Though the 'State Party' was not identified, Wikileaks' other announcements suggest a joint US/UK effort to prevent the release of more documents.
Update – WikiLeaks has confirmed that the “State Party” mentioned in their earlier tweet was the Ecuadorian government. They cut off Assange’s internet access shortly after the publication of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speech transcripts.
We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange’s internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speechs.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) 17 de octubre de 2016
With WikiLeaks releasing new incriminating documents regarding Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton nearly every day, it seems that the “powers that be” have begun to retaliate. Last night, WikiLeaks reported that the internet connection of their Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange had been severed by an unnamed “state party.” This may very well be the first officially confirmed incident of government retaliation against the media organization, which has most recently caused outrage among Western governments for its dissemination of the hacked Podesta emails. WikiLeaks has provided minimal details about the incident, apart from a subsequent tweet asking the public to support the organization through donations or through the WikiLeaks task force. Assange had also previously promised that the leaks of Podesta’s emails and other documents would continue regardless of whether he had to “step down” as editor or if some other unfortunate event befell him.
Julian Assange’s internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) 17 de octubre de 2016
However, WikiLeaks’ tweets prior to this announcement have caused quite a stir online. The three tweets released before the announcement of “state party” interference mention 3 pre-commitment documents with the titles ‘John Kerry,’ ‘Ecuador,’ and ‘UK FCO’, along with sha256 hashes for the verification of file authenticity. Many have speculated that these tweets are in fact “dead man keys,” or encryption codes for highly damaging secret documents to be unveiled in the event of Assange’s death. However, they appear to be the “contingency plans” alluded to in the tweet that followed.
These tweets in no way imply that Assange has been killed or compromised. The names mentioned in the precommitment tweets are very telling, as well as the use of the term “precommitment” itself. Precommitment is a , strategy where one uses a “commitment device”, to deter their opponent from retaliating by making what was previously perceived as an “empty threat” credible. The “commitment device”, in this case appears to be damaging documents linking US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to intimidation tactics against Ecuador for their asylum agreement with Assange. This strategy in no way implies that Assange is dead. To the contrary, it suggests that Assange, in response to state retaliation, is using other documents in his possession to intimidate the establishment from further retaliation as the threat of the release of these other documents will work, in WikiLeaks’ view at least, as a very strong deterrent.
This is not the first time that Wikileaks has come under threat from government entities. WikiLeaks and Assange have caused headache after headache for a variety of governments, though the United States has responded more viciously than most as many government leaders have repeatedly labeled Assange and WikiLeaks as “terrorists” and enemies of the state. Kerry’s inclusion in the precommitment tweets also suggests that the US is intimately involved in efforts to silence WikilLaks. Indeed, Hillary Clinton herself, who has been the focus of the most recent leaks, allegedly suggested murdering Assange via drone strike at a State Department meeting in 2010.
Assange and WikiLeaks are likely all too aware of the threats they face and their “contingency plans” undoubtedly have been carefully created with this in mind. These plans also ask for the assistance of the public as the organization itself has said that even simply tweeting with the hashtag #defendWL in an online display of support could make a real difference during this trying and unpredictable time. With WikiLeaks commendable actions under fire, it is more important now than ever to support their work.
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