Freeing Julian Assange: Part One
Above Photo: From Contraspin.co.nz
We’ve been so busy sifting through the ashes that too few of us have noticed what’s been staring us in the face all along.
Let’s change that.
The Big Picture
With millions of words written about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and its associates, swirling all around us daily, it’s easy not to see the wood for the trees.
The first port of call for those defending the world’s most at-risk publishing organisation and its staff has been tackling the individual narratives of its oppressors. Focusing on Sweden, or Ecuador, or the US Department Of Justice, the Grand Juries or the United Kingdom and debunking their spin seems a necessary task. But we have to face the reality: Years of arguing til we’re blue in the face about the intricacies of all the various aspects of the aforementioned – plenty of which I’ve engaged in myself – hasn’t achieved victory. We aren’t better off, or stronger for it. Things are slipping, and slipping fast.
A decade into this battle, it’s time to reflect upon the sum total of the parts. We need to acknowledge what has happened not just to Julian – but to his organisation as a whole. We need to examine WikiLeaks at an architectural level, just as its opponents have. In doing so, we see that the desecration of Julian’s reputation and the attacks against his work, relationships and his physical person were actually never about him – it was always about his organisation, what it is and what it does, all along.
Sweden and the cases against Julian were only ever a distraction, a red herring. To get a crystal clear picture of the situation we must zoom out to an eagle eye’s view.
What that lofty vantage point reveals is an obvious and protracted systematic destabilisation of the key pillars of the organisation. The social decapitation of its most effective members. The undermining of their ability to continue to serve and add value to it.
These are the rotten fruits of the transnational agenda to eradicate WikiLeaks. A state-level, international conspiracy which long pre-dates then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s declaration of war against WikiLeaks in 2017. His overt threats were merely a cover for covert operations that track back at least as far as 2009.
Those who oppose WikiLeaks are closer to their goal of destroying it than ever before. If we’re to turn that tide, we must examine what made WikiLeaks good at its best, find the missing pieces between then and now, and reinstitute them with haste.
What A Strong WikiLeaks Looks Like
The organisation Julian engineered was robust. This is self-evident: it has been able to withstand 10 years of unceasing attacks by state intelligence agencies across multiple jurisdictions. That it has so far survived them is a historic accomplishment.
This is what WikiLeaks in its prime looked like: a publishing wing, an activism wing, and a media/PR wing.
Each of these three pillars were championed by individuals with very public facing roles. Specialists in their field. Taking huge powers head on, and huge risks.
In their competent hands, WikiLeaks was the world’s premiere publisher; the pearl of the tech activism sphere; and platformed on major cable news networks, with opinion pieces in major MSM publications. WikiLeaks controlled the narrative; WikiLeaks was always on the front foot; WikiLeaks critics were forced into a defensive posture, always having to respond to whatever WikiLeaks was doing next.
WikiLeaks pulled rabbits out of hats. We always knew to expect the unexpected. Whenever it appeared that the chips were down, they bounced back better than ever before.
It was a golden age and I refer to the three major components of it as the dream team. Quite frankly, they rocked this shit.
The Dream Team
Julian Assange controlled policy, process, publishing and protected sources. He established satellite organisations and was the managing director of the WikiLeaks empire. Jacob Appelbaum went on stages around the world, speaking to hundreds of thousands of people about the value and importance of utilising and supporting WikiLeaks. He was a major conduit to the tech crowd and a constant presence at developer, privacy and journalism conferences. Trevor Fitzgibbon liaised with media bigwigs, musicians and celebrities, recruiting them to the cause and utilising them to enhance WikiLeaks public profile. He managed media relationships, engineered and pushed proactive narratives.
These three men relentlessly championed WikiLeaks.
These three men built the original campaign to save Chelsea Manning.
These three men helped to save Edward Snowden.
These three men all had their public reputations destroyed.
Victims Of Their Success
You don’t have to look hard on social media or the web to see how often Julian Assange is described as a serial rapist.
Nor to discover that Jacob Appelbaum is described as a serial rapist too.
And Trevor Fitzgibbon? Yup, also called a serial rapist.
What is the likelihood of all three public figures representing the key pillars of WikiLeaks, conveniently being serial rapists?
In retrospect, it defies logic.
In aggregate, the subterfuge is so obvious as to be ludicrous.
But when the CIA is targeting you there’s always more in store.
One rapist, two rapists, three rapists, four.
