Assange Supporters Question Who to Turn to for Information and Updates
From the alt-right to PR firms that were shut down years ago, part one of dissecting the Julian Assange support campaign
Tomorrow will mark a month since Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had been sheltered from U.S. extradition for almost five years until President Lenin Moreno paved the way to hand him over to the United States. After his arrest he was brought in front of a judge for a minor seven-year-old bail infraction during which time the judge called him a narcissist proving that the UK judicial system is just as rigged and bias as the one in the U.S. Assange was taken into custody around 10:30 a.m. London time but despite the arrest and court appearance, we didn’t learn anything more about what was happening until Craig Murray appeared on Randy Credico’s radio show, “Assange: Countdown to Freedom,” that evening.
Murray explained that he had spent the day with Assange’s attorneys and that Assange was doing better than expected under the circumstances. He added that he was being sent to Belmarsh, a high-security prison located in south London and known for its decrepit conditions, solitary confinement, and in-house terror suspects. At the time of Murray’s interview it was unknown if or when Assange would receive medical treatment and it took three weeks from his arrest for his attorneys to indicate whether or not that was happening.
Assange’s attorneys and WikiLeaks’ editor in chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, have repeatedly been delayed in passing along or confirming information and it could be happening for a myriad of reasons. First, attorneys don’t typically spend their time tweeting about their client’s case because their job is to defend their client, not head up a PR campaign. Second, whatever PR campaign is being employed right now it’s clearly about promoting Assange as a symbol of a free press, not as an individual journalist who has been terrorized by multiple governments for almost a decade.
This PR maneuvering isn’t terribly surprising considering the fact that if Assange is extradited, prosecuted, and imprisoned in the U.S., it will likely shape the future of journalism as we know it and definitely not in a good way. It also nets wider support by bypasses all of those icky personal feelings people might have about him—you know, that whole cult-of-personality thing—but it dehumanizes Assange in the process and perhaps that’s why specific information about his well being hasn’t been forthcoming.
Finally, there’s always the chance that Belmarsh prison was withholding medical treatment.
Whatever the reasons, WikiLeaks, their gatekeepers, and the legal team need to designate someone as a go-to source for accurate information and updates which they have failed to do despite having seven years to plan for Assange’s arrest and here’s why: Supporters have been forced to rely on random accounts who may or may not be connected in any way to Assange’s actual legal team and whatever sporadic information is spewed into the Twittersphere it’s generally not confirmed for some time, if at all.
One point of frustration is that the UK doesn’t appear to have any online court docket system like the U.S. does i.e. Pacer making it impossible for supporters to check on upcoming court dates and filings. Basically, they can’t do their own homework and take some of the pressure off the legal team’s shoulders.
Additionally, the lack of forthcoming information prevents supporters from organizing campaigns in response to what is happening such as, “We demand medical care and safety for Assange,” because in case no one noticed extradition doesn’t matter if he’s dead. The obfuscation of truth and information only serves to benefit Assange’s enemies as the last year has proven.
Lastly, updates about Assange have been funneled through alt-right Trump supporters or those who give them a platform and why this is happening remains a mind-boggling mystery. Why WikiLeaks would want to be associated with Donald Trump in any way, a man who said in 2010 that he wanted their entire staff executed and is the one trying to extradite Assange, seems like a bit of madness sprinkled with a dash of sabotage. Not only that, it’s a bad look that promotes the terrifying rise of fascism. I know I’m not alone when I say that I shouldn’t be forced to retweet a Trump-loving fascist in order to campaign for Assange. That right there is madness.
Discrepancies Over What is Happening at Belmarsh Prison
Since the UK lacks any sort of online resources and there’s been a massive communications failure on the part of WikiLeaks and their gatekeepers, we, the supporters, have been relegated to a three-ring disinfo/misinfo circus online. Take for instance the Twitter account @AssangeMrs which is allegedly run by Assange’s mother but has long been suspected of being controlled by other people.
