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Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

Julian Assange seeks to take extradition fight to supreme court

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks, World News on December 13, 2011 at 1:31 am


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WikiLeaks founder will ask permission to appeal against high court ruling that he must face sex crime charges in Sweden.

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder will ask permission to appeal against high court ruling that he must face sex crime charges in Sweden.

Julian Assange arrives to speak to Occupy protesters outside St Paul’s cathedral in London on October 15.
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is to apply for a supreme court hearing to appeal against extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
His solicitor, Gareth Peirce, confirmed he will ask senior judges in London on 5 December to certify that his case should be considered by the highest court in the land. He must establish that his case raises “a question of law of general public importance”.
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Assange, 40, lost a high court battle against removal on 2 November but has announced he wants to fight on against a European arrest warrant that has been outstanding since last December.
A supreme court hearing would be the third stage of the 40-year old Australian’s appeal against extradition to face allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion by two women he met on a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.


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Assange’s decision means a verdict on whether he should be extradited could be delayed until as late as next summer, legal observers said.

Continue reading ‘Julian Assange seeks to take extradition fight to supreme court,’ at Global Freedom Technology Firm.
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Assange: Facebook is an ‘appalling spy machine’

In Big Business, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on May 14, 2011 at 12:07 am


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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually tools for the U.S. intelligence community.

Speaking to Russian news site RT in an interview published yesterday, Assange was especially critical of the world’s top social network. He reportedly said that the information Facebook houses is a potential boon for the U.S. government if it tries to build up a dossier on users.

“Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented,” Assange said in the interview, which was videotaped and published on the site. “Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.”

If that’s the case, it might surprise some that WikiLeaks has its very own Facebook page. In fact, last year, when WikiLeaks released a controversial batch of confidential documents–putting Assange on the run–Facebook refused to shut down that page. The company said at the time that the page did not “violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies.”

Facebook’s response stood in stark contrast to the treatment of WikiLeaks by many other companies in the U.S. last year. Several firms, including PayPal, blocked the company’s accounts.

But Assange didn’t just stop at Facebook. He also told RT that in addition to the world’s largest social network, Google and Yahoo “have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence.”

“It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena,” he told RT. “They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use.”

Surprisingly, Assange didn’t mention Twitter, another major social network with which his organization has run into trouble.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sent a court order to Twitter, requesting the social network deliver information from accounts of activists that allegedly had ties to WikiLeaks. In March, the Justice Department was granted access to those accounts following a judge’s ruling in favor of the seizure. Last month, the Justice Department said that complaints over its desire to obtain Twitter information is “absurd,” and its actions are quite common in criminal investigations.

However, the Justice Department didn’t secure a search warrant for access to the information. Instead, it obtained a 2703(d) order, allowing investigators to secure online records that are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

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For U.S. intelligence, getting information from Facebook is much easier, Assange said in the interview. He reportedly told RT that the U.S. intelligence community’s use of “legal and political pressure” on Facebook is enough for it get what it wants.

“Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them,” Assange said, according to the RT interview.

For its part, Facebook disagrees with Assange’s sentiment. In a written statement to CNET, a Facebook spokesman said that it does only what’s legal–and nothing more.

“We don’t respond to pressure, we respond to compulsory legal process,” the spokesman told CNET. “There has never been a time we have been pressured to turn over data [and] we fight every time we believe the legal process is insufficient. The legal standards for compelling a company to turn over data are determined by the laws of the country, and we respect that standard.”


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DOJ defends WikiLeaks probe of Twitter accounts

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on April 10, 2011 at 3:33 am


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The U.S. Justice Department today dismissed as “absurd” any privacy and free speech concerns about its request for access to the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks volunteers.

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In a 32-page brief filed in federal court in Virginia, prosecutors characterized their request for a court order as a “routine compelled disclosure” that raises no constitutional issues.

These types of records “are widely subpoenaed by grand juries without raising ‘chilling effects,’ or occasioning constitutional litigation and delays,” prosecutors wrote. Any claim that Twitter’s logs “are subject to heightened protections under the First Amendment is baseless,” they say, adding that there is no “legitimate expectation of privacy” in Internet addresses provided to a third party.

Today’s brief follows an appeal that attorneys representing the WikiLeaks volunteers filed March 25. A hearing has been set for later this month in Arlington, Va., before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.

The attorneys’ appeal to O’Grady seeks to throw out a magistrate judge’s ruling on March 11 that granted prosecutors access to the accounts, including information about what Internet and e-mail addresses are associated with them. The government sought the court order as part of a grand jury probe that appears to be investigating whether WikiLeaks principals, including editor Julian Assange, violated American criminal laws.

The accounts at issue include Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic parliament who helped with WikiLeaks’ release of a classified U.S. military video; Seattle-based WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum; and Dutch hacker and XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp. The order also sought records relating to Assange and suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, who did not contest the request.