Rapists! Rapists Everywhere!
When celebrated Icelandic journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson was appointed Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks in October 2018, the announcement was lauded across the aisles.
The accolades would be short-lived however, as within a week of his accepting the mantle, he was being smeared as “a hostile and abusive person toward women“, and a “violent drunk with a history of being physically and emotionally abusive of women”.
The wording of the smear article is as limp as the accusations – “An air of allegations… He may now face allegations… unable to independently confirm the veracity of these allegations…”
No victims came forward. No charges were filed. No investigation launched. They just threw their mud at the new head of the WikiLeaks publishing pillar and hoped it would stick, as it had with the others.
This is a tactic often applied in social media as well as in print. Other towering figures in activism and whistleblowing have been tarred with the same brush. Matt DeHart had highly questionable child pornography charges manufactured against him. So did the alleged Vault7 whistleblower. Even Edward Snowden has trolls online baselessly attacking him along the same lines, despite there being zero suggestion whatsoever of such thing ever having occurred.
One commenter with a dark sense of humour nailed it perfectly:
Why is this tactic utilised time and time again? Because it works. Because we continue to let it work.
Our failure to protect those who put themselves in the firing line on our behalf, sharpens the sword used to cull us.
That Sinking Feeling
In 2016 I wrote a series of articles about Jacob Appelbaum. The more I dug into the rabbit hole, the deeper it went. Linguistic anomalies, smear websites, false accusations, retracted allegations, censorship, collusion, professional malice, jealousy, spurious claims, career and social ladder climbing – it was an ugly picture. Eventually my series totalled five pieces and over 20,000 words.
But I stumbled across something huge, when I was researching the Jake case. I read about someone called Trevor Fitzgibbon from Fitzgibbon Media. While I’d seen the results of his P.R. and advocacy work many times, I’d never known it was him behind it all. It turns out he owned the firm that ran US media and P.R. for WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, for Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept, and multiple nation states including Venezuela and Ecuador.
In my reading, I learned that six months prior to the branding of Jacob Appelbaum as a serial rapist, Trevor Fitzgibbon had gone through the same thing. It destroyed his P.R. firm, his career, his marriage, his finances and his life. Just as the JakeGate scandal had robbed WikiLeaks of one of its most outspoken and powerful public advocates and organisers, the Fitzgibbon scandal before it had robbed WikiLeaks and the whistleblowers it represents, of their most capable media and P.R. liaison.
Because I didn’t know Fitzgibbon and had no contact with him, I filed away what I learned about his case in the back of my mind. But I couldn’t escape the eerie, disquieting feeling that this was all an echo. An echo of what had been done to Julian.
These last few months I have been investigating the three cases in tandem, overlaying and analysing them. The patterns are impossible to ignore.
- A target engaged in activity that was highly threatening to the global intelligence complex
- Multiple accusers of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct
- Spurious claims that don’t qualify as any of the aforementioned
- Retracted claims
- Lack of criminal charges
- Target publicly branded and smeared as a “serial rapist”
- Massive reputational damage
- Severe impact on the productivity of the target and their ability to perform in their professional capacity
(Click on the above picture to see an enlarged version of it.)
In each of the three cases, there is material evidence that suggests no rape ever took place.
In Julian’s case, one of the women involved submitted a condom that was found to have contained no trace of DNA – either his or hers. She then went on to state publicly that she was not raped. The other complainant told friends she had been “railroaded by police” and did “not wish to charge him with anything”.
In Jacob Appelbaum’s situation, what turned out to be the sole rape complainant (despite promises by his detractors of the existence of dozens of victims) emailed him after the fact to tell him what a wonderful time she’d had and how she looked forward to coming back to Berlin to visit again. Another supposed victim said that the story told by Appelbaum’s accusers about her was factually incorrect and had been used against him without her consent.
In Trevor Fitzgibbon’s case, the sole accusation of rape came from a woman who it eventuated had sent him a slew of nude and semi-nude photos before the alleged incident, and then another text message afterwards to congratulate and praise him for his sexual performance. She then immediately thereafter asked him to do a number of professional favours for her and her clients. Her rape claim was investigated by authorities – who after a year-long inquiry, struck them down as baseless and declined to charge him. He subsequently took the evidence of her duplicity to a court, and successfully sued her for defamation. She has now publicly retracted her allegations against him.