On April 20, 2019, nine days after Assange’s arrest, the account tweeted:
“2 weeks since Julians arrest/detention in Belmarsh prison.
Hes still not allowed visitors, including his lawyers!
This amounts to MORE solitary confinement & stress!
His examining doctors have already stated he needs immediate hospital treatment!
In a single tweet this account not only announced that Assange had been denied any visitors since his arrest, they implied that he had yet to receive medical treatment and was being held in solitary confinement.
The information was shocking in lieu of the fact that none of this had been previously disclosed. What many people didn’t realize at the time (because we weren’t told) is that Belmarsh essentially keeps everyone in solitary confinement including Assange and the real cause for outcry is that he was relegated to a high-security prison in the first place for a minor bail violation in connection with an arrest warrant that no longer existed at the time of his arrest.
This also begs the question of why Assange’s attorneys didn’t appeal the transfer to a high-security prison (can they appeal that?) or file a complaint that they were being denied visitation especially since one of the major concerns here should be UK and U.S. authorities torturing him (to death). If anything, although the @AssangeMrs account appeared to be attacking Belmarsh, their tweet made Assange’s attorneys look callous, incompetent, and uncaring. Unfortunately what followed didn’t alleviate any fears about what was happening with Assange. Rather, the situation got more convoluted as the days went on.
Two days later, activist and far-right journalist Cassandra Fairbanks tweeted, “I have now confirmed that Julian Assange has still not been allowed any visitors — INCLUDING HIS LAWYERS,” but when pressed on who confirmed the information, it was the @AssangeMrs account who confirmed it, the same account that had originally posted it.
That same day, @AssangeMrs also announced that Assange had his first video conference with his attorneys and that they would be visiting him for the first time on April 26th. This left people wondering, again, why his attorneys had failed to file anything with the courts demanding visitation and if it was really true that he had been denied visits or video conferences with his legal team during the first twelve days of his incarceration.
After @AssangeMrs’ earlier tweets, she then sent out one announcing that the Australian government’s consular services had been in to visit Assange although it’s unknown exactly when that visit occurred. More importantly, how did they get in before Assange’s attorneys and why didn’t the account mention this previously?
We eventually got this from WikiLeaks:
“We confirm Julian Assange has access to his lawyers, is now speaking with them regularly and will have an in person visit in the coming days.”
This statement in no way cleared up whether or not Assange’s attorneys had met with him prior to April 24th or what the word “access” entailed. Another individual and myself called Belmarsh prison only to be told that Assange indeed had had visits with his attorneys and that upcoming visits, including both legal and social, had been scheduled which, frankly, only seemed to muddy the waters. I mean, who do you believe, an ambiguous tweet from WikiLeaks or the prison holding Assange?
Finally, on April 25, 2019, Stefania Maurizi, a well-known journalist and close associate of Assange, published an interview with UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Professor Joe Cannataci, after he had visited with Assange earlier that day. Maurizi, who has worked tirelessly to expose UK corruption in the Assange case, wrote,
“He is the first person who has been able to visit Julian Assange at the Belmarsh prison besides Assange’s lawyers. In fact, two weeks have passed since the arrest of the WikiLeaks’ founder, no other visitors are allowed apart from his lawyers.”
So yes, it’s possible that Maurizi didn’t know at the time that Australia’s consular services had visited Assange previously (if that actually happened) but again, “He is the first person who has been able to visit Julian Assange…besides Assange’s lawyers,” seems to make clear that his lawyers had indeed been to Belmarsh to see him. Twitter Advanced Search isn’t the most reliable tool in the world but it appears to show that neither Fairbanks nor the @AssangeMrs account retweeted Maurizi’s interview.
WikiLeaks Insider’s Communications About Social Media Strategies
If the miscommunication/disinformation about Julian Assange’s situation wasn’t concerning enough, what if I told you that a WikiLeaks insider recently reached out to an individual—a completely unrelated person to Assange’s legal team or WikiLeaks—and boasted that the @AssangeMrs and Fairbanks tweets were actually part of a social media operation directed by WikiLeaks who had employed both Fairbanks and whoever is behind the @AssangeMrs account to carry it out? And no, I’m not even joking.
