Oy vey / Jemima

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  1. I knew it.
  3. ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  5. Date: Thu Mar 7 11:48:57 2013 EST
  6. Subject: Oy vey / Jemima
  9. Look at this! A letter sent on Friday from WikiLeaks 'ambassador' Joseph
  10. Farrell to Jemima Khan in response to her strange attack on Assange in the New
  11. Statesman. Khan's article followed criticism made by WikiLeaks about
  12. the title of a forth coming $2.5m Universal documentary, "We Steal
  13. Secrets: The story of WikiLeaks", in which Khan was given an "Executive
  14. Producer" credit.
  16. ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  17. Dear Jemima,
  19. As you can imagine, when I read your article in the New Statesman I was
  20. very surprised. I was also shocked, but most of all, I was disappointed.
  22. When you told me in September 2011 that Alex Gibney, who had been
  23. commissioned by Universal to do a WikiLeaks documentary, had approached
  24. you to offer you an Executive Producer position on his film I attempted
  25. to ask you subtly why you thought he was offering you the position. My
  26. exact words were: "Being called an Executive Producer on one of Alex
  27. Gibney's films is full of kudos and will certainly be very helpful in
  28. any further documentary projects. I am an inherent cynic (likely
  29. augmented by this work) but, if he is not asking for any production
  30. money, then it is purely a matter of branding and using your name as an
  31. endorsement." Before approaching you, Gibney had already been trying
  32. desperately to get an interview with Julian for more than half a year,
  33. since February 2011, and had thus far been unsuccessful. I feared he
  34. might have been using you, not because he valued your opinions on the
  35. film, or because he was likely to ever ask you to produce anything else
  36. with him in the future, but because he needed access to Julian. In
  37. fact, just two months before the film premiered at Sundance you said to
  38. me that you were "getting my agent to insist I see the finished Gibney
  39. doc". That, in itself, struck me as an executive producer with very
  40. limited executive power.  
  42. Without access and without original interview footage, Gibney needed a
  43. tool to legitimise his film and add credibility to it. And, in the
  44. absence of the exclusive interview with Julian, what better way than to
  45. have the journalist celebrity who is publicly known to be a friend of
  46. Julian named in the credits? I am certain you were aware of that risk,
  47. because when you told me you were accepting the Executive Producer role
  48. you said: "I will still try to persuade Julian (via you) to cooperate
  49. (as I have done in the past) not because I'm now officially involved in
  50. the film – it's not contingent upon any access to Julian – but because
  51. I genuinely think he needs friends not enemies now".
  53. From the moment Gibney approached us we did extensive research into
  54. him. We looked deep and took advice from people who knew him and some
  55. who had worked with him. Every colleague, ally, friend and even the
  56. documentarians we spoke to advised us against an interview with Gibney.
  57. Yet we were open to talks, we were ready for dialogue, and we engaged
  58. with him and with Alexis Bloom, his producer. None of our meetings
  59. allayed our fears that their piece was not going to be the true story.
  60. They did not appear genuine to us and they seemed to have many
  61. prejudices about Julian and the organisation. Their angle favoured
  62. sensationalism from the beginning, an angle I would have thought you
  63. would oppose had you had any influence on the picture.
  65. Julian has had significant relationships with hundreds of people. Your
  66. list of so-called alienated and disaffected allies is not long: your
  67. article mentions nine people, one of whom Julian has never actually
  68. even met.
  70. You list Mark Stephens, an internationally little-known media lawyer
  71. who had a contractual dispute with Julian and who charged Julian more
  72. than half a million pounds for a magistrate's court case defence. Yet
  73. you overlook Gareth Peirce, "the doyenne of British defence lawyers";
  74. Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional
  75. Rights and other lawyers at the CCR; Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish
  76. judge; Jennifer Robinson, who left Mark Stephens' firm over the issue;
  77. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Geoffrey Robertson QC, the acclaimed human
  78. rights lawyer whose table you sit at regularly; John Jones; Julian
  79. Burnside SC and Julian's other lawyers in Australia; his lawyers in
  80. Ecuador; the Icelandic lawyers; the Danish lawyers; the Washington
  81. lawyers; or any of the rest of an international team of dozens of
  82. lawyers who represent or advise Julian and WikiLeaks.
