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Posts Tagged ‘WikiLeaks’

Julian Assange To Be Extradited To Sweden

February 24, 2011 1 comment

OK. So what now? First, Assange may win the trial in Sweden. That’s perfectly possibly. Second, I honestly doubt he’d be extradited to the US from a EU country. That’s because on the one hand, there have been no charges filed against Assange in the US yet (as it’s not even sure he committed any ‘crime’ that’s currently in the books), and on the other hand, if there will be, there are of course serious concerns about his life and health.

The United States today ranks among the developmental countries in the world when it comes to treatment of prisoners (especially political prisoners, like Assange would be); in that respect, the US is on par with Libya and China. Just consider the treatment of detainees on Guantánamo Bay, and that of the WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. These people are being deprived of basic human rights, being solitarily confined for months or years on end (which amounts to torture). They come out of it scarred for life. So, if European norms and values with respect to the rule of law mean anything at all, there will be no extradition to a country like the United States.

The Guardian:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange will appeal, his legal team confirmed. If this is unsuccessful, he will be extradited to Sweden in 10 days.

(…)

Assange has been fighting extradition since he was arrested and bailed in December. He has consistently denied the allegations, made by two women in August last year.

At a two-day hearing earlier this month, his legal team argued that Assange would not receive a fair trial in Sweden. They said the European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by Sweden was invalid because the Australian had not been charged with any offence and that the alleged assaults would not be legitimate extraditable offences.

Assange fears that an extradition to Sweden would make it easier for Washington to extradite him to the US on possible charges relating to the release by WikiLeaks of leaked US embassy cables.

If this was to happen, Sweden would have to ask permission from the UK for the onward extradition. No such charges have been laid, though the website’s activities are under investigation in the US.

‘Shell heeft grote invloed op buitenlandbeleid kabinet’

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Dat bericht de NRC, op basis van weer een nieuwe WikiLeak (pdf). Dit na het bericht dat ook een tweede ambtenaar, deze maal van Jan Peter Balkenende’s Algemene Zaken, de Amerikanen aanspoorde om persoonlijke druk uit te oefenen op Wouter Bos inzake Afghanistan.

Wat een shit komt er toch naar boven… En opnieuw zal de betrokken minister het afdoen met ‘Daar kunnen wij niet op ingaan, dat is voor rekening van de Amerikanen’. Dat zal, hoop je, op een gegeven moment toch niet meer volstaan. Welke belangen dienen onze ambtenaren eigenlijk?

NRC:

Een Nederlandse topambtenaar heeft namens Shell tegenover de Amerikaanse ambassade het woord gevoerd over sancties tegen Iran. Deze werknemer van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken was van 2006 tot 2008 uitgeleend aan olieconcern Shell om daar op de afdeling overheidsrelaties te werken. Toen de ambtenaar na deze detachering weer op het ministerie werkte, bleef hij op de Amerikaanse ambassade de standpunten van Shell uitdragen.

„Koninklijke/Shell heeft grote invloed op het Nederlandse buitenlandbeleid” staat in de codeberichten van de Amerikaanse ambassade in Den Haag die in bezit zijn van NRC Handelsblad en RTL Nieuws. De naam van de ambtenaar krijgt in deze diplomatenpost de aanduiding „protect”, wat aangeeft dat de identiteit van deze bron extra beschermd moet worden.

De regels zijn dat „de ambtenaar tijdens zijn detachering absoluut niet het woord mag voeren namens Shell”, liet een Shell-woordvoerder vanochtend weten. Ook daarna „heeft hij geen bemoeienis” meer met het bedrijf, aldus de woordvoerder. „Eenmaal terug op het ministerie is hij uit beeld.”

Uit de diplomatenpost ontstaat echter het beeld dat het olieconcern en de overheid samen optrokken. In de minstens drie gesprekken die de topambtenaar tijdens en na zijn detachering met VS-diplomaten voerde deed hij uitspraken over Shells investeringsbeleid, over mogelijke reputatieschade en over het besluit de activiteiten in Iran niet op korte termijn uit te breiden wegens de gevoelige politieke situatie. Wel wil het bedrijf „een vinger in de pap houden” voor de lange termijn. Tegelijkertijd lichtte de ambtenaar de ministeriële uitgangspunten over nieuwe Amerikaanse sancties toe.

Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken zegt in een reactie dat „er geen sprake is van belangenverstrengeling omdat de medewerker [tijdens zijn detachering] werkzaam is voor Shell, door Shell wordt betaald en niet door Buitenlandse Zaken wordt aangestuurd.” Shell betaalde aan het ministerie het salaris van de hoge ambtenaar tijdens zijn detachering.

Shell is het winstgevendste bedrijf van het land en een van ’s werelds grootste multinationals. Shell „heeft evenredig veel greep” op de overheid, stelt de ambassade in 2009. Het detacheringsproject wordt hiervoor als bewijs aangedragen. De laatste jaren heeft de ambassade bijna honderd ‘cables’ verstuurd over Shell. Daarin wordt ook een conflict met Rusland uitgediept. Toenmalig bestuursvoorzitter Jeroen van der Veer zou de Russische zakenpartners van „maffia-achtige praktijken” hebben beticht.

US State Department Officials: WikiLeaks Caused Little Damage

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well well, it seems that all the talk about WikiLeaks causing damage to American diplomacy and interests – leading right-wing commentators to label Julian Assange a ‘terrorist’ and call for his assassination – has been severely overblown.

I still think that a whisteblowers’ organization like WikiLeaks should take care to redact documents so that individuals like Afghan informants will not be harmed; and that releasing documents about either diplomatic gossip or vulnerable infrastructure is either unnecessary or irresponsible; but otherwise, it’s transparency 1, secrecy 0.

Now what about those criminal charges against Assange and those who aided him, like the Dutch Rop Gonggrijp?

The Guardian:

The damage caused by the WikiLeaks controversy has caused little real and lasting damage to American diplomacy, senior state department officials have concluded.

It emerged in private briefings to Congress by top diplomats that the fallout from the release of thousands of private diplomatic cables from all over the globe has not been especially bad.

This is in direct opposition to the official stance of the White House and the US government which has been vocal in condemning the whistle-blowing organisation and seeking to bring its founder, Julian Assange, to trial in the US.

A congressional official briefed on the reviews told Reuters news agency that the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. “I think they want to present the toughest front they can muster,” the official said.

The official implied that the WikiLeaks fiasco was bad public relations but had little concrete impact on policy.

“We were told [it] was embarrassing, not damaging,” the official added.

It appears that damage was localised in terms of a few specific cables, for example about Yemen, and thus expected to be containable in the long-run.

(…)

So far WikiLeaks has released just a fraction of a cache of diplomatic messages which came into its possession. It has done so with the co-operation of several global news organisations like the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel.

WikiLeaks, en een nieuwe missie in Afghanistan

January 18, 2011 1 comment

Thank God for WikiLeaks. De door NRC en RTL gekaapte cables bevatten weliswaar geen wereldschokkende informatie, maar zoals inmiddels gebruikelijk wel genoeg om een aardige blik achter de schermen van het politiek bedrijf te krijgen.

Wat mij betreft mag wat nu naar buiten komt over de handelwijze van actoren in vorige regeringen meewegen in de besluitvorming over een nieuwe missie naar Afghanistan. Zoals bijvoorbeeld het dankzij WikiLeaks nu bekende gegeven dat de veiligheidssituatie in Uruzgan in 2006 veel ernstiger was dan het Nederlandse publiek is voorgehouden. En de Amerikaanse bewering – vandaag door minister Rosenthal weliswaar ontkend, dus het is hun woord tegen het zijne – dat een topambtenaar van Buitenlandse Zaken een buitenlandse regering heeft gevraagd om druk uit te oefenen op een minister in het kabinet waar hij onder dient. Ook al vertolkt de partij van die minister, de PvdA, al jarenlang de mening van het overgrote deel van de Nederlandse bevolking in de kwestie terzake.

Ik zou weleens willen weten: hoe is de situatie in de nieuwe locatie, Kunduz, nú echt? Welke shady back deals vinden er op dit moment plaats rondom de huidige besluitvorming over een nieuwe Afghanistan-missie? Het is dankzij WikiLeaks dat we de gerechtvaardigde impressie krijgen dat er bij zaken als deze, vanuit een optiek van “nationaal belang”, door zekere actoren altijd gemarchandeerd wordt met enerzijds de mening van het publiek, en anderzijds die van een groot deel van hun politieke representanten, zelfs als die in de regering zitten. Ik hoop dat D66, GroenLinks en de ChristenUnie dat meenemen in hun overweging. 

