Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o exílio de Julian Assange em Londres

Em Junho de 2012, Julian Assange refugiou-se na embaixada do Equador, em Londres, para evitar ser detido e extraditado para a Suécia, onde é procurado no âmbito de um processo de abuso sexual. O fundador da Wikileaks receia que essa investigação seja apenas um pretexto para o seu envio posterior para os Estados Unidos. E, desde então, nunca mais saiu da representação diplomática equatoriana. No entanto, isso não o fez parar: realizou uma série de entrevistas (transmitidas em O Informador, no ano passado), dirigiu-se à Assembleia Geral da ONU, escreveu um livro, candidatou-se ao senado australiano e, envolveu-se na fuga de Edward Snowden. Este artigo da Vanity Fair explica como. 

Foto da esquerda: OLIVIA HARRIS/REUTERS/LANDOV; Foto da direita: NEIL HALL/REX USA

Foto da esquerda: OLIVIA HARRIS/REUTERS/LANDOV; Foto da direita: NEIL HALL/REX USA

Julian Assange hasn’t set foot outside Ecuador’s London embassy in more than a year—avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault. But physical confinement seems only to enhance his reach. The WikiLeaks founder has video-addressed the U.N., launched a Senate campaignin absentia in his native Australia, entertained Lady Gaga, and played a key role in the case of N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden. As several movies depict aspects of Assange’s story, Sarah Ellison focuses on the center of his web.

I. Dead End

Every afternoon, at four o’clock, a small group of demonstrators gathers outside 3 Hans Crescent, in London’s Knightsbridge district, to protest the confinement of a man inside the embassy at that address. The man hasn’t set foot beyond the embassy since June 19, 2012, the day he walked through its doors to avoid extradition from Britain to another country, where he is facing allegations that, he contends, are merely a first step in his eventual extradition to the United States.

The man is Julian Assange, the 42-year-old Australian who is best known as the founder (in 2006) and public face of WikiLeaks, the nonprofit Web site that publishes previously secret material. In April, the organization released its largest trove to date, a database of approximately 1.7 million declassified diplomatic records from the years 1973 to 1976 that WikiLeaks refers to as “the Kissinger Cables.” In 2010, in partnership with The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The New York Times, and others, WikiLeaks began releasing more than 450,000 military documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. The documents had been provided by Bradley Manning, an army private stationed in Iraq, who, when tried in military court, was found not guilty of “aiding the enemy” but guilty of espionage, theft, and computer fraud. Despite Manning’s statement that he had first tried to get his information to both The Washington Post and The New York Times, the prosecution argued that it was “obvious that Manning pulled as much information as possible to please Julian Assange,” and said that Assange “had found the right insider” in Manning. WikiLeaks is under investigation by the Justice Department, and there are reports that a sealed indictment exists for Assange himself. In the meantime, for the past year, he has been living in a small room—reportedly 15 feet by 13 feet—at the Ecuadoran Embassy, largely unseen by the public. He has most recently surfaced as a prominent adviser to Edward Snowden, a former “infrastructure analyst” at National Security Agency contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, who last June leaked details about top-secret U.S. surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Assange’s living space, a former embassy office, is located on a ground-floor corner overlooking a small dead-end street. His window sits above one of the hundreds of thousands of security cameras that blanket London, and when I visited the embassy in June, two Metropolitan Police vans were parked just outside. WikiLeaks says the building is watched by about a dozen British police officers at any one time. According to Scotland Yard, the authorities have so far spent $6 million to keep Assange under a watchful eye (and to keep him in place at the embassy). Early on, officials from Britain’s Foreign Office were threatening to remove Assange from the embassy against his will. In his first two months there, the Ecuadoran consul, Fidel Narváez, slept at the embassy to serve as a diplomatic presence at all times and thereby “protect” Assange from the aggressive police attention. Narváez told The Prisma, a London-based newspaper published in both Spanish and English, that he got to know Assange well during that time. “It’s certainly true that we talked a lot over those months, especially at times when we were alone, at night,” Narváez said. In July, Ecuadoran intelligence found a microphone hidden in the office of the ambassador, Ana Albán. The intelligence officials were doing a routine search in preparation for a visit from the country’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, who said that the device appeared to have been planted by a private investigation company, the Surveillance Group, Ltd., adding that the bugging represented “a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments.” The company has denied involvement.

Assange took refuge at the embassy in June 2012, shortly after he lost his bid in the British courts to prevent extradition to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning in relation to the alleged sexual assault of two women. (He has yet to be charged with a crime.) At first, Assange slept on an inflatable mattress on the floor that the ambassador brought from her own apartment nearby. Assange found that the noise from the street outside his window disturbed his sleep. After exploring the embassy for a quiet room, he settled on the women’s bathroom, where the embassy staff reluctantly removed the toilet so he could sleep there. He has a lamp that mimics natural light, to enhance his psychological well-being, and he jogs every day on a treadmill, a gift from the film director Ken Loach. The embassy has installed a shower for Assange’s use. There is a fireplace with a Victorian white mantel in his room, and a small round table of blond wood, on which Assange keeps his computer. Several shelves line the walls. Assange eats a combination of take-out food—he keeps the restaurants from which he orders secret, for fear his food might be poisoned—and simple Ecuadoran dishes prepared by the embassy staff. He is able to receive visitors, including Sarah Harrison, the 31-year-old WikiLeaks researcher who met up with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, where Snowden initially hid from the American authorities, and helped deliver to him a temporary Ecuadoran travel document that Assange and Fidel Narváez had reportedly secured.

The Ecuadoran Embassy itself is modest—a suite of 10 rooms on a single floor of a red-brick Victorian pile, with no bedrooms and no facilities except a small kitchenette. For atmospherics, imagine the offices of a private upscale medical practice that for some reason is partial to flags of yellow, red, and blue. Assange’s diplomatic immunity does not extend to the lobby of the building, which is shared with the Colombian Embassy and some 15 well-appointed private apartments upstairs. The entrance to the Men’s Fragrance department at Harrods department store is just half a block away. The door to the embassy is thick black metal and opens immediately onto a full-body metal detector. A portrait of the Ecuadoran president, Rafael Correa, hangs on the walls, along with paintings of tropical birds. The government of Ecuador has stated that Assange is welcome to stay in its London embassy for “centuries.”

Last year, on July 3, the day he turned 41, Assange sent 12 pieces of birthday cake to the 12 protesters standing outside the embassy. On his birthday this year, people outside carried a sign noting that the number 42, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is “the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.” On ordinary days, protesters carry small signs with photos of Assange, his mouth taped shut by an American flag, and bearing slogans such as “Don’t Shoot the Messenger.” From time to time Assange appears in vaguely papal fashion at the front window, silver-haired and pale, and waves. He gives the occasional press conference from a small balcony. He recently showed up for an interview with Agence France-Presse wearing a coat and tie but no shoes, a gesture to underscore the fact that he has little need for them.

Even before the Snowden affair brought him back into the limelight, Assange had been busy. During his year of confinement at the embassy, he has released a vast cache of documents, written a book, addressed the U.N., founded a political party in Australia and launched a bid for a Senate seat there, entertained socialites and celebrities, maintained contact with leakers and whistle-blowers all over the world, and worked behind the scenes to influence depictions of him that are now hitting movie screens (the most high-profile being a DreamWorks production starring Benedict Cumberbatch). As for the Snowden case, Assange and WikiLeaks have served, in effect, as Snowden’s travel agents, publicists, and envoys; it is still not clear how far back the Snowden connection goes, or precisely how it originated, though the filmmaker Laura Poitras likely played the key role.

Assange cannot move from his quarters, but he is either at his computer or in conference, working in an impressive number of spheres. “He is like any other C.E.O.—plagued by constant meetings,” WikiLeaks told me. He employs sophisticated encryption software, which anyone wishing to make contact with him or his circle is encouraged to use. To gain a sense of his life and work, during the past months I have spoken to Assange’s lawyers and to many longtime or former friends, supporters, and professional associates. (Some have requested anonymity.) Daniel Ellsberg, the former U.S. military analyst who brought the Pentagon Papers to light, has met with Assange and speaks with personal knowledge about the lonely life of a leaker and whistle-blower. “We are exiles and émigrés,” he told me.

