The conversation turned to sandwich spreads. They were more interested in that than in me. Two years later, when I was back in Wiesbaden visiting my parents, they recognized me. They had seen my face on TV. But back to Sometimes I would glance over at the pile and laugh to myself. The employees at Hazelnut had no idea that one of those WikiLeaks people described in those articles was none other than the haggard, poorly shaven guy in printed T-shirts who bought his breakfast cream from them every day.
Anonymous was an international group of Net activists who had declared war on Scientology. The members of the group could be recognized by the Guy Fawkes mask they have borrowed from the graphic novel V for Vendetta. Guy Fawkes was an English revolutionary who tried to blow up the British Parliament in , and the protagonists in V for Vendetta wore masks with a likeness of his face. Members of Anonymous also used Guy Fawkes masks whenever they appeared in YouTube videos or public acts of protest. The masks with their pointy beards and horri cally frozen grins are somewhat unsettling.
Scientology has no qualms about persecuting ordinary citizens who protest against their machinations. We are only protecting ourselves against intimidation and harassment. The Scientology organization is incredibly wealthy. It has an unbelievable team of lawyers at its disposal and is known for its nuisance lawsuits. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us! The sect had been able to muzzle a lot of people who wanted to reveal its secrets. With WikiLeaks, insiders had the chance to publish their information without the risk of Scientology guring out who they were and suing them.
And I was riveted. At each level, members are required to pay a hefty fee for the training they receive. Thetans are curious creatures. The story goes that millions of years ago our solar system, which consisted of seventy-six planets, was su ering from overpopulation. An intergalactic warrior named Xenu traveled throughout the galaxies on a mission to save the day. He then had them killed here on Earth by putting them all inside a Hawaiian volcano and detonating a hydrogen bomb. What could be more logical!
Ever since, Thetans have wandered the Earth as spirits in search of primitive people whose bodies they can attach themselves to in order to regain material form. Ron Hubbard, claimed in radio broadcasts from the s, which we also published, that he was several hundred million years old and that he was traveling the galaxy to observe things. Probably because it is felt that such nonsense would be too much for new members, the sect only imparts this information when members have reached a certain point on the career ladder.
In order to be clued in about the existence of aliens, for example, a member usually has to have reached a level requiring a cumulative payment of fees to Scientology equivalent to the cost of a single-family home.
In this perverse sense, the books that we published on our site were worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is like a Scientology juvenile detention center. Scientology also runs a eet of ships consisting of cruise liners. Anyone who fails to live up to expectations on these ships can be sent to the RFP unit.
There a member may undergo a series of absurd punishments. For example, a member may be forced to wear a black rubber full-body suit and be isolated from the rest of the crew. He may be allowed to eat only after everyone else is through with their meals, and get only the scraps left behind by his fellow members. He may not be allowed to move at a normal pace, but rather be forced to run around. In particularly bad cases, he would be forced to run around in circles on deck, no matter how hot it gets in the rubber suit.
He may have to empty the latrines onboard or carry out likewise degrading tasks that other members can assign to him at any time.
He may be allowed to resume other activities—for instance, his own spiritual development—once he has carried out his punitive assignments. In , a young woman named Lisa McPherson died while under the sway of Scientology. Her death unleashed the rst signi cant wave of outrage against the sect, which until then had been relatively unknown. The woman was subjected to a so-called Introspection Rundown in one of the rehabilitation units.
We were the rst people ever to publish the concrete procedures for this, as laid out by Scientology. Isolation is supposed to teach them to free themselves from their situation. But for a person su ering a psychological crisis, isolation can be fatal. This was the case with Lisa McPherson. The coroner also determined she had been given far too little to drink. Dehydration and being con ned to bed led to a thrombosis that went undetected or untreated. McPherson died of a respiratory embolism. Scientologists handed over her body, which was in very poor condition, to a hospital in Florida on December 5, But the charges were dropped when the medical examiner ultimately determined that her death was accidental.
The deal remains undisclosed. On those lists were companies that ran hiring tests for other rms and for social-service organizations—among them, one responsible for combating drug addiction in the United States. The members of Anonymous were a great help to us in structuring this material. They organized and sorted the way we presented it on the Internet and provided a lot of useful information. I spoke to some of them on the telephone. I was always running to call shops in the middle of the night to phone American or British numbers.
