Tag Archives: Trevor Fitzgibbon

Not In My Name: Academics Publicly Attacking UN Torture Rapporteur

I am a survivor of rape, gang rape and the abusive police process I was subjected to when I reported it and I am fed up with watching sexual violence being used as a cover for political attacks on Julian Assange, his colleagues and his supporters.

I am not alone. Numerous other survivors have reached out to me tonight expressing the same sentiment and we deserve to be heard.

Today, members of what is supposedly a women’s advocacy group published an open letter addressed to UN top brass, from the Secretary-General on down, complaining about an article written by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and attempting to call into question his suitability for his role.

Melzer has recently transformed the debate around 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Julian Assange’s situation by formally finding that Assange is a victim of state-sponsored (and publicly perpetuated) psychological torture.

The content of the open letter undermining Melzer is founded on a premise of advocating for and protecting the rights of women and of survivors of sexual violence. Yet when I self-identified as a survivor in tweets to the organisers of the open letter and dissented against their opinions, they belittled me and were dismissive of my arguments.

Yes, the very women who should have been most sincere about unpacking the experiences and feelings of a survivor of sexual assault could not muster a single shred of empathy for me, nor did they express even the mildest concern for my wellbeing or safety, despite my clearly having been triggered by the conversation.

The very women who complained in their open letter against Melzer, of “insensitivity to victims of sexual assault” and “..a profound lack of understanding…” were themselves apparently incapable of demonstrating any sensitivity or understanding when dealing directly with a survivor.

And it is thus, the issue. Too often the theory that is advanced that “we must support victims!” and “we must centre the voices of women and survivors!” doesn’t match the practice. Despite being self-styled advocates, academics and lawyers, they were simply too wrapped up in themselves to have the time of day for a lowly survivor of sexual assault who was outside of their clique. They  weren’t considerate of my right to my own opinions and weren’t prepared to consider them.

I can’t help but notice that their attitudes stand in stark contrast to that of Melzer himself. Standing in the harsh light of their accusations, he handled himself with poise, grace and more – with willingness to engage, receptiveness to their arguments, and with a concerted focus on bettering outcomes for survivors.

He even thanked them.

Twice.

The reactions of those same women to my (and others) inquiries couldn’t have been any different from Melzer’s reaction. Instead of welcoming our input or engaging in constructive dialogue, they defaulted to posturing themselves as the victims, proclaiming on social media that they were being attacked. While continually boasting of having added further signatories to their attempt to undermine Melzer’s career.

Sadly, Melzer is not a lone target of the tactic of organised mass signings of an open letter being employed against him. WikiLeaks PR Consultant Trevor Fitzgibbon was the subject of an open letter signed by 72 progressive organisations decrying him as a serial abuser of women. Their lobbying efforts against him brought down his successful business and destroyed his career and his marriage, prior to him being cleared of all charges after lengthy investigations by authorities. Fitzgibbon subsequently won a defamation case against his primary accuser, after revelations of her private text message communications with him (available on the court record) made it clear that he had never raped her. His accuser has now retracted her accusations.

Likewise the activism career of WikiLeaks advocate Jacob Appelbaum was destroyed by similar tactics. Open letters were used to de-platform him at major tech conferences and hackerspaces, including one he co-founded. The public shaming campaign against him eventually boiled down to a sole complainant of sexual assault – by a person who has since gone on to make extremely dubious allegations against two other high profile members of the tech industry and is likewise now facing defamation proceedings as a result.

As a survivor of rape, it is gutting to have to continually watch people who profess to act in defence of women attack and destroy good men in the name of protecting survivors. I can not simply sit by and allow rape to continue to be weaponised for political gain.

Therefore I am writing my own open letter in response to that penned by Melzer’s critics, both in direct response to the substance (or lack thereof) of their claims, and to draw a line. A line that says, if you take this man down, it will not be in our name.

If academics read this response and are principled and brave enough to co-sign it, that is great. However I am most interested in platforming and amplifying the voices of regular people, many of whom will also inevitably be fellow survivors, who too often are the forgotten or silent majority, while the circus of these tar-and-feather public shaming campaigns continues unabated.

It is only by speaking out that we can stop them. And it is way past time.

Not In My Name: Open letter in response to the open letter by purported women’s advocates attacking the credibility of UN Special Rapporteur for Torture Nils Melzer

To: Ms Michelle Bachelet Jeria, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Ms Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights; Coordination Committee of UN Special Procedures (chair Ms Anita Ramasastry, Mr Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Mr Javaid Rehman, Ms Leigh Toomey, Mr Clément Voulé and Mr Dainius Puras)

On 1st July 2019 an open letter was penned to your excellencies that has so far been co-signed by 150+ people who identify themselves as “practitioners and scholars in international law and human rights”.

