Image for Open letter.  Mark Arbib, CIA Agent 007. Hackers hit back. Wilkie lashes Gillard

A group of almost 200 prominent names have appealed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to defend WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Many prominent US figures have called for Mr Assange’s death since his whistleblower organisation began releasing hundreds of US diplomatic cables last month.

And Ms Gillard has been accused by Mr Assange’s lawyers of prejudicing any case against him by claiming he is “guilty of illegality” for leaking the documents.

But in the open letter posted on the ABC’s Drum website ( HERE, and below ), figures such as writer Noam Chomsky, former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, retired intelligence officer Lance Collins and actor Max Gillies call on Ms Gillard to ensure Mr Assange’s safety in light of the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding WikiLeaks.

“We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states,” they write.

In the letter, almost 200 signatories including Chaser star Julian Morrow, Greens MP Adam Bandt and author Helen Garner, say the Prime Minister needs to make a strong statement in support of freedom of information and resist calls to punish Mr Assange for the leaks.

“We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange’s passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness,” the letter states.

“A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial - it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.”

It says the leaks represent a “watershed” in the cause of freedom of speech, and the Government can make a difference by speaking out in defence of Mr Assange.

“In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material,” it writes.

“If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.”

Mr Assange has become the focal point for anger over the latest leaks, which detail private cables of US diplomats and have revealed damaging and embarrassing information about senior government figures around the world.

Full ABC Online story HERE

Keep us strong, says WikiLeaks, HERE

The letter and the signatories:

We wrote the letter below because we believe that Julian Assange is entitled to all the protections enshrined in the rule of law – and that the Australian Government has an obligation to ensure he receives them.

The signatures here have been collected in the course of a day-and-a-half, primarily from people in publishing, law and politics. The signatories hold divergent views about WikiLeaks and its operations. But they are united in a determination to see Mr Assange treated fairly.

We know that many others would have liked to sign. But given the urgency of the situation, we though it expedient to publish now rather than collect more names.

If, however, you agree with the sentiments expressed, we encourage you to leave your name in the comments section.

Dear Prime Minister,

We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

“We should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him,” writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.

William Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, asks, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”

“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” writes the prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg.

“The CIA should have already killed Julian Assange,” says John Hawkins on the Right Wing News site.

Sarah Palin, a likely presidential candidate, compares Assange to an Al Qaeda leader; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and potential presidential contender, accuses Assange of “terrorism”.

And so on and so forth.

Such calls cannot be dismissed as bluster. Over the last decade, we have seen the normalisation of extrajudicial measures once unthinkable, from ‘extraordinary rendition’ (kidnapping) to ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture).

In that context, we now have grave concerns for Mr Assange’s wellbeing.

Irrespective of the political controversies surrounding WikiLeaks, Mr Assange remains entitled to conduct his affairs in safety, and to receive procedural fairness in any legal proceedings against him.

As is well known, Mr Assange is an Australian citizen.

We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange, and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states.

We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange’s passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.

A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial – it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

We believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.

In this crucial time, a strong statement by you and your Government can make an important difference.

We look forward to your response.