I would stand in a call box, leaning against the woodchip wall, surrounded by the comforting chatter in German of Arab, Indian, or African exiles, and listen to horror stories from the lives of ex-Scientologists. Sometimes these calls went into the wee hours of the morning. I kept it beside the phone as I tried to calm down the unknown individual on the other end of the line.
One of them said he feared for his life after leaving Sea Org. The next one wanted to know how he could get us video material. Others just wanted to talk.
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Actually, all of them wanted to talk. I was a pro when it came to questions of security. The call-shop employees were no doubt used to dubious-looking characters who wanted to make their calls with complete anonymity. But I was an especially frequent customer. I probably still have around a hundred SIM cards lying around at home, stored in lm containers. Most practical for my purposes were the preregistered cards that are widely available under the counter.
There was no way anyone could tell who was calling whom. Transferring documents was also secure. We took care that controversial documents were sent through so many detours, encryptions, and anonymizing procedures, and were accompanied by such a large amount of white noise as a diversion, that no one could trace where they came from.
We were likewise unable to contact our sources, even in cases when clari cations were urgently necessary. The sender left no traces on the Web, not even the smallest ngerprint or data fragment. The informants did not have to fear any lawsuits. We, on the other hand, hoped that Scientology would try to sue us. At the time, there were monthly anti- Scientology protests in almost every major city. But the leaders of the sect were either cleverer than our adversaries at the bank or lucky enough to come after them. Ron Hubbard. In older recordings, he was shown or heard holding talks at universities in which he told his audience that he was millions of years old and was traveling from planet to planet to check that everything was OK.
At rst people laughed. But by the end of any given broadcast, you sensed that an almost friendly relationship had built up between Hubbard and the listeners in the auditorium. Hubbard had a special talent. He was a captivating storyteller, knew how to laugh at himself, and could serve up even the most absurd stories with a straight face. During this period, Julian and I used to joke about whether it would make sense for us to found a religion. It would have solved a lot of problems. The guys from Anonymous helped us present the Scientology leaks.
They prepared the site so that readers could nd their way more easily through the deluge of documents. They were all volunteers. We could have bene ted from something similar for lots of other material, but in general it was hard to motivate outsiders to work with us. It was becoming increasingly clear that we were not going to be able to handle everything ourselves. New people were constantly getting in touch via the chat room and o ering to help.
But how could we know that they stood for the same ideals we did? An all-consuming religion would have simpli ed a lot of things. Those who worked for Scientology were highly motivated, despite the sometimes hair-raising conditions in which they lived and worked. Scientology took everything they had to give, and when their money ran out, people would mortgage their houses and sell o their belongings.
Or they could do work for Scientology. In return, they received neither a pension nor a vacation—members sometimes even signed over their insurance policies to the sect. Looking back, I ask myself whether WikiLeaks itself has developed into a kind of religious cult. Anything that went wrong had to be the fault of something on the outside. The guru was beyond question. The danger had to be external. This mind-set encouraged internal cohesion. Anyone who o ered too much criticism was punished by having his rights suspended or by being threatened with possible consequences.
Moreover, WL participants were only allowed to know as much as was absolutely necessary for them to carry out their appointed tasks. In any case, this much can be said: From reading the Scientology documents, and the philosophy and teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, Julian learned only too well how a cult of personality functions.
UR work brought us in contact with cults, clandestine operations, O judicial trickery, and marketing strategies, and we learned a lot from the people we were fighting against. In late , while being pursued by Swedish prosecutors, Julian would apply for asylum in Switzerland, the very country we had sought to nail for its banking secrecy laws and cowardly politicians. The next terrain in which we were forced to nd our feet was the press landscape.
From the media we tried to learn how to manipulate public opinion. The latter was far too time-consuming! At rst, I would cheerfully provide information on every little mishap, but the public has a short memory. All that counted was the next story. One day a journalist from a left-wing newspaper in Berlin asked whether our IT and legal system in Sweden really would stand up to a serious test. It, after all, was the basis of assurances of protection we gave to our sources.
In fact, there was a chink in our security that we had overlooked. Julian thought the majority of journalists were idiots. The strategy worked. To create the impression of unassailability to the outside world, you only had to make the context as complicated and confusing as possible. To that end, I would make my explanations of technical issues to journalists as complex as I could. It was the same principle used by terrorists and bureaucrats. Modern-day customer relations works in a similar way.
