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Sep 21, 2020 100 tweets 12 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Day 10: live tweets from Julian Assange's extradition hearing in London. #AssangeCase
First up today is Prof. Christian Grothoff, testifying by remote video on the publication of the unredacted cables, being sworn in now.
Grothoff is testifying about his research into the publication, using materials publicly available at the time. Mark Summers for the defense taking Grothoff through the timeline, starting with Guardian's David Leigh receiving the encrypted files in summer 2010
Strength of encryption at the time: the files were encrypted by a password -- found in Luke Harding & David Leigh's book -- long enough that computer-automated attempts to crack it by were 'prohibitive'
The encrypted file -- once it was someone else's hands, couldn't change the encryption key to unlock it that'd work on each version
Grothoff discusses the Nov. 2010 DDOS attack on WikiLeaks, unknown hackers made the website more difficult or unable to be accessed. As a result, many mirrors of the site were put online
Grothoff's submissions to the court include many examples of mirrored versions of the site -- not particularly difficult to create a mirror
Some mirrors included the unredacted cables in encrypted forms (inaccessible without the password) though the majority didn't
Timeline: David Leigh [& Luke Harding] publish passcode as a title of a chapter that would unlock the encrypted files, mirrored sites are online
At this point WikiLeaks could not take down the mirrored sites. Could not change the password already out there
Anything they could do to prevent the unredacted cables being published?

Distract, delay
Before August 2011, no one publicly put the encrypted file and password together. Then Aug 25th, Die Freitag published an article online -- didn't publish the password or where to find the cables, but published enough info to put them together to find and decrypt the file
Before that article some may have read the Guardian book and assumed the password wouldn't work, but with this article they may have been "encouraged to try"
WikiLeaks advertised some mirrors of the site - of those advertised, none had the file with unredacted cables able to be discovered. So someone had to use the password via different mirrors
Talking about Cryptome -- well-known leak site, known before WikiLeaks, anyone familiar with these topics would've known about it
Pirate Bay on 31 Aug posted the BitTorrent of the files - not posting the files but making people aware that they exist
On 1 September, the US Government accessed the files via Pirate Bay's torrent
Cryptome is based in the United States, Pirate Bay on a shared international server. Materials are still available on Cryptome. Cryptome has never been prosecuted with publishing the files
WikiLeaks made the unredacted cache available *after* they were available on the other sites, on 2nd September 2011
The materials at that time were already available online "in a way that was virtually impossible to stop"
End of defense questioning. Now Joel Smith cross-examining for the prosecution.
Grothoff verified any documents given to him by the defense -- which included Die Freitag's article -- on his own
Can you think of any reason why you would be biased in this case?

Well we know Mr Assange published evidence of war crimes, makes him a sympathetic figure. But other than that I tested defense claims trying to prove them wrong, to verify
Prosecution reading an open letter to President Trump calling for an end to the prosecution into WikiLeaks, which Christian Grothoff signed
Do you think the prosecution, in America, is a "step into the darkness" (quoting open letter)?

I think it's dangerous for press freedom yes
So do you have an interest in how this case comes out?

I of course have a view that this prosecution seems unfair. But I tried to look if there was a case for the prosecution, and I did not find that evidence
So you're biased?

No, I believe you're confusing actions WikiLeaks made to hide the documents with publishing them - so I say that you are wrong and did not properly do your homework as to who published them first, so I think it's unfair that you charged him with publishing them
I believed that publishing the redacted cables should not be a crime.

Some of the specific accusations (in the indictment) seem to be wrong. My opinion hasn't changed after looking at the facts again
Do you accept signing this open letter makes you unbiased?

No, as I said I didn't even remember signing this letter, I looked at this material objectively
You looked at cables - did you look at Iraq and Afghan war files?

In your research did you download the encrypted files?


Get them from WikiLeaks?

No, downloaded from Cryptome
The mirrors were of the WikiLeaks website? No some were mirrors of some documents from WikiLeaks, some asked for more info, they were believing to mirror public information Wikileaks had released
The more people you give a passphrase to, the weaker it becomes?

Not necessarily but when you put it in a book, yes
Prosecution: but also when you give it to many people - they can give it to other people, right?

Grothoff: Like Mr Leigh did, yes
Do you know how many people were given that passphrase?

Well Mr Leigh gave it to maybe hundreds of thousands, I don't know how many books were sold
But how many did WikiLeaks give it to?

I have no idea
Media partners included 50 outlets - fair to say at least 50 were given unredacted cache?

No because they may have been given partial access, may have been given by different means
But 50 orgs were given access. So not just Mr Leigh is that correct?