First of all, this individual went blathering on about how they were upset that people had called Belmarsh claiming that it could have made the legal team look bad or some nonsense like that. They went on to say that the AssangeMrs/Fairbanks tweets had forced Belmarsh into allowing Assange visitors starting on April 26, 2019, which we know isn’t true because the UN Rappateur visited him on the April 25th. Let’s not forget about the alleged Australian consular services visit.
None of this really made any sense since his attorneys could have easily filed a complaint with the courts or the fact that Stefania Maurizi’s article seemed to claim that Assange’s attorneys had, indeed, been able to visit Assange previously.
So besides the fact that it’s super weird a WikiLeaks insider would pass along this kind of inaccurate information, it appears that someone on the inside desperately wants people to believe that WikiLeaks is working hand in glove with alt-right activist Cassandra Fairbanks to influence Assange’s situation which is highly disturbing if true. Fairbanks, who was literally campaigning for Trump’s reelection twenty-four hours after Assange was arrested:
But what was more disconcerting about this insider’s messages is that they made a hefty claim about Assange himself directing certain activities despite the fact that he’s been in lock-down since April 11, 2019. The claim appears ludicrous at best but to disclose the details, I believe, could injure Assange’s case, create conflict between him and British authorities, and jeopardize his situation at Belmarsh. At least four people have seen these messages including a well-respected journalist and perhaps they disagree with my assessment (I haven’t asked them), but due to the fact that this information came from an insider I stand by my concerns.
Of course this individual may have passed along false information in the hopes that it would be reported by the recipient or perhaps myself, giving them the opportunity to accuse of us of putting Assange in harm’s way. But at the end of the day, the fact that someone close to WikiLeaks (if not working for them), sent this information in the first place reeks of an operation to create exactly what I mentioned previously: Conflict with authorities and the possibility of Belmarsh revoking his visitation. That or perhaps some personal issues including an over-inflated ego.
The messages were fairly detailed and included information about court dates being allegedly moved around to catch the legal team off guard so it’s creepy AF that someone would share this stuff willy-nilly with random people or take the time to write such fabrications. All of this is pretty comical considering that they also wrote:
“What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that soothing supporters’ feeling and need to know everything cannot be prioritised over legal strategising. It is v.v. unwise to speak much publicly because the prosecution side may pick up clues from it.”
Meanwhile, sending this kind of information to random folks over the internet is perfectly acceptable.
I’m familiar with the account that sent the communications as are probably most of you. I also know that they are knee-deep in a campaign called “Unity4J,” an online Youtube show with a myriad of social media accounts that was co-founded by “SD,” Elizabeth Lea Vos, and Kim Dotcom who is currently staring down the barrel of a U.S. extradition and has more motive to sell out to the U.S government than all three of them combined.
So, if any of the information this insider shared was legitimate, what in god’s name else are they sharing with Unity4J members?
The Unity4J campaign became a prominent fixture in Assange’s support community after Ecuador President Lenin Moreno cut off Julian Assange’s communications on March 27, 2018, while he was still living under asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It was originally known as the #ReconnectJulian campaign until it segued into Youtube shows called “vigils,” the first of which appeared in early June 2018.
I wrote about Kim Dotcom previously (here), a multi-convicted criminal for essentially stealing money from innocent people and who I noted is facing extradition to the U.S. He’s also perpetuated the Seth Rich conspiracy to the detriment of Rich’s family as well as to Julian Assange for pushing government propaganda that WikiLeaks’ publications get people killed.
I’ve also written about SD’s background which appears to include years of paranoia and unfounded allegations that the New Zealand and US governments have been targeting her and even tried to murder her children. She’s also been accused of defrauding her followers by asking for bitcoin donations because her asylum in Russia hasn’t been approved yet despite their standard three-month approval/denial process. She applied for asylum in October 2016, and to date she has refused to clarify the situation.