Despite all of the above, the mantra of “there are multiple accusers” continues to be used against all three men. Julian was seen explaining in the Laura Poitras documentary ‘Risk’ why there being multiple accusers is problematic, and was promptly deemed a ‘misogynist’ for having dared to utter such a basic observation. He was portrayed as a guilty man plotting counter-narratives against victims to evade justice, instead of an innocent man marvelling at the intricacy of the chains being used to bind him.
In all three cases, spurious claims were made that either barely meet the standard of a sexual crime or simply don’t at all. Despite nine years worth of invocations of the word “rape”, and the term “serial rapist”, the accusations against Julian don’t amount to rape at all. They are what the Swedish law books describe as “a lesser rape” and describe activities which are not crimes in most Western countries. In Jacob’s case, his accusers saw fit to drag in career disputes, jokes made in bars, a third-party allegation about a simple kiss, and the back-washing of an accuser who failed to disclose when writing about the incident, that after said back-washing, she had in fact decided to have consensual sex with Appelbaum. In Trevor Fitzgibbon’s case, the retracted-rape complainant was accompanied to the police station by two other complainants. One claimed that Fitzgibbon had “hugged her inappropriately.” The other claimed that his hand had brushed her backside during a hug. These complaints were also struck down by the investigating agency.
I’ve written at length elsewhere about how such spurious claims effectively water down the seriousness of rape. I’ll save myself the discomfort of doing so again, other than to say: to those of us who have experienced the violence and trauma of rape, gang rape and serious sexual abuse, it is an unforgivable affront to see such pitiful, shallow complaints, conflated as rape. Those engaging in this behaviour damage the credibility of, and in fact endanger, all genuine rape complainants, and should be deeply ashamed of themselves.
None of the three men – Julian, Jacob or Trevor – have ever been charged with a crime. Nor have they had any civil suits filed against them, even though the evidential barrier is lower. Yet all three continue to be abused by their political opponents, who brand them “serial rapists”.
This has caused irreparable harm to them and to those close to them. It also materially damaged their careers.
And that’s really what this is all about. It was never about them. It was about their professional pursuits: what they are good at doing, what they love doing, who was inconvenienced by them doing it, and who stood to benefit from inhibiting their ability to continue doing it.
The playbook of the intelligence agencies, is to divert, control and consume the attention of their targets. Once they can direct your attention, they can control your entire life.
Julian’s attention and resources were diverted to trying to defend himself. The Swedish accusations against him were used as a cover to detain him in the UK while secret US grand jury indictments for his publishing activities were prepared. A Swedish researcher I spoke with told me that NGO’s that had dared to show support for Julian in 2010 such as Amnesty Sweden, were hounded by state-affiliated detractors who decried them for daring to support a “rapist”, compelling them to alter their positions.
Jacob was made persona non grata within his own community – outcast. Denied his places of refuge, expelled from organisations. I wrote previously of how certain tech activism figures took it upon themselves to lobby conference organisers and hacker organisations around the world to issue public bans of Appelbaum from their events, their member lists and their premises. Many, many organisations caved in to the pressure. In “Orwell’s Swan Song: Free Speech Activists Whitewashing Wikipedia To Silence Dissent” I wrote of Jake’s “almost wholesale removal from the stages on which he shared pleas for people to leak sensitive intelligence information, to take direct action at NSA sites, his revelations about the dystopian surveillance complex affecting us all and of the tactics being employed against persons of interest.” Prior to Jake’s smearing, he had been doing all of that, as well as studying, writing about and making presentations on the NSA drone kill list from the Snowden files.
Trevor had the same experience. Seventy progressive and media organisations signed an open letter declaring that they would never work with him again. This was not a spontaneous synchronicity at work – it was a coordinated effort driven by malignant figures to prevent him from ever being able to work in his sector again. Ultimately, to prevent him from working for WikiLeaks, for Manning, for Snowden, for Ecuador, for Venezuela. To prevent him working for active, high-priority, political targets of the US government. To prevent him working on endeavours like The Snowden Treaty, on which he was collaborating with Glenn Greenwald’s husband, Brazilian Senator David Miranda, in negotiation with multiple countries to create a network of states willing to be safe havens for whistleblowers.
“They took me out of the  election cycle, that’s what they did” Fitzgibbon told me. The timing of the smears of Appelbaum similarly occurred in the lead-up to the 2016 US Presidential election.
