CONFIDANTS KEY TO ASSANGE CAMPAIGN – Tuesday June 25 2013

– Sarah Harrison isn’t a person who seeks publicity. However, the WikiLeaks staff member may get more than 15 minutes of fame after she accompanied US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden on an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday.
Harrison, described modestly on WikiLeaks’ website as a “journalist and legal researcher”, has rarely spoken publicly, though she did preside at the international correspondents’ Frontline Club in London when WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of Syrian government emails in July last year.
Julian Assange was unavailable at the time, having just sought diplomatic asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy for fear of possible extradition to the United States.
But those brief appearances belie Harrison’s importance as one of Assange’s closest and most trusted confidants over the past three years. It’s no surprise that Harrison, who recently paid a private visit to Australia, was the person selected to meet Snowden in Hong Kong and escort him to Moscow where Ecuadorian diplomats were authorised to ensure his safe passage to Ecuador.
In London, Assange has good reason to be pleased. From his cramped combined office, conference room and bedroom in the embassy he has pulled off a spectacularly successful covert operation.
He has confounded the US government and especially those agencies he sees as his primary adversaries in WikiLeaks’ battle for freedom of information and personal privacy – the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Justice.
Admittedly, Hong Kong authorities weren’t being very cooperative on the hastily drafted US extradition request. But Snowden’s options were narrowing rapidly until WikiLeaks offered to assist an asylum application.
As Assange put it yesterday, “Mr Snowden requested our expertise and assistance. WikiLeaks has been involved in very similar legal and diplomatic and geopolitical struggles to preserve the organisation and it’s ability to publish.”
WikiLeaks couldn’t have pulled off this coup without its core of trusted staffers, encrypted communications, highly professional legal advisers including former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, and the forging of a critically important relationship with the government of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa.
Significantly, Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino visited London a week ago, separately meeting both Assange and British foreign secretary William Hague.
While the media focus was on Patino’s meeting with Hague and the failure of the two ministers to resolve Assange’s circumstances, it now appears that Snowden may have been a key item in discussions.
Of course the NSA whistleblower has some way to go before his circumstances are resolved, and the Ecuadorian government is yet to process his asylum application. There are also some very interesting questions for WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks had no hand in Snowden’s original decisions to leak highly sensitive details of US signals intelligence and surveillance programs to “The Guardian” and “The Washington Post”.
But these latest, dramatic developments may see WikiLeaks publish some or perhaps all of the hundreds of secret and top secret documents Snowden is alleged to have taken from the NSA.
So far, “The Guardian” and “The Washington Post” have only published a small number of admittedly highly significant documents. These documents have been released in part with significant redactions. Both newspapers have cited legal constraints and a desire not to unnecessarily harm US and British national security.
WikiLeaks wouldn’t be quite so protective of American and British secrets. Snowden may have now secured access to a media outlet that is more in tune with his view about opening up debate on the global surveillance industry.
Moreover, to judge by what has been disclosed about operations of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, it is reasonably likely that Snowden has also had access to documents relating to Australia’s signals intelligence agency – the top secret Defence Signals Directorate.
Assange intends to run as a Senate candidate for his newly formed WikiLeaks Party. A major disclosure of the secret world of Australian intelligence and surveillance could be a political hand grande in the forthcoming election – Michael Bachelard

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

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