As for journalist Elizabeth Lea Vos, her work doesn’t seem to appear anywhere before January 2017, when she started writing for Disobedient Media, an independent news outlet co-founded by Pizzagate/Reddit truther William Craddick. Craddick is known for his 2016 posts on the popular pro-Trump subreddit /r/the_donald under the user name “PleadingtheYiff,” and for posting about Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory that some argue started on 4chan by “FBIAnon,” a precursor to the pro-Trump cult phenomenon (aka CIA operation), “QAnon.”
According to archive.org, there was a second co-founder of Disobedient Media, a German by the name of “Cassandra Hasenstein,” although it’s questionable if this is a real person since nothing really exists about them outside of Disobedient Media’s website, GAB, and Twitter. Disobedient Media stopped listing Hasenstein on their website sometime between March – May 2017, during which time Elizabeth Vos was added despite the fact she had been writing articles for Disobedient since January 2017.
As for Vos’ early work with Disobedient Media, they appear to be pro-Trump in nature with headlines like, “Trump Throws Down Gauntlet at Globalism,” in which she eerily wrote, “Trump concluded his remarks with a call for unity,” while more recent stories have focused on Russiagate, WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange.
Unity4J’s Vos and Trevor Fitzgibbon
Vos has also used Disobedient’s platform to promote alleged rapist Trevor Fitzgibbon, a former PR firm owner who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and/or assault. In fact, Vos has written two articles about Fitzgibbon, his self-inflated involvement in WikiLeaks, and the woes he’s faced while recently accusing me of smearing her for saying she “promoted” him. Naturally that wasn’t my intention but rather to point out that her articles were bias and in no way told the whole story.
Her first article entitled, “WikiLeaks Allies Have Been Systematically Targeted, Defamed,” was actually published as an opinion piece despite Vos claiming she was only “reporting on the facts of the story.” In the article she claimed that “anyone who supports or works with WikiLeaks has become a target for complex, sometimes entirely fabricated, character assassination attempts,” and that apparently includes Fitzgibbon and all the allegations brought against him.
So with a few clicks of her keyboard, Vos categorized every single one of Fitzgibbon’s alleged victims’ stories, stories that Vos never mentions in her article, as some sort of epic plot to take down a PR guy who has done minimal work, at best, for WikiLeaks.
She went on to report that one of Fitzgibbon’s former employees left Fitzgibbon’s firm to work for David Brock’s Media Matters which is apparently somehow related to allegations filed against Fitzgibbon because Brock is a “fierce supporter of former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has a long history of animosity towards WikiLeaks and Assange.” What Vos failed to mention was that Fitzgibbon himself appears in WikiLeaks’ Podesta emails for working for MoveOn.org, an organization that was originally established to stop the impeachment process against former President Bill Clinton and is largely funded by George Soros.
In February 2019, she wrote a second article promoting Fitzgibbon and a lawsuit he had recently filed against the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), an organization where one of his alleged victims, Jesselyn Radack, a prominent attorney for whistleblowers, worked. Fitzgibbon argued that because Radack was using her Twitter account both as a work account endorsed by the IPA and a smear campaign against him, he went after IPA for $2.3 million.
In order to support Fitzgibbon’s argument that Radack had defamed Fitzgibbon, Vos regurgitated an article written by Shadowproof‘s Kevin Gosztola who wrote that the U.S. attorney had cleared Fitzgibbon of sexual misconduct charges and that the decision “clears the way for Fitzgibbon to return to work in public relations.” However, according to Charles Davis who has also written for Shadowproof, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office also stated that, “We decided to dismiss the case…typically it means that we had insufficient evidence to go forward.”
Vos failed to mention that or the fact that Fitzgibbon and Gosztola had worked with each other previously. She also failed to report that Fitzgibbon had also been accused of sexual harassment at the firm he worked at prior to opening his own. Additionally, after a number of woman came forward with allegations that were well before Radack’s allegations (which Vos also failed to mention), Fitzgibbon simply fired his entire staff, shut down his firm, and left his entire staff jobless. I spoke with a former employee of Fitzgibbon’s who confirmed that he essentially stole the staff’s commissions and locked the doors of the firm right before Christmas, leaving the staff without a job and only two weeks of healthcare.