The authors of the article assert:

  • They “are deeply disturbed by the way [Melzer] approaches the allegations of sexual assault in this case.”
  • that Melzer’s “tone is unbecoming of a UN mandate holder
  • that Melzer “dismisses the allegations on the basis that they do not “have the ring of rape in any language other than Swedish”. Mr Melzer’s statement is incorrect.”
  • that Melzer “grossly misunderstands the realities and legalities of sexual assault when he dismisses the allegations against Mr Assange on the basis that they “do not involve any violence”.
  • that “Allegations against powerful or high-profile men such as Julian Assange are routinely dismissed as attention-seeking or part of a conspiracy to bring them down. Mr Melzer’s “op ed” perpetuates this dangerous narrative

They concede:

  • that Melzer’s “overarching argument may merit attention
  • that in their arguments, they will be “leaving aside whether this is an accurate summary of the events of the case”
  • that “Mr Assange has fundamental rights to freedom from torture, a presumption of innocence, and a fair trial.

The crux of the assertions of the authors of the open letter hinge upon a portion of an interview Melzer gave to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges on his show On Contact. They quote Melzer as having said:

“I think it is also important to point out what is called a “rape” allegation is not by any stretch what would be called “rape” in English or any other language other than Swedish, and I know what I’m talking about because I do speak Swedish. What this “rape” allegation refers to is an offence that doesn’t involve any violence (…) [Assange] is being accused of having ripped a condom during consensual intercourse (…) this is something no one will ever be able to prove.”

But here is what Melzer actually said word for word:

I think it is important also to point out that what is called a rape allegation is not by any stretch what would be called rape in English or any other language than Swedish in the world and I know what I’m talking about because I do speak Swedish. So, what this rape allegation refers to, an offence, that doesn’t involve any violence.” 

In the interview, Melzer stresses the words “an offence”. This can be heard precisely at 10:57 in the interview. It is the offence itself, stipulated in the Swedish law books, that was specifically designed for when violence was not used in the course of the action.

The English translation of the law is insufficient to explain the precise wording of the definition of the charge. The original Swedish law text makes implicitly clear that it applies only to instances of lessened violence than a forced penetration. That is why it is usually reported in English-language media as “lesser rape”. In the Swedish language, the implied lessening of the level of violence is even more pronounced. Which is why Melzer was explaining that he is fluent in Swedish. Because of that, he was able to interpret the full meaning of the wording of the laws, and therefore the nature of the allegations, in a way in which English speakers cannot.

Therefore the accusation that Melzer was trying to depict rape as a non-violent act is completely false. This invalidates the core premise of the original Open Letter of complaint against Melzer.

Melzer was simply describing an offence as it existed in 2010 on the Swedish law books. That law has since been changed in 2018. The 2018 interpretation appears to be closer to what the authors of the Open Letter wish to ascribe; however it simply was not relevant to Melzer’s credible and learned assessment of the original 2010 offence invoked against Assange.

The signatories to the Open Letter are signing it on the understanding that it contains an accurate depiction of Melzer’s actions. However, as evidenced above, the letter does not. Therefore it is a fundamentally flawed document, a misuse of the network being employed to amass signatures, a potential risk to the academic reputations of the signatories and a disservice to those on whose behalf it seeks to advocate.

Although the above sufficiently nullifies the allegations of professional impropriety falsely levelled at Melzer there is another issue which I wish to briefly cover off.

The open letter seeks to posture itself as being unbiased and objective, as well as to distance itself from any potential debate about the specifics of Assange’s case. Despite the fact that Melzer’s cited commentary was entirely specific to Assange’s case.

Unfortunately, even the most rudimentary research has unearthed that the primary organisers of the open letter have, in public, been far from unbiased towards Assange.

Out of respect, I will not name names at this point, as the purpose of this letter is not to engage in public shaming, however I am in possession of screenshots of multiple past statements published by the top proponents, organisers and signatories of the open letter making false, defamatory and biased statements about Julian Assange from their professional social media profiles and platforms.

Those statements echo some of the precise wording exhibited by state actors who have ultimately been responsible for the psychological torture of Assange that Melzer exposed.

Likewise, there is evidence of direct ties between the authors of the letter and some of the most voracious and defamatory critics of Assange that exist in the mainstream media sphere. The biases are deep and the relationships clear for all to see, with a few simple keyword searches.

