Sunday, 23 June 2013

Investigative reporter Michael Hastings' death: If neither accident nor suicide - then what?

Well, I hypothesized for my own that it might have been a case of suicide. That kind of suicide where the victim wishes the happening to be instead appears as accident. But today I read this email, send by Michael Hastings to some close associates some hours before his sudden demise. Michael Hastings’ text, “hope to see you all soon” would exclude a suicidal intent. I may say.  And, who would like to silence to death Hastings’ announced “Big story”?

By Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli

A couple of days ago I glanced at the discussion concerning the death of Michael Hastings, the journalist from Rolling Stones who authored a notable interview/reportage on the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

I referred this longest and one most thoroughgoing interview made with JA, in "Plan Z: the latest national chauvinist campaign anti-WIkiLeaks. Saving Minister Bildt?". In the referred interview Hastings asked Julian Assange, “The conventional wisdom – both in Sweden and the U.S. – is that you won’t be extradited. Why are you convinced you will? To which Julian replied,
"Extradition is a political matter. The extradition treaties – those from the U.K. to the U.S. and from Sweden to the U.S. – are both very dangerous for me. Every day that I remain in England, it is dangerous, and if I am in Sweden, it will be at least as dangerous as it is here, and very probably more so. The Swedish foreign minister responsible for extradition, Carl Bildt, became a U.S. Embassy informant in 1973 when he was 24 years old. He shipped his personal effects to Washington, to lead a conservative leadership program, where he met Karl Rove."

Michael Hastings interviews JA

Hastings is reported to have died in  a "fierce car-crash". In spite of the speculations around his unexpected death, I admit I was quite sceptic about the assassination thesis (not because I am ready to disregard any “conspiracy theory” as purely nonsense – as certain detractors affirm per default in their comments around the case Assange, WikiLeaks, or the on the information war).

Well, I hypothesized for my own that it might have been a case of suicide. That kind of suicide where the victim wishes the happening to be instead appears as accident. I have developed this concept during my research at the Karolinska Institutet in the 90’s; a phenomenon that I called “Metasuicide”, and which it was in an article I published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. It discussed a kind of violent death, where forensics cannot establish with certainty a self-destructive intent with fatal aim; neither if the injury was externally produced. We also referred it to as UMSA cases (for “Undetermined cause, suicide or accident”).

As a matter of fact, Sweden was found to have the highest rate in Europe among such cases, and where these are labelled as “osäkra självmord”. A typical forensic scenario: vehicle at high speed, crushing to a pole or tree, no breaks traces in pavement, mechanical failure not otherwise established. Why suicidal individuals would conceal their suicidal intent at their demise, it is another theme; and perhaps “Psychological autopsy” it could give an answer (history of severe depression, ptsd and torture, etc). As I said, the thought crossed my mind on that Hastings case it could have been one of metasuicide.

But today I read this email, send by Michael Hastings to some close associates some hours before his sudden demise.

Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA

Hey (redacted names) -- the Feds are interviewing my "close friends and associates." Perhaps if the authorities arrive "BuzzFeed GQ," er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.


I found Hastings remarkable message above, in an article by  Melisa Jeltsen in the Huffington Post, material which is sourced in "Exclusive: Hastings Sent Colleagues Email Hours Before Crash" published by KTLA
I could not however established – it is not commented in any of those dispatches - whether the email operator used by Hastings was Google’s

Nevertheless, Michael Hastings' text, "hope to see you all soon" would exclude a suicidal intent. I may say. And, who would like to silence to death Hastings' announced "Big story"?

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "Michael Hastings researching Jill Kelley case before death", the deceased journalist was working on a report detailing whereabouts of a privacy lawsuit against the FBI and the State Department.

The FBI denied that they would have been investigating journalist Michael Hastings before his death, but the organization WikiLeaks informed on the 19 of June that the journalist "contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him". See below.

WL tweet Hastings - Jen Rob

Friday, 21 June 2013

Letter to the new legal representative of the nominal accusers of Julian Assange. By John Goss

"I, and many others, believe this case is more about politics, and how the United States wants to stop Wikileaks telling the truth, than a personal, and what should in fact be a private affair, between two lovers. Would your client not agree with that? Would you not agree with it?"


By John Goss

The new legal representative of Sofia Wilen is Elisabeth Massi Fritz. One of the first things she did when she took over was to seek publicity by posting about how much under stress her client was due to the case taking so long to come to a Swedish court.

