Kato Kaelin No Longer Worst Houseguest Ever
May 15, 2018 3:58 PM   Subscribe

For the past few years, Julian Assange has been a guest of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after former president Rafael Correa offered him political asylum. That said, little was known about the lengths that Ecuador would go to in order to protect Assange, or how he repaid that.

Until now.

The Guardian and Focus Ecuador have released details on Operation Hotel, the operation by Ecuadorian Intelligence to support Assange and monitor him.

The reporting illustrates a program out of control in several key ways - from spending on an apartment in one of London's top neighborhoods used to conduct spying operations on the embassy (and which the ambassador did not find out about until recieving a tax bill for it from the UK), to Assange's compromising embassy communications, to the outright cost of it all. Part of what is driving these revelations is the recent change in government in Ecuador, and with that a significant reduction in willingness to deal with Assange and the various issues he has brought with him.
posted by NoxAeternum (95 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
If Assange loses his asylum, I won’t shed a single tear. Not for the least of reasons being that he through Chelsea under the bus. Though a bigger reason is because he’s a rapist.
posted by SansPoint at 4:04 PM on May 15 [63 favorites]


I appreciate the fact that The Guardian says right up front that the reason he needed asylum in the first place is that he was supposed to be extradited to Sweden for a rape trial. This is a man whom multiple women have accused of rape. He's not hiding from the government because he's The Man Who Knew Too Much, he's hiding from the government because he's a goddamn rapist.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:08 PM on May 15 [105 favorites]


There are some hilarious details in here though, such as:

Ecuador’s then ambassador to the UK, Juan Falconí Puig, forwarded a complaint to Senain after a bill arrived for unpaid council tax from Kensington and Chelsea. The tax was payable on the agents’ clandestine flat in Basil Mansions. Falconí had no idea it existed.

Sending another country a property tax bill for their secret spy base is a pretty amusing way of fucking with them, I have to say.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:18 PM on May 15 [78 favorites]


Initially, he slept in narrow room next to the balcony. He subsequently colonised a back room as a bedroom and occupied half the kitchen.

i c wut u did thar

Man, remember when Assange was dashing? I do. That silver hair and all -- the daring, the globetrotting -- he had fangirls, there was fic on Tumblr. Now he is revealed as what he is, at bottom: a complete load. A shut-in who thinks the world owes him a living, and somehow always manages to get it, too, because he can convince people he's a genius.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:30 PM on May 15 [16 favorites]


does this moron actually believe in anything? or was it all just an adolescent power play, pretending he was the good guy and feeding his own ego? i just can't believe he or his org ever had defensible intentions given that he ran to trump and the russians at the first opportunity.
posted by wibari at 4:33 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I appreciate the fact that The Guardian says right up front that the reason he needed asylum in the first place is that he was supposed to be extradited to Sweden for a rape trial.

Remember when he had everyone around here conned into dogpiling anyone who mentioned that? Good times. I hope everyone has become a little more discerning since.
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on May 15 [74 favorites]


I think the next step will be Ecuador evicting him, but giving him enough notice to be quietly transferred to the Russian Embassy. Where he will stay for the rest of his life. Or 2024, whichever comes first.
posted by happyroach at 4:35 PM on May 15


I think the next step will be Ecuador evicting him, but giving him enough notice to be quietly transferred to the Russian Embassy.

A few years ago, there was a tweet consisting of a Google Maps screenshot with the route from the Ecuadorian embassy to the Russian embassy (which was maybe 15 minutes' walk), captioned “Run, Julian, Run!”

From what I understand, once he's outside of diplomatic property, the British authorities absolutely have the power to arrest him, even if he's in a diplomatic vehicle. There is no legal doctrine that would allow Ecuador or Russia to transport him between embassies through Britain's sovereign territory. And sneaking him across would also be problematic: even if there aren't Metropolitan Police guarding the embassy entrance 24 hours a day, there are CCTV cameras everywhere. His departure would be noticed and enough police scrambled to head him off.

Theoretically, Russia could get its hackers to take down the CCTV network/cause a distraction (turn all traffic lights green? spam all phones with incoming missile warnings? show the Pee Tape on a loop on all advertising video screens in Westminster?) in the hope that he couid make a clean getaway through the chaos, but that's getting into movie-plot territory. Still, stranger things have happened...
posted by acb at 4:44 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Not for the least of reasons being that he through Chelsea under the bus.

Gosh but it took a bit of work to parse this sentence. He went through Chelsea on a bus? Doesn't seem so bad. He threw Chelsea under a bus? Well who cares they're racist wankers anyway, but how? Finally got it.
posted by biffa at 4:51 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]


I think a best-of-all-worlds scenario is a chopper comes out of nowhere at 2am, picks him up in a rope ladder off the roof where he dangles precariously until it can dash him over to the Russian embassy for a quick drop onto a big airbag, but then the scrambled RAF jets show up and force it down and it's a monstrous clusterfuck of diplomatic absurdities.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:52 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Something, something, I'm a scorpion. It's what I do.
posted by Splunge at 4:55 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Best case scenario is Human Cannonball.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:56 PM on May 15 [30 favorites]


Aw, c'mon, I don't want blood pudding; he's spent enough time as the guest of the Government of Ecuador, the Government of Sweden would like to put him up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:01 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Remember when he had everyone around here conned into dogpiling anyone who mentioned that?

I don't remember dogpiles, but I do remember a lot of skepticism about whether it was some kind of setup, with the accusations being encouraged by the US government in order to make trouble for Assange. It's still possible, I suppose; normally I would dismiss something like that out of hand but it's a fact that this guy has seriously irritated the US intelligence community, and something like that is definitely not beyond the pale for them.