But the fact that Assange has had to take himself physically out of circulation has had the effect, oddly, of keeping him more purely at the center of things than he was before. His legal perils have not receded, but his state of diplomatic limbo means that he is no longer being hauled out of black vans and in front of screaming reporters and whirring cameras. The U.S. government has tried to decapitate his organization, which has only made him a martyr. No one is talking, as they were when he was free to mingle with the outside world, about his thin skin, his argumentative nature, his paranoia, his self-absorption, his poor personal hygiene, his habit of using his laptop when dining in company, or his failure to flush the toilet.

“If anything, I think he’s stronger and more sophisticated than he used to be, and so is the organization,” Jennifer Robinson, an Australian human-rights lawyer best known for her work defending Assange in London, told me. “They’ve weathered three years of intense pressure and all forms of legal and political attacks, and they are still here and still publishing and still making headlines.” Today, Assange is alone and unbothered, but not isolated—the unquiet center of a web whose vibrations he can both detect and influence.”

O artigo completo está aqui

“Quando decidi divulgar informações classificadas, fi-lo por amor ao meu país e pelo sentido de dever em relação aos outros”

Bradley Manning foi ontem condenado a uma pena de 35 anos de prisão por entregar informações classificadas à Wikileaks. Para além do comunicado que enviou ao Today, da televisão NBC, onde diz querer submeter-se a um tratamento hormonal e passar a chamar-se Chelsea, o militar de 25 anos enviou também uma carta ao presidente Barack Obama. O texto foi lido pelo seu advogado e Manning garante que, se o seu pedido de perdão for recusado, irá cumprir a sua pena de bom grado.

Foto: AFP

Foto: AFP

“The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy — the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps — to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

Bradley Manning condenado a 35 anos de prisão

O militar que entregou milhares de documentos classificados à Wikileaks vai passar os próximos 35 anos atrás das grades. O antigo analista, que recolheu a documentação quando estava colocado numa base no Iraque, enfrentava uma pena que podia chegar aos 90 anos. Mais informações, aqui.

Fotografia: AP/Patrick Semansky

Fotografia: AP/Patrick Semansky

 

Bradley Manning condenado – mas não “ajudou o inimigo”

Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Bradley Manning foi considerado culpado de mais de 20 crimes que vinha acusado, incluindo de espionagem. No entanto, o tribunal absolveu-o da mais graves das acusações: auxílio ao inimigo. Caso tivesse sido considerado culpado deste crime, Manning poderia ser condenado a prisão perpétua sem possibilidade de liberdade condicional. É também um golpe para os procuradores que argumentaram que a fuga de informação que permitiu à Wikileaks divulgar dados confidenciais sobre as guerras no Afeganistão e no Iraque tinha ajudado a Al Qaeda. O militar pode ser condenado a 134 anos de prisão.

Barack Obama nomeou um novo embaixador para Lisboa

A partir de Agosto, Rui Machete terá um novo interlocutor na embaixada dos Estados Unidos em Lisboa. Ainda lhe falta cumprir a formalidade de ser confirmado pelo Congresso mas a Casa Branca já anunciou a nomeação de Robert A. Sherman como embaixador norte-americano em Portugal. Respeitando a tradição dos últimos anos, Barack Obama nomeia um embaixador político e não um diplomata de carreira para Lisboa. Licenciado em direito, Robert A. Sherman fez toda a sua carreira em Boston, onde fundou a sociedade Greenberg Traurig, LPP. Desde Janeiro deste ano que pertence ao Conselho para a Memória do Holocausto.

De acordo com a Casa Branca, Barack Obama afirmou que os novos embaixadores americanos “demonstraram conhecimento e dedicação ao longo das suas carreiras”. O presidente dos EUA mostrou-se também agradecido que eles tenham decidido aceitar desafios e mostrou-se ansioso em “trabalhar com eles nos próximos meses e anos”.

Parte do trabalho de Robert A. Sherman será, certamente, conhecer o país onde irá viver e aqueles com quem irá lidar. Nesse sentido, quer o Departamento de Estado norte-americano quer a própria embaixada em Lisboa têm muitos telegramas para lhe mostrar sobre o novo ministro de Estado e dos Negócios Estrangeiros

SHERMANR

A passagem de Rui Machete pelo Bloco Central – segundo a biografia de Mário Soares

O passado de Rui Machete continua a levantar polémica. Não só pelo que foi divulgado pelo wikileaks sobre os anos do novo ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros à frente da Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento mas, sobretudo, pelas suas ligações ao BPN e ao BPP.

No entanto, Rui Machete tem um passado rico, cheio de episódios que vale a pena recordar. Como estes, relatados por Joaquim Vieira na biografia Mário Soares, Uma Vida. O primeiro deu-se em fins de Janeiro de 1984. Rui Machete era ministro da Justiça e o governo do bloco central, liderado por Mota Soares, tinha feito aprovar uma nova lei do aborto, que permitia a interrupção da gravidez em casos de violação, doença congénita da mãe ou da criança e ainda de possível morte da mulher. No entanto, a Igreja Católica não tinha ficado satisfeita com a iniciativa. O que testou a lealdade de Machete: entre o governo de que fazia parte e a Igreja, quem escolheu? Conta Joaquim Vieira:

“Soares ficou contudo preocupado com as implicações negativas que a adoção do diploma viesse a ter nas relações entre a área socialista e a Igreja: estava em causa, além do mais, a preservação da sua imagem como futuro candidato presidencial. (…)

Bernardino Gomes, que também assistiu ao desenvolvimento da querela à volta da lei do aborto, contará que o chefe do governo teria logo apreendido as consequências mais profundas da decisão: ≪Soares percebeu que tinha de gerir o pós‑aprovação da lei. Disse‑me: “Você pergunte ao nosso embaixador no Vaticano se é possível arranjar uma coisa qualquer em Roma. Eu podia lá ir e talvez conseguisse falar com alguém do Vaticano. Peguei no telefone e liguei ao embaixador, que era o Hélder Mendonça e Cunha [1921‑1992], um homem muito engraçado, um gay divertido, que tinha uma grande paixão pelo doutor Soares – o Soares fazia‑lhe sempre uma coisa qualquer, dizia‑lhe “ó senhor embaixador, a sua gravata e lindíssima”, e ele ficava derretido, perdido para o dia inteiro. E era também muito eficiente. Digo‑lhe: “Ó Hélder, você veja‑me lá esta coisa – o doutor Soares gostava de ir ai a Roma.” Uma hora depois ele telefona‑me: “Falei com o cardeal Casaroli [então secretário de Estado do Vaticano] e ele diz que sim senhor, não só ele tem muito prazer em recebê‑lo mas que Sua Santidade o recebe em visita oficial.” E.eu disse: “Ó Hélder, mas isso é assim?” “Exatamente assim.” Eu vou ao Soares e digo‑lhe: “Ó Mário, o Hélder ligou de volta e diz que Sua Santidade o papa [João Paulo II (1920‑2005)] o recebe em visita oficial.” “Você tem a certeza?” “Tenho a certeza que ele me disse. Calculo que seja verdade.” “Telefone‑lhe lá.” Fazemos a ligação e diz‑lhe o embaixador: “O cardeal Casaroli é um grande amigo do doutor Soares, diz os maiores elogios a seu respeito, que é uma pessoa que ele admira muito, e com certeza que vem de visita.” Era inimaginável. Acontece que eles fazem este convite sem avisar a Igreja portuguesa. E há um certo momento em que o cardeal‑patriarca percebeu, e vai para Roma tentar impedir a audiência com o papa. É uma coisa de doido, completamente de doido.≫

Confirmará Soares a tentativa de impedir in extremis o seu encontro com João Paulo II: ≪O cardeal Antonio Ribeiro e o bispo de Aveiro [Manuel de Almeida Trindade (1918‑2008), então presidente da Conferência Episcopal Portuguesa] resolveram ir a Roma para convencer o papa a nao me receber. Eu só soube isso no dia em que estava a entrar para o avião. Eu tinha dito antes no Conselho de Ministros: “Vou amanhã visitar Sua Santidade o papa a convite dele.” Ficou tudo banzado na sala. Acrescentei: “Acho que um dos senhores ministros me deve acompanhar, e acho que não deve ser o ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros mas sim o da Justiça, porque há essa tradição em Portugal – o ministro da Justiça e dos Cultos, pasta dos tempos da monarquia. O Rui Machete disse: “Ó senhor doutor, com a maior das honras. Quando e que vamos?” “Vamos amanhã as 11h00.”

