WikiLeaks CableGate Live Updates: December 10

Check and update this page often for the latest news and views on the WikiLeaks saga, as well as our special report.

 DECEMBER 10, Day 13

Fact: WikiLeaks has released 1,269 cables so far, almost exactly 1/2 of 1 percent of the of the 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables they have procured. They have released 66 cables since Thursday, Dec. 9.

Fact: Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 1,559 sites. They have added 491 mirror sites since Thursday, Dec. 9. Vis4.net has a visual of the international spiderweb of mirrors.

[Library of Congress] Planning to attend the first of what are likely to be many congressional hearings on WikiLeaks Thursday? Make a note: Don't schedule a last-minute stop at the Library of Congress to check WikiLeaks' site. The library blocked access to it last week.

[Forbes] Curious who's the new face of WikiLeaks while Julian Assange is behind British bars? Meet Kristinn Hrafnsson

[CNET] Are you a WikiLeaks fan and want to help other supporters in shutting down websites of companies that cut ties with the cable-leaking organization? Elinor Mills of our sister site CNET explains why you shouldn't. (It's illegal.)

[Guardian] Friday's coverage focuses on international relations with one of the world's smallest countries, Vatican City. Newly released U.S. diplomatic cables show:

  • Relations between the U.K. and the Vatican "were facing their worst crisis in 150 years" because of Pope Benedict XVI's invitation to convert followers of the Church of England who opposed female priests.
  • Benedict likely secured the release of 15 British sailors captured and held by Iran in 2007.
  • Vatican officials were angry when their fellow priests were summoned from Rome to testify before an Irish commission investigating allegations of priests abusing children.
  • Benedict was behind the Vatican's resistance to Turkey joining the European Union.
  • The pope's inner circle has only one BlackBerry, part of what an American diplomat called the Vatican's "ignorance about 21st century communications."

[AP] WikiLeaks supporters on Friday downloaded increasing amounts of the spam-shooting software used to attack companies seen as hostile -- a development that could challenge even Internet giants such as PayPal and Amazon.com during the crucial Christmas shopping season.

[CBS News] WikiLeaks has been surprisingly slow in providing promised financial support for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army soldier accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks is delivering less financial support than originally promised, according to a spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network.

[Daily Mail (U.K.)] While WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to fight extradition in a British court, it may not help his defense that newly released photos of the data center storing the document-dumping website's files cast Assange as a James Bond villain.

[CBS News] The House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing for next Thursday to discuss WikiLeaks and the outdated Espionage Act of 1917. Amid calls to prosecute WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for hurting national security, some in Congress are seeking ways to update U.S. spying laws for the 21st Century. The hearing will take place in the House Judiciary Committee.

[NBC News] Despite earlier reports to the contrary, a U.S. Department of Justice indictment on spying charges against Julian Assange is not imminent. The U.S. government is moving slowly because it wants to make sure the prosecution is on solid ground, NBC News reports.

[AP] A former spokesman of WikiLeaks has announced plans to start a rival site, called OpenLeaks. Founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg said the new website will work as an outlet for anonymous sources, and is also reported to be working on a book about his time with WikiLeaks. OpenLeaks will join a growing marketplace for websites looking to offer an outlet to people who want to leak government and business secrets anonymously online. Others include Cryptome, started in 1996.

[DutchNews] The public prosecutors office in the Netherlands had their website shut down by hackers on Friday after the arrest of a Dutch teen for cyberattacks carried out in alleged defense of WikiLeaks. The 16-year-old arrested on Thursday had operated under the name "JeroenzOr"  and was one of the operators of the internet relay chat channel in which sympathisers prepared for the cyberattacks.

[McClatchy Newspapers] WikiLeaks leaked diplomatic cables reveal that the U.S. military's involvement in the Muslim world is far deeper and more widespread than previously acknowledged and believed. Shashank Bengali writes from Baghdad:

"U.S. officials have struck relationships with regimes that generally aren't considered allies in the war against terrorism, and while the cables show U.S. diplomats admonishing the regimes to respect the laws of war, they also underscore the perils of using advanced military technologies in complex, remote battlefields with sometimes shifty friends."

[Wired] In an apparent attempt to stop the next PFC Bradley Manning, the U.S. military is telling its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media, or risk a court martial. Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations, issued the Dec. 3 "Cyber Control Order," which directs airmen to "immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET," the Defense Department's secret network. Similar directives have gone out to the military's other branches.

[CBS News] Speculation grows in the media and among Julian Assange's lawyers that the WikiLeak's founder will be extradited to the U.S. on spying charges if he's sent to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations. "Any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S.," Assange's attorney Jennifer Robinson told ABC News, later saying she believed U.S. spying charges against Assange to be imminent.

[AP] Cuba's slowness in adopting necessary economic reforms may leave the country in a fatal economic situation within three years, one of the leaked diplomatic cables reveal. Things are so bad, China is worried too.