It needs to be recognised and understood, that when Melzer exposed the public “mobbing” and psychological torture of Assange, that many professional human rights and legal advocates who had failed to act on Assange’s behalf or in solidarity with his plight across a number of years, themselves became tacitly implicated in his persecution. Whether it be because they had fallen victim to malicious mainstream reporting about his case, or whether it was due to their own ties to the states that have been and are actively persecuting him, they have been shown in action to have not lived up to their professed principles. That hypocrisy is publicly embarrassing. There are many professionals who would project themselves as being against torture, who have one way or another in this case, become complicit in it. Whether deliberately, or by their silence.

The correct action would be of course for them to acknowledge their error, atone for it and pick up the baton that Melzer has bravely carried thus far. Not to attack Melzer, undermine him, shame him, use social media to “mob” him as Assange was subjected to for so many years,  or seek to distract from the severity of the implications of Melzer’s findings.

It was bad enough that a publisher went most of a decade being tortured in the heart of a major Western capital city with so few in the professional class daring to speak against it. Let us not see those same tactics now be allowed to be wielded against a UN Special Rapporteur too. We cannot allow those who, be it purposefully or inadvertently, contributed to the torture of a publisher, become the public prosecutors of the Special Rapporteur who exposed the torture.

What Melzer has done, in thoroughly researching in minute detail the case of Julian Assange, is historic and lends great credence and weight to the reputation of the United Nations as a whole. I know of many who had frankly lost faith in the organisation, only to have it restored by Melzer’s courage, tenacity and attention to detail. His is a significant achievement, undertaken in good conscience and in the face of overwhelmingly powerful and hostile forces, and for that he should be rewarded and not punished.

My 2018, 24,000-word research tome about the Assange case, called Being Julian Assange was read by over 140,000 people on this website alone, not including the multiple other locations and countries in which it was republished. In that piece, which was tweeted by Julian Assange shortly before he was silenced, as well as by WikiLeaks, Christine Assange and countless others, I wrote an important piece of testimony, about what it feels like as a survivor to watch the allegations against Julian Assange bandied about as “rape” all these years. I feel compelled to quote it in full:

The apparent inability of self-styled defenders of women to differentiate between the physical and deliberate violence of actual rape, such as Bill Clinton’s rape of Juanita Broderick, compared to disagreements over condoms or in the case of Appelbaum, non-consensual back-washing, kissing someone in a bar, propositioning someone or making bad jokes, undermines and is frankly depressing to, those of us who are survivors.

Sexually harmful behaviours and other aspects of rape culture can and should be denounced and deplored, without having to equate it to rape. The proclivity of the liberal set for doing so waters down and diminishes the experience of rape victims, and the seriousness of it. It seems to be yet another function of privilege, to bandy about terms such as “rape”, “rapist”, and “serial rapist” without understanding the repercussions of doing so.

Rape is an assault on all five senses. For a protracted period of time thereafter, it renders you almost unable to live inside your body, to live inside your life. Unable to preserve your sensory perceptions or restore them to how they functioned before the rape.

To falsely describe sexually problematic behaviour common amongst the entire population as “rape” belittles and undermines survivors, as does unfairly expanding the definition of what constitutes a rapist, or branding every man a rapist by affiliation. Doing so causes many men who are not rapists to recoil from confronting what does need to change. It dissuades them from meaningfully engaging on legitimate issues. It encourages an inevitable and counterproductive backlash, that needn’t have occurred.”

This reflects a broad societal trend to blur the lines of what rape is, to expand its definition by using terms like “rapey“, a term often invoked in relation to Assange. I addressed the use of that term also.

“The term “rapey” is itself, offensive. With its use, the definition of rape is being willfully expanded into borderline meaninglessness and obscurity. As if there can be “racisty” or “sexisty” or “homophobicy”. There cannot. Rape is an absolute, and a serious crime against humanity. The term should not be callously invoked; watered down for the social convenience of he or she exercising the privilege inherently wielded when bastardising the language of the violated.”

Given that the eyes of many who believe themselves to be defenders of women are likely to read this letter, I felt it important to highlight those passages. Because foremost in the minds of those who advocate for survivors must be a concerted effort to understand how we feel, our wish to preserve the words which describe our experiences, and to retain ownership of them much as any marginalised or vulnerable group does with language used to describe them. Rape is a word that should be used with respect for the price those of us who have experienced it paid. It should never be callously bandied about, its definition should never be allowed to become meaningless, and the accusation of it should never, ever be used as a political weapon.

It is possible that in his research, Melzer read the above quoted passages and was affected by them. If so, I am grateful, and if not, I know that others were and will be.