Na manhã seguinte telefona‑me ele as 9h00 a dizer: “Senhor doutor, eu não posso acompanhá‑lo.” “Mas porquê? Está doente?” “Não senhor doutor, é que o senhor cardeal proibiu‑me de ir.” “Então você é um gajo que em politica segue as orientações do cardeal em vez de ser do seu primeiro‑ministro?” Fiquei lixado com ele. “Bem, não venha que eu não preciso de si para nada.” Isso ficou‑me sempre atravessado até hoje.≫ (Machete explicará que recuou quando soube que a viagem fora tratada à margem da Igreja portuguesa.)

O segundo episódio contado por Joaquim Vieira que envolve Rui Machete deu-se uns meses depois, em Junho de 1984, durante uma visita de Mário Soares ao Japão. O testemunho aqui é de Alfredo Barroso. E o novo ministro é retratado como um homem hesitante. 

“No Japão, Soares foi alertado por um problema doméstico, relacionado com a organização terrorista de extrema‑esquerda Forças Populares 25 de Abril (FP‑25) que a Policia Judiciária estava a tentar desmantelar, depois de alguns anos de atentados, assaltos e assassínios. Alfredo Barroso recordará o momento: ≪Num Conselho de Ministros, discute‑se mais uma vez se é o momento de avançar e prender os suspeitos das FP‑25. A PJ reportava ao ministro da Justiça, Rui Machete, que era um hesitante: “Não é oportuno, não chegou o momento, é o que eles nos dizem, mas dizem também que, se a gente lhes der cobertura, seguramente avancam.” Várias pessoas achavam que se devia avançar, como Eduardo Pereira e Jaime Gama, e quem estava nas encolhas era Machete. Mesmo Mota Pinto achava que se devia avançar, mas não quis autorizar. Houve uma ronda, decide‑se por fim avançar, mas é preciso consultar antes o primeiro‑ministro, que estava em viagem no Japão. Quem vai falar com ele é Mota Pinto: “A maioria acha que é altura, se não isto nunca mais.” E Soares manda avançar. Correu bem ao governo, correu bem ao Soares.≫

O terceiro episódio explica como Rui Machete ficou na história ao assinar o Tratado de Adesão de Portugal à então Comunidade Económica Europeia, a 12 de Junho de 1985. O governo do bloco central estava em crise. Oito dias antes da adesão, o PSD liderado por Cavaco silva tinha denunciado a coligação. No entanto, após longas negociações, foi acordado que os ministros social-democratas só apresentariam a demissão a 13 de Junho, um dias depois do acordo. Mário Soares recorda o episódio a Joaquim Vieira:

“Os ministros do PSD concordaram assim em pedir a demissão apenas a 13 de junho, para permitir a assinatura do tratado de adesão no dia anterior. Para Soares, era suficiente: ≪Eu no governo já tinha conseguido o que queria, incluindo entrarmos na CEE.≫ Mas, mesmo assim, estava ainda por resolver uma exigência social‑democrata: ≪Cavaco quis que entrasse o Machete nas assinaturas do tratado: “Se vocês não põem o Machete pelo PSD, então o PSD retira‑se da coligação, o governo cai.”≫

O primeiro‑ministro viu‑se obrigado a ceder: ≪Quem negociara tudo, no meu governo, fora uma equipa coesa constituída pelo ministros das Finanças, Ernâni Lopes, por Jaime Gama, titular dos Negócios Estrangeiros, e, finalmente, pelo economista António Marta [1946‑, então presidente da Comissão para a Integração Europeia]. Eram estes que deviam, portanto, assinar comigo. Segundo as regras da CEE, por Portugal só poderiam figurar quatro assinaturas, no máximo. Assim, para meter Rui Machete, foi necessário eliminar António Marta, o que considerei uma injustiça.≫

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O que os Estados Unidos pensavam de Rui Machete

O novo ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros presidiu, durante mais de 20 anos, à Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento (FLAD). No entanto, não será por isso que a sua relação com os Estados Unidos – o mais poderoso aliado de Portugal – terá melhorias. De acordo com os telegramas diplomáticos enviados pela embaixada norte-americana em Lisboa para Washington, e divulgados pelo Wikileaks, Rui Machete era visto como um crítico dos Estados Unidos que sempre resistiu à intervenção da embaixada na FLAD. O embaixador Thomas Stephenson chegou mesmo a escrever, em 2008, que estava na “hora de decapitar Machete”. O novo ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros era também acusado de gastos sumptuosos – a fundação foi constituída com capitais norte-americanos – e de usar a FLAD em benefício próprio. As revelações foram feitas pelo Expresso em Março de 2011 e, na época, Rui Machete disse que as acusações não tinham fundamento e que se tratavam de um ataque pessoal a alguém que sempre geriu a FLAD com independência.

Foto: Tiago Miranda

Foto: Tiago Miranda

Este é o telegrama integral divulgado pelo Wikileaks:

C O N F I D E N T I A L LISBON 002780 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2008

TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], AMGT [Management Operations], EAID [Foreign Economic Assistance], OEXC [Educational and Cultural Exchange Operations], SCUL [Cultural Affairs], PO [Portugal; Azores; Madeira Islands]

SUBJECT: PORTUGAL: PROBLEMS AT THE LUSO-AMERICAN FOUNDATION

Classified By: AMBASSADOR THOMAS STEPHENSON, FOR REASONS 1.4B AND D.

1. (C) SUMMARY: In 1985, with the USAID mission to Portugal closing its doors, the U.S. and Portuguese governments created the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) in Lisbon to address Portugal’s development challenges and to promote U.S.-Portuguese cooperation. The USG subsequently contributed some $111 million to FLAD, but during the past two decades the Embassy’s efforts to exercise responsible oversight over FLAD’s financial management have been thwarted by the foundation’s leadership, creating deep and continuous friction between FLAD and the Embassy. We propose to wage another campaign to change FLAD’s direction, but failing that, we must consider whether our continued participation in this institution is in the USG’s interest. End Summary. FLAD’S EARLY YEARS ——————

2. (U) In 1983, Portuguese PM Balsemao and President Reagan announced the creation of the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) in Lisbon. The announcement grew out of the imminent closure of the USAID mission in Portugal and the recognition of the importance of carrying on development and bilateral cooperation projects. In 1985 FLAD opened its doors as the USG provided an initial endowment of $38 million. USG contributions to FLAD eventually totaled $111 million, much of which was in the form of Economic Support Funds (ESF) that the U.S. provided to Portugal through 1992. When ESF funding ended in 1992, FLAD no longer received any external financing and its revenue then derived solely from its endowment and investments.

3. (SBU) FLAD’s stated mission is to contribute “to the economic and social development of Portugal through the promotion of scientific, technical, cultural, educational, commercial, and business cooperation between Portugal and the United States.” It was envisioned as a short-term program to help boost Portugal to a development level commensurate with the rest of the EU, which Portugal joined in 1986. Thus, FLAD’s goal was to spend 75 percent of its available funds each year on grants for development, education and science projects.

4. (C) In 1987, then-Prime Minister (and now President) Cavaco Silva reorganized the foundation in a move likely aimed at tightening GOP control over its programming and budget. Key authorities were moved from the Board of Directors (where the U.S. Ambassador has a seat) to the day-to-day executive council (where he does not). U.S. Ambassador Rowell objected to this and other decisions and suspended his participation on the Board. According to our files, the foundation stopped holding Board meetings altogether in the late 1980s, effectively shielding itself from all oversight.

5. (C) In 1990, U.S. Ambassador Briggs tried a different approach. Although it was largely a symbolic gesture since the Board had not met in years, Briggs formally resigned from the Board because of his role in negotiating the new bilateral agreement regarding U.S. use of Lajes Air Base in the Azores (which he viewed as presenting a conflict with his FLAD duties). Shortly after, a member of the U.S. Congress contacted the Embassy requesting information about FLAD’s management and oversight, but FLAD Director Rui Machete refused to respond, saying FLAD operations were “none of your business.”