  84. You list Jamie Byng, who published an unprepared, unapproved,
  85. unfinished manuscript that had not been fact-checked without Julian's
  86. knowledge, but you do not mention Colin Robinson or John Oakes of OR
  87. Books, with whom Julian has published a successful and acclaimed book
  88. without any problems or disagreements. Neither do you mention the more
  89. than fifteen other publishers who are releasing his Cypherpunks book in
  90. various languages, or indeed the publishers of Underground with whom he
  91. has maintained a good relationship for more than fifteen years.
  93. You list Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who sabotaged WikiLeaks' anonymous
  94. online submission system, first stole and then deleted more than 3,000
  95. submissions evidencing, inter alia, war crimes, corruption and bank
  96. fraud. He also started a rival organisation, OpenLeaks, a still-born
  97. branding exercise with zero publications. His entire livelihood is
  98. earned by constantly backstabbing the man who fired him.
  100. You list a person, who you incorrectly describe as "the technical whizz
  101. behind much of the WikiLeaks platform", who was in actual fact a
  102. technician contracted to upgrade our submission platform according to
  103. Julian's architectural design specifications. He was first referred to
  104. in Domscheit-Berg's book as "the architect", a propaganda term invented
  105. by Domscheit-Berg for his book well after he was suspended from
  106. WikiLeaks. The term is clearly designed as an attempt to steal Julian's
  107. creative authority. But you are correct that this is the way that he is
  108. portrayed in Daniel Domscheit-Berg's book, which contains numerous
  109. falsehoods. I am, as I have always been, at your disposal to clarify
  110. those stories that are promoted in an attempt to harm WikiLeaks and
  111. Julian and to give you the true facts. Had I known you had an interest
  112. in the architectural make-up of the submissions platform and its coding
  113. genesis, I could have explained this to you further in person.
  115. You list the Guardian and the New York Times, the two organisations who
  116. broke their agreements with us. One of the contractual clauses that the
  117. Guardian broke was to disclose a password that unlocked a list to all
  118. the diplomatic cables, which it published in its book in an act of
  119. gross negligence. Both the Guardian and the New York Times have written
  120. factually incorrect books about us to whitewash their deceitful
  121. actions, which they continue to profit from and promote. You don't,
  122. however, mention the 110 media partners with whom we have ongoing
  123. working relationships, some of whom have also written books about
  124. WikiLeaks but who donate all the profits to us, as a gesture and in
  125. solidarity to help us circumvent a banking blockade that has eroded the
  126. majority of our resources.
  128. Why don't you list the hundreds of activists, researchers and
  129. publishers who play a day-to-day role in WikiLeaks' operations – the
  130. technicians who maintain servers; the developers, mathematicians and
  131. cryptographers who build new search interfaces and oversee the internal
  132. security protocol; those who curate data for us; the investigators who
  133. corroborate submitted material; or the managers and administrators who
  134. plan and bring projects to fruition?
  136. Why don't you list the allies and friends across the world who enjoy a
  137. close personal relationship with Julian and who are part of the same
  138. support community that you once were – the more than 150 people you
  139. spent time with at Julian's private 40th birthday party, to which
  140. Julian was generous enough to invite even Alex Gibney?
  142. Is it because they do not seek acclaim in the press and because they do
  143. not say negative things about Julian, and hence have zero currency in
  144. the news?