As far as I can tell Mr Leigh is one of very few given access to the full set. And only Mr Leigh gave the passphrase away, so it may just be that that the other orgs were reliable
Grothoff: From Leigh's book Mr Assange was reluctant to give full access to the cables. Also shows that media partners were given access just to the documents that were relevant to their country
From book: "It had been a struggle to pry these documents" out of Assange
More from Leigh "Assange was keeping the 3 organizations dangling"

Grothoff: As I said that shows to me he was reluctant. Also shows it was 3 media orgs, not 50
Grothoff: We only know this was the main place that they landed in the public eye. Impossible to say the others didnt so as well but I haven't seen it
Possible that some people at WikiLeaks were aware of Leigh's book & password but they were part of the story, maybe wouldn't find it interesting (as they knew it already), no evidence they knew it was available at the time of publishing (in Feb 2011)
Grothoff: Important part about the WikiLeaks mirroring: these did not include the unredacted archive. "This is WikiLeaks building a haystack", so if they knew unredacted cables were out there, the best way to prevent it being found would be to create many mirrors and hide it
So in Dec 2010 WikiLeaks knew it was out there?

No, not saying this was the intent, I'm saying this was the effect. What they said was it was an attempt to strengthen their website. I'm saying if someone was aware, this would have been a very smart way to hide it
Prosecution - the encrypted file wasn't even on the site yet and the book wasn't out yet right, so we can say that wasn't their intent?

At that time no but the mirroring continued
Prosecution talking about WikiLeaks 'boasting' about cables published in searchable format.

Discussing cables published in Aug 2011 - Grothoff says they were unclassified
Die Freitag article announcing that with publicly available information ('circulated online') readers could find the unredacted cables:…
Going through the timeline. 31 Aug 2011 " and others report on the specific passphrase and which file it decrypts", and "someone else makes a first searchable copy of the cables available"
Back from a recess in which Grothoff found a tweet in which someone else announced full cable archive was published -- depending on timezone, could be said that the tweet was published on 1 Sept 2011
Establishing when Cryptome published - Grothoff believes they posted encrypted form 31 Aug 2011, and unencrypted on 1 Sept 2011
Discussing Nigel Parry discovering that with Guardian-published passphrase and other info, unredacted cables could be found
Nigel Parry, 31 Aug 2011: 'Guardian Investigative Editor David Leigh publishes top secret Cablegate password revealing names of U.S. collaborators and informants... in his book'…
WikiLeaks editorial from 1 September 2011: 'Guardian journalist negligently disclosed Cablegate passwords'…
The earliest time you can say the unredacted cables were put on the internet?

BitTorrent by yoshimo, about 14 hours before WikiLeaks posted. But we don't know when Cryptome published, could have been before, can definitively say both pre-dated when WikiLeaks published
The prosecution goes back to WikiLeaks 'boasting' about cables being searchable. Would you accept the WikiLeaks posting of the cables was more comprehensive and visible?

