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Will Assange have time to expose U.S. banks before he heads to the slammer?
Julian Assange, founder of hacker/whistleblower group WikiLeaks, has been placed on a red-notice wanted list by Interpol. The notice was issued late Tuesday and while Interpol says that it is not an international arrest warrant, it is meant to act as a flag to get the now-infamous whistleblower extradited to Sweden, where he faces crimes of sexual misconduct.
Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens is calling the notice an act of persecution, claiming that both Assange and his attorneys have heard nothing of the sexual misconduct allegations beyond what they’ve heard from the press. Furthermore, Stephens claims, Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, but his requests have been denied.
The notice follows Assange’s most recent announcement that the next load of dirty laundry to air will be that of U.S. banks in early 2011. In his interview with Forbes earlier this week, Assange explained that there is one bank in particular—a large U.S. bank—that committed wide-scale “unethical practices”:
It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.
Usually when you get leaks at this level, it's about one particular case or one particular violation. For this, there's only one similar example. It's like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.
This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that comes out, and that's tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.
You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it's also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that's not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they're fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.
Some are coming to their own conclusions: Bank of America. Many are so sure that Bank of America is the dirty bank of which Assange speaks that its share prices fell 3.18% on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, three days after WikiLeaks began releasing the globally anticipated top secret U.S. Embassy cables, the site is still inaccessible, which Assange has attributed to a denial-of-service attack to keep the documents from becoming available to the public.
Having planned for that in advance, Assange sent the cables to The New York Times, among several other major newspapers around the world, who published several of the cables on Sunday. Among the cables are memos signed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking U.S. diplomats to get “biographic and biometric information” on top North Korean diplomats. Assange has called for Clinton’s resignation on the grounds that she ordered U.S. diplomats to engage in espionage in the United Nations. White House Press Secretary Robert Gates calls Assange’s statements “both ridiculous and absurd.”
Image source: guim.co.uk
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