6. (C) The tension came to a head in 1992 when the Embassy directly approached Prime Minister Cavaco Silva seeking clarification of reports that FLAD Director Rui Machete had offered FLAD business to companies in which he had a stake. Machete admitted no wrongdoing but did terminate one key contract. Separately in 1992, the USG’s sunsetting of Portugal’s ESF program ended all U.S. funding to FLAD. While the decision to cut off ESF funding was objectively based on Portugal’s national development levels, the GOP evidently believed it was a response to allegations of mismanagement. Shortly after the dustup over the Congressional inquiry and a separate independent study of FLAD’s management, the foundation resumed its semi-annual Board meetings, and the U.S. Ambassador returned to the Board of Directors. On the nine-member Board, the U.S. ambassador holds one seat and the right to nominate a second director. THE LAST MAN STANDING ———————

7. (C) Rui Machete, a lawyer and politician who held cabinet positions in the 1983-85 Portuguese government (including Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister) has been FLAD’s director since 1988, getting the job as a consolation prize after he lost his cabinet post in the change of government in 1985. Machete has long been critical of the U.S. and has resisted embassy participation at every turn. He is wired into both major political parties and is suspected of disbursing FLAD grants to curry political favor and maintain his sinecure. Machete has historically opposed all efforts at independent oversight, professional accounting practices, and transparent review of FLAD’s programs. Since the early 1990s, nearly every U.S. ambassador has urged Machete to carry out his fiduciary duties or step aside, but to no avail: – (C) In 1992, Ambassador Briggs reported that, “As long as Machete is there, FLAD can only be marginally useful to us.” The foundation’s overhead then was 60% of revenue, leaving only 40% for actual programming. Today, this figure is only somewhat better as FLAD continues to spend 46% of its budget on overhead for its luxurious art-adorned offices, bloated staff, fleet of chauffeured BMWs, and on “personnel and administrative costs” that has included at times wardrobe allowances, low-interest loans to staff, and honoraria for staffers participating in FLAD’s own programs. – (C) The Boris Report, a 1993 independent review conducted in the U.S., noted that the Board of Directors was excluded from planning and was given inadequate briefing materials before their semi-annual meetings. (Comment: this is a favorite Machete tactic and continues to this day: key documents for the Board’s consideration are distributed by Machete only days, and in some cases hours, before Board meetings to avoid informed discussions that might run counter to his objectives.) The Boris Report also recommended that FLAD develop investment goals and restructure its endowment portfolio to guarantee its long-term viability; this has not been done. – (C) In June 2006, in response to Ambassador Hoffman’s criticisms, Machete suddenly announced that he had approached Prime Minister Socrates with proposed changes to FLAD’s bylaws that would grant the GOP full control over the foundation and wholly eliminate the U.S. ambassador from the Board. Ambassador Hoffman protested to then-Foreign Minister Amaral, who was our designated GOP contact on the issue. Serendipitously, FM Amaral resigned a week later for unrelated health reasons and Machete’s plan was quietly shelved. – (C) Since late 2007, in Board meetings and in private discussions Ambassador Stephenson has repeatedly called on FLAD to reform itself and cut overhead, pointing out that the 2008 and 2009 budgets were unrealistic and unsustainable, given difficult market conditions, and would result in a diminished endowment. Both budgets were approved by the Board over the Ambassador’s objections. Another Board member, who shares our concerns, points out that not only is the budget built on excessive overhead and unrealistic forecasts for the endowment, but Machete’s promises to improve the accounting and transparency underlying the budget process have not been met.

8. (C) In 2008, beyond its overhead costs, FLAD spent 1.5 million euros on actual grants to fund projects such as: 10,000 euros for an Innovation Seminar held at FLAD’s offices; 89,000 euros for a conference about Franklin Roosevelt in the Azores; and 15,000 euros per quarter to a politically-connected public relations firm. Previous foundation boondoggles have included a conference in South Africa with no discernable connection to the United States or bilateral relations.

9. (C) Ambassador Stephenson had a frank conversation last week with FLAD Director Rui Machete, who appeared to accept the Ambassador’s grim diagnosis of the foundation’s ills, even speculating aloud about the challenge of cutting staff under Portuguese labor laws. Machete confided that he is stepping down in 2010, on FLAD’s 25th anniversary, and would like to make progress on reforms before then. Machete said that the issue should be first raised privately with Prime Minister Socrates, who could provide political cover and possibly assistance in addressing labor and other vexing issues. Ambassador Stephenson tentatively agreed to participate in a meeting with the Prime Minister –if the Ambassador is still here after January 20. COMMENT: TIME FOR MACHETE TO GET THE AXE —————————————–

10. (C) FLAD’s portfolio in November 2007 was 122 million euro. By November 2008 this had shrunk to 106 million euro. At this pace, FLAD could burn through the entire endowment by about 2014. While this money is no longer on the USG’s books, it originally came from the U.S. taxpayer with the goal of strengthening bilateral cooperation and supporting development projects. In spite of our long-running and high-level best efforts, we believe the current FLAD management is unable and unwilling to face economic reality and will fritter away the endowment — preferring to go over a cliff with the status quo rather than make the wrenching reforms necessary to put the foundation on the path to solvency and responsible planning. Two decades of the current leadership have not been good for FLAD, and its alienation from the US Embassy is both a cause and a symptom of the disease.

11. (C) The Embassy proposes to wage one more campaign to change FLAD’s direction via pressure on Machete and discussions with the highest level of the GOP. We are somewhat encouraged by Machete’s acceptance at last week’s meeting of the need for deep, immediate reforms, but he has made many empty promises to many U.S. Ambassadors over the years. We will believe in changes at the foundation only when we see them, and failing that, we must consider whether our continued participation in this institution remains in the USG’s interest. STEPHENSON

Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o infiltrado do FBI na WikiLeaks

Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson era um dos protegidos de Julian Assange. Um dos seus rapazes de confiança. No entanto, o estagiário que o fundador da WikiLeaks jurou proteger em troca de lealdade absoluta, preferiu traí-lo e tornar-se num informador do FBI. É o próprio que o admite, neste artigo da revista Wired:

Photo: Courtesy Sigurdur Thordarson

Photo: Courtesy Sigurdur Thordarson

“On an August workday in 2011, a cherubic 18-year-old Icelandic man named Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson walked through the stately doors of the U.S. embassy in Reykjavík, his jacket pocket concealing his calling card: a crumpled photocopy of an Australian passport. The passport photo showed a man with a unruly shock of platinum blonde hair and the name Julian Paul Assange.

Thordarson was long time volunteer for WikiLeaks with direct access to Assange and a key position as an organizer in the group. With his cold war-style embassy walk-in, he became something else: the first known FBI informant inside WikiLeaks. For the next three months, Thordarson served two masters, working for the secret-spilling website and simultaneously spilling its secrets to the U.S. government in exchange, he says, for a total of about $5,000. The FBI flew him internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C., and on the last meeting obtained from Thordarson eight hard drives packed with chat logs, video and other data from WikiLeaks.

The relationship provides a rare window into the U.S. law enforcement investigation into WikiLeaks, the transparency group newly thrust back into international prominence with its assistance to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Thordarson’s double-life illustrates the lengths to which the government was willing to go in its pursuit of Julian Assange, approaching WikiLeaks with the tactics honed during the FBI’s work against organized crime and computer hacking — or, more darkly, the bureau’s Hoover-era infiltration of civil rights groups.

“It’s a sign that the FBI views WikiLeaks as a suspected criminal organization rather than a news organization,” says Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “WikiLeaks was something new, so I think the FBI had to make a choice at some point as to how to evaluate it: Is this The New York Times, or is this something else? And they clearly decided it was something else.”

The FBI declined comment.

Thordarson was 17 years old and still in high school when he joined WikiLeaks in February 2010. He was one of a large contingent of Icelandic volunteers that flocked to Assange’s cause after WikiLeaks published internal bank documents pertaining to that country’s financial crisis.

When a staff revolt in September 2010 left the organization short-handed, Assange put Thordarson in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making Thordarson the first point of contact for new volunteers, journalists, potential sources, and outside groups clamoring to get in with WikiLeaks at the peak of its notoriety.

In that role, Thordarson was a middle man in the negotiations with the Bradley Manning Defense Fund that led to WikiLeaks donating $15,000 to the defense of its prime source. He greeted and handled a new volunteer who had begun downloading and organizing a vast trove of 1970s-era diplomatic cables from the National Archives and Record Administration, for what became WikiLeaks’ “Kissinger cables” collection last April. And he wrangled scores of volunteers and supporters who did everything from redesign WikiLeaks’ websites to shooting video homages to Assange.