But if Melzer is to now have rotten fruit thrown at him in the town square for breaking taboos to defend a victim of torture who others did not, then it will not be in my name.

Authored by: Suzie Dawson

Co-Signed By:

SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT WHO CLAIM THEIR RIGHT TO BE RECOGNISED AS SUCH AND HAVE THEIR VOICES HEARD:

            1. Suzie Dawson, Journalist and activist
            2. Ariyana Love, Journalist and Human Rights defender
            3. Beth Wendy Grundfest-Frigeri, Disabled activist
            4. Grayden Shelley, Artist
            5. Kitty Hundal, Retired, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, Author
            6. Rachel Collins, Housewife
            7. Lilain Duffy, Sociologist
            8. Caitlin Johnstone, Journalist, Poet
            9. Sarah Freeis, Activist, Artist
            10. Sandra Hewett, Unemployed
            11. Halo Benson, Mom
            12. Reverend Elisa Standridge Howell, Minister and Spiritual Advisor
            13. Sarah Jane Brennan, Independent Journalist, Human Rights Activist
            14. Sarah Taylor, Researcher
            15. Caressia Blair, Unemployed
            16. Pema Than, Parent, Scientist
            17. Christine Dopf, M.Sc, Activist
            18. Helena Jennie, College Professor
            19. Raine James, Forklift Operator, Mother
            20. Joanne Maree Le Mura, BA – Community Services, Community Development, Human Rights Advocate
            21. Sharon K. Raum, Retired
            22. Louise Bennet, Media Advisor
            23. Nicki Myers, Musician
            24. Carrie Ellsworth, Student
            25. Meaghan Walker, Researcher, Writer
            26. Teresa Marshall, Massage Therapist
            27. Diane Friedman, Retired Health Professional, Peace Activist, Mother, Grandmother
            28. Hope Kesselring, Writer
            29. Dr. Christine DeCarlo, Disabled Activist
            30. Taurean Benson, Husband and Father
            31. Annabelle Hodge, Mother
            32. Courtney Imholt, Homemaker
            33. Danielle J. Dunkley, Student
            34. Carmen Powers, Grandmother, Activist
            35. Doug, Retired Musician and Teacher
            36. Lily Torres, Engineer, Mother
            37. Tam Brewer, Retired, Activist
            38. Jayne Jackie Brown, Mother, Peace and Human Rights Activist
            39. Carol Watt, Chinese Medicine Practitioner
            40. Nadia N. Kira, Painter, Art Therapist
            41. Bella Magnani, Researcher
            42. Lorese Vera MA., Teacher, Writer, Editor
            43. Joanne Doran, Lecturer of Health Sciences
            44. I. E., Writer
            45. Vivian Kubrick, Composer, Filmmaker
            46. Irene Potashner, Project Coordinator
            47. Kat Irvine, Self-employed
            48. Alice Bergot, Artist
            49. Cleonarda da Venezia, Carer, Artist
            50. Kim McMahon, Student
            51. Patricia Call, Human Rights Activist
            52. V. V. R., Disabled Activist
            53. Eloïse Vanhouteghem, Illustrator
            54. Jill P. Michaels, Retired
            55. Siobhan Cawson Mooney, Musician, Activist
            56. Leslie Stein, Retired
            57. Kyra Moore, M. Ed., Teacher
            58. Wiesje Slot, Activist
            59. Jude Fleming, Human Rights Defender, Writer