The timing of the rape smears against Julian Assange was similarly suspicious. Events immediately prior to the accusations against him have been all but memory holed. In all the talk about Sweden, it is never mentioned that Julian was already on a Pentagon manhunt list when he traveled to the country.
The truth about the months prior to Julian being targeted with the “serial rapist” smear are meticulously detailed in his affidavit on the matter, which is available online.
Below, I paraphrase relevant portions from subsection 3: “Known intelligence operations prior to travelling to Sweden“.
March 2010: Collateral Murder publishing team subjected to intense physical surveillance
May 2010: Manning arrested
* Pentagon “conducting an aggressive investigation”
* Prosecutor joining “Terrorism and National Security Unit” of Eastern District Court of Virginia is involved with the WikiLeaks grand jury
* Pentagon investigators reported to be “desperately trying to track [Julian] down… would not discuss the methods being used to find Assange, nor would they say if they had information to suggest where he is now”
* Department of Defence spokesperson confirms an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks involving the Army Criminal Investigation Division and other agencies
* Department of Homeland Security agencies gatecrash the HOPE Conference in New York City trying to find Julian, in whose stead Jacob Appelbaum appeared
* White House Press Secretary calls WikiLeaks “a very real and potential threat“
* Australians confirmed to be assisting US “counter-espionage investigation”
* Then-FBI Director Mueller engaged in WikiLeaks investigation
* Ex CIA and NSA Director Hayden pens an op-ed denouncing WikiLeaks
* Justice Department investigators “exploring whether Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks could be charged with inducing, or conspiring in, violations of the Espionage Act.”
* While Assange still in the UK prior to visiting Sweden, “FBI was carrying out operations on UK soil in relation to its investigation into WikiLeaks publishing activities”
* “Prominent commentators and former White House officials championed extraterritorial measures and the violation of international law ‘if necessary’”
Early August, pre-accusations:
* “Former speech writer for President George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen, published a Washington Post article entitled ‘WikiLeaks Must Be Stopped.’”
* Announcement of an “anti-WikiLeaks Task Force at the Department of Defence”, operating 24 hours a day with 80 staff.
* Brig. General Robert A. Carr “who runs “the Pentagon’s equivalent to the CIA”, the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was “handpicked” by Defense Secretary Robert Gates” to run the Task Force.
* US pressuring allies to prosecute WikiLeaks under their own counter-terrorism laws and to refuse Julian entry into their territories
* Australian government “publicly entertained the possibility of cancelling [Julian’s] passport”, again confirmed to be assisting US authorities
* US pressured Switzerland not to grant Julian asylum
11 August 2010: Julian travels to Sweden
13 August 2010: Julian’s personal bank cards blocked. Left without any access to funds.
19 August 2010: “Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) requested information about [Julian] from an Australian intelligence organisation”
20 August 2010: Sweden launches a “preliminary investigation” into Julian for “lesser rape”.
In researching this article, I read literally every tweet that had been sent by or about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange for the year of 2010 (no small task). I found that 90% of source links are broken. Countless articles appear to have been obliterated from the internet. Just as I showed in “Being Julian Assange” that much of the history of the original WikiLeaks-led support campaign for Chelsea Manning had been disappeared, it appears that much of WikiLeaks early history has been as well.
Julian once said: “George Orwell said that he who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future. This is never more true than with electronic archives… the electronic archive of most major newspapers is not trustable and the same goes with every other organisation. We have seen many, many examples of major newspapers such as The Guardian or The Telegraph pull material from their archive permanently, material that had been published… if you go to the URLs for those stories, you won’t see ‘this story has been removed’… you will see ‘Not found’ and if you search for the indexes of the newspapers you will see ‘Not found’. Those stories not only have ceased to exist, they have ceased to have ever existed. So the centralisation that is occurring in archive repository means that the censorship is very easy.”
In my research, I also reviewed mountains of related media. A collection of the most pertinent examples are below:
Julian’s 22 August 2010 interview with Al Jazeera is a must watch. He says he had received tips prior to the accusations against him to expect something like this could happen to him.
That same day, the spokesperson for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, Karin Rosander, was giving one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever seen. The insane exchange between her and an Al Jazeera news anchor went like this:
AJ Anchor: “Have you spoken to [Julian]?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “No”
AJ Anchor: “Any idea where he is?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “No”
AJ Anchor: “Are you looking for him?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “Not at the moment and the prosecutor in question doesn’t know yet whether she wants to interview him or not. She’ll be deciding that matter later.”