She never mentioned how much stress Julian Assange might be under, cooped up in the Ecuadorian Embassy, because of allegations which increasingly appear to be of a political origin. She also saw to it that the press release contained an allegation of rape again. Having read Sofia Wilen's first statement, the one she would not sign, the one she refused to continue with as soon as the word 'rape' was mentioned, it occurred to me, and I know a lot of other people, that Sofia was being coerced into testifying against Assange. So I wrote to Ms Fritz to try and find out whether this new statement was the sole work of Sofia. Ms Fritz did not respond.

Later it was revealed that there were two statements issued, one for the Swedish media, and one for the international media. It was also revealed that Ms Fritz may not have been the author of these press releases, but Anna Sjögren.

There may be a legitimate reason for Ms Sjögren's name being on at least one of the documents, for example Ms Fritz could have been using a colleague's computer, but as her office has not responded to my first request, I have no great hopes of a response from my second.
The initial keenness of Ms Fritz to talk to the press seems to have been, like the whole affair, generated by a political motive. Her reluctance to respond to perfectly legitimate questions makes me suspect that it is not justice she seeks but the continued persecution of Assange. Both Assange and Sofia Wilen appear to be victims of Sweden's fealty to the United States of America.

John Goss, journalist and author, UK


Subject: A private message for Elisabeth Massi Fritz
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 09:48:38 +0000

Dear Ms Fritz

As the legal representative of Sofia Wilen would you please be good enough to answer some questions about the how the Swedish legal system works with regard to this high-profile case? I notice you have been talking to the press a lot more than Claes Borgstrom ever did. As a journalist I welcome that.Has Sofia Wilen been advised to change her lawyer because it has been revealed that Borgstrom’s firm and Sweden’s ambassador to Australia, Mr Sven Olof Petersson, were implicated by having knowledge of the rendition and torture of Egyptians from Sweden Mr Ahmed Agiza and Mr Muhammed al-Zery? Through this revelation Mr Borgstrom has been discredited as much as his other client Anna Ardin with deleted tweets and her deleted blog about seven legal steps to revenge against men who dump their lovers. So I realise that Sofia is the only plaintiff with any degree of credibility.

I, and many others, believe this case is more about politics, and how the United States wants to stop Wikileaks telling the truth, than a personal, and what should in fact be a private affair, between two lovers. Would your client not agree with that? Would you not agree with it?

Before these allegations Julian Assange had been around for nearly 40 years without any charge of rape or sexual misdemeanour made against him, and then, like a number 11 bus in Birmingham where I live, two come along at once. Does that not appear to be something of a coincidence to you?

The original police statement made by Sofia Wilen, the one she did not sign, is significantly different from what you say she is saying now. In the UK we had a Dr David Kelly (sadly dead now) who told the truth that our government had ‘sexed up’ a dossier on Saddam Hussein’s capability of having weapons of mass destruction in order to take us into an illegal war. The phrase ‘sexed up’ has as much to do with sex as the Swedish word for ‘rape’ appears have to do with rape (forceful and painful penetration without consent) and what the phrase actually means is that the dossier had been embellished to make a stronger case for war. Have you, Ms Fritz, embellished or advised Sofia Wilen to embellish her original statement to make a stronger case?If you have embellished the statement, or helped her do it, could not the stress you say she is under actually be caused by you?

Has your client any idea who illegally leaked the ‘rape’ story to the press? Because that’s one of the reasons I believe this is political rather than personal.Why do you not come to the UK to interview Julian Assange about the allegations or at least guarantee that Sweden would not extradite Assange to the US? Then it would be over for both your client and for Mr Assange, who is also suffering.If you answer these questions please be assured I will publish your answers. If you don’t I will just publish the questions on their own. I will forward this email letter to a trusted friend and allow you five working days to respond.I thank you in anticipation of your keenness to share stories with the press.Yours sincerely,

John Goss


from: john goss
to: "" ,
date: 17 June 2013 15:32
subject: Continued persecution of Julian Assange                       

Dear Ms Elisabeth Massi Fritz,

I wrote to you last week about your keenness to talk to journalists concerning your client's allegations against Julian Assange and hoped, wrongly it seems, that you might answer a few questions about the case which you claim is causing so much distress to your client.  Since then I have discovered that you may not have written the press releases, of which there appears to be a version for Swedish consumption and one for international readership.

Can you confirm that you are the author of these releases, or is that author Anna Sjögren?

If Ms Sjögren wrote and released the documents under your name, do you consider it proper legal practise for her to have done so? Was the release made with your knowledge?

When were these releases made? Were they released on 21 May, 22 May or 4 June?

If the purpose of these releases was to expedite proceedings, as was claimed, and journalists contact you to see how they can help, would it not be in the best interests of your client, and the interests of Julian Assange, to answer the questions?

