Social Networks and the New World of Lies

Last Tuesday, Kristinn Hrafnsson —Wikileaks’ editor in chief— stated before a group of foreign press correspondents that the case of Julian Assange, incarcerated in UK and claimed by the U.S., is part of a conspiracy against press freedom.

It is not an isolated case —pointed out the Icelander journalist before adding that the recent attacks on media in California, U.S., the searches carried out by the Federal Police at the headquarters of ABC network in Sydney, Australia, and the incarceration of Swedish journalist Olin Bin, in Ecuador, are also part of a global strategy to stamp out investigative journalism.

Even more disturbing, nonetheless, is the fact that more important than press “freedom” or investigative journalism, the truth itself seems really in danger of vanishing. While the truth is incarcerated in the role of Julian Assange, lies are unleashed and multiplied like never before in the media and social networks.

At the same time Hrafnsson offered his statement in London, an international survey carried out that day and released in Canada showed that 86% of people have taken for granted at least one fake news they have read in social networks.

According to the 82% of people consulted in the Ipsos survey for the Canadian analysis group Center for International Governance Innovation, the platforms of social networks were regarded as the main responsible for the dissemination of fake news. The 77% of users had pointed at Facebook as the main source of fake news while 62% chose Twitter.

The problem is truly alarming if we take into account that there is an increasingly high number of people using social networks as information source. In the words of communication connoisseurs, beyond the technological progresses, the rising number of users in social networks has to do with the discredit of traditional media in recent years. However, is there any credibility in social networks after the results of this survey went public?

To make things worse, it was released a fake video in Instagram with the one and only Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. In the video, manipulated by artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg stands there saying, while describing his own personality: “Imagine this for a second: a man, with a total control of data stolen from millions and millions of people, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”

The fake video shows Zuckerberg bragging about his dominance. The video was created by Israel’s emerging company Canny AI, and artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, allegedly for an artistic project called Spectrum, which was screened at the British International Documentary Festival Sheffield Doc/Fest.

It is shocking that Instagram —which belongs to Facebook— will not blocked the video. Therefore, it will be added to a series of other manipulated videos, known as “deepfake” due to the use of artificial intelligence with extremely realistic results.

The most popular of this sort of “masterpieces” falsifying reality, which Facebook denies to block by the way, is the ridiculously false video released one month ago where the Speaker of the House of Representative of the U.S., Nancy Pelosi, was talking as if she were drunk.

The video involving Pelosi was released to the world in a tweet posted by the U.S. President Donald Trump. And now that we are referring to lies and Trump, the president of the nation of “press freedom,” the first champion against fake news, recently called for a mass boycott from Americans against AT&T, one of the greatest telecom giants of the country, to force them to make “huge changes” within CNN network, owned by that company. According to Trump, CNN is so unfair with such bad, fake news! When the world watches CNN, it gets a false picture of USA.”

And it was not a fake tweet, as it was Pelosi’s video. This tweet came out of the brain of the U.S. President who has turned the foreign policy of his nation into an anthology of lies and vulgar threats against those countries resilient to the Empire dominance. The same Trump who attacked the media for what he called “a fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” stated immediately thereafter in another tweet that such reports had a positive impact since “Iran does not know what to do now, which is a good thing after all.”

In this new world, those who dare to denounce a crime, as in Assange’s case, are condemned by those who committed such crime. The goal will be always to achieve nobody knows what to think, not to mention when the information is true or false; and that is the only truth.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

Swedish court rejects request to detain Assange in absence over rape allegation

A Swedish court has struck down a prosecutor’s request to detain Julian Assange in absentia over outstanding rape allegations. The case was reopened after the WikiLeaks founder was hauled from London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

The court decided pre-trial detention for Assange would not be “proportionate,” said Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson at a press conference Monday, but added the investigation could still proceed without it.

The ruling was handed down Monday by a judge in a court in Uppsala, north of Stockholm.

Swedish prosecutors reopened the rape case earlier this month, soon after Assange was jailed for skipping a 2012 bail hearing. Assange requested Monday’s hearing be postponed, citing ill health, but the request was denied.

Also on Sweden’s probe made it impossible for Assange to ‘defend himself’ – UN rapporteur to RT...

Detaining Assange in absence would have allowed Sweden to issue an arrest warrant on him, but for now the European warrant already issued will have to suffice for the investigators, the Swedish judge said.

Assange was arrested in mid-April after spending over six years under political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Also on 18 ways Julian Assange changed the world (by Lee Camp)...

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WikiLeak's Julian Assange "Too Ill" For US Extradition Hearing From Jail

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is too ill to appear via a video link from a British prison in a hearing on an extradition request from the United States, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The United States has requested the extradition of Assange, who was dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on April 11. He faces a total of 18 US criminal counts with decades in prison if convicted.

