6 March 2012 (18:00 GMT)
Over the past week various media in Sweden have been critically discussing WikiLeaks affairs. Much of these discussions have been based on two fabricated reports that originate from the daily tabloid Expressen.
The recent fabrications picked up in the Swedish media about alleged WikiLeaks plots on Swedish journalists and the Swedish state are completely false. WikiLeaks does not know who is behind this defamation, but perhaps those fearful of the impact of the cables referred to in the Rolling Stone article have attempted to disarm future exposures relating to Sweden’s Foreign Minister.
Expressen’s fabricated stories attempt to twist the publication of authentic materials about government, into a “smear campaign against all Sweden”. Attempting to equate the reputation of one Moderate party politician, Carl Bildt, with the reputation of the entire Swedish nation is a clear manipulation and must be challenged. Expressen refuses to release any of its claimed evidence and its editor, Thomas Mattson is apparently too scared to debate WikiLeaks on SVT as to the merits.
WikiLeaks demands Thomas Mattson issue a full, front page retraction, or resign.
1. The only WikiLeaks related “smear campaign” in Sweden is the one the Expressen tabloid has waged against WikiLeaks since it became public that Julian Assange was to publish a column in its rival Aftonbladet, back in early August 2010. It is absolutely false that there is an “internal WikiLeaks’ memo” related to the subject. Nor, after own investigation, have we been able to find any person who is aware in any manner whatsoever of any WikiLeaks document with similar contents, anywhere. We note that Expressen refuses to release the alleged document. No such WikiLeaks document exists or ever has existed. WikiLeaks founded “scientific journalism” which mandates the release of full source documents, so everyone may check their veracity, precisely so the type of corrupt “journalism” practiced by Expressen over the past week may become a relic of the past.
2. The tabloid claims to have a ’WikiLeaks insider’ source who confirms the story. This is false. No WikiLeaks staff member has made such a confirmation and neither is such confirmation possible by any source, since no such WikiLeaks document has ever existed. This alleged ’source’ is either a fabrication or an impostor.
3. The tabloid then tries to manipulate other Swedish journalists into Expressen’s defence by claiming that WikiLeaks is secretly gathering data on specific Swedish journalists, including taking pictures outside of their homes, investigating their finances and obtaining secret Swedish government documents on them. This is also absolutely false. If anyone is spying on these journalists, it is not WikiLeaks or anyone instructed by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks recommends that these journalists report any suspicious behaviour to the police.
4. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson has not said that the so-called ’internal memo’ exists or confirmed any Expressen allegations. Kristinn Hrafnsson told Expressen only that the information provided in the already published Rolling Stone January interview (that cables exist showing long term contact between Carl Bildt and George W. Bush spinmaster Karl Rove) was accurate. Anything to suggest the contrary is itself spin. Expressen claims to have a tape of Mr. Hrafnsson, which it may well do. That is not the point. The point is what the tape contains. We demand Thomas Mattson release the full tape or resign.
The nature of our work, exposing abuses of power, means that we have many friends but also many enemies. Attacks on our systems are resisted with strict security measures. But attacks on our reputation are also a reality. It may seem like spy movie, but intelligence agencies, spin campaigns, and assassination threats are a well documented reality when it comes to WikiLeaks. If WikiLeaks had not taken these issues seriously it would have been destroyed long ago.
- After the release of the US diplomatic cables in late November 2010, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated that there was a serious, active criminal investigation against WikiLeaks. The CIA has [publicly declared a WikiLeaks Task Force. Even earlier, the Pentagon publicly declared a 120-member operation into WikiLeaks working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- The US is believed to have issued a sealed indictment for Julian Assange according to information from “global intelligence” firm Stratfor’s Vice-President for Terrorism. The Justice Department refuses to confirm or deny. The US Center for Constitutional Rights condemns an indictment against Julian Assange as a “dramatic assault on the First Amendment, journalists, and the public’s right to know”;
- There is currently a secret Grand Jury investigating Julian Assange for espionage in Alexandra, Virginia, and the US is attempting to force alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning into a plea deal in order to implicate the real target, Julian Assange;
- A report from early 2011 commissioned by the Bank of America with advice from the US Department of Justice, detailed how to take WikiLeaks out including by illegal means and smear campaigns. The multi-pronged onslaught had a budget of $2 million/month. It was prepared for Washington law firm Hunton & Williams, which was hired by the Bank of America. The report was submitted to WikiLeaks) and the smear campaign is subject of ongoing investigations including a US Congressional probe.
- WikiLeaks is the subject of an extrajudicial banking blockade by VISA, MasterCard, Bank of America, PayPal and Western Union since December 2010. The blockade is outside of any administrative or judicial process. The US Treasury stated in January 2011 that there were no lawful grounds to put WikiLeaks on a blacklist. Despite the Treasury’s findings, the blockade remains in place. WikiLeaks has filed a complaint at the European Commission, and various litigations have commenced in different jurisdictions;
- Calls to assassinate or harm WikiLeaks staff as well as hate speech, slander and libel against this organisation have been unrelenting since the release of the Collateral Murder video. The CIA has refused to confirm or deny knowledge of ’current or previous plans to assassinate Julian Assange’ despite denying such knowledge for other public figures.
- Internal communications from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which has extensive ties to US Government secret agencies, claim to detail part of the US government’s strategy to target WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Stratfor states that the US is using the same tactics it uses against Al Qaeda to target WikiLeaks;
Irrespective of who is behind the campaign the effects remain the same: in terms of WikiLeaks, it is contaminating Swedish public opinion so as to reduce the level of our donations from Sweden, to make Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States politically feasible and to make a fair trial within Sweden for Mr. Assange, given the political nature of the lay judges system, difficult or impossible. In terms of the rest of the Swedish press and public, Expressen is degrading Swedish and European culture, for lies have negative social utility.