I apologise for not being able to ask these questions in Swedish. If that is causing you a problem perhaps you would be good enough to answer them in Swedish, as one of my colleagues copied into this email would help with the translation.

Yours sincerely,

John Goss

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Perfidious move against WikiLeaks in leading Swedish MSM – At the anniversary of Julian Assange’s political asylum

DN 16 June 2013, at the anniversary of Julian Assange political asylum, confined at the Ecuador Embassy by Sweden's design:

"Today’s whistle-blowers choose for their leaks rather other sites than a crippled WikiLeaks"

For such conclusion the leading Swedish paper is quoting direct declarations done to to DN by "WikiLeaks' contact-person in Sweden" Prof. Christian Christensen, and also by the  known anti-Assange journalist David Leight. 

And regarding Assange, who DN reports is “legally suspected of rape”, “there is no solution at sight whatsoever” (Ingen lösning i sikte för Assange), says DN. These stabbings on the back of truth by Sweden establishment’s MSM  are done in the very moments that Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Patiño starting the talks with UK authorities in London for just that purpose - to find a solution to the deadlock produced BY SWEDEN with its prestige-bound negative of interrogating Assange in London. Further, the UK autorities as reported by BBC quoting a Foreign Office spokesman, "remain committed to seeking a diplomatic solution to this situation". The Swedish media campaign appears as double fold unethical, for neither DN dare to publish the complete reportage on-line for the general public, avoiding confronting international rebuttal to the inaccuracies of Hall, Christiansen and Leigh. Professors blogg reveals however the MSM plot here.
 Analysis by Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli

DNcover Assange16-2-13

DN First-page 16 June 2013: "Deadlock remains in the case Assange"

 Leading newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) surprises today the Swedish public with a first-page article on WikiLeaks, the whereabouts of contemporary whistleblowing which now “neglect WikiLeaks” to opting for classical newspapers which can now offer services and security level to the whistle-blowers that a "crippled" WikiLeaks is not any longer in position to offer. The reportage, composed by various articles in the main by foreign correspondent Thomas Hall (previously criticized in Professors blogg for his ostensible pro US-Army bias in the Swedish reporting on the NATO civil-killings in Afghanistan), and with corresponding political reflexions around the first year of Julian Assange at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

''Leaks choses other than WL''

DN article: "Whitleblowers select other ways than WikiLeaks"

Journalist David Leight:
"We have not been in contact with WikiLeaks since three years. WikiLeaks has been since then practically out of the game"

Christian Christensen, media professor at Stockholm University, and which according to the DN reportage is "given by the WikiLeaks (official) site as contact-person in Sweden" []:

"WikiLeaks was before the only organization that could guarantee anonymity and at the same time offer large spreading through cooperation with various newspapers. Today there are several alternatives for leaks (whistleblowers) in order to reach (the public) with their material"

Professors blogg comment: The authors above are not considering the true difference between the materials released by WikiLeaks and those published, for instance currently, by the MSM. These differences are mainly in terms of:

a) Quality of the material (in the sense of originality of the materials - nearly unfiltered for reasons of protecting identities, etc., instead of  being redaction "reportages" based in information from those materials)
b) Extension of the materials. The production available to the public at the WL sites equates – to the best of my knowledge – the material at disposition of WikiLeaks.
c) Free availability (public access) of the material beyond the readers or subscribers of the corporative MSM
d) Most important ethical issue of all: WikiLeaks is NOT an instrument of the power they exercise control upon. WikiLeaks exposes a system of  power-abuses in which many MSM have been a part of it.

Article "There is no solution at sight whatsoever”
Encircled text in green-blue:

"The facts, juridically: Suspected of Rape"

My comment about the "deadlock" at the Embassy ("There is no solution at sight whatsoever”)
Nominally, the deadlock at the Embassy of Ecuador in London has been attributed to the negative of the Swedish authorities to conduct an interrogation with Julian Assange in London, directly in situ or by video-link - both procedures contemplated as standard in the Swedish legal praxis. However, the explicit political thesis presented in Professors blogg has been another. We have called the "Stalling hypothesis" and refers to:

As far the “accusations-item” is concerned, Sweden has at-large demonstrated it is NOT interested in ending the legal case. The only interest Sweden has demonstrated is in trying to obtain the extradition  – by any means possible – of Assange to Sweden, where Assange would be kept incommunicado-status behind bars as per standard legal procedure in Sweden.  The extradited-prisoner status of Assange (the status he would have if taken prisoner to Sweden) enables other “juridical” possibilities for Sweden, respective to USA, that were not accessible at the time he would have been interrogated by the Swedish prosecutor when he was free in Sweden. This situation may be one explanation why Assange was led to understand he was “free to travel”.
The Swedish legal extradition process against Assange, and the Swedish legal process regarding the accusation “by the two women” against Assange, are in the main two different things – and only euphemistically connected. Those two different things have wrongly been mixed up in the discussions around the “juridical case”. The synthesis of this dialectics confirms conclusively that the Swedish “legal” case against Assange is solely the political case of USA against WikiLeaks.
The known homogeneity or “consensus” between the Swedish political parties appears most visible in a) matters of foreign policy, b) issues of  “National security”, or c) any topic that might compromise the prestige or trademarks of Sweden abroad. And we find the Assange case implicated by the Swedish authorities in those three items altogether.

