Did Ecuador Gag Julian Assange for Interference in Spain AND the US?

On Wednesday, Ecuador shut off Julian Assange’s access to the Internet and (far more interestingly) prohibited any visitors to the Embassy. It has been assumed the gag was a response to this tweet likening the German arrest of the Catalan leader Carlos Puigdemont on Spanish rebellion charges to the historical Nazi arrest of Catalan’s leader.

That’s definitely one of the two things that has gotten Assange in trouble with his hosts before. But I wonder if that’s the only thing that precipitated this gag.

In its statement about the gag, the government of Ecuador said Assange’s social media messages “put at risk the good relations the country has with the UK, the rest of the states of the EU, and other countries.”  It’s not just Spain and the UK that Ecuador is trying not to piss off.

And yesterday, in response to the campaign to lift the gag on Assange, Ecuador released another statement insisting that it had acted within the constitution and international law. As part of the statement, it reminded Assange of his duty not to interfere in the political activities of other countries prohibited to foreigners.

The Foreign Ministry also emphasizes that, beyond this commitment, all persons, regardless of their status, including those under international protection, are obliged to respect the norms of international law that govern peaceful coexistence and friendly relations. cooperation among the nations, citizens and civilized peoples of the world, among them the duty to abstain from political activities in a foreign country, provided for in Article 38 of the American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man. The legal text states that every person has the duty not to intervene in political activities that, in accordance with the law, are exclusive of the citizens of the State in which he is a foreigner.

This sounds like more than a tweet suggesting the Germans are acting like Nazis. It sounds like the ConFraudUs language we’ve seen Mueller’s team to use.

And while the gag closely followed Assange’s tweet, it also followed the detention and questioning of Trump advisor Ted Malloch when he arrived in Logan airport Tuesday. Among the questions the FBI asked Malloch, they asked about his contacts with Roger Stone and Wikileaks.

“The questions got more detailed about my involvement in the Trump campaign (which was informal and unpaid); whom I communicated with; whom I knew and how well — they had a long list of names,” Malloch said. “They seemed to then focus more attention on Roger Stone (whom I have met a grand total of three times and with groups of people); Jerome Corsi, a journalist who edited a memoir I had written some years ago; and about WikiLeaks, which I knew nothing.”

He said was asked specifically if he had visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up for nearly six years. He had not, he said.

The FBI let Malloch go, but not before seizing his phone and subpoenaing him to appear before Mueller’s grand jury on April 13.

That’s why I’m so interested that Ecuador has prohibited Assange visitors. The one time, in the past, they cut off his Internet access seemed to be a response to his release of emails designed to influence US politics, not Spanish politics. And his well-known use of mules to carry data to him would necessitate cutting off human visitors as well if Ecuador wanted to prevent his participation in foreign affairs.

In any case, if Mueller’s team ever provides solid evidence of more malign Assange involvement in the election, this is the kind of response I’d expect Ecuador to take.

101 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Kind of sounds as if Mueller doesn’t want Malloch to be able to talk with Assange before Malloch’s chat with the grand jury. If so, that’s going to be a very interesting chat indeed.

  2. Kevin Finnerty says:

    Not sure Mueller would have the ability to pressure Ecuador to cut off Assange. That kind of thing would certainly have to run through the state department. Seems unlikely that would happen in this environment.

    • Peterr says:

      Interestingly, both the US Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon Jr. are career Foreign Service officers, and the US Embassy posted this news item on Feb 23:

      Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. will travel to Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile February 25-March 3.  The Under Secretary will underscore long-standing U.S. support for bilateral priorities and reaffirm U.S. engagement to promote a safe, prosperous, and democratic hemisphere.

      In Quito, Ecuador on February 25-27, Under Secretary Shannon will meet with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to discuss the strengthening of the bilateral relationship and expanded collaboration in areas of mutual interest.  In meetings with other Ecuadorian officials, he will discuss trade and investment, counter-narcotics cooperation, and regional and international issues. . . .

      I’m not saying that Assange fell under the heading of “areas of mutual interest”, but the timing is interesting.

      Instead of pressure, it could be that Mueller drew on his years as FBI chief and made a call or two to some friends in Ecuador’s law enforcement community and asked for a favor.

  3. James Hester says:

    The bottom line is that if you are on the shit list of establishment, or a whistle blower, you have no chance. They are going to get you one way or other, under so called “LAW” international or otherwise. Speaking of whistle blower, I wonder bmaz is following the “Intercept” ‘s catch of the month, Terry Albany who was arrested and charged with leaking FBI information to the Intercept. Guess Sugar Daddy’s (Pierre of ebay) boys are doing a good job in intercepting the whistle blowers.

    The return of Absolute Baloney part two, words of wisdom by bmaz always there to provide unsolicited opinion. A staunch defender of Intercept “Editorial Decision”/actions causing Reality Winter arrest.