Wie de Groene Amsterdammer van deze week leest, kan – als hun reportages kloppen – bijna niet anders dan tot de conclusie komen dat Nederland ook nu weer naar een desolaat oorlogsgebied gestuurd wordt, waar nauwelijks aan enige zinnige hulp of opbouw gedaan kan worden. Als er echt iets gedaan kan worden ben ik voor, maar als het weer alleen om onze trans-Atlantische standing gaat – net als, blijkbaar, jaren geleden – dan zeg ik: laat maar.

Swiss Bank Secret Wikileak

January 17, 2011 2 comments

2,000 super-rich from all over the world are sh*tting their pants right now. Julian Assange has personally obtained cd-roms with banking information from the high-profile Swiss bank Julius Baer. Former head of the Cayman Islands office of that bank, Rudolf Elmer (picture above), gave the disks to Julian Assange at a press conference today. The data will allegedly reveal tax evasion on a grand scale by the individuals. There are supposedly 40 politicians and “pillars of society” on the list. This is a nice opportunity for Assange to improve his tarnished reputation. According to the New York Times:

[Elmer] told The Observer newspaper over the weekend that those named in the documents come from “the U.S., Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia — from all over,” and include “business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates — from both sides of the Atlantic.”

Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks would verify and release the information, including the names, in as little as two weeks. He suggested possible partnerships with financial news organizations and said he would consider turning the information over to Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, a government agency that investigates financial corruption.

Mr. Elmer said he had turned to WikiLeaks to educate society about what he considers an unfair system designed to serve the rich and aid money launderers after his offers to provide the data to universities and governments were spurned and, in his opinion, the Swiss media failed to cover the substance of his allegations. “The man in the street needs to know how this system works,” he said, referring to the offshore trusts that many “high net worth individuals” across the world use to evade taxes.

On Monday, Mr. Elmer declined say how he had obtained the documents, which were on two CDs. He faces trial in Switzerland on Wednesday on charges of stealing the information from the bank. He was held for 30 days in 2005 over allegations that he violated Swiss banking secrecy laws, falsified documents and sent threatening messages to two people at the bank.

WikiLeaks and Bank Julius Baer previously clashed in early 2008 when the anti-secrecy organization published hundreds of documents pertaining to its offshore activities. On that occasion, it did not identify the 15 individuals concerned. But the bank succeeded, briefly, in gaining a court order to shut down the WikiLeaks.org Web site anyway. The injunction was subsequently overturned and the case was dropped.

Liveblog Nederlandse WikiLeaks-cables

January 14, 2011 1 comment

Allright, NRC en RTL hebben de goods online. Zie ook Cable Search.

Nieuwsbericht: Beatrix sprak over missie Afghanistan.

Nieuwbericht: Bos enige tegenstander verlenging.

Update: Nieuwe cable over bezoek Balkenende aan Obama. Waarin o.m. staat dat Verhagen bang was dat opname van Guantánamo-gevangenen in Nederland de populariteit van Wilders zou doen vergroten; dat Nederland harder roept dan handelt over klimaatverandering; en dat Beatrix waarschijnlijk binnen een jaar zou aftreden.

Update: Absurd eigenlijk hoe veel die kabinetsleden de Amerikanen vertellen. Van Middelkoop noemt de besluitvorming in het kabinet tegen de ambassadeur “frustrerend”. Classy.

Update: Belangrijkste nieuws is ongetwijfeld Beatrix die een voorstander blijkt van de Afghanistan-missie (net als het merendeel van de Nederlandse elite, de ‘senior body politic’). Edit: De Volkskrant houdt er een andere interpretatie van de term “finding a way forward” op na.

Verder schijnt Wouter Bos nogal alleen te hebben gestaan in het kabinet én de PvdA-Kamerfractie met zijn verzet. Amerikanen hadden ook enorm de pik op Bos en de PvdA.

Opmerkelijk vind ik (maar daar heb ik verder nog niemand over gehoord) dat Bos wel in vertrouwen tegen de Amerikaanse ambassadeur heeft gezegd dat Nederland na 2010 nog wel in Afghanistan zal blijven, alleen niet in Uruzgan.

