[El País, Spain]

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Libération, France

WikiLeaks: A War, But What Kind of War?


"This a war that sets nation states - all nation states - and multinationals - all multinationals - against a new opponent, for which there is, as yet, scarcely a name. However hard one looks, it is difficult to find a precedent. In the battle raging right now, the smoke still swirls around the infantry."


By Daniel Schneidermann


Translated By Emily Jane Tomlinson


December 13, 2010


France - Libération - Original Article (French)

A strange irony! Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, champion of transparency in diplomatic relations, leading opponent of the opacities imposed in the name of the "national interest," now finds himself under the icy spotlight of transparency. He is in prison in Great Britain, awaiting extradition to Sweden, where has been accused of sexual assault by two women.


[Editor's Note: Since this article was published, British authorities have released Assange on bail. Now he awaits a decision on whether to extradite him to Sweden. His next extradition hearing is set for January 11, 2011. Swedish authorities have yet to file charges against him.]


The exact nature of the sex crimes imputed to Assange and the prior history of his accusers, have been the subject of frenzied debate across the Web and international press. What exactly was entailed in the "rapes" for which the Swedish judiciary wishes to pursue him? Did he really refuse to put on a fresh condom when his partner asked him to do so - after the first one had split? Did he really make love to the second plaintiff whilst she slept? And if so, how many times? Is the Swedish concept of female "consent" to sexual activity really so different from the Latin one?


As indecent or trivial these questions may seem, they are all in the public interest. It is of primary importance to the worldwide rule of law that we know whether Assange is the victim of particular judicial ferocity on Sweden's part, or whether the procedure being followed is normal. Until such time as WikiLeaks (one day, perhaps) discloses evidence of possible diplomatic interventions, either with the Swedish government or judiciary, we will have to be content with the ordinary sources of information: police leaks, lawyers' boasts, and revelations by those "close" to the investigation.


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The background of one of Assange's accusers only underscores the need for total transparency. Anna Ardin, a young Swedish academic, is, it seems, close to members of the Cuban opposition in exile, and the official Cuban press has made scarcely veiled accusations of CIA manipulation. As it happens, she was the person who arranged Assange's visit to Sweden and invited him to stay at her home - with such well publicized consequences. If Assange fell into a trap laid for him by a Swedish Mata Hari, we should know about it.


The other front in the cyberwar, which has opened up this week, is equally interesting. The U.S. Department of State had barely expressed its fury at operation WikiLeaks, when a number of Assange's internet partners broke off all relations with him: Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and Amazon wanted nothing more to do with him. Paypal's vice president even naively confessed to complying with a letter the company had received from the State Department, before amending his comment a few hours later: the letter had not been sent to PayPal directly, but to WikiLeaks.


Certainly, each of these businesses had irreproachable reasons for their actions: Assange, believe it or not, had failed to provide them with his exact address. But it is essential to know whether the U.S. government - which has yet to find solid grounds for legal proceedings against WikiLeaks - did, in some way, attempt to hit the sacrilegious site financially, by putting pressure on its bankers.


That's not all. WikLeaks and its supporters fought back on two fronts. First, WikiLeaks itself hastily uploaded documents demonstrating that Visa and Mastercard have benefited from the support of the American Embassy in Moscow. Then, anti-WikiLeaks sites were attacked by hackers, which put them offline for several hours. In a counter-counterattack, under obscure circumstances, the hackers' Twitter account was deactivated by Twitter, before being reactivated once again.



If this isn't a war, it certainly looks like one. But what kind of war? This isn't a war setting world powers against one another. Putin, who came vocally to Assange's defense when the latter was imprisoned, will no doubt react differently when the site publishes Russian memos, which is bound to happen one day.




Guardian, U.K.: Ten Days in Sweden - The Full Allegations Against Assange

Le Monde, France: Le Monde Names Julian Assange Man of the Year

El Mundo, Spain: Julian Assange: The 21st Century 'Mick Jagger' of Data

Novaya Gazeta, Russia: An 'Assange' On Both Your Houses!