AJ Anchor: “Well surely that would be the first step – to try to contact the person at the centre of such an allegation, whether it turns out to be baseless or whether it has some basic in fact – surely the first step is to contact the person who has been accused?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “I can’t give you any details cos it’s under investigation.”
AJ Anchor: “Wouldn’t it be logical to try and talk to him?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “I can’t comment on that unfortunately.”
AJ Anchor: “Do you feel a bit embarrassed by all of this?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “No not at all, it’s not embarrassing.”
AJ Anchor: “Why not?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “Because this is normal procedure.”
AJ Anchor: “It’s quite normal to accuse somebody of rape then 2 hours later say, no, it’s not the case?”
Swedish Spokesperson: “Yeah it’s quite common that new information gets into a case and we have to revise earlier positions.”
It wouldn’t be the last time Sweden revised their position. Some days later, the case they opened then closed would be opened again, by a new prosecutor. Then closed again seven years later, only to recently be opened again. What a farce.
The desperation of the powers that be to separate the accusations against Julian from his publishing work with WikiLeaks was palpable and is evidenced in the wording used by major US news sources when reporting on the situation. A reporter for CBS News, on 1st December 2010 said “Well, in fact, he’s been put on a Wanted List in connection with a case of alleged sexual assault in Sweden. The prosecutors simply want to question him, no charges have been laid. And it has nothing at all to do with the thousands of documents leaked by WikiLeaks over the last few days.” [Emphasis added]
In stark contrast to this, Mark Stephens, Julian’s UK lawyer told the ABC on December 7th 2010: “I think there’s an attempt to criminalise Julian Assange and I think that’s what we’re seeing here. And it’s a traditional method of the black arts and the dark operatives – to criminalise somebody. And obviously when they’re fighting it they’re distracted from their main activities.”
On December 11th, 2010 Julian appears on Larry King Livealongside Daniel Ellsberg. Julian wants to talk about the tens of thousands of civilian deaths uncovered by WikiLeaks, but Larry just wants to talk about the rape accusations. Ellsberg says: “The so-called plumbers were looking for information with which to blackmail me into silence and I’m sure that kind of operation is going on now to try to – quote – neutralise – to use the Pentagon or the White House word, for the bearer of these messages…”
To Ellsberg and other seasoned targets of the US government, what was being done to Julian was plain as day. Yet all too soon, the allegations against him would be wielded not just as a tool to smear him, but as a wedge to attempt to divide him from his own organisation – WikiLeaks.
The Double-Edged Sword
It’s a refrain we’ve heard often from Julian’s critics – that the allegations against him, and he himself, should be separated from the support base for WikiLeaks.
http://bit.ly/g9JVXN Lets separate support for wikileaks from support for Assange – and his rape trial.
— :- (@subzerochi) December 29, 2010
This agenda has three effects: firstly, it upholds the fantasy that Julian wasn’t targeted for his work with WikiLeaks when he clearly was. Secondly, it pressures WikiLeaks to divorce itself from Julian, it’s founder, thereby agitating internal conflicts within the organisation itself, splitting it between those who understand that Julian was being scapegoated and were loyal to him, and those who would rather put their heads in the sand in the hopes of somehow salvaging the organisation from being tarnished by the association with something as hideous and provocative as the words “serial rape”.
But thirdly, and as I have no doubt the engineers of this narrative were fully aware – it is no more possible to divorce Julian from WikiLeaks in the public mind, than it was possible to divorce Kim Dotcom from the Internet Party in 2014, when this precise same tactic was used against him and it. Kim Dotcom is the founder, visionary and creative genius behind the Internet Party. Yet his 2014 election campaign staff were infected with this exact same insidious narrative: “We have to separate Kim Dotcom from Internet Party in the public mind in order not to associate ourselves with the charges against him.” They then spent half a year trying to do so and failing miserably, because in the public’s mind, Kim Dotcom was the Internet Party, just as the public quite rightly will never be able to be convinced that WikiLeaks isn’t Julian Assange.
The correct tack to take would have been for WikiLeaks to come out off the bat and say strongly: “Our publisher is being persecuted because of his work with us. We stand by him unequivocally.” Eventually, they did exactly that, but it took a lot of drama, and the departure of a few either gullible, faint-hearted or malignant people, to get there.
