tweeted as much. People do ask him about it and the response has always been he basically has no contact with the government anymore and lives a boring mundane life in a city somewhere. Make of that what you will.

As long as he doesn't speak ill of his hosts he'll probably be fairly safe for a while.


I mentioned two causes why Assange should be excused and should not be trusted: physical isolation and being supported only by people of a mind.

Snowden is... where is he located exactly? Being hidden is a kind of isolation too.

And he is totally dependent on Russia. That makes all he says suspicious, at least to me. That's sad. I think he made something good and I feel sympathy for him. But again...

Edit: if isolated people end up approaching the ones hurting them (Stockholm syndrome), imagine what happens with people that are supposedly helping them.




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