            60. Sandra Hill, Researcher/Analyst, Mother, Student
            61. Madeleine Love, Independent Scholar, Senate Candidate (AUS)
            62. Ally Cordingly, Educationalist
            63. Animae Jones, Retired, Activist
            64. Marti Babb, Small Business Owner
            65. Stephanie Marsilia, College Lecturer, Licensed Psychotherapist
            66. Leanne Ramirez, Retired US Military
            67. Shari Nolder, Activist, Artist, Caregiver
            68. Eul Liester, Sales Worker
            69. Melinda McCracken, Retired
            70. Graham Elwood, Political Comedian, Filmmaker
            71. Ann Garrison, Journalist
            72. Dr. Marni Sheppeard, Unemployed Theoretical Physicist
            73. Julie Meyer, College Access Professional
            74. Lauren Ellis, Case Worker, Artist
            75. Cynthia George, Advocate for the Elderly
            76. Rosie Ingram, Mother, Grandmother
            77. Kristin Bright, Truck Driver, Humanitarian
            78. Quinn Petersen, Activist
            79. Deborah Hendry, Educator, Counsellor, PhD Candidate
            80. Hali Cespedes-Chorin, Technical Writer
            81. Susan Neece, Art Therapist
            82. E. Schemer, Artist
            83. Lorraine Tipton, Co-founder, American Mothers Party
            84. Esther Hendriksen, former International Policy Advisor
            85. Martin K. O’Connor, Unemployed
            86. Rosita Allinckx, Activist, Artist
            87. Ken Black, Entrepreneur
            88. Mairi Nicola Morrison, Legal Scholar
            89. Nel Lane, Activist, Writer, Social Justice Advocate
            90. Kylie McCrimmon, Intensive Care Nurse, Mother
            91. Elpo Damianou, ex-UNHCR Congo
            92. Kristine Rael, Piano Teacher
            93. Yvonne Holzmayer, Teacher, Mother
            94. Hamed Pakatchi, Graduate Student
            95. Elise Tak, Artist
            96. Kit Jones, Licensed Psychotherapist/Mental Health Counsellor
            97. M. Mayermiar, Veteran
            98. Johanna Harman, Supporter
            99. Lauren B. Wilson, Disabled Activist, Artist
            100. Pamela Anderson, Activist
            101. Deepa Govindarajan Driver, Lecturer, Trade Unionist, Mother
            102. Adele Margaret Goldie, Artist, Peace Activist, Worker
            103. David Denton, Government Worker
            104. Carol Hale, Retired Federal Public Defender, Investigator
            105. Dr. Lilliana Corridor, Marine Biologist, Oceanographer, Human Rights Defender
            106. Charmaine Jones, Chef, Grandmother, Activist
            107. Barbara Kim Thigpen, Grandmother, Consumer advocate, Teacher, Activist
            108. Tamara Otello, Retired Social Worker
            109. Ania Nowakowska, Graphic Designer
            110. Ginger Beeler, Operating Room Sterilizer
            111. Kara Seboldt, Data Analyst
            112. Marirose Walker, Disabled Activist
            113. Magda Hassan, Psychotherapist, Educator
            114. JoAnn Maschè-Daane, Activist, Artist
            115. Dr Carol Mackenzie, Urban Social Scientist
            116. Susan Chandler, Disabled Activist
            117. Arturo Íñiguez Yuste, Principal Administrator, European Economic and Social Committee
            118. Rasili O’Connor, Musician, Copyeditor
            119. Steve Jimenez, Journalist
            120. Damian Nicell, Mental Health Advocate