On balance though I think it's plenty likely enough that he's a rapist that I'd be more than willing to let Sweden have a trial about it. Sweden isn't exactly an American vassal state, and I'd trust their criminal justice system over ours any day. Hiding in an embassy for years to avoid that trial is not a good look.

Of course, as The Guardian points out, Sweden dropped its investigation in 2017 so its kind of a moot point now. At this point, it's about his skipping bail.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:02 PM on May 15 [23 favorites]


Man, remember when Assange was dashing?

He hasn't done anything positive since positing "Rubberhose Cryptography".
posted by mikelieman at 5:07 PM on May 15


If he's arrested in London, after he has done his time here, he'll be deported to Australia. There, assuming that the US want him, chances are there'll be a FBI light plane waiting on the tarmac and he won't even pass through Australian immigration. Australia's pretty good at extraditing people to the US.

What would happen to him in the US is another question. I don't imagine that Trump would pardon him out of gratitude for the election, though if they have a use for him, he may be diverted from the supermax cell for that. (I imagine a scene in which Assange is invited as guest of honour to watch the execution by firing squad of another hacker/leaker (a newly recaptured Snowden?), intended as a warning of what will happen if he tries to ratfuck his handlers, but Assange secretly enjoys it, in the sense of a dominant alpha witnessing a lesser rival's annihilation.)
posted by acb at 5:11 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I think that's “dashing” in the sense of the smouldering bad-boy antiheroes that were all the rage in the pre-#MeToo era, before everyone realised that they're all toxic, predatory sociopaths.
posted by acb at 5:13 PM on May 15 [34 favorites]


Well I'm sure if the US would just release Chelsea Manning, then as a man of his word he would immediately leave asylum and turn himself over to any relevant authorities.
posted by ckape at 5:14 PM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I spent a year in Ecuador in the nineties as an exchange student; like a lot of exchange students I carry an enduring soft spot in my heart for my host country. But I have to say, from what I recall of the political climate there, the reaction of Ecuadoreans upon reading a sentence like

From June 2012 to the end of August 2013, Operation Hotel cost Ecuador $972,889, according to documents belonging to the country’s intelligence agency, known as Senain.

would have been, first, "When did we get an intelligence agency?!?" and then "And how did it get a million dollars?!?"
Documents show the intelligence programme, called “Operation Guest”, [] later became known as “Operation Hotel” ... But the Operation Hotel outgoings were a fraction of the intelligence agency’s special expenses. In Assange’s first two months in the embassy, Senain spent $22.5m on 38 other operations with codenames including “undercover agents”, “counter-intelligence” and “Venezuela”, according to official documents.

OK, that sounds more like the intelligence agency that would belong to the country I remember.
posted by nickmark at 5:19 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Man, remember when Assange was dashing? I do. That silver hair and all -- the daring, the globetrotting -- he had fangirls, there was fic on Tumblr. Now he is revealed as what he is, at bottom: a complete load. A shut-in who thinks the world owes him a living, and somehow always manages to get it, too, because he can convince people he's a genius.
Countess Elena

Wikileaks has been severely damaged, maybe even fatally, by being so closely identified with Assange. I do think its mission is an admirable one, but it became the Kingdom of Assange. It should never have let him become this weird "revolutionary" rockstar, though maybe that was inevitable.

If he's arrested in London, after he has done his time here, he'll be deported to Australia. There, assuming that the US want him, chances are there'll be a FBI light plane waiting on the tarmac and he won't even pass through Australian immigration. Australia's pretty good at extraditing people to the US.
acb

What's funny is that the basis of the conspiracies around Assange is that supposedly the rape charges were made up by the US as a way to get him extradited from Sweden...so he flees to the UK, America's closest and most reliable ally with a long history of strong law enforcement cooperation and extradition.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:19 PM on May 15 [17 favorites]


Wikileaks has been severely damaged, maybe even fatally, by being so closely identified with Assange. I do think its mission is an admirable one, but it became the Kingdom of Assange.

As of 2016, if not earlier, it has been hollowed out and turned into a GRU cut-out operation. Assange, for all his narcissism and vainglory, is not in a position of strength.
posted by acb at 5:22 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Might as well take those fond feelings for Wikileaks of yore and burn them like Glenn Greenwald burns a source - it’s always been a scam, even when it was giving you what you wanted. Maybe especially then.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on May 15 [37 favorites]


Just give him a sock, or some other item of clothing, and then he'll be free, and he'll have to leave your house.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:48 PM on May 15 [49 favorites]


Years back, I actually stopped commenting on Assange, here on metafilter, because any criticism of him got you accused of being CIA or a neo-liberal. Can’t say I’m at all surprised by any of this. I just hope Jules gets to run for his life.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:54 PM on May 15 [23 favorites]


Under the circumstances I hope Assange stays under Ecuador's protection, because arrest and extradition to the USA would probably lead to a breach of his human rights.

If things change in the US, though, I look forward to him having an early opportunity to gloriously refute his (genuine) charges in (an open) court, and if he is found guilty (by a jury of his peers) serving his (legitimate, limited) sentence of (neither cruel nor unusual) punishment.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:29 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Whatever cool zeitgeisty-ness he had left died when Wikileaks took sides against Clinton for Trump.
posted by Query at 6:31 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Pretty damning profile of Assange here, by the generally Assange-sympathetic writer who was hired to ghostwrite his autobiography.
posted by mrmurbles at 6:50 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Hiding in an embassy for years to avoid that trial is not a good look.

Yeah, this is the problem for me. I'm a firm believer that no matter *what* the accusation, the accused gets their day in court. At this point it feels like he just doesn't want one.