A customer who wants to complain but can never nd anyone responsible to talk to ultimately has no choice but to swallow his anger. For us, the important thing was not how something really was, but how one sold it. Addressing a problem, to say nothing of taking a public stance toward it, would have meant making it a reality. For a long time, Julian had great success with his strategy of ignoring problems until they disappeared. Over the course of time, we also learned which journalists to work with to ensure that our news attracted maximum attention.
When in doubt, we prioritized newspapers or programs that could guarantee us a larger and more varied audience over those that were better informed and asked cleverer questions but were only read by people who were on our side to begin with. In late , we published more than 10, pages of secret contracts between the German government and Daimler-Benz, Deutsche Telekom, and the French highway company Cofiroute—a joint venture called Toll Collect. The sum in question was more than a billion euros, and there was no way revenues were going to live up to German government assurances.
Taxpayers would inevitably be left footing the bill. Everyone involved agreed that the content of those contracts should not be made public. We decided to provide our material exclusively to two journalists, who would then analyze and summarize it. In our experience, complicated leaks—and the Toll Collect contract material was enormously complicated—had to be published by the traditional media in digestible chunks. No matter how explosive our revelations were, if no one presented them to the general public, they would languish, neglected, on our website.
As partners we chose the IT journalist Detlef Borchers, who had already written a lot about the topic for a German publisher specializing in computing issues, and Hans-Martin Tillack, a reporter for the weekly magazine Stern and an experienced, prizewinning journalist. We hoped that working with Stern would allow us to reach the broadest possible audience.
The o ce was on the seventh or eighth oor, and from his windows there was a good view of this busy shopping and business square in the heart of the German capital. Tillack was sitting in front of his imposing bookshelves, his hands folded in front of his stomach.
He was an impatient man of forty-nine who was fully absorbed in his role as the experienced star journalist. Still, while he may have treated me like a schoolboy, I could see the glimmer in his eyes the rst time I took a copy of the Toll Collect contracts from my bag. Tillack assured me that WikiLeaks would have a prominent place in his article.
It was important to me for him to explain how WikiLeaks functioned as a platform and what the project was about. But when I called him later to ask whether he needed any additional information from me, he got irritated and I became concerned that WikiLeaks might not get a sufficient credit. Ultimately, the article he wrote was a great disappointment, as he implied that the story was primarily based on his own investigative research.
There was no background information about WikiLeaks. We only came in for a mention late in the main body of the article: The contract material was transmitted to the proprietors of the website WikiLeaks, which specializes in secret documents and which plans to put the contracts online in their entirety. I tried to stay calm. What was I getting so upset about?
The response he sent me after my rst complaint about the article spoke volumes: It was the maximum I could get. My bosses asked me why we had [to] mention WikiLeaks at all. Regards, Hans-Martin Tillack However, we also had lots of good experiences with the media. The business newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, for instance, honored all their agreements, and so did Zeit Online when we gave them the eld report about the bombing of two hijacked tanker trucks in Kunduz a couple of hours before we posted them on WL.
At the time, the report about possible mistakes by German colonel Georg Klein was already in the possession of a handful of well-connected German newspapers and magazines. But instead of making all the information available to the general public, they had smugly chosen to cite only small snippets. Zeit Online wrote about the report comprehensively and directed readers to the full version of it on WL so they could make up their minds for themselves. This was the role we were often to play in the future. We made source documents, from which the media cited only excerpts, available in their entirety.
Other media either lacked the proper platforms to do this themselves or they feared legal consequences, or, what was probably more often the case, individual journalists simply did not want to share exclusive material with their colleagues. We were forced to learn which topics would make a splash in the media and which would attract less interest. The two-page Stern article on Toll Collect, for instance, had been followed by a much-longer, meandering report about alternative religion and was most notable for its illustrations: photos of naked women smoking cigars.
We had to accept that the most signi cant leaks were not always the ones that attracted public attention. What was leaked there was hardly scandalous. At the most, Palin could have been criticized for having used her private account to send internal party messages. Her account also contained a family portrait and some private photos of her children. But the media never tired of talking over the leak.
But releasing the material was in keeping with our philosophy of publishing all documents uncensored. It was also part of our larger strategy. With every leak, we tried to extend the frontiers of what we could do into previously unknown terrain. Then we would push ahead in the same direction with our next leak. What is public, and what is private? We were trying to stir up controversy about this very question.