          OTHER CARING HUMAN BEINGS STANDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH NILS MELZER:

          1. Louise Bracken, Retail Cashier
          2. Niki Konstantinidis, Barrister and Solicitor
          3. Lohan Gunaweera, Visual & Performance Artist, Translator
          4. Dr. Thomas Harvey, Honorary Research Associate in Philosophy, University of Auckland
          5. Clinton David Hohneck, Engineer
          6. Laura Genovese, School Secretary
          7. Marijke Hultzer, Retired journalist
          8. Taylor Hudak, Journalist and activist
          9. Rasmus Sylvester Forsberg Outzen, Intelligence activist
          10. Paula Iasella, Broadway Costume Design/Wardrobe
          11. Paul Neville, Retired
          12. Laura Killian, Unemployed Academic (Science and Engineering), Pirate Party Australia
          13. John Anthony Giles, Retired
          14. William Hogan, Professor
          15. Linda Hagge, Retired University Instructor
          16. Nicholas Woodward, Painter
          17. Stacy O’Neill, Teacher
          18. Mary-Ann Jones, PhD, Retired Scientist
          19. Julie Milicevic, Educator
          20. Vivek Nayak, Data Entry Office Worker
          21. Cassandra Fairbanks, Journalist
          22. Patricia Perlo, IT Business Analyst
          23. Jessie A. Kim, Small Business Owner
          24. Roger Close, Unemployed, Former DJ, Student
          25. Tyler McMillan, Consultant
          26. Lorilee House, Retired Editor
          27. Bruce Turnbull, Pensioner
          28. Deborah Thomas, Hand Therapist
          29. Flavia Westerwelle, Self-emplyed Artist
          30. Kendra Christian, Sales Manager
          31. Michele Cochrane, Retired University Administrator
          32. Clare Smith, Self-employed
          33. Mary Naylor, Retired Teacher, Poet
          34. Jason Brinkman, Retired
          35. Marie Apap, Teacher
          36. Laura Eckert, Artist
          37. Joslyn Erica, Social Worker, Herbalist, Mother
          38. Michelle Wood, Activist, Mother, Naturopath
          39. Concerned Citizen, Portland Activist
          40. Alex Hills, Activist
          41. Marty Cook, Teacher
          42. Chris Lonsdale, Psychologist, Linguist, Educator, Entrepreneur
          43. Lorraine Harvey, Retired
          44. Gordon Dimmack, Independent Journalist
          45. Ann Batiza, PhD., Retired Academic
          46. Chris Leising, Photographer
          47. Daniel Wirt, Medical Doctor
          48. Fabel Arostegi, Teacher
          49. Celia Moore, Carer, Swimming Teacher, Activist
          50. Dave Donnellan, Peace Activist
          51. Dragos Savu, Accountant
          52. Lynne Bon de Veire, Artist
          53. Stephen Boni, Essayist, Editor, Storyteller
          54. Ian Colville, Product Manager
          55. Nic, Retired Mental Health Worker
          56. Lorese Vera, MA, Teacher, Writer
          57. Anna Moras, Executive Assistant
          58. Shaista Salam, Peace Activist
          59. Lucinda Manning, Activist, Archivist, Feminist, Librarian
          60. Noah Baslaw, Student
          61. Kristin Scott, Therapist
          62. Humberto Arturo Reaza Jr., Teacher
          63. Odette Louise Stevens, Artist
          64. Monique Jolie, Unemployed
          65. Rob Trimmer, Security Guard
          66. Nina Cross, Teacher, Writer
          67. Mehdi Taileb, Activist
          68. Shona Davidson, Retired
          69. Tatiana Schild, Mother, Activist
          70. George Szamuely PhD., Author
          71. Charlotte Gracias, Project Manager
          72. Elizabeth Hamilton, Grandmother, Disabled Activist
          73. Somerset Bean, Graphic Designer
          74. Julie Collier, Homemaker
          75. Bradley C. Hughes, former Greens Counsellor and Deputy Mayor, Randwick, NSW
          76. Judy Driggers, Mother, Grandmother
          77. Pierre Studler, Plumber
          78. John Hayward, Pensioner
          79. Stephen Perrett, Small Business Owner
          80. Christian Larsson, Student
          81. Jose Rivera, Builder
          82. Belinda Curtis, Support Worker, Accomodation Manager
          83. Spring Grace Eselgroth, Copy Editor, Activist
          84. Theodore W. Altmeter, Retired
          85. Elizabeth Mueller, Activist, Researcher
          86. Jenni Hall, Investigative Research and Screenplay Writer
          87. Paula Murphy, Supporter
          88. Jean B. Palmer, Supporter
          89. Serena Ferrario, Unemployed
          90. Francois Guesdon, Unemployed
          91. Jennifer Lyon, Clinical Librarian
          92. Sasha Mitrovich, Retired
          93. Annika Dahlbäck, Acupuncturist
          94. Lissa K. Johnson, Clinical Psychologist
          95. Elizabeth Hawke, Retired
          96. Jean Chevrier, Self-employed
          97. Mike Hurt, Web Developer
          98. Göran Stål, Osteopath
          99. Roseanne Martorana, Physical Therapy Driver, Dog Walker
          100. Tristan Roch-Desparois, Hardware Store Worker
          101. Anna Palczynska, Nurse
          102. Brad Lacke, Freelance Artist
          103. Satu Hiitola, Supporter
          104. W. Hall, Supporter
          105. Christa Oberwalder, Activist
          106. Freyja Inanna, Nurse, Midwife
          107. Michael Inanna, Engineer, Healing Retreat Manager
          108. Eleanor Boyd, Retired Teacher
          109. Claire Lowe, Complimentary Therapist