Who knows though. I certainly wouldn't want to piss off the U.S. intelligence services. What they'll do to you intentionally is nothing compared to what getting caught in the bureaucracy will wreak upon your existence.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:56 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I don't remember dogpiles, but I do remember a lot of skepticism about whether it was some kind of setup, with the accusations being encouraged by the US government in order to make trouble for Assange. It's still possible, I suppose; normally I would dismiss something like that out of hand but it's a fact that this guy has seriously irritated the US intelligence community, and something like that is definitely not beyond the pale for them.

Yeah, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he was a rapist, nor would I be surprised if the charges were blown out of proportion (I do doubt that they were just made up out of thin air).

What really gets me though is that Assange has always been egomaniacal twat, it just took the 2016 election and #MeToo to get the left to realize this. I remember reading a profile of him back around 2013, I think, and coming away with the distinct feeling that he's just out to make a name for himself and sow chaos; a rebel without a cause with a thin leftist-intellectual veneer.

I also remember some level of confusion over why Assange targeted Clinton but never said much about Trump during the election. And it really wasn't that confusing. Assange wants to see the world burn, that's always what he wanted. And if that's what you want, Trump's your guy.

I'm putting Assange in my "I called it" category of fallen so-called good-guys that I disliked before it was it was cool. This category also includes John Edwards and Roger Clemens.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:49 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


From mrmurbles link above: The Guardian felt strongly that the secret material ought to be redacted to protect informants or bystanders named in it, and Julian was inconsistent about that. I never believed he wanted to endanger such people, but he chose to interpret the Guardian’s concern as ‘cowardice’.

In fact, other major newspapers walked away from cooperation with Assange because he strongly believed that informants should face the brutal consequences of their collaboration with US intelligence, as if Assange was the counter-agent. This is documented by FRONTLINE here. Excerpt:

MARTIN SMITH: In their coverage, the papers decided that they would black out the names of any civilian informants working for the U.S. military. But Assange had a different idea for his WikiLeaks' Web site. One evening, just days before publication, they confronted him over dinner.

DAVID LEIGH, Investigations Exec. Editor, The Guardian: Julian, whose project was to publish the entire data set, was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. And we said, "Julian, we've got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to." And he said, "These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die." And there was a sort of silence fell around the table.

posted by Brian B. at 7:56 PM on May 15 [25 favorites]


I have long since thought that he is a Russian asset and always has been as long as he's been in the public eye. Clearly he was instrumental in helping the Russians bring Trump to power, and that is very unforgivable to me. So I hope that someday he spends many years in a real prison rather than just one of his own making. Did he deserve to be tried in Sweden for rape? Yes probably, but I would expect that the Swedish prisons are far more pleasant than what this bastard deserves
posted by knoyers at 8:35 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Assange: A pain in ALL THE ASSES!
posted by Samizdata at 9:40 PM on May 15


If Assange loses his asylum, I won’t shed a single tear. Not for the least of reasons being that

he seems to be a bad neighbor.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Even if a car isn't considered inviolate territory, a diplomatic bag certainly is, and "bag" includes crates large enough to hold a human for an hour, so there's nothing stopping Ecuador from hauling him to the Russian embassy if they want to be rid of him and for some reason would prefer he not be arrested by UK authorities.
posted by wierdo at 10:44 PM on May 15


I have never understood why people keep snakes.
posted by LarryC at 11:55 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


AKA Rapey The Cupboard Boy
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:34 AM on May 16 [17 favorites]


I posted this in the MegaThread before I knew this one existed. I hope nobody minds.

So those of us who knew them back when have started a deadpool for Julian Assange aka Proff & Andrew Auernheimer aka weev. There's good arguments to be made in favor of both. Personally I'm leaning in favor of weev, I think those who hate him feel it more viscerally & would be be more likely to carry it out themselves. But there's much to be said for Proff as well. Keeping track of his enemies requires an index & includes a large number of nation states with significant kinetic throw capacity. It is a puzzler to be sure.
posted by scalefree at 2:04 AM on May 16


Why doesn't Assange just surrender to the Yanks? He did Trump a solid, right?
posted by emf at 2:27 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he was a rapist, nor would I be surprised if the charges were blown out of proportion

How do you blow a rape charge out of proportion?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:28 AM on May 16 [14 favorites]


Why doesn't Assange just surrender to the Yanks? He did Trump a solid, right?


President Shithole is not known for paying his debts. More of a Frey than a Lannister.
posted by darkstar at 3:31 AM on May 16 [14 favorites]


Armando Iannucci desperately needs a make a satire about this whole situation. Feels ripe for that kind of take.


Why doesn't Assange just surrender to the Yanks? He did Trump a solid, right?
posted by emf at 2:27 on May 16 [+] [!]


It mentions in the article that things have soured since Wikileaks shared CIA encryption methods.
posted by Erberus at 3:48 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Even if a car isn't considered inviolate territory, a diplomatic bag certainly is, and "bag" includes crates large enough to hold a human for an hour, so there's nothing stopping Ecuador from hauling him to the Russian embassy if they want to be rid of him and for some reason would prefer he not be arrested by UK authorities.

Is this established legal doctrine? Has it ever been tested? Inquiring minds must know...
posted by acb at 4:24 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


How long can a "diplomatic bag" be caught up in absolutely terrible traffic, really bad, the worst, just lorries on their sides all over, might take several days to clear up?
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:31 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


Remember when he had everyone around here conned into dogpiling anyone who mentioned that? Good times. I hope everyone has become a little more discerning since.