He accumulated thousands of pages of chat logs from his time in WikiLeaks, which, he says, are now in the hands of the FBI.

Thordarson’s betrayal of WikiLeaks also was a personal betrayal of its founder, Julian Assange, who, former colleagues say, took Thordarson under his wing, and kept him around in the face of criticism and legal controversy.

“When Julian met him for the first or second time, I was there,” says Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic Parliament who worked with WikiLeaks on Collateral Murder, the Wikileaks release of footage of a US helicopter attack in Iraq. “And I warned Julian from day one, there’s something not right about this guy… I asked not to have him as part of the Collateral Murder team.”

In January 2011, Thordarson was implicated in a bizarre political scandal in which a mysterious “spy computer” laptop was found running unattended in an empty office in the parliament building. “If you did [it], don’t tell me,” Assange told Thordarson, according to unauthenticated chat logs provided by Thordarson.

“I will defend you against all accusations, ring [sic] and wrong, and stick by you, as I have done,” Assange told him in another chat the next month. “But I expect total loyalty in return.”

Instead, Thordarson used his proximity to Assange for his own purposes. The most consequential act came in June 2011, on his third visit to Ellingham Hall — the English mansion where Assange was then under house arrest while fighting extradition to Sweden.

For reasons that remain murky, Thordarson decided to approach members of the Lulzsec hacking gang and solicit them to hack Islandic government systems as a service to WikiLeaks. To establish his bona fides as a WikiLeaks representative, he shot and uploaded a 40-second cell phone video that opens on the IRC screen with the chat in progress, and then floats across the room to capture Asssange at work with an associate. (This exchange was first reported by Parmy Olson in her book on Anonymous).

Unfortunately for Thordarson, the FBI had busted Lulzsec’s leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur, AKA Sabu, a week earlier, and secured his cooperation as an informant. On June 20, the FBI warned the Icelandic government. “A huge team of FBI came to Iceland and asked the Icelandic authorities to help them,” says Jonsdottir. “They thought there was an imminent Lulzsec attack on Iceland.”

The FBI may not have known at this point who Thordarson was beyond his screen names. The bureau and law enforcement agencies in the UK and Australia went on to round up alleged Lulzsec members on unrelated charges.

Having dodged that bullet, it’s not clear what prompted Thordarson to approach the FBI two months later. When I asked him directly last week, he answered, “I guess I cooperated because I didn’t want to participate in having Anonymous and Lulzsec hack for Wikileaks, since then you’re definitely breaking quite a lot of laws.”

That answer doesn’t make a lot of sense, since it was Thordarson, not Assange, who asked Lulzsec to hack Iceland. There’s no evidence of any other WikiLeaks staffer being involved. He offered a second reason that he admits is more truthful: “The second reason was the adventure.”

Thordarson’s equivocation highlights a hurdle in reporting on him: He is prone to lying. Jonsdottir calls him “pathological.” He admits he has lied to me in the past. For this story, Thordarson backed his account by providing emails that appear to be between him and his FBI handlers, flight records for some of his travels, and an FBI receipt indicating that he gave them eight hard drives. The Icelandic Ministry of the Interior has previously confirmed that the FBI flew to Iceland to interview Thordarson. Thordarson also testified to much of this account in a session of the Icelandic Parliament, with Jonsdottir in attendance.

Finally, he has given me a substantial subset of the chat logs he says he passed to the FBI, amounting to about 2,000 pages, which, at the very least, proves that he kept logs and is willing to turn them over to a reporter disliked by Julian Assange.

Thordarson’s “adventure” began on August 23, 2011, when he sent an email to the general delivery box for the U.S. embassy in Reykjavík “Regarding an Ongoing Criminal investigation in the United States.”

“The nature of the intel that can be brought to light in that investigation will not be spoken over email conversation,” he wrote cryptically.

An embassy security officer called him the same day. “He said, ‘What investigation?’ I said the Wikileaks,” says Thordarson. “He denied there was such an investigation, so I just said we both know there is.”

Thordarson was invited to the embassy, where he presented a copy of Assange’s passport, the passport for Assange’s number two, Kristinn Hrafnsson, and a snippet of a private chat between Thordarson and Assange. The embassy official was noncommittal. He told Thordarson they might be in touch, but it would take at least a week.

It happened much faster.

Photo: Courtesy Sigurdur Thordarson

FBI agents and two federal prosecutors landed in a private Gulfstream on the next day, on August 24, and Thordarson was summoned back to the embassy.

He was met by the same embassy official who took his keys and his cell phone, then walked with him on a circuitous route through the streets of downtown Reykjavík, ending up at the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, Thordarson says. There, Thordarson spent two hours in a hotel conference room talking to two FBI agents. Then they accompanied back to the embassy so he could put money in his parking meter, and back to the hotel for more debriefing.

The agents asked him about his Lulzsec interactions, but were primarily interested in what he could give them on WikiLeaks. One of them asked him if he could wear a recording device on his next visit to London and get Assange to say something incriminating, or talk about Bradley Manning.

“They asked what I use daily, have always on,” he says. “I said, my watch. So they said they could change that out for some recording watch.”

Thordarson says he declined. “I like Assange, even considered him a friend,” he says. “I just didn’t want to go that way.”

In all, Thordarson spent 20 hours with the agents over about five days. Then the Icelandic government ordered the FBI to pack up and go home.

It turns out the FBI had misled the local authorities about its purpose in the country. According to atimeline (.pdf) later released by the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, the FBI contacted Icelandic law enforcement to report Thordarson’s embassy walk-in, and ask for permission to fly into the country to follow up. But the bureau had presented the request as an extension of its earlier investigation into Lulzsec, and failed to mention that its real target was WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is well regarded in Iceland, and the incident errupted into a hot political topic when it surfaced there this year, with conservatives arguing that Iceland should have cooperated with the FBI, and liberals complaining about the agents being allowed into the country to begin with. “It became a massive controversy,” says Jonsdottir. “And then none of them knew what sort of person Siggi is.”

Politics aside, the FBI was not done with Thordarson.

The agents persuaded Thordarson to fly to Copenhagen with them, he says, for another day of interviews. In October, he made a second trip to Denmark for another debriefing. Between meetings, Thordarson kept in touch with his handlers through disposable email accounts.

In November 2011, Thordarson was fired from WikiLeaks. The organization had discovered he had set up an online WikiLeaks tee shirt store and arranged for the proceeds to go into his own bank account. WikiLeaks has said the embezzlement amounted to about $50,000.

Thordarson told the FBI about it in a terse email on November 8. “No longer with WikiLeaks — so not sure how I can help you more.”

“We’d still like to talk with you in person,” one of his handlers replied. “I can think of a couple of easy ways for you to help.”

“Can you guys help me with cash?” Thordarson shot back.

Image: Courtesy Sigurdur Thordarson

For the next few months, Thordarson begged the FBI for money, while the FBI alternately ignored him and courted him for more assistance. In the end, Thordarson says, the FBI agreed to compensate him for the work he missed while meeting with agents (he says he worked at a bodyguard-training school), totaling about $5,000.

With the money settled, the FBI began preparing him for a trip to the U.S. “I wanted to talk to you about future things we can do,” his handler wrote in February. The FBI wanted him to reestablish contact with some of his former WikiLeaks associates. “We’ll talk about specific goals of the chats, but you can get a head start before our meet by just getting in touch and catching up with them. If you need to know who specifically, we can discuss on the phone.”

The three-day D.C. trip took place in February of last year. Thordarson says he flew on Iceland Air flight 631 to Logan International Airport on February 22, and transferred in Boston to JetBlue flight 686 to Dulles International Aiport, where he was greeted by a U.S. Customs official “and then escorted out the Dulles terminal into the arms of the FBI.”

He stayed at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where the Justice Department’s investigation into WikiLeaks is centered, and met there with his two usual FBI contacts, and three or four other men in suits who did not identify themselves.

“At the last day we went to a steak house and ate, all of us,” he says. “Where they served Coca Cola in glass bottles from Mexico.”

On March 18, 2012, he had one more meeting with the FBI in Denmark. On this trip, he brought along eight of his personal hard drives, containing the information he’d compiled while at WikiLeaks, including his chat logs, photos and videos he shot at Ellington Hall. The FBI gave him a signed receipt for the hardware.

Then they cut him off.

