Assange empowers those in need - it’s time we allowed him to stand up for us Australians.
Because of WikiLeaks the people of Kenya learned that their government was carrying out extra-judicial killings and stealing billions of dollars of public money. The people of Iceland also learned the details of a banking scandal that their media were forbidden to report.
In late 2008, WikiLeaks published a local NGO report on Kenyan Human Rights abuses. This had previously been difficult as the report detailed Kenyan police murdering Kenyan citizens. Later, the local authors who contributed to its content (Oscar Kamau Kingara, and John Paul Oul) were assassinated in Nairobi two weeks after they presented their findings to the government in 2009.
WikiLeaks also published a leaked report on financial corruption in Kenya that appeared to be from the accounting firm, Kroll. The report detailed how members of Kenya's previous government stole billions of dollars of public money. ‘The looting of Kenya’ became a major news story both in Kenya and worldwide, and may have affected the Kenyan elections in 2007. Questions about the report's authenticity and its merit are disputed, but major media published stories imply it was authentic.
In 2009, an Icelandic news channel reported that although they had a story about possible fraud at a major Icelandic bank, the government censored them. To get around the censorship, the news channel filled the allotted airtime with a static shot of the WikiLeaks.org logo. At the time, the site featured leaked documents detailing the Icelandic bank's corruption. The Icelandic government soon lifted the gag order and bankers were imprisoned for their crimes.
Assange's participation in Parliament constitutes a contradiction of his - and WikiLeaks' - anarchistic politics.
Assange is (or at least, at one point, explicitly identified as) a political anarchist. He argues that government and the state operate on a foundation of lies and secrets - what he calls ‘conspiratorial government’ - that leaking can help to undermine and reveal. This is also the principled basis upon which WikiLeaks is founded.
Anarchism is not - as popular opinion, or the media, would have us believe - merely the pursuit of ‘chaos’ and ‘disorder’, but a sophisticated ideology premised on opposition to externally imposed hierarchy. One of its most famous adherent, Pytor Kropotkin, describes it as “the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government - harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.”
This is the social vision that motivates Assange, and provides the inspiration for WikiLeaks. Assange describes ‘transparency activism’ as WikiLeaks' operational principle, claiming the organisation's modus operandi is to “get out suppressed information into the public.” This aim of ‘setting information free’ has an explicitly anarchist political aim: to undermine the capacity of what Assange calls ‘conspiratorial government’ to keep secrets. Through the use of new technologies - especially computers, encryption technologies, and the Internet - WikiLeaks has positioned itself to undermine the capacity of the state to maintain conspiracies. As Assange told Time in 2010, when deceptive organisations are placed under public scrutiny, they can either “reform in such a way that they can be proud of their endeavours, and proud to display them to the public”, or they can “lock down internally and balkanize, and as a result of course, cease to be as efficient, open and honest, or the can be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient”. WikiLeaks aims to ‘split’ these conspiracies by “eliminating important communication channels”. By revealing secrets through leaks, hierarchical organisations are less able to conspire. Leaks thus help to “carry us through the mire of politically distorted language and into a position of clarity”, with the hope of inspiring citizens towards “a course of ennobling and effective action.”
In participating in the upcoming Federal elections, WikiLeaks - and Assange himself - is fundamentally contradicting its ideological and operational principles. Perhaps they can bring more transparency and accountability to state institutions. But to do so by participating in the hierarchical structures they condemn, and which produce such barbarism as they've been set up to reveal, seems contradictory. Assange's reflections on ‘conspiratorial government’ (written when he participated in the ‘Hacktivist’ movement) can be found here.
The WikiLeaks Party brings new ideas and real people - not politicians - to the Senate.
None of the WikiLeaks Party Senate candidates have held public office before. That's a good thing. They are Australians with real jobs: professionals, workers, and activists. They have worked as: diplomats, social scientists, environmentalists, Indigenous education consultants, community activists and feminist scholars. It's time real Australians - who haven't been caught up in party politics - got back into our government. The Senate is a great place to start.
Some of the personal details of the WikiLeaks Party candidates can be found on the WikiLeaks party website. The Australian Media has had little to say about the candidates, but this report from New Zealand backs up some of the claims the party makes on its website.
The only ex-politician attached to the WikiLeaks Party is their Campaign Manager, Greg Barns. He used to be a candidate for the Liberal Party (Tasmania) before falling out with PM John Howard overAsylum seeker policy, and the culture of the ALP in general. His still publishes his views on political issues quite frequently.
Assange shows no concern for national security and the rule of law - a senator must respect those.
We can debate whether Julian Assange has strengthened democracy, but the facts prove that he has broken laws, disregarded governments, and prefers anarchy to order. Assange admitted to crimes as a hacker, defied the rule of law in England, and decides for himself what should be secret - instead of honouring what elected governments decide.
In the 1990s, Assange called himself “Mendax” when breaking into computer networks. He was arrested in 1995 and pled guilty to 25 charges after 6 were dropped. The judge who sentenced Julian Assange noted that he believed Assange had hacked into computer systems out of curiosity and to empower himself, rather than personal gain. The judge warned that if Assange had not had such a disrupted childhood, he would have been imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Assange is currently defying British and Swedish law. While it is important to note that Assange has not yet been charged with a crime by Swedish officials, he is hiding from an Interpol extradition request to arrest him in Sweden. Specifically, the Swedes stated that they were “requesting the arrest of Assange in order to enable implementation of the preliminary investigation and possible prosecution.” Assange's legal team argued that the request was not enough for extradition to Sweden. The Swedes felt that because Julian Assange's “surrender is sought in order that he may be subject to criminal proceedings”, he should be extradited.
The British Judge for Assange’s case ruled that “there is an unequivocal statement that the purpose of the warrant is for prosecution”, and that, despite other concerns that were raised but not substantiated, Assange should be sent to Sweden. Assange appealed to higher court and lost. After losing the appeal, he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – in defiance of British law.
It is important to communicate that the criminal complaints against Assange concern rape. Specifically, two women contacted Swedish Police and described situations that constitute rape under Swedish law. The interviews that these victims gave to Swedish police suggest that they were involved in rough sexual encounters that escalated to acts that they did not previously consent to (including penetration). Further, they were unsure whether Assange stopped specific acts (penetration without a condom) when they asked him to. A full translation of these interviews is available online, or if you prefer you can read the original Swedish.