I dunno, I just went back and read through some of the threads about him from circa 2010... seems like there was a pretty measured back-and-forth between the "leaking huge blocks of confidential data is dangerous and causes harm to real people" and the "the military has classified everything they've done for the last 20 years, and that's bullshit" camps. And Assange himself, before he steered hard right into crazy-rapist-Trump-backing territory, actually had some interesting ideas. They're just, y'know, eclipsed by the near-certainty that he's a serial abuser of women.

Anyway, the quote I went looking for about Assange is from localroger, 8 years ago:
[Assange] and his friends believe that the world's governments and multinational corporations have fused into an oligarchal conspiracy. It is by no means unified and has many internal conflicts, but it usually gets its shit together in any conflict between itself and the mass of ordinary people who aren't part of it. It is the very definition of Fascism as Mussolini put it, a fusion of government and corporate power into an unstoppable juggernaut, and while there are numerous conflicting sub-juggernauts jockeying for position vis-a-vis one another the one thing they all agree on is to unify against the people when the people organize to protest what the oligarchy is doing.

What Wikileaks is trying to do is to disrupt this organization's internal communications by making it so paranoid that its parts are afraid to communicate with one another. In this sense dersin is exactly right -- the government, and big business, do need secrets and it is precisely this Achilles' heel that Wikileaks is designed to attack.
This is, if anything, even more true in the year of our fucking lord 2018, and I'm a little sad that WikiLeaks turned out to be such a monumental clusterfuck. Like so many other toppled idols, they started with the best of intentions, but hoo-boy, the devil is in the details.
posted by Mayor West at 4:36 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


Yeah, West. We desperately need something like Wikileaks in this world, but actual Wikileaks has been to thoroughly subverted that it now serves a purpose counter to that which I'd originally hoped it would.

We didn't get the Wikileaks we need, we got the Wikileaks we deserve.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:07 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


And also, its leader is almost certainly a multiple rapist who refuses to face justice for his despicable actions. It just turned out awful on so many levels, in ways that now seem just so utterly tired and predictable.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:09 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I wonder if there's any reliable way we'd know whether Wikileaks was always a Russian psyop, or whether Assange was really That Naive about kicking hornet nests and then, shortly after making global news was compromised (in the obvious way, no doubt).

I don't have any pity for him, but it's a heck of a way to live, and suspect he might look back at a few particular decisions and think, "that was not the right choice."

I expect the Russians are happy to have us never know, too. Uncertainty in all areas is much better for them.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:18 AM on May 16


I suspect it wasn't originally a Russian psyop. It is possible that the KGB reached out to the young Assange back when he was the hacker “Mendax” in 1990s Melbourne, groomed him and gradually put him up to this, though Occam's Razor suggests that he came to it on his own. AFAIK, his mother, who brought him up alone, was a bit of a hippy, and the circles he grew up in were left-wing ones though not necessarily highly theoretical/intellectual ones, where an abiding belief was that the USA, and the international capitalist system it controlled, was the source of all injustice and evil.

The funny thing about naïve conspiracy-theoretical leftist ideas is that they naturally lend themselves to overlapping with naïve conspiracy-theoretical rightist ideas; there isn't much difference between the idea that Capitalist Washington Fascists are behind all evil, Lyndon LaRouche's idea that the Queen is personally behind all evil, and far-right ideas that the (((Rothschilds))) and (((Soros))) and (((Communist bankers))) are behind all evil. Combine that with having trouble with the idea of sexual consent, and it's quite easy to cross from the heterodox far left to the heterodox far right without noticing the exact moment. From there, it would be a lot easier to see Putin's dictatorship as a force for good against evil Obama-era Washington.
posted by acb at 5:30 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


OK, that sounds more like the intelligence agency that would belong to the country I remember.

Julian Assange, codename Blonde Spy
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:55 AM on May 16


The group think in this thread is toxic and depressing and part of the reason I spend less time here. WikiLeaks and Assange have been a known, targeted enemy of the United States since 2008 and WikiLeaks releases are otherwise hidden or obfuscated in all the mainstream media, and yet here the comments all parrot the same boring mainstream nonsense that want to pretend the US wouldn't act on a known and stated threat.

If WikiLeaks has been damaged, it isn't because Assange has a particular personality, its because the western media and politicians know it's in their interest to maintain the status quo and they know people eat up the same sugar syrup without making the effort to question the details. I expected suspicion, cynicism and skepticism from the Metafilter community and all I'm seeing is doublethink.

Countries do not just hand out asylum like confetti. They need a basis for doing so. Ecuador's basis was assessed as the real threat of extradition of a publisher and journalist, and this assessment was subequently confirmed by the United Nations. The rape charges are gone, as they were dismissed originally, because they were baseless. Sweden interviewed 44 suspects in England in the time Assange made himself available for interview. And yet we're expected to think dismissal of the charges twice is because they couldn't interview?

There are others that have argued in more detail and with more notation. There are alternative sources for accurate information.

So the point I want to make here is: none here have argued that the information WikiLeaks revealed wasn't true. Seriously? You're all willing to agree that WL has published true information, but prefer to condemn the publisher because the source might have been ? (I can't believe I have to argue this juvenile shite here FFS. This is embarrassing. Bring a real argument with actual facts and against the accuracy of the information or GTFO)

You're all willing to accept that the Democratic nomination for president is rigged against the candidate most preferred (as revealed by WL)? You'd all rather believe a few thousand obfuscating advertisements swayed the election result of the least preferred candidate of the least respected election in history (which is all that Facebook are able to provide as evidence)? It matters that another country might have revealed this truth to you, not that its a truth that exposes the corruption of the system? All this in spite of the equivalent offenses US taxpayer dollars achieve in a huge number of other countries around the world over the last 60 years? Get some perspective!