    • bmaz says:

      If you think The Intercept was the cause of Winner’s arrest, you are uninformed. Her own actions were sufficient all on their own. She cooked her own goose. But, by all means, keep blowing that smoke. Which is not to say that TI’s operational security was very good on that matter, it wasn’t. But she would have been arrested anyway.

      • orionATL says:

        this is not the first time you’ve let the intercept off the hook by blaming winner in these precise words. the intercept was extraordinarily sloppy in its “opsec”. they have acknowledged that publicly and claim to have changed some of their rules. is there something else you know you’re not telling us?

        on the surface, that a defense lawyer, of all people, would speak so harshly of a young woman taking a huge personal risk for something she believed in is really hard to understand. under the pressure of questioning she readily confessed, lost her rights, etc., and you find that worthy of censure?

  4. Alan says:

    Regarding Catalan arrests, the Francosts appear to have made a miscalculation: Catalan academic facing extradition draws record crowdfunding appeal.

    Anwar believes the Spanish government has miscalculated in its moves to extradite Ponsatí. “They absolutely did not want this to land in Scotland,” he told the Observer. “I suspect they were unaware of the difference in legal systems and political approach that would be adopted in Scotland as opposed to England, and believed they could rely upon the unconditional support of the British government.

    More here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara/

  5. Wm. Boyce says:

    I’ve been interested in Assange’s obvious hostility toward Ms. Clinton for a long time. She made at least one statement toward wanting to see him behind bars for leaking U.S. docs some years ago and it’s been off to the races ever since for Assange. That he might have been hell-bent on helping Trump and the Repugs take over our government only shows his out-of-touch mentality and unhinged state. I think he’s done good work in the past but he’s way off the tracks at this point.

  6. Rayne says:

    Wondering if the squeeze on Assange might have been more circuitous in origin, and driven less to stop his interference in elections than to ensure his silence…

    Ecuador is an OPEC member state.

    KSA, another OPEC member state, insists the U.S. must stay involved in Syria while Russia wants the U.S. out.

    Did a certain OPEC state member call in a favor for reasons of their own? Or did a non-OPEC member throttle the possibility a certain closet-dweller might dump more information too carelessly over the internet?

      • jo6pac says:

        bmz I was wondering why you dislike him so much? I myself dislike intercept for not releasing all of Snowden info.

        • bmaz says:

          I just find him to be a repulsive malignant cancer, and have pretty much from the start. Then there is the raping and running of course.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Well, the Swedes think so, and the reason Assange is holed up where he is would be due to the expectation that Sweden would extradite him to the USA regardless of the outcome in the rape case.

        • bmaz says:

          Well maybe, but that is pretty much just Assange’s excuse. There is nothing charged here to extradite him on. Secondly, he had no problem hanging out in the UK prior to the EU arrest warrant, and the UK was a hell of a lot more likely to extradite to US than Sweden. So, basically, as with everything else about Assange, it is a total load of shit.

        • Desider says:

          I still find the initial charges against him dodgy considering the consensual activities in both, their total “he said-she said” nature, and looking easily set up (by the Yanks?) thanks to Swedish law – one “rape” bit was “he didn’t wear a condom when he promised”. How do you respond to that?
          But he lost my sympathies long ago with his indiscriminate (or tainted collusionary) blogging, including unfiltered data drops that would hurt no end of people and of course his vindictive targeting of Hillary, including “here’s a poll on what disease you think she’s suffering from”. Fuck him.

        • bmaz says:

          The charges and case against him has been tested by every court of competent jurisdiction in both Sweden and the UK. Ev very single one of them has found the case sound and appropriate. So, when you say it should be “questioned”, please know that it has been relentlessly and held up every time.

        • orionATL says:

          bmaz –

          your assertions here are simply not well founded. you need to read up on the peculiar stringency of swedish sexual-interaction law and on the behavior of the parties – both assange and the two women – relating to their sexual activity.

          asserting that the case has been “relentlessly” upheld by courts is saying only that the swedes and brits are happy to collude with the u.s.

          if you need to know, i am no longer an admirer of assange. he is a squirming, self-serving worm, but the cases against assange, in both sweden and in the u.k., are a sham.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, hey, wonderful. You and Mr. Milkshake are going to edify me on the peculiarities (as promoted  by Assange toadies) of Swedish and international extradition law (which I have had multiple occasions to actually practice for clients). Well done Orion. Well, I took a very hard and long look into all of it years ago when this was still at the initial level in SWE and intermediate level in UK. I don’t know what garbage you two have read and are repeating, but it is baloney.

        • orionATL says:

          this is in reply to bmaz whose “reply” button is missing.

