Assange and allies claim vast conspiracy as extradition fight hits home stretch
Two women in Sweden allege they were sexually assaulted by Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder. Assange and many supporters say they're part of a vast conspiracy against him.
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Journalist Parmy Olson alleges in her new book, "We Are Anonymous," that Wikileaks had cultivated ties with LulzSec, the loose-knit hacker collective that had five of its members arrested in the UK and US in March. The arrests followed months of investigation after LulzSec hacker Hector Monsegur was uncovered by the FBI and turned informant to avoid jail time. Mr. Monsegur, working under the handle "Sabu," provided evidence that other LulzSec members were involved in the theft of internal emails at the consulting company Stratfor, which were then given to Wikileaks for dissemination.Skip to next paragraph
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Wikileaks' legal protection for the documents it provides is that it doesn't solicit illegal activity, and merely acts as any news outlet would when information is provided to it. But actively soliciting illegal activity would be another matter, and something that the FBI would surely be interested in pinning on Assange.
In Ms. Olson's telling, Assange contacted one of the Lulzec members who was later arrested on June 16, 2011, because Wikileaks was interested in "infiltrating several Icelandic corporate and government sites." Olson writes that Lulzec member "Topiary" (later arrested and revealed to be Jake Davis of the UK) and Mr. Monsegur, already working as an FBI informant, participated in an Internet-relay-chat conversation with Assange and another Wikileaks supported identified only as "q."
"Assange and q appeared to want LulzSec to try to grab the e-mail service of government sites, then look for evidence of corruption or at least evidence that the government was unfairly targeting WikiLeaks," Olson writes. "The picture they were trying to paint was of the Icelandic government trying to suppress WikiLeaks's freedom to spread information. If they could leak such evidence, they explained, it could help instigate an uprising of sorts in Iceland and beyond."
If her reporting holds up (there has not yet been any independent corroboration) that provides a link, albeit an extremely tenuous one, to hackers involved in the theft of data. There's no evidence any criminal activity was ever directed at the Icelandic government, and the men involved were still involved with Anonymous, a larger hacker collective of which LulzSec is an offshoot, at the time. No evidence has been presented of any Wikileaks coordination with the successful effort to steal Stratfor's data. And if there is any such evidence, it will almost certainly come to light, given Monsegur's extensive cooperation with the FBI at the time the Stratfor files were stolen.
For now, Assange faces no formal charges of any kind. The extradition request from Sweden is for questioning, and the US has made no formal requests for his extradition, from any country. Wikileaks itself is almost entirely consumed with Assange's legal battles. There have been no actual leaks for some time.