Recently, Jesselyn Radack announced on Twitter that she was retracting everything she had said about Fitzgibbon per a legal settlement. What has been shocking is the response that this tweet has received by many people within the Assange support community. Settling a case in no way is an admission of guilt similar to taking the 5th although most people like to claim that’s an admission of guilt, too. The only thing that can be said here is that no one knows what happened behind closed doors with any of Fitzgibbon’s alleged victims and the best we can and should do is report on it accurately and fairly.
With that said, although Vos claimed that her motivation for writing the two stories about Fitzgibbon was simply to report on the facts, what happened prior to the publication of her 2019 article doesn’t seem to support her explanation. An hour or so before Disobedient Media ran the piece, I received a message from an individual close to Fitzgibbon who had randomly reached out to me a week prior. They sent me a link to Fitzgibbon’s 2019 lawsuit which was relatively unknown at the time with a message:
(redacted): “…It’s in the public domain Watch Vos: she will publish an article on it today This will shut her up quickly”
Me: “Why is Vos trying to shut up Radack?”
(redacted): “So sorry in transit too much to explain here.”
It’s unclear what exactly Trevor Fitzgibbon and Elizabeth Lea Vos allegedly wanted Radack to shut up about, if anything, or why Vos and Disobedient Media seemingly got involved in a plot to threaten an attorney and alleged rape victim into silence. If Vos purposely published a story to send a message to an alleged victim, which has not been proven, it’s hardly surprising based on the hostile environment Unity4J has created over the past year.
Unity4J Tries to Shut Down Detractors
After Unity4J’s first “vigil” for Julian Assange in June 2018, they were promoted by the likes of WikiLeaks and high-profile Twitter accounts in the Assange support community. However, immediately following their new-found endorsements members embarked on a crusade to create such a volatile online environment that most supporters of Assange’s work didn’t dare speak out against a campaign that was rapidly dividing supporters.
Other supporters have become so enmeshed in Unity4J’s cult-like mentality that they’ve openly embraced the group’s platform which supports Trump fanatics as well as attacks against prominent journalists, whistleblowers, attorneys, activists, and even fellow supporters. Members have harassed, threatened, and even called for Assange supporters to be doxed in response to anyone questioning the campaign or its leaders.
Whether it’s a show or genuine, SD herself appears to be so paranoid about the government that anyone who speaks out against her, questions the campaign, or asks for clarification is smeared as a member of an intelligence operation, accusations that she and Unity members seem to toss out like candy.
@BellaMagnani, a WikiLeaks insider who is also knee-deep in Unity4J, recently called someone an intelligence agent as well for merely questioning the legal team’s strategy, what was going on in Assange’s case, and his well-being—something that we all should be doing rather than blindly following these cult-like WikiLeaks leaders.
I have followed a few court cases in the past, quite extensively, might I add, and I have never seen this type of behavior in a support community. I’ve also seen in those cases lots of people questioning what a legal team was doing because everyone loves being an armchair quarterback—especially when nothing is being shared with the public. With that said, these types of response from Unity4J which has happened over and over again is incredibly bizarre and is being used as a scare tactic to stop free speech and the exchange of ideas.
Although things have simmered down since SD was replaced as head of Unity4J by Elizabeth Lea Vos, threats from Unity members are still occurring. This was lodged at me just last week although it remains unclear why exactly this member was threatening me. They appeared upset that ClassConscious.org and myself had organized a World Press Freedom Day campaign back in March of this year.
If you’re wondering why WikiLeaks and Assange supporters still rally behind one of the sketchiest Youtube and social media campaigns ever invented in history, I haven’t a clue. In part two we’ll take a look at Julian Assange’s old Twitter account that was taken over by an unknown individual who has currently joined Unity4J in a united front and is now “sharing information” with its members.