          “toady”, bmaz?

          i am the only person here who is telling you to your face you are, at best, very poorly informed. and that’s what you call a toady?

          let me add, you appear much too often in these columns as a rude boor whose vocabularly is regretably limited.

          does this meet your definition of a “toady”, you blowhard of an asshole?

          did i mention you can be a premier bullshit artist too?

          oh wait a minute, these latter two characteristics of yours are one and the same.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ve given this more thought; while it’s possible Ecuador has been caught in a tug-of-war between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, it’s also possible Ecuador has a reason closer to home to mute Assange. The bit about American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man may point to the Organization of American States (OAS) as a possible motivator. Has a member state (or two) found that Assange has been assisting entities undermining their elections, not just the UK and the US? I wonder if there is a more direct link between Assange and Cambridge Analytica/SCL and if the latter’s actions in OAS’ member states Trinidad-Tobago, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and possibly others?

      EDIT — 2:30 PM EDT — Adding a couple links about possible Cambridge Analytica/SCL activity in OAS member states.

      Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico


      To the best of my knowledge, Wikileaks published files over the past decade on all of these and more Latin American countries. The US was alleged to have asked Ecuador to mute Assange during the Colombian peace negotiations. Take that muting as you will; it was blamed on Clinton but the negotiations were timestaking, very sensitive, and Ecuador and Colombia are neighbors.

  7. cfost says:

    First, and most basic, Assange-As-Wikileaks has violated the ancient norms of hospitality. Homer wrote about the topic at length. So this is an insight into the character of Wikileaks. He/it has gotten too big for the britches. Julian has to know that if he sets foot outside the embassy he is probably a dead man. So this bravado on his part is puzzling. And the idea that he had the wherewithal to sway elections in other countries is pure hubris on his part. Unless he was/is put up to it.

    Did I not read somewhere that the flat directly adjoining Julian’s bedroom wall is owned by the UAE? That could be handy….

    I’m beginning to think that Assange-As-Wikileaks has been a useful propaganda icon, in the mold of Osama bin Laden. Maybe his usefulness is ending….

  8. milkshake says:

    Assange does not change much but the governments in Quito do. They did know whom they took, they let him continue running Wikileaks from their embassy. I think the cost became too high for Ecuador and the new government made some kind of deal, most likely with US.

    Despite all the grandstanding and megalomania, his repulsive habits and character flaws, Assange is a brave man and deserves to be protected – and if he becomes too unhinged he should be ignored rather than silenced.

    Also, I wonder if Snowden can do something for Assange, after all he owes him a great deal.

    • bmaz says:

      You know who deserved to be protected? The rape victims in Sweden, they deserved their rights honored and protected. Until the piece of shit answers for that, he doesn’t deserve squat.

      • milkshake says:

        from all I know that was published, it was’t a rape. The two women had a consensual sex, one of them became concerned about A. now wearing condom and possibly having STD so they went to police to find out the whereabouts of A. The prosecution and extradition was bent and unusually zealous  – both in Sweden and UK. There is a clear sign that UK destroyed documents about the prosecution of A. Also there was a very strange dynamic – police in Sweden initially refused to charge A. but there was a sudden change of heart. Also the prosecutor from Sweden, Ms Ny was willing to interview A. at the Ecuadorian embassy but the UK government actually intervened and talked her out of it. A. repeatedly promised to travel to Sweden to be interviewed and stand trial if Sweden guaranteed his non-extradition to US. Sweden repeatedly refused this offer. Then there was the grand jury  in Alexandria investigating people with connection to Wikileaks and the infamous Collateral Murder video – there is every sign that A. was under sealed indictment from US, that was to be unsealed the moment A. would step in Sweden. While legally it would have been just as easy to have A extradited from UK, the public opinion and the political situation in UK made it more troublesome so the Sweden rape accusation was an ideal opportunity. Also due to quirks in Swedish legal system, it would have been easy to jail A. incommunicado in Sweden while he was to await his trial and extradition. Whereas in UK he was free on bail. Please note that A. went to the embassy only after he got wind of the fact that UK was going to suddenly revoke his bail and jail him without explanation, even though he did not violate the bail conditions, it was rather the UK authorities who decided to dispose with the niceties of the British legal system in this particular case.

        Just because A. is paranoid, it does not mean the most powerful governments are not out to destroy him. CIA even publicly acknowledged the existence of anti-Wikileaks task force at the agency.

        • bmaz says:

          This is a load of Assange and Wikileaks fueled crap. And criminal defendants don’t get to demand a promise of non-extradition, and no country in the world would go along with that bullshit. Seriously, spare me this nonsense, I have heard it all before. If you want to bite off on that crap, feel free, but spare me.