Comprehensive implies there was more material, which I don't see, but more visible I would accept
End of cross-examination. Brief recess before defense re-questions Grothoff
Back from recess. Back to timeline. David Leigh was one of the media partners involved in working on redactions of the cables. Aware of any other outlet being given access to the full archive of cables? No. Can't say they weren't but no evidence anyone else outside of WL had them
From Leigh's book, Leigh talked about badgering Assange to give full access. Assange first said he could give 50% of the docs. Grothoff says Assange clearly reluctant to give the full set, was under pressure
Assange wrote down only part of the passphrase for Leigh, would have to add to it. Told Leigh it was for a temporary website.
Putting encrypted files on a temporary website -- this is common, this happens whenever you want to transfer large files to a limited number of people. Medical files, bank files often passed this way. If it's properly encrypted, it's useless unless you have the encryption key
No evidence of anyone revealing the passphrase without referring to David Leigh. So it would seem access to the files was private prior to Leigh's publishing.
The mirrors that WikiLeaks encouraged, and those most likely the result of WikiLeaks mirroring instructions, did not contain encrypted or unencrypted versions of the unredacted cables
The mirrors that did contain these files were not created according to the instructions WikiLeaks gave for mirroring, used different software. So WikiLeaks instructions would not have mirrored the full set of cables
Those cables were most likely included by accident. Mirroring a site on your own, you could pick up hidden directories
Judge saying that the defense questioning is already covered ground. Defense says it's challenging the prosecution's chronology and the Implication that WikiLeaks' editorial may have first led people to find the unredacted cables
Judge, prosecution, defense trying to work out which parts of the chronology are agreed upon and which parts are contentious
Defense wants to establish that Wikileaks' editorial on Leigh's passphrase publication did not lead anyone to find the files, doesn't include the passphrase or the file name
Defense going back to open letter Grothoff signed calling for end to prosecution of Assange. Includes German MPs, former CIA and military officials, human rights observers.
End of Christian Grothoff testimony.
Jakob Augstein was supposed to testify this morning but we're out of morning time, he's not available in the afternoon. Andy Worthington on schedule to testify today but parts of his testimony may be agreed already, will be worked out over lunch
Working out extradition hearing timeline. Will have medical experts over the next three days. Unclear when we will have defense closing submissions. Testimony may go right up until next Friday.
Recess until 2:10pm. #AssangeCase
Back from recess. Jakob Augstein is unavailable at the moment. Defense is prepared to call Andy Worthington, but the prosecution complains that they only heard that he may testify this morning.
Prosecution says their position is similar to that regarding el-Masri's statement, they don't want to stipulate things like political determinations. Defense explaining Worthington's statement includes that other courts found that Guantanamo detainees have been tortured
Defense doesn't need this court to determine they were tortured, but wants it to accept that other courts have determined that -- this is linked to the defense's argument that these results were in the public interest
Prosecution: "our position is that it's completely irrelevant"
Still debating what the parties can agree to in the statement. Prosecution says the US wasn't a party to the Strausberg quote. Defense notes it's included in the Senate Torture Report too.
Defense also notes that Worthington's statement includes the fact that the Telegraph published GTMO detainee assessment briefs before WikiLeaks. Prosecution disagrees on the chronology, so Worthington will have to be called. Judge says he can be asked about just that portion.
Trying to prevent future delays/scheduling issues, we may soon have a recess for the parties to reach agreements about witnesses and the schedule. Defense references a statement from Cassandra Fairbanks, unclear if it's been agreed to yet.
Prosecutor Lewis: many of these witnesses are very repetitive. If they were all witnesses talking about different things, we'd move faster.

Judge won't comment on a critique of the defense witness list.

Then prosecution says it's unclear what some of them are testifying about
Lewis then again complains witnesses give "long complex answers."

Half-hour recess now as they try to sort more testimony agreement and witness schedule privately. Fairbanks' statement will likely be read after the break.
Back from recess, turns out they need more time to discuss and agree on witnesses. So we've adjourned again until 4pm London time. #AssangeCase
Back from recess. Fairbanks' statement can be read but both parties will make a statement as to its significance.
Prosecution says the truth of what Arthur Schwartz told her, Fairbanks is not in a position to verify. Also wish to question her impartiality
Defense says her testimony is evidence of the declared intentions of those at the top who planned the prosecution and eviction from the embassy
Defense accepts that she is a supporter of Assange, but looking at the content makes the point moot, what she says is true regardless
Fairbanks' statement will be summarized
Fairbanks: I'm a journalist in DC, was employed by Gateway Pundit which is generally pro-Trump, I've endorsed his presidency. I'm a strong supporter of Assange & WikiLeaks, my work has involved investigation and promotion of many liberal and libertarian causes
Fairbanks: I was involved in a DM group with people who worked for or were close to Trump, including German Ambassador Richard Grenell and Arthur Schwartz
Schwartz told her that the USG would go after Assange for the Manning leaks, would go after Manning to testify, would go into the embassy to get Assange, would not pursue the death penalty
Fairbanks then went to the Embassy, in Jan and March 2019. Had to try to hide from cameras/mics in the first visit but the latter visit was worse, treated like a prisoner. Then 2 weeks later Assange was arrested
Schwartz told her that Assange & Manning & all involved with WikiLeaks deserved the death penalty. That Grenell was involved in a deal to get Assange evicted from the embassy
Fairbanks tweeted that Grenell was involved in Assange's arrest - said she got the information from an ABC News article but Schwartz tried to get her to delete the tweet, that he could go to jail
Schwartz informed me that in coordinating for Assange to be removed from the Embassy, Ambassador Grenell had done so on direct “orders from the President”.
Fairbanks: I now consider steps taken at the March 2019 meeting were being taken because of knowledge of the previous meeting I had with Assange during which I had given him valuable information.
"I believe that the contents of that meeting had been fed directly back to the US authorities and, those with close connections, including Arthur Schwartz."
End of Fairbanks statement, though the defense may at some point play the recording of the call with Schwartz
End of proceedings for today. Back at tomorrow 10am London time. #AssangeCase
Cassandra Fairbanks Audio with Arthur Schwartz, US-Ecuador Deal for Assange, Grenell Involvement

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