We were convinced that we were strengthening the project by pushing the limits of what was acceptable, and getting our way in the end. We became increasingly brazen. No one could shut us down. If I had to name my favorite leaks from that year, these les would de nitely be among them. They read like a case study in corruption and can be easily understood by laymen. We published ninety-six pages of investigations carried out by police and prosecutors. They detailed the practices used by some pharmaceutical company representatives.
If doctors prescribed their patients those products, they received a cut of the additional pro ts. Moreover, there were direct payments. But because an internal judicial inquiry had concluded that licensed doctors could not be charged with corruption in this case, the investigations had largely been suspended by the time of the leak. Public interest in the files was scant.
I also recall an interesting encounter I had on a program with a woman named Katrin Bauerfeind. She had begun her career with a German Internet program and had moved on to host a show of her own on the German-Swiss-Austrian network 3sat. I was invited as a guest on the program and drove to Cologne for the interview. When taping was over, her editor said she was struck by how optimistic I was and how much I believed other people were capable of.
I do indeed have a basically positive view of human nature. I think that people have an innate interest in being informed but are kept in a state of ignorance by the media, the politicians, and their bosses. If you provide people su cient background information, they are capable of behaving correctly and making the right decisions, I told the editor.
Things were very di erent in her experience, she replied. When I watched the show afterward, I had to ponder the age-old question of the chicken and the egg.
The program was thirty minutes long, of which ten were devoted to me. But the show did make me ask which came rst: bad programming or a bad audience. Perhaps all one had to do was put the audience back in a position to demand better programming. Other leaks attracted little immediate interest but went on to inspire long-term analyses and scienti c publications in expert journals. One example was our publication of all the text messages sent on September 11, , before, during, and after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Researchers examined the messages, searching for key terms indicating sadness, fear, and anger.
They concluded that the predominant emotion was anger and that, compared to words like sadness or fear, expressions of aggression increased in the days following the terrorist attacks. Others were interested in our publications about the Human Terrain System, which entails anthropologists helping the US military to adapt their propaganda to speci c countries and cultures and steer relations with local populaces.
The American Congress has its own scienti c intelligence service, which any congressman can use to obtain information. The reports issued by the service are painstaking and high-quality, covering topics from the cotton industry in Mexico to weapons of mass destruction in China. Scientists would love to have access to these reports, which are paid for with taxpayer money. But the congressmen themselves decide on whether a given report gets published or not. Most of the time, they refuse permission. The reasons vary.
One is that the reports show when a particular congressman knew about a speci c topic and make his interests in general transparent. There was a similar case in Germany with a government study on private health insurance. In exactly the same sense, if published, a CRS report can show that legislation sponsored by a congressman is misguided, or that his positions are wrong and his administrative activities poorly organized. In any case, the reports had long occupied the top spot on the most wanted list of the Center for Democracy and Technology CDT , a prominent American civil-rights organization specializing in technology and politics.
We posted thousands of CRS reports on our page. In terms of the tax money that went into producing them, they were worth more than a billion dollars. Demand was correspondingly high. After a bit of time, we used Google to check where the reports had ended up. We found them, among other places, on government servers.
That was an ironic triumph, and the open-data movement, which was becoming increasingly recognized at the time, was delighted. McCain was a far more vigorous proponent of open government data than Barack Obama, even if Obama got more credit for his open government initiatives. At the time, we considered whether to put a watermark on our documents to prevent journalists from using our material without referencing us.
Quite often, stories would suddenly appear in the media without WL being named as a source just after we had published similar leaks. A request from an original document would have revealed whether someone was using our source. But watermarks would have been too difficult technically. I myself often wear T-shirts with the Pirate Bay logo and support progressive concepts of copyright. But there was more to our considerations than pure copyright interests. In some cases, we were concerned about being able to supplement documents with vital additional information or to prevent media sources from linking to documents that create false impressions if read without commentary.
That was why we wrote summaries and occasionally o ered judgments about the quality of our material. A good example of what could happen with directly linked documents was the leak of the Memorandum of Understanding. Two documents, a genuine one and a fake one, were contained in the memorandum. The fake one suggested that Obama supported the introduction of Sharia law in Kenya, which was absurd. It was interesting to see which publications linked to which document, since one was clearly aimed at portraying Obama as a covert African Muslim and thereby depicting him as un t to become president of the American people.
The fake appeared in the New York Sun and various publications of the far right. All that the other document revealed was that Obama knew about the memorandum.