How many judge the personal character of the individuals that publish the opinions critical of WikiLeaks? And why bother judging the personalities of Assange or his detractors when the point of journalism is to reveal the truth as evidence? Are we to ignore the evidence because we don't like from whence it came?

If you want to reject the philosophy of WikiLeaks, fine. Let's hear the argument against it and judge it against the results. But don't tell me we should ignore the truth because of its source, because you don't like where it came from or who that information was passed through. Don't claim nationalist fervor is a valid justification for ignoring facts, and don't tell me we now have to start judging the character of those that tell us known truths because it makes a difference to the truth told.

I call bullshit.

posted by bigZLiLk at 6:11 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


I expected suspicion, cynicism and skepticism from the Metafilter community ...

but not of Assange!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on May 16 [8 favorites]


All that was missing was "Wake up, sheeple!"
posted by Kitteh at 6:17 AM on May 16 [37 favorites]


octobersurprise, I've entertained suspicion and if you would like to counter the evidence supplied by the prosecution for the Swedish complainant (officially known as SW) to the Agreed Statement of Facts to the UK Supreme Court, 2012, please do raise them:

"After AA and SW spoke to each other and realised that they had both had intercourse with [JA] during the currency of his visit in circumstances where respectively they had or might have been or become unprotected against disease or pregnancy, SW wanted [JA] to get tested for disease. On 20 August 2010 SW went to the police to seek advice."
posted by bigZLiLk at 6:26 AM on May 16


I appreciate the fact that The Guardian says right up front that the reason he needed asylum in the first place is that he was supposed to be extradited to Sweden for a rape trial.

Remember when he had everyone around here conned into dogpiling anyone who mentioned that? Good times. I hope everyone has become a little more discerning since.


A thing I remember about this is people saying basically "it makes me so mad that these women who have connections to American intelligence so I don't believe what they say fabricated a rape charge because it gives other people cover to claim women they don't like are fabricating rape charges" with seemingly zero awareness that they were doing they exact same thing they claimed to be afraid of other people doing. It bothered me a lot! I felt like I heard a lot of voices who would normally say "believe women" and "believe targets of assault" and "there's no such thing as a perfect victim" saying "these women are obviously making it up".

That said, I think a lot of us have come a long way since then (myself included oh man) and, as always in situations like this or any time our thinking has changed and or it turns out we were wrong about something important, it's worth thinking about why we thought they way we did, what we were wrong about, what led us to being wrong, how it could have be prevented (with a special focus on "who did we ignore who was warning us?"), and what we'll do differently next time.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:29 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


bigZLiLk: When Edward Snowden thinks WikiLeaks and Assange are fucking up, I think it's safe to say that WikiLeaks and Assange fucked up. WikiLeaks has shown straight up partisan bias, and Assange has shown he is more than willing to throw his associates, sources, and supporters under the bus (see also Chelsea Manning) when it suits his needs. Whatever goals WikiLeaks was trying to accomplish, it's failed, and now has become a method for Assange to just shit the bed to suit his own purposes. And, frankly, running away from rape charges is not something an innocent man would do. If we could count on Assange to actually uphold his alleged mission, and not have turned WikiLeaks into his own personal tool for settling vendettas, we wouldn't be having this conversation. So fuck Julian Assange. If what WikiLeaks does is so important, I don't doubt something else will pop up to take its place. Hopefully it'll be run by someone who's less of a self-centered scumbag.
posted by SansPoint at 6:40 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]


Pretty damning profile of Assange here, by the generally Assange-sympathetic writer who was hired to ghostwrite his autobiography.
posted by mrmurbles at 18:50 on May 15 [6 favorites +] [!]


This is a very long but excellent piece. O'Hagan does seem to have some of axe to grind, in the mode of working on a group project at school with someone who doesn't pull their weight. But he does seem diligent with documenting facts and times and being aware of his role in things. In a way Assange is not. Here's a telling excerpt:

And here’s the hard bit. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the United Kingdom under Thatcher and Blair, those of us who lived through the Troubles and the Falklands War, the miners’ strike, the deregulation of the City, and Iraq, believed that exposing secret deals and covert operations would prove a godsend. When WikiLeaks began this process in 2010, it felt, to me anyhow, but also to many others that this might turn out to be the greatest contribution to democracy since the end of the Cold War. A new kind of openness suddenly looked possible: technology might allow people to watch their watchers, at last, and to inspect the secrets being kept, supposedly in our name, and to expose fraud and exploitation wherever it was encountered in the new media age. It wasn’t a subtle plan but it smacked of the kind of idealism that many of us hadn’t felt for a while in British life, where big moral programmes on the left are thin on the ground. Assange looked like a counter-warrior and a man not made for the deathly compromises of party politics. And he seemed deeply connected to the web’s powers of surveillance and counter-surveillance. What happened, though, is that big government opposition to WikiLeaks’s work – which continues – became confused, not least in Assange’s mind, with the rape accusations against him. It has been a fatal conflation. There’s a distinct lack of clarity in Julian’s approach, a lack that is, I’m afraid, only reinforced by the people he has working with him. Only today, he sent me an email – hearing I was writing this piece – telling me it was illegal for me to speak out without what he called ‘appropriate consultation’ with him. He wrote of his precarious situation and of the FBI investigation into his activities. ‘I have been detained,’ he said, ‘without charge, for 1000 days.’ And there it is, the old conflation, implying that his detention is to do with his work against secret-keepers in America. It is not. He was detained at Ellingham Hall while appealing against a request to extradite him to Sweden to answer questions relating to two rape allegations. A man who conflates such truths loses his moral authority right there: I tried to spell this out to him while writing the book, but he wouldn’t listen, sometimes suggesting I was naive not to consider the rape allegations to have been a ‘honey trap’ set by dark foreign forces, or that the Swedes were merely keen to extradite him to America. Because he has no ability to see through other people’s eyes he can’t see how dishonest this conflation seems even to supporters such as me. It was a trap he built for himself when he refused to go to Sweden and instead went into the embassy of a nation not famous for its respect for freedom of speech. He will always have an answer to these points. But there is no real answer. He made a massive tactical error in not going to Sweden to clear his name.
posted by Erberus at 6:46 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]


Operation "Undercover Agents". Ecuador, you gotta try a little harder.