[YouTube] Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks on the House Floor in general support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Congressman Paul said he wonders why no one is going after The New York Times as well.



[The Guardian] Allegedly damning revelations by leaked U.S. diplomatic cables that Shell Oil Company had infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria are "old news" in Africa's largest country. Columnist Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou writes:

"While clearly the explicit nature of the unguarded comments of the former Shell vice-president, Ann Pickard , have understandably caused embarrassed consternation in official circles and claims of "told you so" among campaigners, the revelations in themselves do not actually reveal anything scandalously new, or anything that most generally well-informed Nigerians do not already know. Shell's presence in Nigeria is older than the Nigerian state itself. Granted prospecting licenses in 1913 before Nigeria was even ruled as a single entity, Shell today with the largest market share, is embedded within the Nigerian state in ways that dwarf its late-starter rivals."

[AP] The former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader may have fled Croatia after leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks reveal there were several ongoing corruption cases targeting him. One of Sanader's friends, however, insists he did not flee and was in fact on a business trip. In one case, Sanader allegedly arranged a bank loan for a neighbor in the 1990s in return for an $542,000 kickback. The cable also cited the investigating prosecutor as saying that although some cases against Sanader may seem minor, "Al Capone was brought down for tax evasion rather than for his more notorious activities."

[Computer Weekly] The free software tool used by Anonymous to attack online what it perceives as enemies of WikiLeaks has been downloaded 40,000 times, mostly in the U.S.

[Netcraft.com] It appears that Moneybookers.com is the latest casualty of Anonymous in the cyberwar over WikiLeaks. Moneybookers had been taking and transferring donations on behalf of WikiLeaks until the U.S. and Australia put WikiLeaks on watchlists.

[CBS News] Members of Anonymous, a group of hackers who have attacked the websites of what they perceive to be the enemy of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, have put out a press release (PDF) explaining themselves.The press release states the group does not want to make people feel threatened, and is instead just attempting to raise awareness for what they claim are important issues. The release states:

"Anonymous is not a group of hackers. We are average Interent Citizens ourselves and our motivation is a collective sense of being fed up with all the minor and major injustices we witness every day. We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We also do not seek to attack critical infrastructure of companies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon. Our current goal is to raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by the above companies to impair WikiLeaks' ability to function."

[AP] A day after Dutch authorities arrested a 16-year-old who they say confessed to participating in DoS attacks against perceived WikiLeaks foes Mastercard, PayPal and Visa, "Operation Payback" targeted the websites of Dutch police and prosecutors=7136858>.=http:>

[CBS News] The coordinator of a Christian outreach group in the West Bank denied reports Friday that one of two women accusing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of rape had left Sweden and traveled to a town in the Palestinian territory.

Australian news website "Crikey" reported on Thursday that Anna Ardin had traveled to the town of Yanoun, in the West Bank, with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Jerusalem and Israel (EAPPI) earlier this week.

Ardin, however, "cancelled her participation because we anticipated this," program coordinator Pauline Nunu told CBSNews.com Friday morning in a telephone interview. "She's still in Sweden and she's not coming to Palestine."

 DECEMBER 9, Day 12

Fact: WikiLeaks has released 1,203 cables so far, less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the total number of U.S. diplomatic cables they have procured.

Fact: Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 1,368 sites. Vis4.net has a visual of the international spiderweb of mirrors.

[Guardian]  Julian Assange has been moved to a segregation unit of Wandsworth prison, and officials are expected to give him some access to the Internet.  The WikiLeaks founder's lawyers will attempt to free him on bail when he appears before the court Dec. 14.

[Guardian] Today's drop of cables includes: 

Pfizer used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout

The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996.

Last year, the company came to a tentative settlement with the Kano state government which was to cost it $75m.

But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases - one civil and one criminal - brought by the Nigerian federal government.

WikiLeaks cables suggest Burma is building secret nuclear sites 

Witnesses say North Koreans are helping to construct underground facility in jungle, heightening concerns that military regime is seeking to develop nuclear weapons

WikiLeaks cables: China 'fed up' with Burma's footdragging on reforms

China, in spite of its closeness to the Burmese dictatorship, shares the same concerns as the US about the country's instability and is keen to work with Washington in promoting change, according to American diplomats.

WikiLeaks cables cast Hosni Mubarak as Egypt's ruler for life 

WikiLeaks cables: Kosovo sliding towards partition, Washington told 

WikiLeaks cable exposes US-UK rift over Croatian accession to EU   

[CBS News] The U.K. site of the online retailer Amazon has had an ebook with the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables for sale for viewing on their Kindle mobile reading device. Going to the page now offers this message: "We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site. Go to Amazon.co.uk's Home Page."  It's not clear whether Amazon closed shop on the ebook or there is some other explanation. Hat tip, Greg Mitchell.

Click here for earlier posts from Dec. 9 and Dec. 8.

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