        • milkshake says:

          I am sorry that at this point you are so intensely partisan that you will outright refuse any evidence that challenge your views as “load of crap”. Any way you look at it, the prosecution of Assange has been very unusual and it is perfectly reasonable to read political motivations behind it. Ecuador granted asylum to A. not because he was a particularly likable fella but because there was an extraordinary campaign against him.

          Also, would you call “a load of Wikileaks crap” the fact that FIVE European government denied their airspace to Peru president personal jet plane returning home from state visit in Moscow, and forced him to emergency land in Austria and then the authorities entered and searched the presidents plane based on the suspicion that Ed Snowden might be on board (he was not). US Government that orchestrated this outrage embarrassed itself based on the disinformation gleaned from surveilling Assange.

        • seedeevee says:

          bmaz doesn’t like to hear about being misinformed and just plain wrong.

          We all have every reason to mistrust the extraordinary responses from the US, Norway and Britain in this case.  I am surprised he didn’t find a way to blame Putin for the alleged rapes.

        • bmaz says:

          “Intensely partisan”?? Hahaha, you Assange toadies are all alike, just make up shit and spew it. I have looked at the case against Assange, both in the UK and in Sweden, under their actual applicable law and facts as best could be adduced from the sturm, drang and bullshit issued by Assange and his toadies. I did that years ago, and have paid attention ever since. This is a legal case. Partisanship has nothing to do with it. In fact, when I started, Assange was a “hero” of the left and libertarians, not of Republicans. And, yet, the facts and law are the same, irrespective of any of that. And with that, I bid you adieu on this topic. You believe what you want, every official court reviewing the matter has disagreed with your mischaracterization.

        • milkshake says:

          You call me a toady without knowing anything about me. (I am not rightwing, and I don’t like Assange because he is a prick. But he still deserves protection.) I also think that your hatred and your inability to answer without spewing insults lowers you to the level of a troll.

          I should probably mention that recently when EmptyWheel  interface was recently redesigned and for a short while the names of the contributing authors were hidden, I was dismayed because I did not want to read the random ravings – in fact I have been avoiding your posts for quite a while – because I come here to read Marcy Wheeler analytical mind. Your contributions are unfortunately at the level of construction site noise, and your righteous gutfeel does not save it when your mental faculties have already left you.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah? well you made all kinds of insinuations about  me…Partisan!!….and you don’t know squat about me either. So go take a good hard look in the mirror when you get uppity and self righteous. And I could care less whether you read my posts. Get lost.

        • milkshake says:

          yes, I do, you were in Iraq – I was reading your account of that with a great interest. It is only your more recent posts that convinced me that you already lost it.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, that is proof positive you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground. I was never in Iraq, and you never read any such posts as you suddenly gratuitously claim. You are just flat out ignorantly making self serving shit up out of whole cloth.

          You have posted here under two names, Milkshake and Milkshaken, neither occurring more than a few years ago, and your current mission under your current moniker, “Milkshake”, is comprised of exactly five comments, all since April 1, and have been only to push your Assange advocacy and contain nothing, whatsoever, else. Have an agenda there much “Milkshake”?

          You may want to think twice before wandering in here and lying out your ass.

        • milkshake says:

          for some reason I thought you were the former State Department employee who wrote a book about the ridiculous US attempts to rebuild Iraq. But apparently I was wrong so I apologize – that one was really interesting.  So it wasn’t you.

          I don’t need to make up stuff on the fly, and I don’t comment frequently (even though I check the Empty Wheel almost daily.). If the critical comments about your unhinged hatred-filled comments and your apparent absence of reasoning bother you, you can always ban me, I think it would be quite consistent with your style

        • bmaz says:

          Dear Milkshake: You wander in with an agenda, and then fabricate facts and statements about hosts here. Why don’t you just make some more blather up out of whole cloth, THAT would be “consistent with your style”.

          For all your shallow paeans of dedication to this blog, you clearly do not know squat about us. If you did, you would not have made up false facts, and you would have a FAR different history with us here. You don’t, you are straight up making things up.

        • J-Mann says:

          How Armando-like of you.  Well, 3rd-rate Armando.

          Interesting what 8 years of Obama did to the herd perception of whistleblowers.


        • Rayne says:

          It’s called NATO — an “attack” on one member state obligates other NATO states to provide communal support. While Article 5 may not have been expressly invoked, US State Dept could have made a reasonable case that Snowden had in his possession content which threatened NATO nations’ intelligence. No entity at that time could be absolutely certain what Snowden was going to do with the content he had collected. Do I think Snowden was right in doing what he did? Absolutely; I also think he’s done a solid job releasing material on a controlled basis (think: First Do No Harm, Secondly Minimize Harm if Unavoidable). But we’re kidding ourselves to imagine multiple allied nation-states including the US would not look at the loss of that much intelligence material as an emergent threat. I’m sure Snowden himself understood this and expected such a response.