Today, Thordarson, now 20, has new problems. He’s facing criminal charges in Iceland for unrelated financial and tax crimes. In addition, WikiLeaks filed a police report for the tee-shirt shop embezzlement.

The legacy of his cooperation with the FBI is unclear. A court filing revealed last week shows that in the months following Thordarson ’s last debriefing, Justice Department officials in Arlington, Virginia, began obtaining court orders targeting two of Thordarson ’s former WikiLeaks colleagues in Iceland: Smari McCarthy and Herbert Snorrason.

Snorrason, who ran the WikiLeaks chat room in 2010, before Thordarson took it over, had the entire contents of his Gmail account handed over to the government, under a secret search warrant issued in October 2011.

The evidence used to obtain the warrant remains under seal. “I do wonder,” says Thordarson, “whether I’m somewhere in there.”

À caça de um fantasma

A saga de Edward Snowden continua. Entre domingo e a tarde de ontem, dezenas de jornalistas e agentes de segurança russos esperaram-no em Moscovo onde era suposto ter aterrado, vindo de Hong-Kong. Ao longo do dia foram sendo dadas notícias contraditórias sobre o seu paradeiro. Estava no avião, estava no aeroporto, estava no terminal, tinha feito o check-in num voo para Havana… Até os lugares que, supostamente, ocupava com uma advogada do Wikileaks foram divulgados. Vários jornalistas conseguiram mesmo um lugar nesse avião na esperança de o acompanhar na viagem de 12 horas até Havana. Apenas para perceberem, quando já estavam a descolar, que, afinal, o ex-analista não estava a bordo. A repórter do The Guardian, Miriam Elder, descreve a loucura que tomou conta  do aeroporto Sheremetyevo (algures entre o hilariante e o excitante) e a dúvida que se instalou: ele esteve lá?

“As the Aeroflot jet bound for Havana rolled away from the gate at Sheremetyevo airport, the question became: was he ever even really here?

For more than 24 hours the sprawling international airport on Moscow’s northern outskirts was the site of an intricate game of cat-and-mouse. The target: Edward Snowden, sought by an enraged US, which has charged him with leaking classified documents on US surveillance programmes and warned countries suspected of abetting his escape.

The action culminated at 2pm on Monday afternoon outside gate 28, where Snowden was checked in for a flight to Havana, another stopover en route to Venezuela or Ecuador, where he had sought political asylum.

Dozens of journalists assembled at the window, hoping to spot the man who had eluded them for endless hours inside Sheremetyevo’s winding halls. Hours later, they imagined, they would have Snowden cornered, ready to spill his innermost thoughts as the plane hurtled towards Havana for a full 12 hours.

The news zoomed through the hall – Russian news agencies reported that Snowden and his travelling companion, Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, had checked into seats 17A and 17C. Those seated nearby were giddy.

As the plane started to board, more than a dozen Aeroflot agents converged on the gate and ushered reporters away from the windows.

They threatened to confiscate cameras and telephones, and attempted to block the view. Some journalists said they were ready to hide their telephones in their pants. Anything for a snap of Snowden.

One by one, the journalists got on board – all the world’s media, and Russia’s too. The line dwindled to a crawl and the Aeroflot agents began to whisper: “He’s not on board.”

The gate closed. A detachable staircase pulled away from the aircraft. The Airbus began to roll backward. “He’s not on board,” said Nikolai Sokolov, an Aeroflot gate employee, his eyes wide. “I was waiting for him myself.”

Around two dozen journalists settled in for the 12-hour journey to Havana – a flight on which no alcohol is served, much to the chagrin of the reporters, many of whom aren’t used to going half a day without a stiff drink.

And, yet again, Snowden was nowhere to be found.

He was reportedly in Moscow for 21 hours but no photographs or video of him have emerged – no leaks from the Federal Security Service or police, who use the website Life News to broadcast the news they want the world to see.

Moscow has made its overtures to Snowden obvious, with Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, repeatedly saying the Kremlin would consider an asylum request from the American, as it would from any other. But the events come amid the worst Russian-US relations since the end of the cold war, with the Kremlin once again making anti-Americanism a central governing pillar. The sight of a US whistleblower, hounded by his own government, being welcomed on Russian soil would be nothing short of a coup.

But was he ever here?

When it emerged on Sunday morning that Snowden had boarded Aeroflot flight SU23 from Hong Kong to Moscow en route to an undisclosed third country, journalists streamed towards the airport. They shoved pictures of Snowden into the faces of disembarking passengers, asking: “Have you seen this man?”

Most shrugged and pushed on through the crowd. Two Spanish men, transiting through Moscow en route to Madrid, thought that maybe one of them had. It was the first suspected sighting of a man who would become a ghost.

Russian news agencies jumped into the story, issuing a host of contradictory information by citing an endless stream of anonymous sources. “Snowden is in the transit area!” “Snowden has been examined by an Ecuadorian doctor.” While the Hong Kong-Moscow plane was still in midair, somewhere over the Siberian city of Omsk, the Kremlin’s English-language channel, Russia Today, flashed: “Snowden already in Russia – SOURCE.”

Journalists were not alone in waiting for Snowden. Outside the transit area in terminal F, a grey branch of the airport that remains frozen in Soviet times, plainclothes officers attempted to blend in. As the day wore on, more and more arrived, some following reporters from a distance, others guarding heavy doors that appeared to lead nowhere.

Snowden is believed to have landed in Moscow shortly after 5pm on Sunday. Lacking a Russian visa, and stripped of his US passport anyway, he could not leave the airport. That left the Capsule Hotel, a newly opened site in Sheremetyevo’s terminal E, featuring sparse suites with room for little more than a bed. Receptionists there examined photos of Snowden and said they had never seen him.

As evening began to fall, Ecuador’s ambassador to Moscow arrived. He too was seeking Snowden (the country’s foreign minister later said it had received an asylum request). He did not know where to find Snowden. He was still waiting in the airport, empty of its daytime rush, at 2am on Monday. It was unclear whether he had, at that point, achieved his goal.

The comparisons began to roll in. It was like that Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, about a stateless man stuck in New York’s JFK airport.

Or like that other Tom Hanks movie, Catch Me If You Can. The overtones of Waiting for Godot, about expecting the arrival of a man who never arrives, were, perhaps, too obvious.

Nothing like that was to come. Those chasing Snowden resorted to following ridiculous leads – was that group of Russian agents milling around a handicapped people’s bathroom hiding Snowden? That airport employee, rolling a tray with three plates, was she about to feed Snowden, Harrison and an unknown third party? That man with the sunglasses, he kind of looks like him, doesn’t he?

By 4pm on Monday, after spending 27 consecutive hours inside Sheremetyevo’s barely air-conditioned halls, Lidia Kelly, a journalist with Reuters, squinted her eyes in the direction of an overweight senior citizen and asked: “Wait, is that Julian Assange?”

The hunt for Snowden continues.”

edward-snowden-petition

A história de Bradley Manning

Em Junho de 2011, o The Guardian investigou a história de Bradley Manning, o soldado que entregou à Wikileaks milhares de ficheiros com informação confidencial. O retrato não é o melhor. Mas o trabalho é excelente. Falam amigos, antigos companheiros, reconstituem-se conversas, mostram-se fotografias antigas… É interessante recordá-lo no dia em que começou o julgamento do militar que pode ser condenado à pena de morte.

O soldado Bradley Manning senta-se no banco dos réus

Começa amanhã, nos Estados Unidos, o julgamento de Bradley Manning, o soldado norte-americano que, em 2010, entregou à Wikileaks um enorme volume de informações confidenciais. Preso em Maio desse ano, Manning foi encarcerado 23 horas por dia em celas diminutas, obrigado a dormir nu e sujeito a enorme secretismo: advogados, jornalistas e organizações de defesa dos direitos cívicos queixaram-se repetidas vezes da falta de acesso aos documentos do processo judicial. Em Março de 2011, o soldado norte-americano foi acusado de 22 crimes. O mais grave é o de “auxílio ao inimigo” – que o poderá condenar à morte.