Ook aardig is dat de relatie tussen Verhagen en Koenders omschreven wordt als “gespannen, maar niet vijandig”. Van Middelkoop wordt beschreven als ‘het derde wiel aan de wagen’.

Authentieke cables te bekijken hier: codeberichten 1150 (15 juni 2000), 114457 (5 juli 2007), 222211 (25 augustus 2009) en 241007 (21 december 2009)

Codebericht 241007 (21 december 2009), over kabinetsberaad:

1. (S) SUMMARY: Dutch cabinet deliberations on Afghanistan are stalled going into the holiday break, with no clear indication when the impasse will be broken. Dutch post-2010 commitments to Afghanistan are being held hostage to the Labor Party´s (PvdA) uncompromising stance. Ambassador´s engagement with key leaders reveals few new assessments: Dutch will likely stay in Afghanistan focusing on training, enablers and development – outside of Uruzgan. END SUMMARY

4. (S) PvdA – Bos has completely shunned the diplomatic corps, relegating Afghanistan discussions to Koenders who has categorically said the Dutch will not be in Uruzgan after 2010 except for development efforts. The Australian Ambassador met with PvdA Foreign Affairs spokesperson Martijn van Dam who was even more unyielding on the Uruzgan departure. He stated that if Dutch security was needed in Uruzgan for development efforts after 2010, then the Dutch would simply stop those efforts as well. The PvdA defense spokesperson opined that it would not be of any benefit for U.S. leaders to engage either Bos or van Dam as they were not “open-minded” on Afghanistan. The PvdA is a party in disarray; their December 12 party congress was very mixed. Although there was no formal party statement made on Afghanistan, Labor´s position remained clear – it was standing firm on withdrawal of all troops from Uruzgan in 2010. Bos has stated he wants a Cabinet decision around January 8, before the Davids Commission issues it report about the political support the Dutch Government gave the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in 2003. Press commentary after the party congress heavily criticized Labor for failing to recognize: (1) any positive developments in Uruzgan over the past two years; (2) the importance for the Dutch to support the new NATO strategy and mission; and (3) the lives lost Qthe new NATO strategy and mission; and (3) the lives lost needlessly and effort wasted if the Dutch withdrew from Uruzgan   

Codebericht 222211 (25 augustus 2009), o.m. over Beatrix:

1. (C) This cable continues reporting on post´s efforts to get the Dutch to “yes” on a post-2010 deployment in Afghanistan (reftels).

2. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Labor Party leader Bos told the Ambassador in confidence (STRICTLY PROTECT) the Dutch will likely stay in Afghanistan post-2010 but not in Uruzgan. The cabinet will probably not take that decision until the end of the year. Post recommends next steps in our engagement (para 7). END SUMMARY.

(…)

4. (S/NF) Bos then said the Government, with Labor Party support, will be able to stay in Afghanistan after its current mandate expires, but not in Uruzgan. The Ambassador pressed Bos that it was more logical for the Dutch to remain in Uruzgan where they had developed important contacts with local tribes and leaders as well as funded numerous projects. Bos admitted this was true, but did not know if staying in Uruzgan would fly with his party. 
 
 6. (S/NF) COMMENT: Queen Beatrix commented to the Ambassador during her credentialing ceremony on August 19 that finding a way forward on Afghanistan “would be difficult,” but must be done. It appears the senior leadership of the body politic agrees. We had heard from other Cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Verhagen, that Bos and the Labor Party would likely agree to extending the Dutch mission in Afghanistan past 2010. Bos´s statement, however, was the first time any senior Labor Party leader had made that clear. Although appearing to draw a line in the sand about leaving Uruzgan, Qappearing to draw a line in the sand about leaving Uruzgan, Bos did not seem categorical about that issue. In our engagement, we need to continue to stress the Alliance need for the Dutch to remain in Afghanistan and in Uruzgan, in particular; the progress the Dutch have made in Uruzgan and the need to build upon their stability and development efforts there; the increased U.S. contribution in military and civilian personnel and resources in Afghanistan; and the enhanced contributions of NATO and other partners. A word of caution – the Dutch are concerned Jan Mohammed, the former governor and local warlord, might be re-appointed governor of Uruzgan if Pres. Karzai is re-elected. If that were to happen, everyone, including our strongest supporters, says the Dutch will not/not return to Uruzgan under any circumstances. END COMMENT.    