From Professors blogg article Timing the processes

-- Delaying Assange extradition-process for timing with process in the U.S.  On the possible reasons for the neglected interrogation of Julian Assange and the verdict delays. On WikiLeaks  and Democracy. Excerpts of the RT Interview in Stockholm and excerpts regarding the "protracting theses"
"In the U.S., the preparations for these trials are seeking a connection between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning in terms of making Julian Assange accountable; is that what they are apparently looking after. And for that they need time. They need to prepare these materials. And for that, of course, it is highly convenient to keep Assange under arrest – and under the threat of the prospective of bring him here to Sweden, where he later he might be subject to an extradition petition."
In the RT interview 'MSM blacks Assange as US seeks Manning link', gives a further rationale for the "protracted" legal process is discussed. The thesis on the protracted Swedish process aimed to benefit a timing with the U.S. processes against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, finds support in some items at the time line "United States v. Manning, Assange, WikiLeaks, and the Press" authored by Alexa D. O'Brien. Some issues in this inteview are referred in the RT article US needs Assange under arrest ‘while seeking Manning link’

RT -Julian Assange, hailed as a hero for leaking information through his site WikiLeaks, is facing an uncertain future. Swedish authorities want to question him in relation to sexual assault allegations; and some politicians in the U.S. want to extradite him there to stand trial for leaking tens of thousands of secret US government documents. Here discussing the on-going discussion surrounding Julian Assange is Professor Marcello Vittorio Ferrada de Noli. Professor, thank you for joining me. Moving straight on to Julian Assange, how do you put the balance: Julian Assange is facing justice? Or this is a political motivated assault on Julian Assange

Well, I have my doubts about that (facing justice). Because even considering the particularities of the Swedish legal system, Sweden would have also the possibilities of for instance questioning Assange by other means; by the phone, or by means of the Swedish Embassy in London, and so one and so forth. I would be more inclined to think that here is a political reason why this process has been put forward in he fashion it has been. I would believe that the reason for the arrest order issued by Sweden is to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange here into Swedish territory. By being here in Swedish territory he would be then subject to further extradition process in this case from Sweden to the U.S. I would believe that the reason of this (mimicking quotation marks) “legal” situation is more political. There is another strategy, in my opinion, behind the all thing.

“Operation stalling” 
The external-caused, protracted asphyxiation process of WikiLeaks (economically, politically, and in the organization structure) apparently corresponds to a psychological-warfare design. I called it “Operation stalling" [See "Swedish psychological warfare against Wikileaks and Assange"], as it aims appears to be the procrastination of the "legal" process and corresponding verdicts of extradition and the like.
While the Swedish part had ample possibilities of arrange the interrogation of Julian Assange already in Sweden, or even later while Assange was under police custody or arrest in London, what we could witnessed is instead an unnecessary or "constructed" delay. This procrastination seemingly was a sine-qua-non element in the strategy of asphyxiate Wikileaks economically; for the longer the process went on, the more aggravating turned the funding situation cause by the Visa/Mastercard transaction stop.

The strategically political damage to WikiLeaks was in this design a) partly to immobilize, delay or obstruct the analyses of materials and editing, of for instance the so called cables-production, b) partly to discourage the collaborative material would to be sent from the part of the public to Wikileaks, based in the notion that these individuals would wait until Wikileaks founder would be  “clear” of any wrongdoing.
The economic blockade aimed concomitantly to asphyxiate Wikileaks also politically, as its political base and collaborative cadres, all of them engaged only altruistically and ad-honorem, neither could endure such long period, almost a year now. This situation also affects WikiLeaks organizational functioning, as the longer the time the undefined process persists, the more expensive the costs, and ultimately the totally draining of such funds. Actually, this was pointed out by Julian Assange long time ago, when in one of his appearance’s outside the court in the previous hearings compared the enormous resources put up in this legal process by Sweden, Britain or elsewhere, in contrast with the hyper limited resources at his disposal.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

No server is secure. The list of digital whistle-blowers is getting longer – By Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel

"Hammond and Anonymous have shown, albeit in his own way, that to produce change we must fight for ourselves. No one else will do it for us."
"It is said that knowledge is power, but it is power that decides what is knowledge. That is what the fight is about." Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel

The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published today (11 June 2013) "No server is secure. The list of digital whistle-blowers is getting longer" [Ingen server är säker. Listan av digitala whistleblowers blir allt längre], an article authored by Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel, PhD student in Media and Communication Sciences, Umeå University. Here below an (unofficial) translation by Professors blogg of the article based on the Aftonbladet published version.