Aos olhos do governo norte-americano, a conduta de Manning é censurável. No entanto, a sua decisão, quaisquer que tenham sido os motivos que estiveram na sua base, contribuiu para compreendermos melhor o que aconteceu no mundo nos últimos anos. Muitos comparam-no a Danniel Ellsberg, o autor da fuga conhecida como “Pentagon Papers“, divulgada pelo The New York Times, que contribuíu para o fim da guerra no Vietname. Mas neste caso, Manning divulgou mais do que telegramas e comunicações confidenciais. Entre a informação obtida pela Wikileaks estava este vídeo de um ataque de um helicóptero Apache, em 2007. As imagens mostram os disparos sobre um grupo de pessoas – entre elas um jornalista da Reuters – que se juntava numa praça de Bagdade. Foram confundidos com terroristas. E quando um conjunto de homens e crianças desarmados os tentou ajudar, também eles foram alvejados. Esta é uma versão editada desse vídeo. A filmagem integral pode ser vista em http://collateralmurder.com. Aviso: as imagens podem ser consideradas chocantes.

A história esquecida do soldado Bradley Manning

Julian Assange continua refugiado na embaixada do Equador, em Londres. O Wikileaks continua a funcionar. Mas aquele que permitiu à organização fundada por Julian Assange tornar-se um actor global – a sua grande fonte inicial – foi preso e irá ser julgado num tribunal marcial. A reportagem do jornalista Quentin McDermott sobre Bradley Manning, para o programa Four Corners,da ABC australiana, conta a sua história. Chama-se The Forgotten Man.

Wikileaks divulga política externa de Henry Kissinger

Desde que, em Junho do ano passado, se refugiu na embaixada do Equador, em Londres, para impedir a extradição para a Suécia, onde é procurado por violação, Julian Assange, tem tido um problema: demasiado tempo livre. Desde então, o fundador do Wikileaks realizou uma série de 10 entrevistas intituladas O Mundo Amanhã (emitidas em exclusivo por O Informador em Portugal) e trabalhou num dos maiores projectos da organização: a Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD).
Divulgada hoje, a PlusD tem a maior base de dados de comunicações diplomáticas dos Estados Unidos do mundo. Ao todo são mais de dois milhões de documentos com cerca de mil milhões de palavras. A maioria (1.7 milhões) são os chamados Kissinger Cables, documentos que abrangem o período entre 1973 e 1976 e que incluem inúmeros telegramas diplomáticos enviados ao antigo secretário de Estado Henry Kissinger. Ao todo, são mais de 380 gigabytes de informação organizados numa única base de dados que dão ao público em geral um acesso único a documentos disponíveis apenas nos National Archives dos Estados Unidos. Para já, a organização promete revelações sobre ao relacionamento norte-americano com as ditaduras fascistas da América Latina e sobre o regime de Franco, em Espanha.

Como se calcula, há também muita informação sobre Portugal e os protagonistas da conturbada vida política portuguesa naqueles anos.

m180x120mm_EU_web

A história de Julian Assange e da Wikileaks

Em 2008, Alex Gibney venceu o Oscar de melhor documentário com Taxi to the Dark Side. Anteriormente já tinha sido nomeado com Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Agora regressa com uma nova obra que promete levá-lo de novo à lista de nomeados da Academia: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.
Mesmo sem ter entrevistado Julian Assange, Alex Gibney conta como um pequeno grupo de pessoas conseguiu expor os segredos de instituições tão poderosas como o exército norte-americano, o departamento de Estado dos Estados Unidos e das firmas Stratfor e Enron. Faz novas revelações sobre Bradley Manning, o militar que terá passado milhares de documentos a Assange. Retrata a administração de Barack Obama como um grupo de pessoas mais interessadas em esconder informação do que em procurar justiça. E, mais do que isso, o documentário é ainda um intenso debate sobre a liberdade e o acesso à informação – que, graças a Wikileaks, mudou de forma permanente. Para já, está disponível o trailer.

Wikileaks: o que os diplomatas americanos diziam de Bertoglio, aliás, de Francisco I

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Telegramas da embaixada americana em Buenos Aires mostram a influência do novo papa na política argentina e sua ligação com a oposição. Uma notícia da Agência Pública, da qual O Informador é um dos parceiros.

Por Marcus V F Lacerda

Despachos oriundos da embaixada de Buenos Aires, vazados pelo Wikileaks, revelam que o novo papa da Igreja Católica, o argentino Jorge Bergoglio, era um nome bastante citado pela oposição argentina em conversas com diplomatas americanos.

Embora não haja nenhuma conversa direta entre o líder religioso e os diplomatas dos Estados Unidos, os oito cables que citam o cardeal no período de 2006 a 2010 mostram que a oposição do país vizinho, assim como os americanos, via nele um agente político poderoso contra os Kirchner.

O atual papa Francisco I é citado em um documento do final de outubro de 2006 que trata do revés político sofrido pelo aliado de Néstor Kirchner, então presidente, na província de Missiones, no nordeste do país. Carlos Rovira, tentara um plebiscito para alterar a constituição da província e tornar possível sua própria reeleição por indefinidas vezes. Mas foi batido pela oposição liderada pelo bispo emérito de Puerto Iguazú, Monsignor Piña.

“O Cardeal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, líder da Arquidiocese Católica de Buenos Aires, ofereceu seu apoio pessoal aos esforços de Piña, mas também desencorajou qualquer envolvimento oficial da Igreja em política”, relata o documento. O engajamento de outros religiosos na política é descrito neste mesmo telegrama. “A lista de candidatos da oposição era constituída principalmente de líderes religiosos, incluindo ministros católicos e protestantes, que eram amplamente vistos como líderes morais livres de qualquer bagagem política”, apontaram os diplomatas.

E se Bergoglio descartava o envolvimento “oficial” da Igreja, outros documentos revelam  que ele não se mantinha longe da política. Em um documento de maio de 2007, a relação entre a Igreja Católica e o governo Néstor Kirchner é descrita como “tensa”: “Bergoglio recentemente falou de sua preocupação com a concentração de poder de Kirchner e o enfraquecimento das instituições democráticas na Argentina”. Além disso, reportam os documentos, Bergoglio agia fortemente nos bastidores, provocando a irritação dos partidários de Kirchner. “O prefeito de Buenos Aires, Jorge Telerman, e sua parceira de coalizão e candidata a presidência, Elisa Carrio, supostamente encontraram-se com Bergoglio em abril, e a inclusão do líder muçulmano Omar Abud na lista de candidatos ao legislativo de Telerman foi supostamente ideia de Bergoglio”, reportaram os diplomatas. O religioso também era muito próximo de Gabriela Michetti, então ex-vice prefeita de Buenos Aires e atualmente deputada federal da oposição, segundo outro telegrama, de 26 de janeiro de 2010.

A relação desgastada entre a Casa Rosada e a Arquidiocese de Buenos Aires chegou ao rompimento entre as duas instituições. Os laços institucionais entre a presidência argentina e o cardeal só seriam retomados por Cristina Kirchner em 2008, quando ela se encontrou com Bergoglio, segundo telegrama de abril daquele ano. Dias depois, os americanos especulam sobre a possibilidade do Cardeal negar-se a celebrar a missa de 25 de maio – data nacional na Argentina – em decorrência da mudança das festividades de Buenos Aires para Salta.

UM LÍDER MANCHADO PELA RELAÇÃO COM A DITADURA

Outro telegrama que cita Bergoglio, de outubro de 2007, narra a condenação de Christian Von Wernich, padre e ex-capelão da polícia de Buenos Aires durante a ditadura na Argentina. Wernich foi considerado cúmplice em sete assassinatos, 31 casos de tortura e 42 sequestros.

Após o veredito, a arquidiocese de Buenos Aires publicou uma nota em que convocava o sacerdote a se arrepender e pedir perdão em público. “A Arquidiocese disse que a Igreja Católica Argentina estava transtornada pela dor causada pela participação de um dos seus padres nestes crimes graves”, relata o despacho.

Para os americanos, este evento acabaria impactando na imagem de Bergoglio. “Entretando, numa época em que alguns observadores consideram o primaz católico romano Cardeal Bergoglio ser um líder da oposição à administração Kirchner por conta de seus comentários sobre questões sociais”, comenta o documento, “o caso Von Wernich pode ter o efeito, alguns acreditam, de minar a autoridade moral ou capacidade da Igreja (e, por conseguinte, do Cardeal Bergoglio) de comentar questões politicais, sociais ou econômicas”.

O fim de “O Mundo Amanhã”

Hoje, no 12º e último episódio desta série, Julian Assange entrevista Anwar Ibrahim, o mais proeminente e provocador líder da oposição na Malásia. O Mundo Amanhã é uma produção do WikiLeaks em colaboração com o canal Russia Today. Estas entrevistas são transmitidas por O Informador em parceria com a Agência Pública.