          110. Jane George, Author, Illustrator
          111. Lyndsey Young, Receptionist
          112. Wilson Mpalweni, Journalist
          113. Juan Rebes, IT Consultant
          114. Dennis Revell, Property Management, Technical Research
          115. Karina Fernandes, Self-employed
          116. Andreas Schwarzmeier, Engineer
          117. Karen Sprowl, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Nurse
          118. Davena Turvey, Retired Actor
          119. Barry J. Fleming, Consulting Director, Technologist, Activist
          120. Tricia Rajabipour, CT Tech
          121. Nozomi Hayase, PhD, Author
          122. Danielle Wood, Artist, Activist
          123. Donna Piranha, Anthropologist, Activist
          124. Elvira Ferreira, Activist
          125. J. Bogoeva, Supporter
          126. Miguel de Sousa Pires, IT Worker
          127. James Miller, Carpenter
          128. Irene Heitsch, Housewife
          129. Sherry Clayton, Musician
          130. Jeanie Schmidt, Nurse, Mother
          131. Pete DeLorenzo, Musician, Restaurant Worker
          132. Vanessa Byrne, Mother, Homemaker
          133. Chris Whitside, Writer, Producer
          134. Donna Moon, Home Healthcare Provider
          135. Tom Pappalardo, Uber Driver
          136. Jon Krampner, Activist, Author
          137. Colin Goodayle, Retired Public Servant
          138. John McEvoy, Journalist
          139. Calvin Benson, Whistleblower Advocate
          140. Cory Twinney, Pharmacist
          141. Yvonne Langlois, Retired Administrator
          142. Frank Hopewell, Network Rail
          143. Desiree Assaad, HR Specialist
          144. David Sutton, Unemployed Engineer
          145. Isabel Oliveira, Supporter
          146. Jenny Trigg, Retired Health Worker
          147. Magnus Mickelsson, Software Developer
          148. Kimera Muwanguzi Anthony, Photographer, Farmer, Small Business Owner
          149. Shannon Shipley, Lead Organizer for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
          150. Arianna Marchionne, Scientist
          151. Bjørnar Simonsen, Sociology Student
          152. Mary Kostakidis, Journalist
          153. Carl Clarke, Human Resources Manager
          154. Michael Fitzgerald, Commercial Real Estate Broker
          155. Fionnuala Hendrick, CEO
          156. Liesbeth Nieuwenweg, Webmaster
          157. Anne Ridgley, Translator
          158. Tresilla Wood, Homemaker
          159. Lauren Richardson, Investor
          160. Maria Mollenkopf, Disabled
          161. Greg L. Bean, Information Systems Architect
          162. Kate Hecimovic, Higher Education Administrator
          163. Patrick Coss, Unemployed
          164. Tom Heron, Recording Engineer, Teacher
          165. Sandra Lewis, Child Carer
          166. Raphael Steele, Engineer
          167. John Mayall, Software Professional
          168. Lorine Brice, Supporter
          169. Andrew Mcguinness, Lecturer
          170. David Macilwain, Independent Writer, Activist
          171. Dane Owen, Supporter
          172. Jim Kavanagh, Former Professor, Political Analyst
          173. Elissar Hanna, Student
          174. Bjørn Danielsen, Systems Architect
          175. Maarten Vos, Student
          176. Tuan Tran, History Teacher
          177. Linda Hanakova, Healthcare Worker
          178. Paul J. Zickler, High School Teacher
          179. Tony Ansell, Sales Worker
          180. André Forsberg, Medical Student
          181. Mary Henning, Filmmaker
          182. Kathleen Cain, Supporter
          183. Sylvia Bennet, Retired Theatre Professional
          184. Zeina Farah, Political Scientist
          185. Sue Worp, Speech Language Pathologist
          186. Kent Kingsley, Self-Employed
          187. Roy David, Writer
          188. Carol Barnes, Former Domestic Abuse Coordinator/Advisor
          189. Alex Tiedemann, Supporter
          190. Jacqui Ham, Musician
          191. Emily E. Hamilton, Cook
          192. Lianne Rowe, Artist, Psychologist
          193. Alex Mazey, Poet, Essayist
          194. Vincent Abinet, Self-Employed, Teacher
          195. Tamara Thomas, Property Manager
          196. Juliet Smith, Teacher, Mother
          197. Brett Smith, Naturopath
          198. Pete Hallpike, English Teacher
          199. Mara Modesto-Wrobel, Retired
          200. Peter Thomas, Team Manager
          201. Teresa Bear, Certified Public Accountant
          202. Mehrzad Mahmoudian-Geller, College Professor
          203. Mark Brooks, Writer, Retired Business Person
          204. Jodi Thomas, Housewife, Former Senior Physiotherapy Assistant
          205. Colleen Whittemore, Retired
          206. Brian Robinson, Retired
          207. Gary M. Lord, Activist
          208. Paul Mansfield, Civil Servant
          209. Dr Lawrence Taylor, Activist, Retired Chiropractor
          210. Fiona Hansen, Supporter
          211. Lisa Cardon, Retired Nurse
          212. Rob Skinner, Supporter
          213. Mara Kupka, Screenwriter, Performer
          214. Fletcher Lenz, Auditor
          215. Manfred Pürro, Software Architect
          216. Cathy Raats, Supporter
          217. Victoria Husemeyer, Fund Manager
          218. Claus Bang, Mathematician
          219. Amin Talha, B Arch, PMP
          220. Christine Assange, Mother of persecuted journalist Julian Assange
          221. Susan Inman, Retired