El País, Spain: Cables: Brazil Warned Chavez 'Not to Play' with U.S. 'Fire'

El Heraldo, Honduras: The Panic of 'America's Buffoon' Hugo Chavez

Jornal de Notícias, Portugal: If West Persecutes Assange, it Will What it Deserves

Correio da Manhã, Portugal: WikiLeaks: A 'Catastrophe' for Cyber-Dependent States

Romania Libera: WikiLeaks Undermines Radical Left; Confirms American Competence

Le Figaro, France: And the Winner of the Bout Over WikiLeaks is America

News, Switzerland: Assange the Latest Fall Guy for Crimes of World's Power Elite

Liberation, France: Who Rules? Hackers, the Press and Our Leaders - in that Order

Tal Cual, Venezuela: If Only WikiLeaks Would Expose President Chavez

Berliner Zeitung, Germany: Assault on Assange Betrays U.S. Founding Principles

El Universal, Mexico: WikiLeaks Revelations a Devastating Shock to Mexico

L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon: WikiLeaks Makes 'Mockery' of 'U.S. Colossus'

Jornal de Negócios, Portugal: More than We Wanted to Know. Or Maybe Not!

DNA, France: The WikiLeaks Disclosures: A Journalist's Ambivalence

Global Times, China: WikiLeaks Poses Greater Risk to West's 'Enemies'

FAZ, Germany: Ahmadinejad's Chief-of-Staff Calls WikiLeaks Cables 'Lies'

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Saudis Ask: Who Benefitted from WikiLeaks Disclosure?

Guardian, U.K.: Cables Portray Saudi Arabia as a Cash Machine for Terrorists

El País, Spain: Cables Expose Nuance of U.S. Displeasure with Spain Government

El País, Spain: Thanks to WikiLeaks' Disclosure, Classical Diplomacy is Dead

Guardian, U.K.: Saudi Arabia Urges U.S. Attack on Iran

Hurriyet, Turkey: Erdogan Needs 'Anger Management' Over U.S. Cables

Saudi Gazette, Saudi Arabia: WikiLeaks Reveals 'Feeling, Flawed' Human Beings

Frontier Post, Pakistan: WikiLeaks Reveals 'America's Dark Face' to the World

The Nation: WikiLeaks' Release: An Invaluable Exposure of American Hypocrisy

Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina: Without Hypocrisy, Global Ties Would Be Chaos

Kayhan, Iran: WikiLeaks Release a 'U.S. Plot to Sow Discord'

El Universal, Mexico: WikiLeaks and Mexico's Battle Against Drug Trafficking

Toronto Star, Canada: WikiLeaks Dump Reveals Seamy Side of Diplomacy

Guardian, U.K.: WikiLeaks Cables, Day 3: Summary of Today's Key Points

Guardian, U.K.: Leaked Cables Reveal China is 'Ready to Abandon' North Korea

Hurriyet, Turkey: American Cables Prove Turkish Claims on Missile Defense False

The Nation, Pakistan: WikiLeaks: An Invaluable Exposure of American Hypocrisy

Kayhan, Iran: WikiLeaks Revelations a 'U.S. Intelligence Operation': Ahmadinejad

Novosti, Russia: 'Russia Will be Guided by Actions, Not Leaked Secrets'

Guardian, U.K.: Job of Media is Not to Protect Powerful from Embarrassment


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Neither is it a war between opposing economic interests. WikLeaks isn't earning anything: it's not a for-profit enterprise. At most, newspapers that have participated in its campaign may hope for some increase in circulation, but they simply climbed on the bandwagon, and money isn't their primary motivation.


This is a war that sets nation states - all nation states - and multinationals - all multinationals - against a new opponent, for which there is, as yet, scarcely a name. Global citizens' opinion? The borderless republic of net-surfers? An ideal (transparency)? A technology (the Internet)? However hard one looks, it is difficult to find a precedent. In the battle raging right now, the smoke still swirls around the infantry.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US December 28, 2:36pm]


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