If the documents had only existed as a complete package with watermarks and commentary, we would have been able to stop others in the media from using them to manipulate public opinion. In December , we were once again attending the Chaos Communication Congress. Nine hundred people, and not just twenty, now wanted to hear Julian speak. More than once, a cracking voice came across the hall loudspeakers, asking people to please not block the emergency exits.
The requests were in vain. People were crowding the stairs and the hallway leading to the conference room. I found myself asking whether anyone except me noticed that Julian was wearing exactly the same clothes as the year before: a white shirt and olive-green cargo pants. But that was nonsense. None of the people now in attendance could have remembered us. We got a few laughs when we read an e-mail of complaint we had received a few days previously from the German Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND.
The head of the BND, Ernst Uhrlau, had gotten in touch personally—something he later denied, since it was quite unprofessional. The e-mail was written in German. It read [translated] : To: WikiLeaks jabber. I hereby demand that you immediately block this ability. I have already ordered a review of possible criminal consequences. Uhrlau, We have several BND-related reports. Could you be more precise?
Thank you. We kindly ask you again to remove the le immediately and all other les or reports related to the BND as well. Otherwise we will press for immediate criminal prosecution. Whenever someone demanded that we remove a document as quickly as possible, we always asked, under the pretense of a friendly request for clari cation, whether the person who complained could prove he held the copyright to the material in question.
Some of the people we dealt with were nice enough to provide us with a screenshot as evidence of ownership. We would then post that screenshot as well, secretly grateful that our adversaries were doing our job for us. Someone had sent us an internal paper from the German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom, listing two dozen secret IP addresses used by the BND to surf the Internet. We played a little game with them.
Using the WikiScanner, one can trace what changes have been made to Wikipedia entries from any given IP address. Originally the entry had stated that many Goethe Institute o ces were used as uno cial points of contact by the BND. Had this been to set a trap using a femme fatale, as in the good old days of the Cold War?
Or had someone at the BND been feeling lonely and ordered the women for himself? Every time he grabbed hold of the microphone, he yanked out the video connection from the computer so that the screen went blank. After the lectures, I usually retreated to a sofa in the lounge to relax and watch the people owing past.
Julian tirelessly worked the other rooms in the Berliner Congress Center, always hoping to be discovered and approached. This was typical of him. Usually, all he carried with him was his backpack with his two notebook computers and a bunch of cell-phone chargers—although he could seldom nd the one he needed. He wore several layers of clothing. Ashen-faced, silent, and sick, we sped back to Wiesbaden in an overcrowded high-speed train on January 1, No sooner had we gotten back to my apartment, than the u forced us to take to our beds.
Or to be more precise, since I was feeling a bit better, I let Julian have my bed and withdrew to a mattress. Julian pulled on all the clothes he could nd and even shed some ski pants out of his backpack. Dressed like this, he went to bed, wrapped himself in two more woolen blankets of mine, and sweated out his fever.
He was healthy again when he got up two days later. I lived in the Westend district of Wiesbaden. The district had the advantage of having more cell-phone shops than supermarkets, and it was easy to purchase cheap handsets and cards. My apartment was a basement walk-down that faced out to the road. At rst the fact that people could look into my apartment made Julian pretty nervous.
We pulled down the blind—a transparent, yellow paper thing with a Tibetan ag I had pinned in the middle. It let through a fuzzy warm light. You might call it secondhand sunlight. I liked it. After getting over our bout of u, we worked alongside each other peacefully and diligently. We would sit in my living room, typing away at our laptops. I worked at the desk in the corner by the window, while Julian was ensconced in front of me on the sofa with his computer on his lap.
He usually wore his olive-green down jacket with the hood pulled up and a blanket wrapped around his legs. I was a bit worried about my sofa. He had turned the lovely brown velour Rolf Benz couch, which my parents had been intending to throw out and I had rescued from ending up on the garbage heap, into his preserve.
Julian ate everything with his hands, and he always wiped his ngers on his pants. I have never seen pants as greasy as his in my whole life. The sofa had survived the last thirty years. It was older than I was. I was afraid that it would take Julian just a few weeks to ruin it completely. Julian aspired to type completely blind.
It was almost meditative. When he replied to e-mails, for instance, he typed at a furious pace, moving through the various text elds without glancing at the screen once. The connections were infuriatingly slow because our communication with the outside world was encrypted and rendered anonymous by a number of mechanisms, and because our e-mails were sent via a remote computer rather than by our own laptops. If you typed something, it would take ages for it to appear on the screen. Julian was nevertheless determined to do work at double speed—with his eyes closed, you might say.