Also, fuck Assange.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:47 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


SansPoint, this is why I referenced the iq.org article. I have no problem with a discussion about WikiLeaks philosophy, if you have one. However, calling reference to a famous leakers opinion on specific issues is not an argument, which is precisely the problem I have with this thread so far.

Bring a discussion with articulated evidence and supporting argument. Otherwise I'll find a quote from the current President of the United States as a counter to the arbitrary quote from Snowden and pretend that's a valid argument too.
posted by bigZLiLk at 6:47 AM on May 16


What I don't get is what's in this for Ecuador? They're not rolling in dough as I understand it.
posted by Damienmce at 6:51 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Erberus: "I was naive not to consider the rape allegations to have been a ‘honey trap’ set by dark foreign forces, or that the Swedes were merely keen to extradite him to America. Because he has no ability to see through other people’s eyes he can’t see how dishonest this conflation seems even to supporters such as me. It was a trap he built for himself when he refused to go to Sweden ...

Except the accusations were made while Assange was still in Sweden and were dismissed before he left. And the dishonesty isn't with conflation, but with the claim that charges existed to which Assange wasn't willing to offer interview, or answering without assurance that Sweden/UK would not extradite to the US.
posted by bigZLiLk at 6:54 AM on May 16


What I don't get is what's in this for Ecuador? They're not rolling in dough as I understand it.


It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Has a bit of a slush fund feel to it.
posted by Artw at 6:58 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


[One deleted. Cut it out, bigZLiLk. If you have questions about moderation, you can contact us (link is at the bottom of every page).]
posted by taz (staff) at 7:04 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


So the point I want to make here is: none here have argued that the information WikiLeaks revealed wasn't true. Seriously? You're all willing to agree that WL has published true information, but prefer to condemn the publisher because the source might have been ? (I can't believe I have to argue this juvenile shite here FFS. This is embarrassing. Bring a real argument with actual facts and against the accuracy of the information or GTFO)

There was a lot of raw data but not a lot of information. The reason that there was a wave of interest that swiftly crested was because, while it was interesting to read details, the vast majority of what was released just wasn't that surprising.

Yes, we all enjoyed reading "ambassador to X reports insider conversation with local politician" stories, but the larger story often wasn't really there. Diplomats often have private conversations, we knew that, and as interesting as it was to read a few of those, I don't think it really told us anything big and new. It confirmed a few high profile instances of corruption and had some impact (arguably) in Tunisia, but that's it really.
posted by atrazine at 7:16 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


Can folks please not include quotation marks in a comment without linking to the source of that quote in the comment?
posted by hydropsyche at 7:17 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


What I don't get is what's in this for Ecuador? They're not rolling in dough as I understand it.

It's explained in a somewhat scattershot way through the the articles, but basically Assange was Correa's pet project, in part because Correa was one of a wave of leftward leaning Latin American leaders who were opposed to the US, and in part because Assange had recently fluffed him on his Russian TV show. It looks like there was no real expectation that he would stay so long (the program was originally called Operation Guest, after all), but Correa was put into a position where he could not back down. Of course, Correa is now gone, and his successor is realizing the inordinate shit show that he's inherited.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:22 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


atrazine, I was referring to the DNC email releases more specifically, but sure, it's a shame that the significant stories revealed are being obfuscated by reports about the trivialities also revealed in massive data troves.

This, however, is not the fault of the publisher of the original data.
posted by bigZLiLk at 7:27 AM on May 16


His successor, whose name is Lenín Moreno, who (IIRC) ran as a left-wing populist, apparently is shifting towards returning to the US's sphere of influence. Which is truly a Nixon in China moment, or perhaps a Emanuel Macron moment or something.
posted by acb at 7:29 AM on May 16


Has any final story came out about Assange being cut off from the Internet back in October 2016, right at the height of the US election? That seemed like a remarkable event at the time and I've wondered since then how much influence the Obama Administration had on precipitating that. Right about then was also when Assange disappeared entirely from view for awhile and there was some weirdness about Wikileaks not having access to crypto keys they should have, maybe being compromised entirely.

I don't have any strong opinions either way on whether disrupting Wikileaks communication then would have been a good idea. I'm just curious if it happened in a coordinated way.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Equally or more likely some drama Assange created of his own accord.
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on May 16


I am sympathetic to the notion that Assange is simply deeply opposed to the American establishment, and supporting Trump over Clinton looked like a very nice way to put a finger in the establishment's eye, given her overwhelming establishment support. Against Jeb Bush he probably would have been more on the sidelines. If the Republican establishment co-opts Trump fully (or I guess simply overcomes his volatility) and someone who looks more rebellious (and particularly if they are constitutionally anti-war) gets the Democratic nomination in 2020, he'd easily go the other way.
posted by MattD at 8:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


That sounds like a charitable reading. His recent statements seem to put him pretty much adjacent to the alt-right, firmly in the realm of the Intellectual Dark Web™. He, Trump and Putin share a contempt for liberalism (though not one that would prevent him from accepting bail money from well-meaning liberal supporters of his, in bad faith).
posted by acb at 9:19 AM on May 16 [17 favorites]


Against Jeb Bush he probably would have been more on the sidelines. If the Republican establishment co-opts Trump fully (or I guess simply overcomes his volatility) and someone who looks more rebellious (and particularly if they are constitutionally anti-war) gets the Democratic nomination in 2020, he'd easily go the other way.