The Justice Department’s brief filed this afternoon, which asks O’Grady to “direct Twitter to fully and promptly comply,” also raises a series of other arguments including: criminal procedures instead of civil should apply; the order complied with the Stored Communications Act; and that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply.

In their own brief last month, attorneys for the Twitter account holders said prosecutors’ request violates federal law, “intrudes upon” their clients’ First Amendment right to freedom of association, and “threatens” their right to privacy. (PDF)

The court order approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan would require Twitter to divulge “all” direct messages, even ones unrelated to WikiLeaks, argue the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a host of private attorneys representing the Twitter account holders. It “has a chilling effect not only on the parties’ speech and association rights,” they say, “but on the rights of Twitter users in general.”

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This case came to light in January, when Twitter notified the subscribers that prosecutors had obtained a court order for their “account information.” That led Jónsdóttir, Appelbaum, and Gonggrijp to retain their own attorneys, who filed motions asking the judge to overturn her earlier decision.

The U.S. government began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Assange last July after the Web site began releasing what would become a deluge of confidential military and State Department files. In November, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the probe was “ongoing,” and a few weeks later an attorney for Assange said he had been told that a grand jury had been empaneled in Alexandria, Va.

Buchanan’s order isn’t a traditional subpoena or search warrant–in fact, if the Justice Department obtained a search warrant, the ACLU and EFF would likely drop the case. Rather, it’s what’s known as a 2703(d) order, which allows police to obtain certain records from a Web site or Internet provider if they are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” In this case, prosecutors are asking for logs and other information about the account but not “content” such as direct messages.

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Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20052249-281.html#ixzz1J4FOtUab


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Assange: “WikiLeaks is the intelligence agency of the people”

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, Wikileaks, World News on April 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

Image via Wikipedia

The WikiLeaks chief discusses radical journalism and WikiLeaks’s main threat in an exclusive New Statesman essay.

In an exclusive essay for the New Statesman, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, argues that WikiLeaks is a return to the days of the once popular radical press. He also discusses why the New York Times dislikes the whistle-blowing website, and reveals the biggest threat to WikiLeaks today.

“WikiLeaks is part of an honourable tradition that expands the scope of freedom by trying to lay ‘all the mysteries and secrets of government’ before the public,” writes Assange, who compares WikiLeaks to the pamphleteers of the English Civil War and the radical press of the early twentieth century. “We are, in a sense, a pure expression of what the media should be: an intelligence agency of the people, casting pearls before swine.”

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Assange argues that the New York Times‘s hostility to WikiLeaks stems from the newspaper’s illiberal tradition of failing to back organisations or figures which challenge established elites. He highlights the newspaper’s failure to support the American pacifist and anti-war campaigner Eugene Debs, who was imprisoned for ten years for making an anti-war speech in 1918.

“The New York Times, true to form, had been calling for [Debs’s] imprisonment for more than two decades, saying in an editorial of 9 July 1894 that Debs was ‘a lawbreaker at large, an enemy of the human race. There has been quite enough talk about warrants against him and about arresting him,'” writes Assange. “Seen within this historical perspective, the New York Times‘s performance in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, and its hostile attitude to WikiLeaks today, are not surprising.” WikiLeaks only agreed to work with the newspaper, among others, in its major leaks “for reasons of realpolitik”, according to Assange.

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WikiLeaks is able to succeed because, unlike many of its forebears, it does not rely on advertisers, he continues. “As well as the hostility of governments, popular grass-roots publishers have had to face the realities of advertising as a source of revenue. [T]he Daily Herald…was forced to close despite being among the 20 largest-circulation dailies in the world, because its largely working-class readers did not constitute a lucrative advertising market.”

WikiLeaks, however, has other problems, writes Assange: “How do we deal with an extrajudicial financial blockade by Bank of America, Visa (including Visa Europe, registered in London), MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, the Swiss PostFinance, Moneybookers and other finance companies, all keen to curry favour with Washington?”

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Julian Assange police investigator a friend of sex assault accuser

In Activism, Biography, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on March 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm


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Officer and Miss A met through political party and corresponded over internet months before WikiLeaks chief was accused

Julian Assange "Wikileaks"

Julian Assange‘s lawyers used the link between the police investigator and one of the sexual assault accusers to argue against his extradition to Sweden. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

The police investigator who first interviewed two Swedish women about allegations of rape and sexual assault against Julian Assange is a friend and political associate of one of the women, a Swedish newspaper has claimed.

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The female officer became friends with the woman referred to in court as Miss A through Sweden‘s Social Democratic party, in which both are involved, according to Expressen. The pair corresponded on the internet 16 months before the allegations were made against Assange.

Miss A commented on a Facebook update on the police officer‘s page as recently as 10 February, the paper said, and Miss A links to the officer’s private blog from her personal page.