        • Desider says:

          Uh, when Putin put out fake charges against Broward, yes, international police had a duty to question whether there were any true grounds to take the charges seriously and remand him to custody. Same with Assange and other politicized cases. Otherwise it’s too easy for states to wield their overwhelming power. And yeah, Polanski largely got to put a number of demands on the Swiss government, while Pinochet would be an example of fighting openly through the courts, I suppose.

          But we’ve seen a number of cases where public figures are trapped or threatened with charges while travelling abroad when they weren’t charged at home (or even states like North Korea demanding corpses abroad before autopsy). And with Sweden seeming to wait until Assange had gotten on that plane to finally decide it needed to talk to him, it again seemed like politically timed.  Maybe this is taking on too much Assange spin, but it seemed the US was much more interested in shutting him up at one point than say investigating slaughter of civilians in Iraq. (funny how Erik Prince of Blackwater is still riding high, and seemingly Assange has joined Erik’s scandalous allegiances).

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          “But we’ve seen a number of cases where public figures are trapped or threatened with charges while travelling abroad”

          See Marcus Hutchins.

        • orionATL says:

          you really don’t know what you are talking about, bmaz. quit trying to b.s. your way thru this.

          milkshake’s info correspponds with what i learned when i looked at the matter with great interest when it was unfolding.

          your verbal mistreatment of him really is unwarranted.

        • Rayne says:

          Where this argument “from all I know that was published, it was’t a rape” and everything after it falls apart: imagine you’ve released video showing what appears to be an American war crime in April 2010, pitting yourself against the greatest hegemonic power at the time. Do you then go to Sweden in August 2010 and put yourself in a situation where you may be compromised by sexual partners, knowing full well Sweden was culpable in extraordinary renditions at US’ request?

          Do you compromise the mission of your organization placing exposure of the truth above everything else by placing yourself in such a risky situation that any country’s intelligence agency with adequate means could compromise you and your organization?

          Why Assange would act so ridiculously arrogant and/or stupid to place himself at risk after releasing Collateral Damage is beyond me. This arrogance/stupidity colors whatever he says going forward.

        • Trip says:

          From Laura Poitras’ film:

          In one astonishing scene, Assange talks to Helena Kennedy QC, who is advising him on how to deal with the allegations. Assange says, as if to excuse himself, that it is a “radical feminist conspiracy” and dismisses the complainants as lesbians. Kennedy tells him it is not helpful to talk like this. “No, not publicly,” he says, while being filmed. Her look of despair is priceless. Assange then explains why it is not in the best interests of the women to press charges. “An actual court case is going to be very hard for these women … they will be reviled for ever by a large segment of the world population. I don’t think it’s in their interest to proceed that way.’’


          It all sounds remarkably inline with alt-right sexist philosophy. This was a turning point for Poitras, apparently.

        • Rayne says:

          Assange has always appeared misogynist to me, but for a woman make that an argument out of the gate with his defenders will only draw fire. So it’s been with women for thousands of years, our speech suppressed and ignored; it’s this same history of gendered suppression Assange relied upon; “nobody will believe you” is an all-too-common refrain of rapists and child abusers who wish to avoid scrutiny and punishment.

          But it’s difficult for his defenders to rationalize Assange’s arrogance and stupidity in going to Sweden. Take your pick: he poked a sleeping grizzly and didn’t expect it to come after him, or he believed he was completely immune from prosecution for any sexual behavior after failing to obtain active, affirmative consent. In either case he didn’t give Wikileaks as a movement or organization a second thought.

        • orionATL says:

          rayne –

          your’s is the question to be asked of assange. why did he take such stupid, trivial risks? where was his head (don’t ask). what a fool.

          i wouldn’t be surprised at the prescence of mysogyny either. his relations with women do not appear stable and do appear exploitative, relying on his fame.

  9. seedeevee says:

    Imagine that! bmaz has no need for evidence or truth to convict someone on his enemies list.

  10. JD12 says:

    And his well-known use of mules to carry data to him would necessitate cutting off human visitors as well if Ecuador wanted to prevent his participation in foreign affairs.

    Speaking of that, did anything ever come of that Nigel Farage thumb drive?

  11. matt says:

    Even If we separate the Skripal crime from the international, multilateral, and unequivocal condemnation of “Putin” (by that I mean admitting Putin’s culpability)- we still have to wonder about the swift and coordinated international response by both world politicians and the media. The pressure on Ecuador to cut off Assange was part an parcel to this same coordinated effort- of a kind we rarely see in terms of timing and solidarity amongst world nations. Again, separating Assange’s “likability,” assuming the worst- that he is nothing but a crazy pasty worm- we still have to contend with how the narrative is being used. How is this narrative being used?

    I will offer up the obvious. The US non-State dept, and the disorganized and unloved Trump administration is not orchestrating (nor has the influence) to implement a policy like this.