Dr Jeff Sparrow, author and editor
Lizzie O’Shea, Social Justice Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn
Professor Noam Chomsky, writer and academic
Antony Loewenstein, journalist and author
Mungo MacCallum, journalist and writer
Professor Peter Singer, author and academic
Adam Bandt, MP
Senator Bob Brown
Senator Scott Ludlam
Julian Burnside QC, barrister
Jeff Lawrence, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions
Professor Raimond Gaita, author and academic
Rob Stary, lawyer
Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps, writer
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Brian Walters SC, barrister
Professor Larissa Behrendt, academic
Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, academic, Sydney Peace Foundation
Mary Kostakidis, Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation
Professor Wendy Bacon, journalist
Christos Tsiolkas, author
James Bradley, author and journalist
Julian Morrow, comedian and television producer
Louise Swinn, publisher
Helen Garner, novelist
Professor Dennis Altman, writer and academic
Dr Leslie Cannold, author, ethicist, commentator
John Birmingham, writer
Guy Rundle, writer
Alex Miller, writer
Sophie Cunningham, editor and author
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
Professor Judith Brett, author and academic
Stephen Keim SC, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Phil Lynch, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Resource Centre
Sylvia Hale, MLC
Sophie Black, editor
David Ritter, lawyer and historian
Dr Scott Burchill, writer and academic
Dr Mark Davis, author and academic
Henry Rosenbloom, publisher
Ben Naparstek, editor
Chris Feik, editor
Louise Swinn, publisher
Stephen Warne, barrister
Dr John Dwyer QC
Hilary McPhee, writer, publisher
Joan Dwyer OAM
Greg Barns, barrister
James Button, journalist
Owen Richardson, critic
Michelle Griffin, editor
John Timlin, literary Agent & producer
Ann Cunningham, lawyer and publisher
Alison Croggon, author, critic
Daniel Keene, playwright
Dr Nick Shimmin, editor/writer
Bill O’Shea, lawyer, former President, Law Institute of Victoria
Dianne Otto, Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School
Professor Frank Hutchinson,Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney
Anthony Georgeff, editor
Max Gillies, actor
Shane Maloney, writer
Louis Armand, author and publisher
Jenna Price, academic and journalist
Tanja Kovac, National Cooordinator EMILY’s List Australia
Dr Russell Grigg, academic
Dr Justin Clemens, writer and academic
Susan Morairty, Lawyer
David Hirsch, Barrister
Cr Anne O’Shea
Kathryn Crosby, Candidates Online
Dr Robert Sparrow, academic
Jennifer Mills, author
Foong Ling Kong, editor
Tim Norton,  Online Campaigns Co-ordinator,  Oxfam Australia
Elisabeth Wynhausen, writer
Ben Slade, Lawyer
Nikki Anderson, publisher
Dan Cass
Professor Diane Bell, author and academic
Dr Philipa Rothfield, academic
Gary Cazalet, academic
Dr David Coady, academic
Dr Matthew Sharpe, writer and academic
Dr Tamas Pataki, writer and academic
Miska Mandic
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, academic
Professor Simon During, academic
Michael Brull, writer
Dr Geoff Boucher, academic
Jacinda Woodhead, writer and editor
Dr Rjurik Davidson, writer and editor
Mic Looby, writer
Jane Gleeson-White, writer and editor
Alex Skutenko, editor
Associate Professor John Collins, academic
Professor Philip Pettit, academic
Dr Christopher Scanlon, writer and academic
Dr Lawrie Zion, journalist
Johannes Jakob, editor
Sunili Govinnage, lawyer
Michael Bates, lawyer
Bridget Maidment, editor
Bryce Ives, theatre director
Sarah Darmody, writer
Jill Sparrow, writer
Lyn Bender, psychologist
Meredith Rose, editor
Dr Ellie Rennie, President, Engage Media
Ryan Paine, editor
Simon Cooper, editor
Chris Haan, lawyer
Carmela Baranowska, journalist.
Clinton Ellicott, publisher
Dr Charles Richardson, writer and academic
Phillip Frazer, publisher
Geoff Lemon, journalist
Jaya Savige, poet and editor
Johannes Jakob, editor
Kate Bree Geyer; journalist
Chay-Ya Clancy, performer
Lisa Greenaway, editor, writer
Chris Kennett - screenwriter, journalist
Kasey Edwards, author
Dr. Janine Little, academic
Dr Andrew Milner, writer and academic
Patricia Cornelius, writer
Elisa Berg, publisher
Lily Keil, editor
Jenny Sinclair
Roselina Rose
Stephen Luntz
PM Newton
Bryan Cooke
Kristen Obaid
Ryan Haldane-Underwood
Patrick Gardner
Robert Sinnerbrink
Kathryn Millist
Anne Coombs
Karen Pickering
Sarah Mizrahi
Suzanne Ingleton
Jessica Crouch
Michael Ingleton
Matt Griffin
Jane Allen
Tom Curtis
John Connell
David Garland
Stuart Hall
Meredith Tucker-Evans
Phil Perkins
Alexandra Adsett
Tom Doig, editor
Beth Jackson
Peter Mattessi
Robert Sinnerbrink
Greg Black
Paul Ashton
Sigi Jottkandt
Kym Connell, lawyer
Silma Ihram
Nicole Papaleo, lawyer
Melissa Forbes
Matthew Ryan
Ben Gook
Daniel East
Bridget Ikin
Lisa O’Connell
Melissa Cranenburgh
John Bryson
Michael Farrell
Melissa Reeves
Dr Emma Cox
Michael Green
Margherita Tracanelli
David Carlin, writer
Bridget McDonnell
Geoff Page, writer
Rebecca Interdonato
Roxane Ludbrook-Ingleton
Stefan Caramia
Ash Plummer

Assange bail request refused as Wikileaks chief fights extradition

Website founder remanded in UK custody until 14 December after denying alleged sexual offences in Sweden

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was remanded in custody today after appearing in court on an extradition warrant.