He nished what he was doing long before his computer did. We were already getting a few donations to our PayPal account and had gotten into the habit of sending out thank-you e-mails at regular intervals. In the e-mails we showed our appreciation, telling our supporters how important their contributions were and that they were investing in the freedom of information.
We took turns doing this job. So there he was, sitting on my sofa in the yellow light, wrapped in two blankets, rhythmically click-clacking away next to me, writing his e-mails. And there was precisely where Julian had slipped up. He had already pressed the Send button—thanks to his perfect way of working. This mistake bestowed on us our rst and only homegrown leak in February I will be happy to guide you through the process.
As chance would have it, one of the donors whom we had thanked on this occasion was a certain Adrian Lamo. He was the semi-famous ex-hacker responsible for the arrest of US Army private Bradley Manning, who has been accused of being one of our sources. Someone had sent us our own donor list as an o cial leak, along with a relatively unfriendly comment.
But Lamo would later confess that he was the one who had confronted us with our own blunder. For good or for evil, we were going to have to reveal it. It was interesting because we had spent some time philosophizing about what would happen if we were compelled to publish something about our own organization. We agreed that we had to release things that were bad as well as good publicity. In fact, our internal leak went down well with the press. At least we were consistent and none of the donors complained.
Julian often behaved as though he had been raised by wolves rather than by other human beings. Whenever I cooked, the food would not, for instance, end up being shared equally between us. What mattered was who was quicker o the mark. I wondered if I was being small-minded when things my mother used to say would pop into my mind occasionally. The fact that I took longer to eat my share was because I ate it with whole-grain bread and butter, while Julian preferred to eat his food without any accompaniments. He would eat meat or cheese or chocolate or bread. If he thought that citrus fruit would do him good, he would suck one lemon after another.
It was not that he had never learned any manners. Julian could be very polite when he wanted to. It was as if he wanted to make sure that they were safe. Julian was very paranoid. He was convinced that someone was watching my house, so he decided we should avoid ever being seen leaving or returning to the apartment together. I used to wonder what di erence that made. If someone had gone to the trouble of shadowing my apartment, he would have seen us together anyway.
He went the left way around while I went right. As a result, I often ended up waiting for him because he had gotten lost. I have never met anyone with such a bad sense of direction. Julian could walk into a telephone booth and forget which direction he had come from when he came out again.
He regularly managed to walk past the door to my apartment building. He used to walk up and down the street, looking left and right, trying to identify my front door, until at some point I came and collected him. Perpetually concerned with nding a new look and the perfect disguise, he had borrowed a blue East German sweatshirt from me and teamed it with a brown baseball cap.
I laughed to myself at his childlike urge to play. The next time that I went to look for him, he came around the corner dressed like this, with a wooden pallet on his shoulder. The pallet had come from a building site. Sometimes I think Julian had been overly in uenced by certain books, which, mixed with his own imagination, had resulted in a special set of Julian Assange rules of conduct.
This reminded me of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who had started o as a science- fiction writer and then began believing his own stories. Julian, too, had a very free and easy relationship with the truth. I had the impression that he often tested out how far he could go. For example, he had served me up a story about how his hair had gone white. He told me that when he was fourteen, he had built a reactor at home in his basement and got the poles reversed. From that day on, his hair had grown in white as a result of the gamma radiation.
Yeah, sure, I thought. Mostly I said nothing. Julian was constantly losing his way, getting onto the wrong train and walking in the wrong direction. Whenever he ew from A to B, or traveled by boat or train, a few receipts or documents would go astray. Rarely was anything his fault. Instead he blamed banks, airport sta , urban planners, and, failing that, the State Department. No doubt it was the State Department that was responsible for dropping the cups that got broken while he was staying with me in Wiesbaden.
He could commune with his computer screen for days on end, becoming one with it, forming a single, immovable entity. When I woke up the next day, Julian would be sitting in a hooded sweatshirt in exactly the same position in front of the computer. Sometimes, when I went to bed the next night, he would still be sitting there. He sat in deep meditation, programming or reading something or other. At most he used to leap up brie y without any warning and do some strange kung fu exercises.