  12. Trip says:

    Marcy, have you ever heard of this guy? Nothing seems to happen in a vacuum, embezzlement also seems to be the normal ‘economy’ (SOP) of oligarchs, so is arresting him some facade, keeping him out of Miami?  Or have I completely lost the plot, and he is not connected to anything here, like money laundering/Trump?

    How Moscow arrested its latest billionaire, Ziyavudin Magomedov

    What are the charges?
    The police raids on Summa’s offices were first reported in the evening on Friday, March 30. The Telegram channel Neratka, which carried news about Russia’s transportation industry, confirmed that Ziyavudin Magomedov had been detained, though Summa’s spokespeople would only confirm that he was currently speaking to investigators. According to the newsletter The Bell, Magomedov had plans to fly to the United States on Friday… “Everywhere in the case files, we see claims that [Magomedov] managed and coordinated criminal acts as the head of a commercial organization. But heading a legal entity isn’t in itself a crime,” the lawyer said. Magomedov told the court that he “categorically” denies the charges against him. He argued that he’s invested billions of rubles in the companies mentioned by prosecutors, and “it would be strange to steal from himself.” Magomedov also confirmed that he planned to fly with his family to the United States, where he said he would undergo a medical operation. He was supposed to return to Russia a week later, he said, adding, “I’m proud of what I do for Russia, and I want to continue this work.”

    https://meduza .io /en/feature/2018/04/02/how-moscow-arrested-its-latest-billionaire-ziyavudin-magomedov

    [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

  13. Galactus-36215 says:

    “if Mueller’s team ever provides solid evidence of more malign Assange involvement in the election, this is the kind of response I’d expect Ecuador to take.”


    But everything Wikileaks releases about any government figure is meant to influence elections. It does so by releasing the truth about government’s activities and those who run it. And Wikileaks release of the Clinton and Podesta emails was long ago in August of 2016 and March of 2016, respectively. So, how is it just now that Ecuador is somehow upset of those sorts of actions?

    It would seem more credible that something precipitated the cutoff more recently, rather than the realization of Wikileak’s fundamental mission which is to provide news agencies with actual reportable news.

    • Trip says:

      Truth is comprehensive. When it is dealt in omissions, then it isn’t completely honest. This also ignores Wikileaks promotion of the pizzagate conspiracy (in retweeting reddit), and also ignores the outreach in assists from Assange to the Trump camp.

      Which, okay, many publishers have a political point of view/perspective (Murdoch, Washington Post et al), so he and Wikileaks would still fall under that category.  But either Assange was always a hard right Libertarian advocate, enforced captivity altered his perspective, or perhaps a combination of both.

      Marcy might be right about the US pressure on Ecuador, or Ecuador may simply be reacting to a situation where a guest has made statements which are contradictory to its own advantage and perspective.  Being in the embassy and transmitting his opinions might put Ecuador in the unenviable position of having Assange’s opinions appear to represent official government policy and diplomacy. If it doesn’t serve their interests and objectives, it’s reasonable to assume it would be a bone of contention. Supposedly, Assange and the Ecuadorian Gov’t made a ‘first do no harm to Ecuador’ agreement, (interference reflecting poorly on the gov’t directly), which Assange seems to have broken.

  14. cfost says:

    What if the whole “Wikileaks” persona has been co-opted? In this day, authorship and attribution are nebulous and slippery. For example: who actually authors the Trump tweets? Who actually authors the Assange tweets?
    For a certain cohort, with a certain motive, co-opting, hijacking, and misappropriating are the easiest course of action with the least exposure. The Occupy movement, many referendums in California, the Russian revolution, the religious yearnings of Christians and Muslims— all have been co-opted.
    So, for someone like Wilbur Ross (or most of Trump’s cabinet), politics or a politician is only a means to an end, which is wrapped up in money and power. Politicians and voting populations are things that you manipulate or co-opt. Tax cuts? Gorsuch? Privatize? Net neutrality? 702?
    So, if Assange-As-Wikileaks has been co-opted, who is actually pulling the strings? Deep state, or more likely, Deep Corporation?

    • Trip says:

      I recall during the election that some people were opining that Assange/Wikileaks was always CIA.  But it’s not something I have considered realistically. Why would they want to divulge their own secrets through a cut-out?  What is the endgame?

    • Rayne says:

      This: “What if the whole “Wikileaks” persona has been co-opted?” is a really important point. Wikileaks today is not the Wikileaks first founded ~2006; it was a movement, and what it is today is open to question let alone whose or what agenda it serves. One perspective on WL and here’s another. IMO, Assange has subsumed WL entirely and is only worried about his own ass. Wikipedia entry downplays other participants’ roles; who is WL besides Assange at this time?