The 39-year-old Australian, who is wanted in Sweden over allegations he sexually assaulted two women, was refused bail on the grounds there was a risk he would fail to surrender.

Before a packed court No 1 at Westminster magistrates court, District Judge Howard Riddle said Assange was to be remanded in custody until a further hearing on December 14.

The ruling came despite Jemima Khan, film director Ken Loach and veteran journalist John Pilger standing up in court to offer to act at surety for Assange.

But the judge concluded that because of the “serious” nature of the allegations against Assange, his “comparatively weak community ties” in the UK, and that it was believed he had the financial means and the ability to abscond, there was a substantial risk he would fail to surrender.

“This case is not, on the face of it, about WikiLeaks. It is an allegation in another European country of serious sexual offences alleged to have occurred on three separate occasions and involving two separate victims,” he said.

Assange appeared in the glass-panelled dock in a courtroom crammed with up to 50 British and international journalists. There was standing room only in the public gallery as he spoke to confirm his name and date of birth.

Full Guardian story HERE

Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

First published in The Australian HERE

John Pilger

Pilger attacks Gillard over Assange
 
Campaigning journalist John Pilger has slammed Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for not supporting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Mr Assange, whose website has published thousands of leaked diplomatic cables, was denied bail at a London court on Tuesday after British police arrested him on a Swedish warrant for suspected sex crimes.

“It’s particularly outrageous that the prime minister of Australia should join what has become a kind of international lynch mob and make such a defamatory statement in which she said that ... the release of documents was illegal,” the ABC reported Mr Pilger saying outside the court.

“There is political motivation here. As far as we are concerned today, there is an injustice awaiting Mr Assange in Sweden.”

Read more HERE

Thursday:

Arbib warned US of Rudd axing: WikiLeaks

New documents from WikiLeaks reveal Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib warned the United States about a possible challenge to Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership as early as last year.

Extracts published in Fairfax newspapers show that in October last year, Senator Arbib secretly told US diplomats that Mr Rudd wanted to prevent a challenge from Julia Gillard.

The cables say Senator Arbib told diplomats that Mr Rudd, now Australia’s Foreign Minister, wanted ‘‘to ensure that there are viable alternatives to Gillard within the Labor Party to forestall a challenge’‘.

The cables suggest Senator Arbib has been secretly informing the US embassy in Canberra for several years.

The former Labor minister Bob McMullan and the federal MP Michael Danby have also been revealed as close sources.

An embassy profile written in July 2009 says of Senator Arbib: ‘‘He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the US while not being too deferential.”

“We have found him personable, confident and articulate. He has met with us repeatedly throughout his political rise.’‘

A spokesman for Senator Arbib says he is known as a strong supporter of Australia’s relationship with the US and, like many members of the federal parliament, has regular discussions about the state of Australian and US politics with US diplomats.

Earlier, Mr Rudd said the United States, not WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was to blame for the release of secret diplomatic cables.

Mr Assange is in custody in Britain facing extradition to Sweden in relation to sexual assault allegations, but authorities in both countries insist his detention has nothing to do with the recent release of the secret cables.

Mr Assange, who denies the allegations, will remain behind bars until an extradition hearing on December 14.

Mr Rudd says the 39-year-old Australian cannot be held personally responsible for the release of more than 250,000 documents.

He says the leaks raise questions about the adequacy of US security.

“Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network,” said Mr Rudd, who had been criticised in one leaked cable as a “control freak”.

“The Americans are responsible for that.”

ABC Online story HERE

The Age:

Mark Arbib, aka CIA Agent 007

Visitors to the senator’s Wikipedia page this morning may have been surprised to learn his role as Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness, among other portfolios, had been usurped by some decidedly more colourful titles.

CIA agent, US Mole, Traitor, and US Embassy Hero were listed below the right-wing Labor powerbroker’s photograph on the popular online encyclopedia following revelations by WikiLeaks today that Mr Arbib was as a confidential contact of the United States embassy in Canberra.

And the Wikipedia tinkering didn’t stop there.

‘‘Mark Victor Arbib (born 9 November 1971) is an Australian Traitor and spy for America,’’ his Wikipedia page read just after 4am AEDT today.

‘‘He will join Benedict Arnold and Judas in the afterlife. He is a public enemy and a villain to his people.’‘

Benedict Arnold, who was also listed on Mr Arbib’s page as his predecessor, was a general during the American Revolutionary War who later defected to the British Army.