Take Back The Tried And True And Never Let Go
Jacob Appelbaum used to say that he was a proud member of the cast-iron club – an NSA term William Binney and he once had a public discussion about. It means those who have raised their head above the parapet sufficiently that they are going to be targeted and spied on by the intelligence agencies forever more, unceasingly.
I think of the cast-iron club a little differently. I think of it as those who have had everything that can be thrown at them, thrown at them; who have paid massive prices, and yet still continue to sacrifice, still continue to speak, still remain active. Still remain spiritually alive.
One of the few differences in Julian, Jacob and Trevor’s cases, was the way they responded to what happened to them.
Indomitable, Julian refused to let being smeared worldwide as a “serial rapist”, stop him doing what he did best. Although what he’s had to endure commandeered his attention, sapped his resources, and has ultimately come at a severe physical and mental price, so long as he was and is able to speak, to whatever extent he could or can, he never stopped speaking.
For Jacob it was harder. His social circle, his community, and much of what he held dear, were ripped asunder in 2016, pre-election, (and then likely again post-election). Tor was ripped in half, Chaos Communications Club was ripped in half, using tactics that I will touch upon in more detail at a later date. Berlin was ripped in half. De-platformed, shunned and scorned, he had little choice but to fade from the public eye. Although it is the most common advice to men who find themselves in that situation – apologise, step back, seek therapeutic remedy, take some time out – I personally believe it is the wrong approach.
Because it rewards the agencies who are behind the smears. The snuffing out of voices is why they keep using these tactics time and again. They benefit from it, we lose.
Likewise with Trevor Fitzgibbon. The entire infrastructure he had built with his P.R. company lay in ruins – even rendered into non-existence – the colossal damage to his professional and family life must have seemed insurmountable. It is a miracle that we did not lose any of these men to permanent despondency, mental illness or suicide. But I thank God for it. Because we need them.
We need their voices, their skills, their drive, their commitment, their experience, their loyalty to WikiLeaks and Julian and their advocacy work now more than ever before.
The vacuum left by their absence is undeniable. The damage to WikiLeaks as an organisation is undeniable. Now, at the time of greatest peril to Julian and to his life’s work, we need the cast-iron club back in action. We need them redeemed and we need them active.
Only we, the support base, can create the environment for that to occur. We need the truth about what happened to these men, and why, to be spread far and wide. We need to let them know that despite everything they have gone through, they are still loved, welcome and appreciated.
It is my personal hope that if enough voices are brave enough to stop worrying about their own social capital and set aside the implanted fear of being associated with “serial rapists”, embrace the truth of what really occurred, and lend our vocal support to restoring the ability of these men to again publicly pursue their life’s work, that they will feel comforted enough to return to their public advocacy.
We need Kristinn Hrafnsson to publish. Publishing is the strongest and most vital thing WikiLeaks could do right now. We need Jacob out there talking to his 100k followers about WikiLeaks again. We need Trevor writing and issuing press releases, responding to media inquiries, devising and pushing narratives and hooking up press opportunities again.
I believe WikiLeaks will be stronger as a result. Further – I believe it would greatly enhance the chance that the organisation will ultimately survive what has befallen it. You don’t have to look far to see that sources, whistleblowers, activists and journalists need WikiLeaks not to die. We need it active and strong. We must protect it, as it has protected so many others before.
WikiLeaks saves lives. It has saved the lives of at-risk journalists and whistleblowers. It has revolutionised journalism and source protection. It can only have a hope of continuing to do so, with our unrelenting support.
Sabotage, Threats and Defiance
As I was diligently working to complete this article and prepare it for publishing, I had a long-term close friend come to me in desperation, with what they said were critically important messages to me.
They wanted to talk to me about the content of this article, which I had shared with no one other than a trusted member of the WikiLeaks team and my own self.
They warned me against writing about Trevor Fitzgibbon. They referenced historical tweets from figures in his PR organisation, trying to convince me that Trevor Fitzgibbon was in fact a serial abuser (tweets I had long since examined). They threatened me that if I dared to publish the above content about him, that there would be massive backlash and attacks on me “in a few weeks” that they wouldn’t be able to protect me from.
They said they were coming as an emissary on behalf of someone who was close to Julian and to Jacob. They claimed that Julian wouldn’t approve, and that Jacob explicitly did not want to be mentioned in any article about Trevor Fitzgibbon. They said I would be attacked by “Anons”. They then cited word for word lines from my article to me, even though it was password protected and not available to the public.