  146. As to falling out with Alex Gibney, Julian never fell out with him –
  147. Gibney was never a friend in the first place so there was never any
  148. relationship to fall apart. Alex Gibney was just another one in a long
  149. list of people trying to cash in on Julian and WikiLeaks. You may
  150. remember me saying how utterly offensive I find it that there are all
  151. these people out there who are benefiting financially from Julian,
  152. while the organisation suffers a banking blockade and lawyers have
  153. eaten away all of his personal funds.
  155. You asked me for a response to David Allen Green's article on 20th
  156. August 2012 and I told you that it was being produced. I told you that
  157. your request for this response did not go directly to Julian as you
  158. thought it had, but instead that it came to me. My email to you after
  159. we met said: "I will get you a response to the DAG article and, as I
  160. said, blame me, not him, for the lack of response." What you asked for
  161. was not as simple as you thought, which was that Julian could probably
  162. rattle off the legal sections and sub-sections by heart – the response
  163. was far more complicated than that.
  165. I have attached it. It is 55,972 words long, which is roughly 70 per
  166. cent of the length of a doctoral thesis. Julian's legal defence
  167. committee prioritised this and asked a person to look into the
  168. arguments in depth, in order to produce a compelling response due to
  169. the harm caused by David Allen Green's misinformation. It was
  170. peer-reviewed and revised and took six months to produce for you – a
  171. time resource that does not come cheap to a defence committee that has
  172. to deal with simultaneous challenges, David Allen Green being just one.
  173. Something of this length and detail ought to have taken three years to
  174. produce.
  176. I did not merely tell you that Julian was "very busy". You know that.
  177. What I did say was that he was very busy and that we were a very small
  178. core team. Your email asking for a response to the David Allen Green
  179. piece was written the day after Julian made his first speech in public
  180. since he had entered the embassy, four days after he formally obtained
  181. asylum and only five days after the embassy was surrounded by more than
  182. 50 Metropolitan police who were preparing to force their way into the
  183. diplomatic mission to get him. On top of this, we were still publishing
  184. the Syria Files and we had just begun a new release, the Detainee
  185. Policies. I told you that since the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay
  186. prison facility none of the world's media and none of the world's NGOs
  187. had released a single Guantanamo Bay Manual, and we had just released
  188. our third. During all of this, we were also dealing with the vitriol
  189. coming from the UK establishment media while Julian was having his
  190. asylum claim evidence reviewed. He was (and still is) in fear of being
  191. extradited onwards to the United States, he had not been outside in
  192. more than two months, and he was overseeing the publication of hundreds
  193. of thousands of documents.
  195. Over a lunch you questioned this fear of extradition to the US, and
  196. when I asked you what you would do in his position you refused to
  197. answer the question. I asked you more than six times what you would do
  198. in his shoes. Having offered to cooperate with the Swedish
  199. investigation non-stop for the past two years and been refused with no
  200. proper explanation, and believing that you would end up in an American
  201. prison for decades, in solitary confinement and under SAMs, what would
  202. you do? You never gave me a concrete answer. Instead, you skirted the
  203. question with another question and discounted the numerous legal
  204. opinions out there, favouring instead an article by David Allen Green.
  205. I reiterated that Julian had never said that it would be likely in
  206. practice that he would face the death penalty, although the Espionage
  207. Act permits this. But more to the point, and one that everyone always
  208. ignores, there was (and still is) the fear of being extradited to face
  209. life imprisonment and almost certainly torture or other inhumane and
  210. degrading treatment for his publishing activities.
  212. I told you that the Swedish authorities could, if they wanted to,
  213. charge Julian in absentia. Even if they were to do that, they should,
  214. according to their own procedures, conduct an interview with him before
  215. requesting his extradition. I repeated that he remains available even
  216. in the embassy for questioning by the Swedish authorities should they
  217. wish to employ the standard procedures they use regularly in other
  218. cases.
