Mother to Julian Assange, this generation’s most significant publisher – now a political prisoner – Christine lives with the daily terror of foreboding anticipation. Only ever moments away from the next piece of terrible news, as she watches her son, born of her body, raised by her hand, die in slow motion from afar.
Given the irreversible damage his doctors warned is being inflicted upon him, it may have already.
His liberty is long gone. His public reputation, excoriated. A twisted caricature crafted by his persecutors, raised in its place. For peasants in the town square to throw rotten tomatoes at, while the puppet-masters who alternately starve them and send them to die in pointless wars, scoff and self-congratulate. Just as the well-to-do toasted themselves with champagne, high above Wall Street, as the Occupy movement marched below.
The Occupy movement who we were told needed showers. Lacked good hygiene. Smelled bad. Behold the language of the ignorant and the complicit: truth-tellers are unclean. The courageous should spend more time on domestic chores, and less on trying to save the lives of the masses exploited by a system that chews humans up and spits them out daily.
Julian who brought the world truthful information on a scale never before seen in human history, is the metaphorical newspaper that circling seagulls from corporate media platforms swoop to deliver their droppings on.
Their screeching crap etched in ink is the dripping of blood in our hourglass. “#EndImpunity!” they declare annually in commemoration of persecuted colleagues, while assassinating the character of a detained journalist on every other day of the year.
Each truth-teller snuffed out is like a droplet depicted in the WikiLeaks logo: with every drip, our collective clock ticks one minute closer to midnight.
This week the clock isn’t just ticking. It is sounding an urgent alarm.
On the 29th of October, at 4:31am Julian Assange awoke to yet another nightmare of his own: a second attempted break-in at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
As his legal team confirmed to me:
The timing of the attempted breach was not insignificant. It was the early hours of the very day he was due to testify in Court in Ecuador by teleconference. A testimony that then was then plagued by constant technical interference, preventing Julian from fully imparting to the judge the extent of the human rights violations that he is being subjected to.
This confirmation by Julian’s legal team that a break-in occurred is a very big deal. But not the last alarming development to be revealed this week.
One would think, that after such an event as an attempted break-in, the Ecuadorian Embassy would have gone on high alert. Extra security might be called in. Every possible consideration would be made to secure the premises, surely.
To the contrary, as Yale University’s Sean O’Brien discovered, and thoroughly documented, that very same day – the Embassy was left quite literally wide open.
Julian Assange has been made a sitting duck.
A Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, Sean O’Brien is a cybersecurity, privacy and forensics expert. He is the Assistant Director for Technology at Yale Office of International Students & Scholars and founded the Yale Privacy Lab.
I asked him to record his experiences himself, in first person, so that we can retrospectively walk with him through his visit to the Embassy last Monday. Sean’s story is below.
Testimony of Sean O’Brien
(full text and photos at:
for photos of scaffolding, etc.)
I arrived in London last week for Mozilla Festival, to present Yale Privacy Lab’s work on profiles of mobile app trackers. Mozfest was an amazing conference, but I didn’t get a chance to see the famous buildings and monuments in the city until Monday, Oct. 29, the day I was leaving Britain. I decided to walk toward the Thames from my hotel room in Soho.
In front of Parliament were a group of activists singing “We’re not gonna Brexit!” to the tune of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. I walked up to a member of the group and asked for directions to the Ecuadorean embassy. “Going to visit Julian are ya?” she said, as she directed me to Knightsbridge and the famous Harrod’s department store. “I probably won’t be able to get past the sidewalk,” I replied back. I was quite wrong.
Prior to my visit, I couldn’t find any information online about visiting the Ecuadorean embassy. I had read that a strict new protocol had been put in place, so I expected high security and police. When I arrived at No. 3 Hans Crescent, however, I was met with absolutely no security.
There were no vehicles parked outside, no people on the sidewalk out front; nothing that would give a hint that a political prisoner, the world-famous Julian Assange of Wikileaks, was inside. I actually walked past the embassy more than once, thinking that perhaps my eyes were deceiving me and I had the wrong building.
Even more shocking: the door was wide open.
There was scaffolding around three quarters of the embassy and the flats above, and men in uniforms with bright yellow vests were walking across, seemingly washing the windows. The scaffolding stopped about halfway across the balcony I’d seen Julian standing on at press conferences, before he was banned from facing the public, sunlight, and the open air.
Near the crest in these photos, you can see what looks like a microphone bolted to a pipe, attached to the scaffolding and with a white wire running across. I didn’t think much of it until later, worried instead about entering the embassy building as politely and professionally as possible.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. I walked up the steps, past the “Wet Floor” sign, into the open door, pulled the next door open, and entered a completely empty lobby. On the left was the door to the Ecuadorean embassy, and on my right was the Colombian embassy with a desk in front and no one manning it.
I stood and waited for someone to come and greet me, seeing that I was on camera in what should be a high-security area, before I realized no one was coming. I pressed an intercom button at the Ecuadorean door, and spoke to a man briefly who did, eventually, open the embassy door and step out.
The man advised me that there was a strict protocol for visiting Mr. Assange and grabbed a piece of scrap paper, writing a long e-mail address on the back. I needed to e-mail and request an appointment, I was told, and Mr. Assange would of course have to approve. Taking the paper, I hurried across the street to Harrod’s, where I knew there would be open wifi, e-mailing as soon as I could.
Almost immediately, I received a bounce-back message that the e-mail address didn’t exist. I tried another spelling. Another bounceback. I entered the open door of No. 3 Hans Crescent again, ringing the bell. This time, a woman answered, opened the embassy door, and gave me another scrap paper with an address. This one I could read correctly: eecugranbretania@cancilleria.