The paper said the officer had made anti-Assange comments on the internet.

The WikiLeaks founder is appealing against a British magistrate’s decision last month to extradite him to Sweden to answer the accusations, which include an allegation of rape against another woman, Miss B. Miss A alleges Assange had sex with her without a condom, against her wishes. He has not been charged with any offence.

His legal team has argued that the Swedish judicial process is unfair and a number of those involved in the prosecution are politically motivated.

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According to Expressen, Miss A and the police interrogator had internet contact in April 2009, when Miss A wrote a blog about white men “who take the right to decide what is not abusive”. The officer commented that the author “puts her finger on the bottom line and speaks out”, to which Miss A replied: “Hello! Thanks for the compliment. And like you say, white men must always defend the right to use abusive words. Then they of course deny that these very words are part of a system that keeps their group at the top of the social ladder.”

The paper said that when another newspaper, Aftonbladet, hosted a recent webchat with Assange, the officer commented “What the heck is this! Judgment zero!” The previous day she had commented on the same page: “Way to go, Claes Borgstrom!” Borgstrom is the lawyer representing the women and a former SDP politician, who Assange’s team has argued is acting from political motives.

The paper says the officer had just started her shift at Klara police station in Stockholm on 20 August when Miss A and Miss B arrived to make a complaint against Assange. It says she did not declare a conflict of interest. The police say that the officer in question did not interview Miss A and she played no further part in the investigation. On the basis of the interrogations, duty prosecutor Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand ordered Assange’s arrest, a decision overturned by a more senior prosecutor. Borgstrom appealed against that decision and the case was reinstated by prosecutor Marianne Ny.Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, said they had been aware of the relationship, which had informed their arguments in court last month that the Swedish judicial process had been improper.

“There are a whole raft of issues like this which should cause reasonable people a bit of concern,” he said. “I’m delighted that the Swedes, who objected so strongly to our criticisms of the case, have started to acknowledge that there are systemic problems in their judicial process which allow this sort of thing to happen.”

Police superintendent Ulf Göranzon told Expressen he was not aware of any relationship between the two women, and would not comment on rumours.

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The Swedish prosecutor’s office also declined to comment, citing the ongoing extradition process in the UK.

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Bush cancels out of event where Assange was due to attend

In Wikileaks on February 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm


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Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

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Washington – Former president George W Bush abruptly cancelled a speaking engagement planned for Saturday after learning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had also been invited to attend.
Bush spokesman David Sherer on Friday said ‘the former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.’
Bush had six months ago accepted the invitation to speak at the Young President’s Organization Global Leadership Summit in Denver, a gathering of young chief executives.
Assange was also apparently invited, though he is being held in London pending extradition to Sweden to face charges for sexual offences.
Many US politicians and the government officials have condemned WikiLeaks and its founder Assange for releasing thousands of private US diplomatic cables and Pentagon documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Global police moves against ‘hacktivists’

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Society, World News on February 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

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An online “hacktivist” group that brought down the websites of perceived opponents of WikiLeaks has itself become the target of an international police crackdown.

The London Metropolitan Police arrested five men in connection with a recent spate of attacks by Anonymous, behind last month’s revenge assault on the websites of a number of organisations that had severed links with WikiLeaks.

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it executed “more than 40” search warrants on Thursday to gather evidence likely to lead to arrests.

The FBI said it was working on the case along with the UK, “authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and France”. Spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said no US arrests had been made by late afternoon on Thursday. “Evidence is being gathered and the investigation is ongoing”, she said. “These things do take time”.

The Met’s e-Crime unit said five men aged between 15 and 26 were being held following a swoop on residential addresses in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London on Thursday morning in the UK in relation to offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The maximum penalty under the UK act is 10 years imprisonment and a £5,000 fine. The FBI said those convicted in the US also could face 10-year sentences.

Anonymous, a disparate group of online activists that has previously carried out campaigns against the Church of Scientology and the record industry, claimed last month’s attacks on companies including MasterCard and PayPal were a response to attempts to hinder WikiLeaks’ freedom of speech campaign.

The internet activists used a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, overloading the targeted websites by bombarding them with requests. “Facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal”, the FBI said. “The victims included major US companies across several industries”.

An FBI spokeswoman told the FT that the US warrants were under seal. Since the attack software distributed by Anonymous members does not disguise the internet addresses of those participating in the electronic assaults, former law enforcement officers have predicted that traffic logs from the companies affected would lead to internet service providers – the likely recipients of at least some of Thursday’s search warrants – and then in short order to the attackers themselves.

In response to the UK arrests, Anonymous issued an open letter to the government via Twitter, the messaging site, explaining that it saw DDoS attacks as the modern digital equivalent of a sit-in demonstration, rather than a criminal action.

“Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents infrastructure to get our message across,” the letter said. “It is clear then, that arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown.”

The letter accused the arrests of being “politically motivated, and were being carried out under pressure from the US government”, adding that the potential punishments were disproportionate.

Activity in Anonymous chat rooms has been subdued recently. Activists have been fretting about a rumoured international “swoop” by the authorities since mid-December. Dutch police arrested two teenagers last month in connection with the DDoS attacks.

“Most of us have been laying low for a good while now. People were getting arrested and our VPN [virtual private network] got taken down by the feds [police],” one Anon told the FT on Wednesday.

He said that recent arrests had exposed a weakness in the group’s shroud of anonymity. “They logged our IRC [internet relay chat] servers … stupid people. So the feds know about every one of us.”

One of the Dutch people arrested has been released but the other remains in “deep trouble”, the Anon said.

French police launched an investigation in the immediate aftermath of the cyberattack by Anonymous. In December they detained a 15-year-old on suspicion of participating in the hacking, holding her for several hours of questioning, according to a report on the website of Le Parisien newspaper. The girl was later released, but an inquiry is underway to determine her exact involvement, the paper says.

The WikiLeaks website and its controversial founder, Julian Assange, are immersed in a political storm following the leak highly sensitive US government cables.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Twitter had been asked to hand over documents to the US government including internet addresses and phone numbers of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks supporters in multiple countries.

Many lawyers say the US government faces stiff obstacles in its bid to build a case for the extradition of Mr Assange. The Pentagon describes as “premature” reports that the US government had failed to establish a link between Mr Assange and Bradley Manning, a former US intelligence official, facing charges of leaking classified information.

But establishing conspiracy charges against the two, or prosecuting Mr Assange on other grounds, could prove especially demanding.

Meanwhile, Mr Assange will appear in court next month to decide whether he should be extradited to Sweden in connection with alleged sex crimes.

Undeterred by the furore surrounding WikiLeaks, the group’s former spokesman this week launched his own whistleblowing website. Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s OpenLeaks website bills itself as “a non-profit community and service provider for whistleblowers and organisations, media, and individuals who engage in promoting transparency. It makes leaking at a local, grassroot level possible and allows for certain scalability.”

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New York Times and Guardian Editors Will Support Assange if Prosecuted

In Activism, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on February 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Julian ASSANGE arrested . Wikileaks

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New York Times & Guardian Editors Will Support Assange if Prosecuted

The New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger say they will stand with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if prosecution is brought against him.

At a Thursday night panel, hosted by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on the future of WikiLeaks and its effects on journalism, Jack Goldsmith, a prominent Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general, said there is an “enormous amount of political pressure” to bring charges against Assange by the U.S. Department of Justice. At first, Goldsmith expressed the difficulty of extraditing Assange to the U.S. He then noted the many legal hurdles the department faces because, in the legal sense, Assange would be characterized as a journalist and defended as such.

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“My sense is there is a lot of political pressure from the top, certainly from Capitol Hill,” Goldsmith said.

But despite the department’s long restraint when it comes to going after journalists and issues involving the First Amendment, he concluded that some kind of prosecution will be brought about. “But I also don’t think it will be successful,” he said.

Emily Bell, the moderator and director of the Tow Center at the journalism school, then turned to the Times andGuardian editors, both of whom worked with Assange and WikiLeaks on the Iraq War documents and the leak of U.S. State Department cables, and posed a question about the possibility of Assange’s prosecution.

Though the Guardian‘s relationship with Assange has soured somewhat, Rusbridger — almost without hesitation — said if Assange was brought to court, he would be “completely side-by-side with him in terms of defending him with respect to what he’s done.” He said Assange deserves the same protections given to journalists when it comes to publication of secret government documents.

Keller was initially a bit more reserved in his response. “I think the Times‘ lawyers would prefer I not declare what I’d do in a court of law,” he said. “It’s very hard to conceive of a prosecution of Julian Assange that wouldn’t stretch the law in a way that would be applicable to us.”

“Whatever anyone thinks of Julian Assange, certainly American journalists, and other journalists, should feel a sense of alarm at any legal action that tends to punish Assange for doing essentially what journalists do. That is to say, any use of the law to criminalize the publication of secrets,” Keller said. “I think we do stand alongside him.”

Both of the editors also discussed the possibility of building their own WikiLeaks-like platform that would enable readers to upload large amounts of data anonymously. Keller said the Times is still considering it, but there are a lot of challenges and difficulty in vetting such material. Meanwhile, Rusbridger said they are having similar conversations at their paper about how to make it work.

“We haven’t decided whether we would ahead with our own WikiLeaks, but technically it’s not that difficult,” Keller said.


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Wikileaks deserves protection, not threats and attacks

In Activism, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on February 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm

“There is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, says Julian Assange, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.”

-Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Julian Assange


 

 

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