Interpol announced this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been placed on international "Red Notice" status over rape and sexual molestation charges in Sweden. A red notice is not an arrest warrant, but is usually interpreted as a request for provisional arrest and deportation. Police in Britain, where Assange is known to have spent time recently, say they will implement the request:
The Serious Organised Crime Agency, which is handling the case, confirmed yesterday it had flagged up an Interpol "red notice" to all UK police forces that the whereabouts of Assange were being sought.
Police sources said Assange would be arrested if they discovered his precise location. The 39-year-old is believed to be in the UK.
A Soca source said: "If there is intelligence or information to say he is in a said location, then that will be acted upon. With a red notice issue it means he's on the radar, on police force systems. Law enforcement Plc is looking for him."
Assange's lawyer issued a statement calling the charges "persecution" and said that the nomadic hacker had cooperated with Swedish prosecutors.
On a somewhat unrelated note, those seeking clues into Assange's political motivations would be well-advised to check out this essay from 2006, around the time of WikiLeaks' founding, posted by the website Cryptome. Under the title, "State and Terrorist Conspiracies," Assange lays out his vision of information warfare:
To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we
have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must
think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes
that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.
This passage seems particularly applicable to the latest leak:
Conspiracies take information about the world in which they operate (the conspiratorial
environment), pass it around the conspirators and then act on the
result. We can see conspiracies as a type of device that has inputs (information
about the environment) and outputs (actions intending to change or maintain
Traditional attacks on conspiratorial power groupings, such as assassination,
cut many high weight links. The act of assassination -- the targeting of visible
individuals, is the result of mental inclinations honed for the pre-literate societies
in which our species evolved.
Literacy and the communications revolution have empowered conspirators
with new means to conspire, increasing the speed of accuracy of the their interactions
and thereby the maximum size a conspiracy may achieve before it
Conspirators who have this technology are able to out conspire conspirators
without it. For the same costs they are able to achieve a higher total conspiratorial
power. That is why they adopt it.
In addition to questioning Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's mental state, the health of Bolivia's firebrand President Evo Morales also comes up in the WikiLeaks document dump (The WikiLeaks website appears to be down at the moment but I'll add a link to the original cable once it become available):
The U.S. ambassador in Brazil said in a January 2009 dispatch that Brazil's defense minister had confirmed a rumor that the leftist leader was suffering from "a serious sinus tumor" that might explain "why Morales has seemed unfocussed and not his usual self" at recent meetings.
Ambassador Clifford Sobel quoted the Brazilian, Nelson Jobim, as saying that "surgery will be an effort to remove it" and that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva "had offered Morales an examination and treatment at a Sao Paulo hospital."
Morales underwent surgery in February 2009, but the official story was that he had a deviated septum as a result of a soccer injury. Morales' spokesman stuck by that line today, saying the cable "had a big dose of speculation."
AIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is loving WikiLeaks:
'Somebody should resign ... I'm not saying (President Barack) Obama, but they should do it out of shame ... It is their empire left naked. You should resign, Mrs Clinton, it's the least you can do,' Chavez said late Monday.
'This shows up the efforts of the United States to isolate this revolutionary soldier, but they will not manage it,' he told Venezuelan television.
The documents showed how the United States 'disrespects even its allies,' he said. 'This was signed by Clinton. Mrs Clinton thinks she is superior to Obama. Since she is white, she thinks she is superior to the black guy,' Chavez noted.
Chavez's political allies in Ecuador went even farther today, offering residence to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and praising his work.
Beyond reveling in the embarassment of the U.S. State Department, Chavez and friends actually don't have very much to celebrate in the cables. If anything, a leaked description of a conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon and senior French diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte only reinforces Chavez's increasing isolation:
Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "crazy" and said that even Brazil wasn't able to support him anymore. Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into another Zimbabwe.
Perhaps importantly, a dispatch from the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa from last June undercuts the widely-held belief within the Latin American left that the United States organized the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Bolivian President Evo Morales repeated this charge only last week at a speech attened by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But in the cable, written just days after the coup, the embassy is adamant that Zelay's ouster was illegal:
The Embassy perspective is that there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and
unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch, while accepting that there may be a prima facie case that Zelaya may have committed illegalities and may have even violated the constitution. There is equally no doubt from our perspective that Roberto Micheletti's assumption of power was illegitimate. Nevertheless, it is also evident that the constitution itself may be deficient in terms of providing clear procedures for dealing with alleged illegal acts by the President and resolving conflicts between the branches of government.
The cable goes on to refute the argument, later advanced by members of the U.S. Congress, that Zelaya's overthrow was consistent with the Honduran constition. True, the writer also suggests that the constitution may not have provided legal recourse for removing the president, but this is definitely not the smoking gun that Chavez was likely hoping for.
If any Latin American leader has a right to be upset at Clinton today, it's Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. A request for information from Clinton in December last year, reveals that the secretary had doubts about Kirchner's decision-making style and even her mental health:
HOW IS CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER MANAGING HER NERVES AND ANXIETY? HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT HER BEHAVIOR TOWARD ADVISORS AND/OR HER DECISIONMAKING? WHAT STEPS DOES CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER OR HER ADVISERS/HANDLERS, TAKE IN HELPING HER DEAL WITH STRESS? IS SHE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS? UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES IS SHE BEST ABLE TO HANDLE STRESSES? HOW DO CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER,S EMOTIONS AFFECT HER DECISIONMAKING AND HOW DOES SHE CALM DOWN WHEN DISTRESSED?
For one thing, this picture just took on very differnet overtones.