  220. I explained to you how the argument that "he is no more vulnerable to
  221. extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK" is a red
  222. herring. I explained why the US had not already requested his
  223. extradition from the UK, because this would create a case of competing
  224. extradition requests that the Home Secretary would have to judicially
  225. review and prioritise one over the other, thereby creating political
  226. embarrassment for a major ally whichever way the decision went. I cited
  227. the US Ambassador's own admission that the US would wait to see what
  228. happened with the Swedish case before they made a move. I was careful
  229. to explain this with Jennifer Robinson present to add a legal
  230. perspective if needed. However, in spite of this explanation, you
  231. allowed this claim not only to go into your article but also to remain
  232. in Gibney's film – expressed in remarks made by Baroness Helena Kennedy
  233. QC that have been misleadingly edited to remove their proper context.
  234. She has since said that she "did not expect that he [Gibney] would
  235. fillet my interview" and also says "I regret thinking I could present a
  236. sensible perspective".
  238. Irrespective of my explanations and those of two lawyers whose counsel
  239. you seek yourself, you could have spoken to Julian in person. He did
  240. call you – more than once. You could have called back. You could have
  241. come to visit him to check on his well-being, as many others have done.
  242. On that note, you were never invited just for a "photo opportunity".
  243. You were invited to the embassy by us in September but you heard that
  244. there was a paparazzi waiting outside the embassy. This is no great
  245. surprise following the biggest diplomatic incident in recent years.
  246. However, you knew about it beforehand and avoided it. Then I relayed a
  247. request from Vivienne Westwood's team, asking you if you would model
  248. her "I am Julian Assange" t-shirt at her fashion show. The request came
  249. after you had already said you were unavailable even to attend her
  250. show. This was her idea and her request. She was trying to do something
  251. to help us and thought you would want to do the same. You were also
  252. invited to visit Julian shortly after he entered the embassy on 22nd
  253. June; for tea and cake on his birthday on 3rd July; for a sureties'
  254. get-together in late July; for afternoon tea on 11th September and
  255. again on the 9th October; and for a breakfast meeting on the 21st
  256. December. All of which you declined. These are all times when you could
  257. have asked Julian in person about your issues. As you will recall from
  258. your discussion the last time you saw him, in December 2011, he enjoys
  259. debate and disagreement. How do you know that Julian had not seen the
  260. Gibney film by the time it premiered? We do not steal secrets but
  261. people leak things to us. Irrespective of the "ironic" meaning behind
  262. the title of the film you claim it has, it will not be understood by
  263. the general public with that meaning. What they will see is a
  264. straightforward conjunction of a quote, a proper noun and the word
  265. "story", and they will read it as such. It is tantamount to someone
  266. doing a documentary about you and calling it "I am a War Apologist: The
  267. Jemima Khan Story" because they had interviewed someone completely
  268. unrelated to you and quoted them saying "I am a war apologist".
  270. It is one thing to publicly disagree with someone, or even to distance
  271. oneself in public from a former ally, but it is quite another to use
  272. one's own publication to the further harm of a political refugee
  273. suffering the persecution of a superpower. I imagine you must have
  274. vetted the magazine cover, which claims that Julian is 'alone'. Julian
  275. is not alone. That New Statesman front page was used to harm the entire
  276. WikiLeaks project out of disaffection. It was also an attempt to cast a
  277. shadow on all his allies. And yet you were the one who said: "he needs
  278. friends not enemies…". Julian has both friends and enemies. He does not
  279. need or seek friends who only agree with him (in fact, I have not met
  280. one non-argumentative friend of his) but he certainly does not need
  281. friends who are in fact enemies.
  283. From the point of view of defending a film in which you feature as
  284. "Executive Producer", your actions are straightforward: your name is on
  285. the credits of a dated WikiLeaks documentary with a prejudicial title
  286. which features all the hostile people who haven't had anything to do
  287. with WikiLeaks in years. You chose a production credit over principle
  288. and in doing so attacked a vulnerable political activist and fellow
  289. journalist, something which I know to be beneath you.
  291. In disappointment,
  293. Joseph Farrell
  295. (David Allen Green response is now on
  296. )
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