Some media reports said that Julian was at least the equivalent of a black belt in all known international martial arts. In fact, his improvised shadowboxing lasted a maximum of twenty seconds, looked extremely silly, and was probably intended to stretch his joints and tendons after all that sitting. Julian could work for days on end and then suddenly fall asleep. He would lie down in all his pants, socks, and sweatshirts, pull the blanket over his head, and drop o.
When he woke up, he snapped back into the world just as instantaneously. He would jump up, usually bumping into something. Julian has woken up. Or perhaps he thought he could only get into the right mood by wearing the right clothes. Do you have one? Afterward, he would also go to bed in the jacket. In the two months he lived with me, I got to know someone utterly unlike the guys I usually spent my time with. On the one hand, I found Julian unbearable and, on the other, unbelievably special and lovable. I had the feeling that something must have gone very wrong in his life.
He could have been a great person, and I was proud to have a friend who had such re in his belly, who was so utterly committed to ideas and principles and changing the world for the better. Someone who just got up and did things without concern for what other people said. In certain respects I tried to copy this attitude.
But he also had a dark side, and this increasingly gained the upper hand in the months to come. Some friends asked me how I was able to put up with Julian for so long. I think that everyone has a di cult side. It is not easy to get along with anyone. In the hacker scene, in particular, there are quite a few extreme characters. Many seem slightly autistic. Reading that today makes me gulp a bit. I had almost forgotten what a good time we had together. There are, of course, brief moments when I ask myself whether everything necessarily had to go sour.
My grandmother had died. We had been expecting the news any day. I knew that my grandmother was proud of me and of my ght for a more just world. The rest of the family had spent the whole week at her bedside.
But I had an appointment in Berlin, and that was more important to me. At that point I felt like we had to take every opportunity to raise the pro le of WikiLeaks. We were in desperate need of donations, and we were pleased when new documents were uploaded onto our site. Everything else came farther down on our list of priorities. Much farther down. The rst time that something Julian said really left a bitter taste in my mouth was in early , when we were considering taking part in the World Social Forum in Brazil.
A friend had mentioned to me that he would like to come with us. I told Julian about it. Personally, I was against the idea. Not to mention the fact that I was paying for the tickets. Julian had no money. He can carry our suitcases. That was the rst time I asked myself who was playing his porter right now. Besides me. I realized only later that Julian must have frequently interpreted my behavior as kowtowing. I just wanted to be friendly and considerate.
I think that he must have regarded me as weaker than I actually was. And our friendship began to fall apart the moment that Julian no longer felt that I was kowtowing to him. No one had ever said anything like that to me. It was outrageous. No matter how frightened he was that something would go wrong, a threat like that was utterly inexcusable. I just asked whether he still had all his marbles, laughed, and left it at that. What are you supposed to say to such a statement? It was the server on which all our e-mails were stored. Sometimes I thought when he talked to me, he was really talking about himself.
The absurd thing was that he was the one who was continually losing or forgetting things. And that was precisely what he was accusing me of. He always had an elaborate explanation, sometimes one that cast him as the hero. The leak for which the prize was awarded was about extra-judicial killings by the Kenyan police. Seventeen hundred people were murdered.
Two human rights lawyers from a Kenyan legal-aid foundation had uncovered this and written a report on it. Not only did he miss the awards ceremony at which he was due to give a thank-you speech, but he also missed the interviews afterward that had been arranged. We expected this award to open a lot of doors for us, and it would take the wind out of the sails of some of our critics. Two months before the award ceremony, Kamau Kingara, the director of the Kenyan foundation, and his program director, John Paul Oula, were gunned down in their car in Nairobi.
The two of them were on their way to a Kenyan human rights commission, with which they had written their report. We had only put the report on our website, making it accessible to a wider audience. We owed it to Kingara and Oula to accept the award on their behalf. It was the least we could do. Julian wrote a solemn press release in which he once again stressed their civic courage.
It could have taken up several pages of a spy thriller. The only detail I can remember is that two police o cers had allegedly followed him. On another occasion, he explained that he had missed a connecting ight because he was busy solving an extremely di cult math problem.
In our experience, complicated leaks—and the Toll Collect contract material was enormously complicated—had to be published by the traditional media in digestible chunks. We will levy fines against them, and lock up their directors. We are Legion. This follows an earlier initiative from the Pirate Party to regulate credit card companies on the European level in order to deny them […]. Hacking the universe When strings are super and not made of characters 61 min Robert Helling. The Anonymous movement in the context of liberalism and socialism Fuchs, Christian All of them were occupied with something round the clock, even if outsiders were often unable to understand precisely what it was and why they were doing it.