Once again, I hurried over to Harrod’s wifi and e-mailed. No bounceback. I waited a few minutes, walked back into the embassy, rang the bell again, and asked the same woman if the embassy had received my e-mail. She could not check, she said. Now I was getting on their nerves.
I decided to wait for a few hours and see if the e-mail came in, grabbing dinner around the corner. No reply came in.
I walked back into the open embassy building, and there were now two men and the Colombian embassy desk. I rang the Ecuadorean bell, spoke to the woman one last time, who repeated that they couldn’t check for receipt of my e-mail. Obviously, I wouldn’t be visiting Julian.
I stepped outside once more. There were men walking back and forth who seemed to take notice of me. One man , dressed like a stereotypical “man in black”, tried to look intimidating. He leaned on a black car and glared at me.
On each walk to and from the building that afternoon, I had begun to notice more and more scaffolding going up and more and more devices tied to the structure. Now that I knew I wasn’t going to get an audience at the embassy, I didn’t need to be polite. With what looked like plainclothes officer watching me, I walked around and took these photos.
This is the scaffolding where it ended on the Colombian side of the embassy, to the right of the Ecuadorean embassy. Notice what looks like a speaker/microphone on the right-hand side.
More photos of the same area. Notice the black devices, affixed to pipes, with wires coming from them. I’ve never seen devices quite like this, and I take photos of surveillance equipment often.
There were curious plastic tubes with yellow-orange caps, zip-tied to the front. I have no idea what these are but they seem to have equipment inside them; see the black shadow under the caps.
Another shot (see photos in original article) of the Ecuadorean side of the building, where the scaffolding stops abruptly at the balcony. Notice the embassy security is actually obstructed by the scaffolding: a camera dome affixed to the embassy is completely blocked.
Just outside the Ecuadorean windows, a hexagonal device that appears to be a wireless router. All cables lead to this, and an LED light was blinking green in the center of the black cap on the bottom.
[I include] photos [I took] of devices outside the Ecuadorean windows. The devices are clearly pointing inward, not out toward the sidewalk, with wires neatly taped to the piping and leading toward the central, hexagonal device.
After these final shots, I walked back and forth across the sidewalk and peered into the Ecuadorean embassy. With the sun going down, it was obvious all the lights inside were on and the blinds were wide open. To say the whole experience was strange is a severe understatement, in light of Julian’s recent treatment.
Sean’s above testimony is vital, as is his expertise and the information he gathered at the Embassy.
Close study of the surveillance devices in the photos reveals no manufacturer branding, serial numbers or visible device information. The metal piping used to secure them appears to have been cut by hand.
The combination of the obscuring of the street-facing surveillance cameras and the installation of surveillance equipment pointed into instead of away from the Embassy, is alarming. Whoever placed the equipment there appears to be focused on gaining the ability to hear and see what happens inside the open blinds, rather than monitoring the foot and street traffic outside the Embassy.
It would be impossible for such surveillance equipment to be installed against the wall of the Embassy without the knowledge of the Ecuadorian government. Ergo, it must have been done, or allowed to remain, with their cooperation.
WikiLeaks has confirmed that Assange has had no visitors, and his legal team have been publicly calling for anyone who has been turned away to step forward.
The long-time WikiLeaks media partner Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi complained of repeated denials of entry.
Until late 2015 there were uniformed officers from Scotland Yard at the door at all times.Previous visitors to the Embassy have told me of their experiences. They describe closed and locked doors. Security guards manning the desk at all times.
Privacy drapes, dark rooms with shuttered blinds.
For such a reversal of position to have occurred, there is only one conclusion: the Ecuadorian Embassy is open for business. Wide open.
But not to Julian Assange’s legal team.
Perhaps the most alarming development of all came on Thursday: even the only people who had been able to visit Julian Assange, have now also been barred.
Once again, I am reminded of Occupy. Immediately prior to the simultaneous raids of the four Occupations in my home city of Auckland, and the mass arrests of media and protesters, malicious actors intervened to deny us access to warnings and advice from our legal counsel.
Is the embassy being staged for an overt – or covert – raid on Julian? Is this why access to his closest advisors has been stripped from him?
Do Ecuador, the US and the UK hope to use the cover of the midterms, or of the Christmas season, to expedite the illegal handover of Assange?
An update from the Ecuadorian side is expected on Monday. Though you could probably put more stock in a chicken soup than in what they have to say, given the double play at hand.
For as Julian is isolated even further than before, the world’s media are being fed lies.
Establishment media across the world are leading people to believe that Julian has had his right to communication restored and that he is able to receive visitors. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While Ecuador stated in court that their oppressive new protocols for reestablishing Julian’s rights to communication and visitation were effective as of the 5th of October, I have been unable to confirm that anyone close to Julian has heard from him at all, with the exception of his lawyers.
The protocols Ecuador was referring to, which establishment media are hyping as being about cat food and personal hygiene, in fact outrageously include the collection of IMEI/serial numbers for the devices of visitors and social media account information.
The conditions state outright that Ecuador reserves the right to supply UK security agencies with that information. This makes any visitor to Julian not only an intelligence target of those supposedly providing him safe harbour, but of those whom he was granted asylum to protect him from.
It is astounding to think Ecuador may be collaborating with Julian’s persecutors to surveill both the outside and the inside of the Embassy. Especially the UK is in breach of multiple UN decisions that it must allow Julian Assange safe passage to Ecuador, and compensate him.
Christine Assange will today [and tomorrow] wake to the same terrifying nightmare as she did yesterday, and several thousand days before. Except today she has some solace in knowing that people of conscience are rallying to intervene on her son’s behalf, and to protect him.