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Por Agência Pública

Em busca de ideias poderosas que podem transformar o mundo, o fundador do WikiLeaks depara-se com um caso semelhante ao seu trajecto de vida.

Depois de ter sido Vice Primeiro-Ministro da Malásia na década de 1990, Anwar Ibrahim foi expulso da política e preso por acusações de corrupção e crimes sexuais – no caso, sodomia, considerada ilegal no país asiático. Após seis anos de cativeiro, foi absolvido das acusações. Mas, em 2008, teve que enfrentar novas acusações por crimes sexuais e enfrentar uma batalha legal de quatro anos. Só foi absolvido em Janeiro de 2012.

Para ele, a Malásia é ainda menos democrática do que a vizinha Birmânia. Anwar Ibrahim descreve democracia como tendo “um poder judicial independente, uma imprensa livre e uma política económica que pode promover crescimento e a economia de mercado”. Com essa plataforma, o seu partido está ganhar o apoio da população e é uma  ameaça ao actual governo nas próximas eleições gerais de 2013.

Agora, Ibrahim foi acusado participar numa manifestação em defesa de reformas eleitorais – reuniões não autorizadas também são consideradas crime – o que pode comprometer suas ambições eleitorais. Mas, durante a entrevista, ele mostra-se optimista quando relembra a última campanha, em 2008. “Ganhámos 10 dos 11 mandatos parlamentares. Acredito que estamos maduros para um tipo de Primavera Malaia através do processo eleitoral”, diz.

Veja a entrevista a seguir, ou clique aqui para fazer o download do texto na íntegra.

O Mundo Amanhã

Devido a um problema técnico a que O Informador é alheio, o link para o vídeo da última entrevista de Julian Assange para o projecto O Mundo Amanhã ainda não está disponível. Assim que o problema for resolvido, o texto e o vídeo serão colocados online. Para já, fica aqui o pedido de desculpas.

O Mundo Amanhã: a última entrevista de Julian Assange

Amanhã, dia 19 de Dezembro, O Informador, em parceria com a Agência Pública, transmite em exclusivo em Portugal a última das 12 entrevistas feitas por Julian Assange para o projecto O Mundo Amanhã. Esta semana, o fundador do WikiLeaks – que realizou este projecto em parceria com o canal Russia Today – entrevista o líder carismático da oposição malaia Dato’ Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim. O episódio será colocado online às 20h. Todas as outras entrevistas – incluindo ao intelectual Noam Chomsky e ao presidente do Equador Rafael Correa – podem ser encontradas através da etiqueta O Mundo Amanhã.

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Anwar bin Iberahim já foi um alto responsável do governo do primeiro-ministro Mahathir bin Mohamad. No final dos anos 1990 caiu em desgraça e foi expulso da vida política acusado de corrupção e sodomia que se revelaram politicamente motivadas. Quando foi ilibado já tinha cumprido seis anos de prisão. Em 2008 voltou à política, recolheu grande apoio numa plataforma anti-corrupção e foi novamente alvo de acusações de sodomia. Mais uma vez, garantiu que eram  boatos lançados pelos adversários. Ainda assim travou uma batalha judicial contra as acusações e em Janeiro deste ano foi absolvido de todas as acusações.

Em Maio de 2012 – já depois de esta entrevista ser filmada – Anwar foi acusado de apelar ao boicote à lei anti-protestos, devido à sua participação numa marcha pró-democracia. Se for condenado, será novamente afastado da política e impedido de concorrer às próximas eleições legislativas.

Noam Chomsky e Tariq Ali debatem o futuro do planeta

Hoje, no décimo primeiro episódio desta série, Julian Assange entrevista o intelectual norte-americano Noam Chomsky e o historiador paquistanês, Tariq Ali. Os três conversam sobre as recentes mudanças políticas no planeta e analisam a direcção em que estamos a caminhar. O Mundo Amanhã é uma produção do WikiLeaks em colaboração com o canal Russia Today. Estas entrevistas são transmitidas por O Informador em parceria com a Agência Pública.

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Por Agência Pública

Ninguém poderia tê-las previsto. Mas ainda com o mundo sob o efeito das revoluções no Médio Oriente, Julian Assange reuniu-se com dois pensadores de peso para saber o que eles pensam sobre o futuro.

Noam Chomsky, conceituado linguista e pensador, e Tariq Ali, romancista de revoluções e historiador militar, encontram na Primavera Árabe questões sobre a independência das nações, a crise da democracia, sistemas políticos eficientes (ou não) e a legião de jovens activistas que se tem levantado em protesto por todo o mundo. ”A democracia é como uma concha vazia, e é isso que está a revoltar a juventude. Ela sente que, faça o que fizer, vote em quem votar, nada vai mudar. Daí todos esses protestos”, explica Ali.

“O que temos na política ocidental não é extrema esquerda nem extrema direita. É um extremo centro”, continua. “E esse extremo centro engloba tanto o centro-direita como o centro-esquerda, que concordam em vários fundamentos: travar guerras no exterior, ocupar países e punir os pobres, através de medidas de austeridade. Não importa qual o partido no poder, seja nos Estados Unidos ou no mundo ocidental…”

Segundo o próprio Tariq Ali, a grande crise da democracia está nas mãos das corporações. “Quando você tem dois países europeus, como a Grécia e a Itália, e os políticos a abdicar e a dizer ‘deixem os banqueiros comandar’… Para onde isso está a ir? Nós estamos a testemunhar a democracia a tornar-se cada vez mais despida de conteúdo”, critica o activista.

Mas após as revoluções, as conquistas vêm da construção de novos modelos políticos. Noam Chomsky cita a Bolívia como exemplo. “Eu não acho que as potências populares preocupadas em mudar suas próprias sociedades deveriam procurar modelos. Deveriam criar os modelos”. Para ele, a chegada da população indígena ao poder político através da figura de Evo Morales está a repetir-se no Equador e no Peru. “É melhor o Ocidente captar rápido alguns aspectos desses modelos, ou então ele vai acabar”, alerta Chomsky.

Por outro lado, segundo Tariq Ali, está na mãos dos jovens perceber a necessidade de agir. “Não desistam. Tenham esperança. Permaneçam cépticos. Sejam críticos com o sistema que nos tem dominado. E mais cedo ou mais tarde, se não for essa geração, então nas próximas, as coisas vão mudar”.

Veja a entrevista a seguir, ou clique aqui para fazer o download do texto na íntegra.

Assange entrevista Noam Chomsky e Tariq Ali

Amanhã, dia 12 de Dezembro, O Informador, em parceria com a Agência Pública, transmite em exclusivo em Portugal a décima primeira das 12 entrevistas conduzidas por Julian Assange para o projecto O Mundo Amanhã. Esta semana, o fundador do WikiLeaks – que realizou este projecto em parceria com o canal Russia Today – entrevista o intelectual norte-americano Noam Chomsky e o historiador paquistanês Tariq Ali. O episódio será colocado online às 20h.

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Noam Chomsky é um linguista e intelectual de renome mundial. Como o pai da teoria da “gramática degenerativa”, desempenhou um papel central na revolução cognitiva da filosofia, linguística, matemática e psicologia. Desde a década de 1960 que é um dos mais consistentes críticos da política externa norte-americana. Opôs-se à guerra do Vietname e, juntamente com Howard Zinn, fez parte do grupo de Boston que foi alvo de investigações após a divulgação dos “Pentagon Papers”. Desde então que produziu uma enorme quantidade de obras que lhe garantiram a reputação de mais reputada voz dissidente do “estalishment” intelectual dos Estados Unidos.

Tariq

Tariq Ali é um historiador militar e intelectual paquistanês. Nos anos 1960, ganhou a reputação de homem de rua pelas suas acções como activista político nos protestos contra a Guerra do Vietname no Reino Unido. Ao longo dos anos manteve-se como um esquerdista e comentador anti-guerra. Hoje continua a ser um forte crítico do imperialismo e das reformas neoliberais ocidentais, e baseia a sua argumentação nos acontecimentos históricos do último século. Num trabalho recente, focou-se nas políticas de continuidade entre as administrações Bush e Obama: argumenta que a guerra ao terrorismo continua a ser um pretexto para a cada vez maior impunidade na conduta internacional dos Estados Unidos e dos seus aliados.