      • cfost says:

        It could be that Assange has morphed along with WL. Power, money and fame have a way of changing people. It could be that Assange has morphed from an young idealist into an egomaniac. I would say that was the whole story if it weren’t for some troubling things: the list of Assange’s visitors (let’s put aside the known mules for now), the irony of his site being hosted in Sweden, the overwhelming odor of “backchannel,” the obvious propaganda uses of a symbol as rich as Wikileaks. WL would be a great vehicle for misdirection.

        • Rayne says:

          An entity like WL would be a most excellent honeypot — a means to capture intelligence — if leadership of the organization isn’t equally passionate about protecting its stated mission and their own ass, ignoring the occasions when the organization’s and leadership’s personal fortunes are one and the same.

  15. TheraP says:

    I can’t speak for Ecuador’s move. Not for the why or the what or the wherefore.

    I am also no expert on Spain’s politics. However, I have been married to one for over half a century. And I’ve long observed how people operate there.

    Spain, under Franco, was a fascist Fuedal state. Like many third world countries, everything operated via “who” you knew. Graft was endemic. And just about every citizen was doing deals under the table. Some people were honest. Some of the time. I would say that this partly explains why my spouse came to live in exile. Because he simply could not sell his soul – though many offered him political advancement if only he would.

    The Catalan “problem” is best explained by saying “everyone’s hands are dirty.” The central government’s leaders (in power) are facing court battles for graft and deceit – and yes, they are partly using the Catalan issue as a “look over there” move. But it is true that the current Spanish Constitution forbids a region from declaring itself independent of Spain. And Catalonia already has a great deal of regional independence from the central government.

    In Catalonia, the same (leadership) financial/legal problems are operating: court investigations over graft and deceit by many of its political leaders (especially those who were in power). And those leaders – facing the judicial investigation for financial crimes – are also using the issue of “independence” (for Catalonia) to distract from their misappropriation of public funds (kickbacks, etc or direct misuse – like for the funding of an illegal referendum).

    So in Spain, there are two issues. (1) Financial profiting from the public purse. (These cases are ongoing.). And (2) Constitutional issues regarding the illegal declaration of “independence” (of a region) from Spain – without the changing of the Constitution. (For the record: A huge majority in Spain currently do not want the break-up of Spain. And another huge majority in Catalonia voted in favor of the current constitution after the death of Franco.)

    Some politicians are wanted for the money laundering type crimes. Others for the Constitutional crimes. And some for both.

    Whatever the outcome, Spain has a very different legal system than ours. We have an adversarial system. They have the Roman law type of system, where Judges – not juries – rule on the basis of fixed laws. (I’m no lawyer, as we know. Let bmaz weigh in if I’m off base on my shorthand understanding of this.).

    It is the Constitutional Court, which has charged people like the woman above, and Puigdemont (a former journalist with a degree in Catalan linguistics, not politics or economics), who has proclaimed himself as a kind of mythical historical “savior” of Catalonia – but has done so, illegally, outside the Spanish Constitution.

    I’m not sure if I’ve added much here. But I’ve tried to lay out what the issues are without polemic (until my last assertion re Puigdemont). Spain does have a strong legal system. It has even prosecuted members of the royal family. And despite the feudal influences that linger after Franco, that legal system is determined, I think, to implement the Rule of Law in navigating these issues. Individuals may present themselves as “Saviors” of Catalonia or whatnot. But the Law is clear. And the Constitutional Law will be followed – unless the Constitution changes. (Politicians and scholars do propose changes. But not ones that allow a region to leave Spain.)

    • Greenhouse says:

      Slavery was constitutional and law of the land in the U.S. Ever hear of the 3/5 clause U.S constitution 1787. Just because it’s law doesn’t make it right.
      Think of it like taxation without representation. Catalonia is the main economic engine of Spain and always has been. 
      The argument of graft and deceit is just a strawman used to delegitimize democratically elected leaders who represent the will of the majority in Catalonia. I suggest reading up on Catalonia and it’s history to get a more thorough understanding of the political/constitutional crisis in Spain today. This goes way back to the mid 18th century. Tie this in with fascist Spain under Franco prior to WWII and it’s crushing of democracy in Catalonia, the torture and murder of it’s leaders and thousands of Catalonians – think Guernica.
      Then look at the Spanish guardia civil’s jackbooted efforts to block a referendum in December 2017. It’s quite easy to see why what seemed like approximately half the population in Catalonia turned into a majority voting for independence.

      • TheraP says:

        I’m not going to answer point by point, when someone urges setting aside the rule of law. But I would remind readers that joining the EU means a nation’s constitution must be upheld so long as it accords with the EU Constitution. And no EU nation is accusing Spain of violating its constitution or EU law. Indeed, it has been authoritatively stated (by the EU parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani) that a violation of an EU member’s constitution is a violation of European law.