"He's in fact far from well," Assange's lawyer, Gareth Peirce, said.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot said: "He's not very well."

WikiLeaks said it had grave concerns about Assange's health and that he had been moved to a health ward at Britain's Belmarsh prison. His health has deteriorated in prison and he has lost a lot of weight, WikiLeaks said.

The next hearing on the extradition request was set for June 12.

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Swedish Prosecutor Requests Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange

Stockholm, May 20 ( Prensa Latina) Swedish Public Prosecutor's Office filed an arrest warrant this Monday against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged sexual offences he denies.

'I have asked the court in Uppsala (north of Stockholm) to arrest Assange in absentia, suspected of rape to a lesser degree for probable cause. If the court decides to arrest him, I will send an European arrest warrant for him to be sent to Sweden', prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said in a statement.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said Assange's case has been 'mishandled at all times', denouncing that Ecuador will hand over to the United States on Monday the belongings left by the Australian journalist at the South American country's embassy in London after his arrest last month.

There has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen its investigation, but there has always been political pressure around this case,' Hrafnsson said.

Assange was arrested on April 11 by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom after the government of Ecuador ended his seven-year asylum.

The cyberactivist is in a 50-week jail sentence in the United Kingdom for violating the terms of a bail bond in 2012, and also faces an extradition order to the United States, which wants to try him for spreading confidential information about U.S. national security.

In the case of a conflict between a European arrest warrant and an extradition order from the United States, British authorities will have to decide the order of priority, said the Swedish prosecutor.

Sweden reopened the case on May 13, since the accusation, which involves Assange in a minor degree of rape (for having unprotected sexual relations with a young woman while sleeping), is still in force until 2020.

The Public Prosecutor's Office filed legal actions against the computer programmer in May 2017, given the impossibility of advancing the investigations.

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Assange rape case politicized, ‘mishandled throughout’ says WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief

Following the Swedish prosecutor’s decision to reopen the rape investigation against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has claimed that the “case has been mishandled throughout.”

“There has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case,” Hrafnsson said in a statement Monday morning, following the announcement by Swedish authorities that the investigation against Julian Assange had been officially reopened.

Also on Swedish prosecutor reopens case probing Assange rape allegations...

Hrafnsson added that several key details surrounding the investigation were suspicious after a Swedish prosecutor initially found that “no crime at all” had occurred, after which the case was reopened at the behest of the British authorities.

The Icelandic WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief told RT that any decision taken by UK authorities in terms of prioritizing the US or Swedish extradition request will be based on politics and not on achieving justice.

Hrafnsson added that several key details surrounding the investigation were suspicious after a Swedish prosecutor initially found that “no crime at all” had occurred, after which the case was reopened at the behest of the British authorities.

The Icelandic WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief told RT that any decision taken by UK authorities in terms of prioritizing the US or Swedish extradition request will be based on politics and not on achieving justice.

"It will be a political decision first and foremost. Justice is long gone from anything when it comes to Julian Assange, he has no justice at all".

"Justice is long gone from anything when it comes to Julian Assange, he has no justice at all" editor talks to RT after Sweden seeks extradition warrant after Julian Assange's UK prison sentence. MORE:

A Swedish prosecutor also refused to question Assange during his forced exile in the Ecuadorian embassy before eventually being impelled by the courts. Swedish authorities then sought to drop the arrest warrant as early as 2013, Hrafnsson claimed, adding that it was the British government that insisted that the case continue.

Also on Rape allegations: TIMELINE and details of Sweden's case against Julian Assange...

The investigation was then closed in 2017 only for it to be reopened shortly after Assange’s arrest in 2019.

Hrafnsson also alleges that he has received reports of Swedish and British authorities destroying documents related to the case, though he did not provide any evidence. He also slammed media reports that Assange had eluded questioning throughout his time in London, insisting that “Assange was always willing to answer any questions from the Swedish authorities and repeatedly offered to do so, over six years.”

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Julian Assange's 50-Week Jail Sentence Dispropotionate, Says UN

Geneva: United Nations human rights experts voiced concern on Friday at what they called the "disproportionate sentence" of 50 weeks in prison imposed on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for skipping bail in Britain.

Assange is being held in the high-security Belmarsh prison "as if he were convicted for a serious criminal offence", the UN working group on arbitrary detention said in a statement, adding that this "appears to contravene principles of necessity and proportionality".

It described the skipping bail charge as a relatively "minor violation".

The group, composed of five independent experts, issued an opinion in 2015 that Assange - holed up at the time at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape - was being arbitrarily detained.

Assange has denied the rape allegations.

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Assange, hacker or journalist?