          222. Karen Lawson, Supporter
          223. Elmarie van der Merwe, Activist
          224. Valentina Flex, Archivist
          225. Olga Christensen, Graduate
          226. Hans Jørgen Kjærnet, Supporter
          227. Kelly Kolisnik, Web Developer
          228. Jack Yan, Publisher
          229. Stephanie Wilson, Supporter
          230. Sonia Soares, Supporter
          231. Omer ElSouri, Journalist
          232. Gadi Nisenholz, Programmer
          233. Deborah Meyer, Retired, Artist
          234. Uschi Schueller, Artist, Human Rights Activist
          235. Michael Joyce, Supporter
          236. Anna L. E. Price, Administrator
          237. Manuela Alava, Lab Technician, Student
          238. Alan L. Stewart, Author, Activist
          239. Chris Whittington. Retired Programmer, Publisher
          240. Cheryl Browne, Supporter
          241. Charlene Parsons, Entrepreneur
          242. Anne Hinde, Supporter
          243. Nabil H., Disabled Activist
          244. Sue Stathoris, Supporter
          245. Dan Smith, Analyst
          246. Brenda Bonnici, PhD., Pharmacist
          247. I. Zvonko, Supporter
          248. Michael Zakko, Student
          249. Spyros Marchetos, Historian, School of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
          250. Sergio Mauro, Engineer
          251. Alison Hunter, IT Systems Analyst
          252. James Fields, Supporter
          253. Tania Yegdich, Retired Mental Health Educator
          254. Judith Tanner, Supporter
          255. Caspar Nørgaard, Photographer
          256. Bernie Cunningham, Supporter
          257. Cristina Mérchante, Supporter
          258. Katrina Watson, Researcher
          259. Currie Dobson, Supporter
          260. Kimber Maddox, Graphic Designer
          261. F. P. Turner, Self-Employed
          262. John Read, Interpreter
          263. Yukari Miyamae, Translator
          264. Mercy Wolf. Activist, Mother, Marriage Celebrant
          265. Jie Wang, Customer Service
          266. Abby Brickler, Supporter
          267. Jeff Bunsell, Software Developer
          268. Jerome Davis, Accountant
          269. John Thomson, Real Estate
          270. Jim Moore, Engineer
          271. Gera Shumaker, Supporter
          272. Daryl Snow, Retired Firefighter (FRNSW)
          273. Rodney Lomax, Disability Pensioner
          274. Nick Bruechle, Writer
          275. Ian Caruana, Engineer
          276. Shaun Davis, Geologist
          277. Raul Ilargi, Writer
          278. Kathy Fannin, Retired Informatics Manager
          279. Dominique Lorec, Translator
          280. Ronnie Mitchell, Supporter
          281. Alain Schenkel, teacher
          282. Karyn Hemming, Mortgage Broker
          283. Christiane Reuthner, Industrial Engineer, Student
          284. Thushara Wijeratna, Software Engineer
          285. Rachel Markoff, Unemployed
          286. Matthew Prockter, Investment Adviser
          287. Oana Halla, Housewife, former IT Systems Administrator
          288. Julian Tol, Tech Entrepreneur
          289. Daeha Ko, Web Developer
          290. Dominique Michel, Artist
          291. Christopher Dawson, Cybersecurity Architect
          292. Miriana Demas, Supporter
          293. Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Media Professor
          294. Catherine Curtis, Actor, Stuntwoman, Coach
          295. Mike Gajda, Retired
          296. Cynthia Pryce, Investments
          297. Karen Logan, Artist
          298. Rodney Taylor, Supporter
          299. Maranke Spoor, Permaculture teacher, Artist, Jurist
          300. Brandon Zsoldos, Portfolio Manager

        [This page is being continually updated.]

        CC: The 150+ academics engaged in signing their names to the open letter to complain about Melzer, named here, and:

        Prof. Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

        H.E. Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

        Ms Beatriz Balbin, Chief of Special Procedures Branch

        Mr Coly Seck, President of the Human Rights Council

        Mr Christophe Peschoux, UN Chief of Section for mandates on torture, religion and belief, and human rights and counter-terrorism

        Ms Peggy Hicks, Director, Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division

Freeing Julian Assange: Part One

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

    This is a table of my findings:

    Analysis Table

(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

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 [2016] 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. 

Revisionist History

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

June 2010:
* 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 bedesperately 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

July 2010:
* 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 Live alongside 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. 

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:

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.

Stay tuned!

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts  via donation. To support the incredible work that WikiLeaks does please donate to WikiLeaks here. To contribute to Julian Assange’s legal defence fund click here. Or donate to help the Courage Foundation save the lives of whistleblowers. Thank you!