Codebericht 114457 (5 juli 2007), over relaties binnen het kabinet:

1. (C) Summary: The GONL sent a letter to the Dutch Parliament on June 30 noting it will decide this summer whether to extend its ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The decision will follow an exhaustive review of all options, including staying in the mission´s current capacity, reducing its contribution or moving to another location, or even withdrawing altogether. Cabinet officials have stressed that “all options are on the table,” while public statements by Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop in favor of remaining in some capacity may have tipped the hand of the GONL and temporarily unsettled the political process. Dutch officials are cautiously optimistic that the conditions are in place to arrive at a positive extension decision, but stress that sequencing is vital: first the review of options, then consultations with Allies, followed by a decision and subsequent debate with Parliament. End summary.

(…)

19. (S//NOFORN) Working level contacts describe the relationship between Verhagen and Koenders as “contentious but not outright hostile.” Instead of direct confrontation, the two often wage battles through their staffs at the working level, said MFA Security Affairs Chief Robert de Groot. That said, when the two ministers agree, the resulting decision has added weight and is often “ironclad.” Van Middelkoop is described as “the third wheel,” or the “inexperienced junior partner” by working level contacts. While substantively knowledgeable, his inexperience in the government is obvious, and he often defers to Verhagen and Koenders.  

 

Codebericht 1150 (15 juni 2000), over Servië:

1.(C) SUMMARY: THE DUTCH ARE PLEASED THAT THE 6/13-14 EU GAC ENDORSED MORE FREQUENT UPDATES OF THE EU SERBIA VISA BAN LIST. THEY THINK THEY NOW HAVE A POLITICALLY RESPONSIVE TOOL TO PRESSURE MILOSEVIC AND HIS REGIME. THEY STILL SUPPORT CLOSER EU COORDINATION WITH NON-EU STATES ON FINANCIAL SANCTIONS, BUT SEE LITTLE PROSPECT OF AN EU CONSENSUS ON THIS POINT. THEY SUGGEST MORE AD HOC APPROACHES TO THIS PROBLEM AND WELCOME FURTHER BILATERAL CONSULTATION WITH THE U.S. FINALLY, THE DUTCH SAY THAT THE UK AND THE NETHERLANDS ARE “BRAINSTORMING” ON HOW TO MANAGE ANTICIPATED AUGUST CALLS TO DROP OUTRIGHT THE EU SERBIA FLIGHT BAN. END SUMMARY.

16.00 UUR WIKILEAKS-BOM NEDERLAND

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Daar gaat m’n dag… Om 16.00 uur hierrr inchecken! RTL en NRC hebben alle diplomatieke cables uit standplaats Den Haag in handen gekregen. 3000 berichten, van 2000 tot 2010. En gaan daar lekker over berichten. O.m. over Beatrix die zich uitliet over de Afghanistan-missie (zie onder).

NRC:

RTL Nieuws en NRC Handelsblad hebben de beschikking gekregen over de duizenden diplomatieke codeberichten van de Amerikaanse diplomatieke dienst uit Den Haag. Het gaat hier om rapportages van de Amerikaanse ambassade in Nederland aan de Verenigde Staten. RTL en NRC hebben inzage gekregen in alle codeberichten vanuit Nederland in de ruim 250.000 WikiLeaks-documenten.

RTL Nieuws en NRC Handelsblad kregen toegang tot de stukken via de Noorse krant Aftenposten, die enkele weken geleden, buiten de WikiLeaks-organisatie om, alle 250.000 diplomatieke berichten in handen kreeg. RTL en NRC berichten vandaag om 16.00 uur over een deel van de documenten. RTL doet dit in een extra RTL Z-bulletin bij RTL 7 en NRC Handelsblad vanaf vanmiddag in de krant en op nrc.nl. Later deze week volgen meer berichten over de rest van de stukken.

De twee Nederlandse nieuwsorganisaties maken deel uit van een kleine club van Europese media die de handen ineen hebben geslagen om de tienduizenden diplomatieke berichten te onderzoeken en journalistiek te duiden. Naast Aftenposten, RTL Nieuws en NRC gaat het om Svenska Dagbladet (Zweden) en Politiken (Denemarken).

Alexander Klöpping heeft al wat lekkages:

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