Dude does whatever Putin tells him to do.
posted by asteria at 9:22 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


And, frankly, running away from rape charges is not something an innocent man would do.

Not to defend Assange here, but this is a terrible way of assessing guilt. I agree that he should have been tried and that hiding in an embassy to escape justice is not a good look, but running away is not in itself evidence of guilt.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:31 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


He’s skipped his day in court, so honestly I think we’re free to make our own judgements, which in this case for me would be: it totally sounds like something he would do and he’s clearly guilty as fuck, and the lies and bullshit he’s piled on top of that are their own reason to think less of him as well.
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


I agree that he looks pretty guilty and that it seems totally in character for him. He's an egotistical little twit who seems to get off on fucking with people and sowing chaos, and I have no trouble believing that he's a rapist as well. Just, in general, "the innocent have nothing to fear" is completely untrue.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:14 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


You're all willing to accept that the Democratic nomination for president is rigged against the candidate most preferred (as revealed by WL)?

No, we are not. I, and many others, do not believe the information contained in the emails supports this conclusion.
posted by flaterik at 11:59 AM on May 16 [17 favorites]


Except the accusations were made while Assange was still in Sweden and were dismissed before he left.

What? This is not true. The Swedes gave up on this in 2017 because they can’t communicate with Assange while he is in the Ecuadoran Embassy.

Sweden’s director of prodecutions is quoted in The Guardian as saying:

“In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued.

If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately.”
posted by mrmurbles at 12:48 PM on May 16 [17 favorites]


He, Trump and Putin share a contempt for liberalism

I think liberalism is somewhere far behind “people who aren’t white enough” and “women” on their mutual contempt list

Could also probably be said for anyone who continues to support the rapist POS
posted by schadenfrau at 1:22 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]


flaterik: No, we are not. I, and many others, do not believe the information contained in the emails supports this conclusion.

It wasn't so much rigged as designed to give a significant edge to Democratic Party Insiders, which is a significant difference. It was not impossible for Bernie to have won, but without the significant pledging of superdelegates, he would have had to have done way better in the primaries than Hillary did.

However, the design of the Democratic Primary system is not new. It's been like that for a long time, and any candidate throwing their hat in the ring should have been well aware of the superdelegate situation. It's not fair to outsider candidates, but it's far from rigged.
posted by SansPoint at 1:28 PM on May 16 [9 favorites]


[Just a little steer here, let's not get bogged down in refighting the Dem primary, it's a side issue to what the links are about.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:15 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


As a lawyer I am concerned that bigZLiLk appears to have misconstrued the nature of the document that his quote came from.

He seems to present the quote as if it were either the summary of Sweden's case, or a finding of fact by the UK Supreme Court:

"After AA and SW spoke to each other and realised that they had both had intercourse with [JA] during the currency of his visit in circumstances where respectively they had or might have been or become unprotected against disease or pregnancy, SW wanted [JA] to get tested for disease. On 20 August 2010 SW went to the police to seek advice."

In fact, it was neither. It is a quote from (as he noted but did not link to) the 'Statement of Agreed Facts' jointly produced by both sides for Assange's appeal to the UKSC against extradition.

That document is exactly what it says it is. It is a summary, for the UKSC, of those facts which both sides agree on. Assange did not, of course, agree the allegations of rape, so that was not an 'agreed fact'. The very anodyne passage bigZLiLk quotes is simply the limit of what Assange was prepared to concede. His lawyers would hardly admit more.

The actual allegations by the Swedish prosecutor are set out at paragraph 3 of the judgment that Assange was appealing to the Supreme Court, which was the decision by the Queen's Bench Divisional Court on whether there were valid grounds for extradition. (I have not repeated them directly here: content warning for description of alleged sexual offences.)

The Divisional Court's analysis of the offences is at paragraphs 70 to 127 of that judgment (again, content warning applies). In brief, the Divisional Court was satisfied that the offences alleged against Assange would, if proven, amount to serious sexual offences potentially including rape.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:16 PM on May 16 [24 favorites]


Now he is revealed as what he is, at bottom: a complete load.

Assange was born in the same place I was (Townsville), and went to the same high school as I did (Townsville State High School), though, of course, several years before I was there. He also lived for a time on Magnetic Island, which is (apparently) the only island in the world that is also a suburb of a larger city (the aforementioned Townsville).

Magnetic Island is basically a trailer park, except the trailers are hot sharp rocks, the playground is blinding sand riddled with empty condom packets and used hypodermics, and the BBQ area is an ocean that you can't swim in because it is full of box jellies and stonefish. I think I went there exactly once in the 18 years I lived in Townsville, and we had a Golden Gaytime under a coconut tree and then fucked off back to the city because it was so terrible and the ice cream was so expensive. Kids used to go on about how there was a secret cove on the other side of the island where everybody was always nude (and probably boning one another), because everything interesting is always on the opposite side of an island. You could be on the world's smallest Far Side island and the one interesting thing, a mysterious box or whatever, would be on the other side of it and, fuck it. Just lay down and die in the salt-crusted sun.