A short time later his page was also altered to read: ‘‘On 8 December 2010 it was revealed by the Wikileaks cables that Arbib had traitorously met with US embassy officials on numerous occasions to inform them of internal party and parliamentary workings.’‘

In fact, Mr Arbib’s page was altered 18 times over six hours this morning, before moderators reverted the page due to ‘‘vandalism by multiple editors’‘.

Just before 7am, his page was listed as ‘‘protected’’ due to ‘‘excessive violations of the biographies of living persons policy’‘

Read more HERE

Guardian:

Operation Payback cripples MasterCard site in revenge for WikiLeaks ban

Hackers attack credit card company and Swedish prosecution authority as ‘censorship’ row escalates

The websites of the international credit card MasterCard and the Swedish prosecution authority are among the latest to be taken offline in the escalating technological battle over WikiLeaks, web censorship and perceived political pressure.

Co-ordinated attacks by online activists who support the site and its founder Julian Assange – who is in UK custody accused of raping two Swedish women – have seen the websites of the alleged victims’ Swedish lawyer disabled, while commercial and political targets have also been subject to attack by a loose coalition of global hackers.

The Swedish prosecution authority has confirmed its website was attacked last night and this morning. MasterCard was partially paralysed today in revenge for the payment network’s decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks.

In an attack referred to as Operation Payback, a group of online activists calling themselves Anonymous appear to have orchestrated a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on the financial site, bringing its service to a halt.

Attempts to access http://www.mastercard.com have been unsuccessful since shortly after 9.30am.

The site would say only that it was “experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website” but insisted this would not interfere with its ability to process transactions.

But one payment service company told the BBC its customers were experiencing “a complete loss of service” on MasterCard SecureCode. The credit card company later confirmed that loss.

MasterCard tonight said in a statement it was “working to restore normal service levels” after “a concentrated effort to flood our corporate web site with traffic and slow access.” The company added: “It is important to note that our systems have not been compromised and there is no impact on our cardholders’ ability to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”

MasterCard announced on Monday that it would no longer process donations to WikiLeaks, which it claimed was engaged in illegal activity.

Visa, Amazon, Swiss bank PostFinance and others have also announced in recent days that they will cease trading with the whistleblowing site.

The moves have led to concerted attempts by hackers to target companies they deem guilty of “censoring” WikiLeaks.

Operation Payback, which has been targeting commercial sites that have cut their ties with WikiLeaks for some days, has also made threats to other organisations including Twitter, which it says is suppressing the site.

“We will fire at anything or anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks, including multibillion-dollar companies such as PayPal,” a statement circulating online, apparently from Operation Payback, said.

“Twitter, you’re next for censoring #WikiLeaks discussion. The major shitstorm has begun,” it added.

Twitter has issued a statement denying it has censored the hashtag, and saying confusion had arisen over its “trending” facility.

Meanwhile it has also emerged that Visa has today ordered DataCell, an IT firm that helps WikiLeaks collect payments, to suspend all of its transactions – even those involving other payees – a day after it cut off all the firm’s donations being made to WikiLeaks.

DataCell, a small Icelandic company that facilitates transfers made by credit cards including Visa and MasterCard, says it will take up “immediate legal actions” and warned that the powerful “duopoly” of Visa and MasterCard could spell “the end of the credit card business worldwide”.

Andreas Fink, chief executive of DataCell, said in a statement: “Putting all payments on hold for seven days or more is one thing but rejecting all further attempts to donate is making the donations impossible.

“This does clearly create massive financial losses to WikiLeaks, which seems to be the only purpose of this suspension.

“This is not about the brand of Visa; this is about politics, and Visa should not be involved in this.

Full story HERE

ANDREW WILKIE CONDEMNS AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S PURSUIT OF WIKILEAKS

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has expressed his disgust that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has abandoned key principles of democracy in her pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Mr Wilkie said Ms Gillard had shown contempt for the rule of law, sovereignty and freedom of speech.

``In talking about `illegal acts’, the Prime Minister has ignored Mr Assange’s presumption of innocence and potentially comprised any chance of a fair trial, if in fact he is even charged over publishing this information,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

``Moreover, Julia Gillard has shown contempt for Australia’s sovereignty by defaulting to the interests of the United States of America above the interests of an Australian citizen.

``She has also trashed the principle of freedom of speech because, although we might not agree with Julian Assange’s actions, we must always respect the right to speak out so long as lives and national security are not placed at risk.

``There is every justification for the widespread public concern in Australia that our democracy, and its principles of justice, truth and freedom of speech, is being severely compromised by the Australian Government’s behaviour right now.

``In fact, in recent days, Australians would be forgiven for thinking they were not living in a healthy democracy and that’s a sad reflection on our Prime Minister.’’