        Here’s a good review of that issue (the rule of law vis a vis Catalan “independence” and the EU) from el pais:


        • TheraP says:

          There’s Rule of Law. And there’s Civil Disobedience. But in the latter case, the person choosing to do civil disobedience must be prepared to take the consequences: Arrest. Trial. Possible punishment. You don’t get to simply argue that the law is wrong! That’s not the same as innocence.

          I’m no lawyer. But I know that much! I think that’s one of the implicit points of the original post.

        • Greenhouse says:

          Oh yeah, no doubt it’s a calculated political move on Puigdemont and other leaders of his administration who have fled to other European countries to test the laws of the EU and shine a light on post WWII democracies and rule of law. Switzerland didn’t extradite, neither did Brussels.  Puigdemont intentionally went through Germany en route to Brussels. Yes he’s been arrested, but not extradicted. Will Germany repeat history? We don’t know yet. Puigdemont is smart and I believe this has been well thought out and conceived. TheraP, I highly recommend you read this article by Harrington re recent efforts at Catalonian independence and it’s trajectory.


        • TheraP says:

          Oh, dear, sorry to puncture your balloon: “German Prosecutors call for Puigdemont to be extradited to Spain,” asserting that the Spanish crime (rebellion) is comparable to the German crime (high treason), also that the requirement for associated “violence” is also met and thus he should be turned over to Spain for trial:


          All you’re doing is giving me opportunities to provide readers with more up-to-date info, which, unfortunately rebuts your ideas and destroys your hopes.

          For interested readers, a whole list of el Pais articles on this topic updates at this link (under the title “Secessionists Challenge”):


          From long experience, I well know that no one tries to troll me unless my points are strong ones and apparently appear threatening to their cause. Your presence underscores that.

  16. Karl Kolchak says:

    New and creative destruction of people’s freedoms by the world’s most dangerous secret police outfit.

  17. bmaz says:

    By the way, the thought that it is “BREAKING NEWS”, per both CNN and MSNBC,  that Mueller is investigating Trump confidant (Stone) association with Wikileaks is laughable. Of course the Mueller shop is investigating that. They long have been.

    • Trip says:

      The breaking news is that Nunberg and Stone are having a public spat, and dishing shit out about each other.

      • bmaz says:

        Also not breaking; that has been the case from Nunberg’s first insane full court news press. It may be getting more exacerbated, but it would have been on the Mueller shop radar from before day one of Nurnberg’s freak out (because his Mueller interaction started it).

        • Trip says:

          Hahaha. I thought he was all about Roger being his bud, mentor, yadda yadda, until then he wasn’t?  Good times. The ratfuckers are ratfucking themselves now.

        • bmaz says:

          Precisely. And that may be a ratfuck show too. Who knows, but Mueller likely does, and has for a while. Pretty funny to sit back and watch though.

      • Trip says:

        Dude, why do you keep posting blind links? What is it about? How about a synopsis and then a link?

      • bmaz says:

        Trip is right, links need content and context. Above and beyond that, could you possibly find a less credible cite than the Wikileaks Task Force? Jeebus.

  18. Larry says:

    This is to Orion, who is replying to Bmaz above.
    Orion, you are making up words and thoughts and projecting your non sequiturs onto Bmaz. You are doing what people do who have nothing to offer whatsoever of their own. Your weak effort is malicious and disingenuous and by its very nature is vacuous. I’d say you’re a bot, but bots are more coherent than you’ve shown yourself capable of being.

    • bmaz says:

      I can personally guarantee Orion is not a bot. He has been with us since even before Emptywheel when at The Next Hurrah; i.e. a long time. I fully admit to being an Assange crank, but Orion is wrong that I don’t know what I am talking about on the subject. I will also fully admit that the subject just tires me at this point, all these assertions and arguments have been blasted and denied by all levels of courts in both Sweden and the UK. That part is done, same as if the Supreme Court here had issued its edict.

      • orionATL says:


        you might not guess it, given my occasional harsh criticism of your criticisms of some commenters, but i never cease to regard you affectionately, and appreciatively for the passion you contribute to the emptywheel website.

        as for the assange argument, while i think it is important to defend against the way assange was treated by nations as a whistleblower, i cannot muster any strong motive to defend him further due to his extremely destructive use of wikileaks to settle a personal score with hillary clinton.

        bequeathing the presidency of the united states, formerly the world’s leader in so many critical areas, to an ignorant and destructive donald trump is now assange’s premier legacy.

        vladimir putin is not the only foreigner who succesfully medddled in the 2016 american national elections.

    • orionATL says:

      dear larry @4:25am –

      you are a fool, and an ignorant fool to boot.

      get some sleep, you drooling imbecile.

Comments are closed.