I say none of this to defend Assange being a load. In fact, I tell this story to illustrate that this is in fact the trifectorate of load-ness. Born in Townsville General (probably), basically a 70s government office where the desks have been replaced by small hard beds but the frowning old bureaucrats are kept in place and given nurse's outfits. Went to TSHS, which is where dead ideas go to be Flatlinered back to life just to have their throats cut. And lived on Magnetic Island, with all the boning and poisonous animals, until he burned down the family home (probably). Oh god it's just the worst place with the worst people. I bet he probably even sat the Public Service Exam when that was still a thing. I'm only a good person because I just had that one ice cream.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:50 PM on May 16 [17 favorites]


Best case scenario is Human Cannonball.

Or Human Bowling Ball.

Or Human Cue Ball.

Or Human Magic 8 Ball.

Or Human Toilet Tank Ball.

Ad finitum...
posted by y2karl at 8:39 PM on May 16


Personally I'm leaning in favor of weev, I think those who hate him feel it more viscerally & would be be more likely to carry it out themselves.

Who hates weev? I see people objecting to his political views (obviously, duh), but I don't get the sense that a lot of people hate him on a personal level.
posted by theorique at 12:15 PM on May 17


Who hates weev? I see people objecting to his political views (obviously, duh), but I don't get the sense that a lot of people hate him on a personal level.

Beyond the whole Nazi thing (which alone would have people hating him on general principle), I would imagine there's also a sense of betrayal, where the community put its reputation on the line to defend him, only for him to reveal that he truly was what people said.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:42 PM on May 17 [7 favorites]


Who hates weev? I see people objecting to his political views (obviously, duh), but I don't get the sense that a lot of people hate him on a personal level.

I'm pretty happy to say that when it comes to Nazis I hate all of them personally - because for every single one of them there is someone else who started in close enough to the same circumstances as makes no difference, yet somehow didn't become a Nazi.

Advocacy for genocide is a personal choice that in any healthy society would have you exiled or set out-law Icelandic saga-style.
posted by PMdixon at 2:00 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


Perhaps weev is a poor tortured soul, wracked by some implacable psychic wound, and driven to lash out. Perhaps he only needed a hug at one point. Perhaps the hugger would have saved him, and a lot of other people, or perhaps they would have just become his first victim. In any case, it's irrelevant, because he's fundamentally toxic.

One can hypothetically pity him, imagining the loneliness and misery of a life sustained on the thin, bitter gruel of hate. But all that's overridden by the fact that he has and will cause actual harm to other people, for no reason other than it being in his nature. These people may be those one has known and loved, or if not, they could just as easily have been*. Their interests override any sort of hypothesising about second chances or the possibility of redemption. And such claims would be extraordinary ones, needing extraordinary proof.

weev is a Nazi, as literally as anybody can be a Nazi after 1945. He is, in fact, more of a Nazi than many Germans who half-heartedly joined the Nazi Party during the Third Reich to preserve their careers or protect their children, because he is a Nazi with terrible enthusiasm. His entire life is given to vicious, genocidal hatred. Perhaps that's all just an extended tantrum rooted in unsympathetic toilet training or something and he doesn't in his heart of hearts really hate Jews or black people, but, you know what, it doesn't matter. The harm is the same. It is perfectly natural to hate that, because that is just hate. And finding anything of weev to separate from that, as a surgeon may separate healthy tissue from a malignant tumour, is an intractable problem.

* unless, of course, one has the rock-solid case that one would never know and love anybody a Nazi could object to, the problems in which are obvious.
posted by acb at 2:50 PM on May 17 [9 favorites]


Beyond the whole Nazi thing (which alone would have people hating him on general principle), I would imagine there's also a sense of betrayal, where the community put its reputation on the line to defend him, only for him to reveal that he truly was what people said.

He was one of us, a member in good standing of a small & hyperconnected community. And then he brought shame upon all of us, dirtied our collective reputation by association. I don't think the other actual sociopaths want anything to do with him now.
posted by scalefree at 6:30 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


weev actually went after a personal friend of mine. So, for me, it is a personal hatred, on top of the general hatred for literal fucking Nazis.
posted by SansPoint at 11:41 AM on May 18 [8 favorites]


weev gives my hometown a bad name. And he's always been a prick since the day his dumb ass surfaced. That's why I hate him.

Lately it's been making me sad I missed the opportunity to really piss in his Wheaties when I had the chance. Maybe a felony charge just as he turned 18 would have done him some good. That's what I get for being a softie and just fixing the damage and moving on, I guess. My bad, sorry. :(
posted by wierdo at 12:22 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, going to prison probably would have just thrown him into the waiting arms of the Aryan Nation a lot sooner.

On the other hand, maybe weev being an out neo-Nazi right from the age of 18 might have saved a lot of time in the subsequent years.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:49 PM on May 18


I had a very brief FB interaction with aurenheimer because of a weird friend of a friend connection.
He talked about how popular the daily stormer was, while I engaged as little as possible because I didn't want to deal with a potential troll army.
posted by flaterik at 11:02 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Ecuador to Assange: you can stay, provided you stop shitposting on Twitter:
Per the Guardian, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno said this week that Assange’s ongoing asylum status is not under threat as long as Assange complies with conditions laid out by the Ecuadorian government, including a restriction on talking about the political happenings taking place in other countries. The government is ready to “take a decision” if Assanage fails to follow the rules.

“Let’s not forget the conditions of his asylum prevent him from speaking about politics or intervening in the politics of other countries,” Moreno told Deutsche Welle in an interview Wednesday.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:06 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]


NoxAeternum: Boy, that is just a total setup. Asking Assange not to tweet about politics is like asking him not to breathe. Start the countdown to him being kicked out of the embassy now.
posted by SansPoint at 8:21 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


It will make pretending to be in prison like a prison to him!
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]


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