Julian Assange bared the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, revealed the cruel crimes of U.S. and its allies in irrational wars, but also changed the way of showing the truth.

Julian Assange is a journalist who bared the hypocrisy of the mainstream media,revealed the cruel crimes of U.S. and its allies in irrational wars, but also changed the way of showing truth. That’s why, he put up with his 7-year exile that, one might say, he dignified world journalism.

As if it weren't enough, over a dozen international institutions honored Wikileaks founder with top awards for his journalistic exercise and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

To the shame of some media, he upended the biggest powers in the world, when he uncovered their criminal essence.

Since his arrest, on April 11th, his captors try him as a vulgar hacker, discrediting his commitment as a journalist, in an attempt to trample down his image.

Although in 2010 Assange was interviewed by the mainstream media and seen as a champion of free speech, now they are trying to trivialize the news over his detention. He’s accused of bad behavior at the embassy, disguising the serious violation of his human rights and the arbitrary cancellation of both his political asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship.

Spanish analyst Fernando Casado, interviewed on teleSUR’s program Enclave Politica, underlines that the shift goes beyond having revealed documents. He highlights that his situation gets complicated when he dares to criticize western governments and glorify leftist leaders that oppose neoliberal policies in their governance, like former President Rafael Correa.

For Argentine journalist and writer Sebastián Lacunza, states and media currently use new technologies available that change routines. “You can be a bit of a hacker and journalist, but what should define a journalist is the willingness to verify the material he/she has in hand in search of the truth, provide elements and make a valid text for the public”, he pointed out.

However, Casado stresses, if we conceptualize Assange as a hacker, we would have to say that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, with the Watergate scandal, are hackers too, and that all those who do investigative journalism are hackers.

“What WikiLeaks does is to leak millions of raw documents that must then be analyzed, processed, contextualized and published, and that was what dailies, that now criticize Assange, such as El País, The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique... did in 2010. Nevertheless, we see that now, they cave in to the thesis that Assange is a hacker and even a stone in the shoe.

“The problem is that the cyber activist has broken the image of the United States. They can never again say there hasn’t been a direct interference in governments around the world.

There’s even a cable that highlights Lenín Moreno as an operator behind the scenes, a right-hand man for the embassy of the United States”, he concluded.

The fact is that there are 400,000 reports from the Iraq war, 90,000 reports from the Afghanistan war, 800 from Guantanamo detention center and “cablegate” with over 250,000 diplomatic cables towards Washington from US embassies in over 90 countries, several Latin American ones among them.

Undoubtedly, the scope of these leaks puts a price on Assange’s head, at the same time that the modern seven-league giant takes advantage to give an exemplary lesson to anyone who tries to undermine his hegemonic interests.

Hacker or journalist? One thing or the other, or both, will not erase the recognitions Assange has received in his fight in favor of free speech, freedom of the press and human rights overall (Amnesty International UK’s Media Award in 2009), or the world impact that his revelations have caused.

At the time, the mainstream media used the information revealed by Wikileaks founder, which makes them accomplices. They should foster pressure to avoid the extradition to United States of the most important cyberjournalist of the time, instead of disclosing silly videos of the “villain” skateboarding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Moreno: Assange is an 'Informational Terrorist,' Russian Agent

Moreno denied, in the BBC interview, that the United Kingdom and the United States forced him to revoke Assange's asylum.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, in an exclusive interview with the BBC, stated that Julian Assange could be an agent of Russia, who has selectively never revealed information about Moscow amid leaking information about other nations.

RELATED: Julian Assange Wins 2019 EU Journalism Award

Moreno also discredited Assange as a journalist and accused the WikiLeaks chief of working to preserve Russia and expose other countries, as evidenced by his interfering with the Vatican, the United States elections and Catalonia’s referendum.   

The head of state reaffirmed that the WikiLeaks co-founder was rude to the staff at the Ecuadorean embassy in London and defaced the premises with feces. However, Moreno denied, in the interview, that the United Kingdom and the United States forced him to revoke Assange's asylum, which led to the whistleblower being forcibly removed from Ecuador's London embassy where he lived for seven years.

When asked, by the reporter, if he had moved to swiftly evict Assange from the embassy because he had suffered embarrassment from photographs of him dining on lobster - after announcing austerity measures in the South American nation - had been published, Moreno replied “that was my birthday, I was watching soccer in bed, it was a great day.”

Moreno also added that Assange was a “informational terrorist ”who does not give out information he has, but is selective according to “ideological commitments.”

The Andean leader reiterated that Assange used the embassy to spy and directly violated his status as an asylee when he interfered with the internal affairs if political ally countries.

Assange faces up to one year in a British prison for breaching bail and could also be extradited to the United States, where he has been charged with computer hacking and faces up to five years in prison.

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