I care about this person a lot, but I smelled the rat instantly. The RAT in fact. Yes, the Remote Access Tunnel. Throughout my crafting of this article, I had watched the familiar screen blink of a Remote Access link being established on my computer. For those that don’t know what that means, it means that someone was watching my screen in real time, or recording it, as I wrote this piece.
The funny thing about all this modern day spyware is that some of the basic functions are dependent on 90’s technology. Remote Access being one of them. To experienced targets who know what they’re looking for, it is recognisable, it has its own distinct fingerprint.
Being spied on, and certainly while I craft important and long-awaited articles, is nothing new to me. Nor is having people attempt to hoodwink me, distract me, or sabotage my work.
I reached out to Jacob to see if it was true that he had said he didn’t want to be written about in this article alongside my reporting on Trevor Fitzgibbon. He stated that he had never said any such thing, and suggested that it was important that I make note of what had occurred.
I asked my friend to divulge who it was that had compelled them to approach me with this lie about Jacob. He refused to disclose the source. Out of respect, I will not name my friend. But nor will I alter my reporting to suit unknown watchers and spies, or liars who feed me misinformation in an attempt to influence my writing.
So I told my friend that, in explicit terms. That he was being played, and that my reporting was MY reporting, and I sent the following tweet:
To the people obsessing over the idea that they’re exposed by my article / named in my article – you aren’t. Get over yourselves.
To those sending me proxy threats through my friends – if you want to smear or attack me, you can take a number and get in line. It’s a long one.
— Suzie Dawson (@Suzi3D) June 7, 2019
I have no doubt that I will suffer major attacks on my reputation and perhaps even my person, this year. I have pending campaigns and actions that I have not announced publicly yet, which will put me on the shit list even worse than I already am from everything I’ve done to date, or from writing articles like this.
Those who threaten me are messing with the wrong Kiwi.
I fully anticipate pending tabloid exposes and slanted depictions of my past or present relationships; dumpings of the contents of my social media accounts, or the Unity4J Discord channels, of my DM’s, audio or video files of my personal life, exposures of my relationships with my children or family, my phone calls, Zoom chats or any other miserable, underhanded, lowlife, intelligence agency-backed smear operation that comes my way. They operate with deniability, so it will appear to be a personal betrayal rather than a state-level attack, but we aren’t stupid, and we know full well who will ultimately be behind it, no matter how good their cover or their coordination is.
I fully expect to be meted out in part or in whole, exactly the type of treatment that Trevor, Jacob or Julian have been dished up. I expect more smear articles about me, Wikipedia pages with surreptitious negative edits, accusations that I am a terrible person/friend/mother/activist/political party President, take your pick, or all of the above.
And despite it all I will continue to work. And I will continue to speak. Even if they depict me as the greatest monster known to humankind: I will continue to work, and I will continue to speak.
It is only when we remain impervious to their attacks and prove our resilience to them, that we will undermine their effectiveness.
When we, as viewers, readers and supporters, cease to be hooked in by tabloid narratives, bottom-feeding trolls and Reality TV-style salaciousness, we can finally transcend these methods of the destruction of activists and movements, and start to achieve some real change.
Bob Marley said “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?” In this day and age – “How long shall they call our prophets serial rapists while we stand aside and look?”
When I think of Julian, I think of his work and his contribution, and the significance of it. When I think of Jacob, I think of his work and his contribution, and the significance of it. When I think of Trevor, I think of his work and his contribution, and the significance of it.
That is why they were and are attacked. That is why I have been and will continue to be attacked. Their courageous endeavours are what we all must mimic, or at the very least stubbornly support, so that it’s not just a few pariahs brave enough to stand up to Empire. So that it can be all of us.
I have watched every whistleblower and journalist of worth before me be relentlessly persecuted and attacked. Indeed, I’ve spent many years defending them, debunking the smears at length. I’ve seen them attacked from every direction and desecrated in every way. Any time that it happens to me, no matter how scurrilous, vicious or humiliating, it is a badge of honour.
I am not scared and I will not be cowed.
To Be Continued…
There will be two more parts to this article. In the second, we are going to talk extensively about WikiLeaks in the context of Trump and Russia. In the third part, I’m going to talk about the movement to free Julian past, present and future, and provide my very own survival guide for activists and organisers jumping into the fray on this; the most important emancipation movement of our generation.