Rodrigo article 

No server is secure

By Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel

The trial against Bradley Manning continues unabated; and Edward Snowden (the NSA-leak) revealed yesterday, worldwide, details on his whereabouts. The list of digital whistle-blowers is getting longer. Two weeks ago, the man who hacked the security firm Stratfor, and sent the information to Wikileaks, was brought to trial in a lawsuit that raised questions about who really monitors whom in the modern information war -- and in which the balance of power is far from obvious.

Criminal or political prisoner? terrorist or freedom fighter?

In a legal sense, Jeremy Hammond’s hacking is held a criminal activity regardless of the intentions he had. In political meaning, Hammonds and other activists like him are hacking in a world of economic and state secrets - and revealed them to the public.

On May 28, the trial in New York against cyber activist Jeremy Hammonds was one of the main discussions on Twitter. It was discussed whether the potential penalty of ten years was fair or disproportionate, and on the possible causes of the long sentence. It was discussed whether the American judicial system is trying to set an example against hacking, or it just an expression of fear. Suddenly disclosures of confidential political-economic information challenges the democracy’s image, which has been painted for long, and relatively, unhindered.

The 28-year-old Hammond was arrested in 2012 along with four other activist accused to hacking into the private U.S. security and intelligence firm Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting Inc.). In December 2011, they had leaked five million emails to Wikileaks, which in turn spread the information to the media worldwide. Hammond was nicknamed "Robin Hood" because he also must have stolen credit card information (not encrypted, according to himself) from Stratfor and donated nearly 700,000 dollars to various aid organizations. A sum that is now completely returned to the company.

After seizing part of the documents via Wikileaks, both the UK's The Guardian and U.S. Rolling Stone Magazine reported (27 and 28 February, 2012) about how Stratfor secretly collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Department of Homeland Security). The goal was to develop strategies for civilian domestic surveillance.

The (WikiLeaks’) Stratfor-leak, and Edward Snowden's revelations about the U.S. government-led mass surveillance, allows us to peer into an ever darker shadow-world of both government and private companies spying on their own people. A process which is incompatible with democratic values, according to Abi Hassen, a lawyer and coordinator of the U.S. National Lawyers Guild. As Hassen declared to the site Sparrow Media: "Today's trial should be instead the springboard for an investigation of Stratfor, and not an occasion used to sentence a young man to ten years in prison for political activism."

It is in many ways ironic that Hammond can get ten years for hacking, while the young- rapists from Steubenville High School in the USA got one, respectively two, years in juvenile detention-institutions. The youngsters were arrested after Anonymous - the political movement that has been associated to Hammond and the hacker collective LulzSec - leaked video evidence.

On Twitter, the debate has also centred on the New York judge Loretta Preska could be accused of bias. This is because the revelations indicating that her husband's law-firm Cahill - one of Stratfor’s customers – was found in the material that was hacked. Yet others maintain that Hammond’s hacking should be regarded as idealistic political activity -- civil disobedience.
The debate in Twitter has also to do about enabling an alternative knowledge form, about an attempt to approach the truth by circumvolving the democratic facade  - and to publish it. We have never been in greater need of information and corporation-transparency.
From this perspective, the activities by Hammond and Anonymous are something more than a classical computer hacking.
No server can hide information in an absolutely safe way. And this has a symbolic value. No civilian group can ever match the institutional power-infrastructure in what war technology is concerned. However, in a cyber or information-war those terms change, at least theoretically. It is here where the hacker-culture as a political movement comes into play.
As globalization expands, also increases the risk of concentration of the political and economic power. Ensuing this logic, the neo-liberal version of democracy will not change.
Nor shall economic and political inequalities be balanced. None of the beneficiaries of the current power structure will take up the fight for the oppressed, which comprise the global population majority.
Hammond and Anonymous have shown, albeit in his own way, that to produce change we must fight for ourselves. No one else will do it for us. It is said that knowledge is power, but it is power that decides what is knowledge.
That is what the fight is about.

Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel
PhD student in Media and Communication Sciences, Umeå University, Sweden