Although I spent a lot of time with him, I could never tell when he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes and when he was telling the truth. I know at least three di erent versions of his past and the origins of his surname. There were stories of him having at least ten ancestors from various corners of the globe, from the South Sea pirates to Irishmen. He created a real sense of mystery about himself and constantly cloaked his past in new details.
My first thought when I heard he was writing an autobiography was that they should put it in the fiction section! Julian reinvented himself every day, like a hard drive that one kept on reformatting. Reset, reboot. Maybe he had learned early on that he always had to cut himself free from women and friends, and this was easier if he could revise his personality and press the Reset button.
Julian was engaged in a constant battle for dominance—even with my cat, Mr. Schmitt is a lovable, lazy creature, a bit shy, with gray-and-white fur and an extremely laid-back way of walking. Unfortunately he also has a neurosis stemming from the time when Julian lived with me in Wiesbaden.
Julian was always attacking the poor animal. It was a game to see who was quicker. Either Julian would succeed in getting his ngers around the cat and pinning it to the oor, or the cat would drive Julian off with a swipe of its claws. It must have been a nightmare for the poor thing. No sooner would Mr. Schmitt lie down to relax than the crazy Australian would be upon him. Julian preferred to attack at times when Mr. Schmitt was tired. Schmitt was a male cat, and male cats were supposed to be dominant. Julian constantly attracted trouble. When we were on our way back from the International Journalism Conference in Perugia, Italy, in April , there was an argument with a train conductor that almost cost us our ight back to Germany.
We were under a lot of time pressure that day because we had to make a connecting ight in Rome. One train was delayed—an overhead transmission line had gone on the fritz—and we had to rearrange our plans and pay for a new ticket and a supplement on top of it. I took care of everything.
I was the one who spent the agonizing minutes at the ticket counter while Julian sat on a bench waiting and watching our luggage. It was in fact the very last train. We headed for two window seats, set down our backpacks on the free seats next to us, and stretched out our legs with a sigh.
A monster appeared: a badly shaved, slightly chubby Italian, who was working his way through the rows to our seats. The ticket inspector. Frowning, he examined our tickets and then thrust them back into our hands. In bad English the Italian said that he was very sorry but we had obviously bought the wrong tickets. I would have given in. But Julian completely lost it. He refused to pay the additional ten or fifteen euros and looked at the inspector with profound contempt. We could have spent ages discussing why, through no fault of our own, we were being asked to pay up yet again and telling him what we thought more generally of his native land and its Ma a structures.
But we needed to get to Rome as quickly as possible in order to catch the cheap ight I had booked. Under the circumstances, I would have gladly paid the ridiculous surcharge and relaxed. However, Julian caused such a stir that the ticket inspector summoned the carabinieri at the next station. I was embarrassed—not least because there was someone sitting to our right who had also been at the conference in Perugia. It was almost as if he enjoyed putting on a small private theater performance. We were now surrounded by the gru inspector and two young police o cers.
I rummaged around in my pockets. Julian crossed his arms and snorted contemptuously. The three Italians looked at one another indecisively. They would have liked to have thrown Julian o the train, but none of them wanted to make the rst move. The young Australian was still sitting stretched out comfortably on his seat. They would have had to grab him by the arm and pull him out of his chair. Julian was of the opinion that the inspector needed to be taught a lesson. Respect, respect, respect … he was always talking about respect.
It was getting on my nerves. I wanted to solve the problem. I took advantage of the stalemate situation that had developed among the ve of us. My will to make WikiLeaks an intrinsic part of my life was greater than my fear of being pushed around. In , when I appeared in a video interview for Zeit Online about the personal motives for my commitment to WikiLeaks, he accused me of being a media whore. Julian told me we were too busy to have the time for lengthy interviews.
After the Zeit Online video portrait, I tried to become less conspicuous. Julian kept on throwing me dirty looks the whole time I was being interviewed. It was immensely important to him to keep stressing that he was the sole founder. I never said anything to the contrary. The competitiveness that lay behind all this was anathema to me. Even if I had experienced twinges of such feelings, I had suppressed them and been ashamed of myself.
Julian would later accuse me of playing power games. We want Ecuador to make the right decision in relation to the request of asylum and we support this decision in advance. LabSurLab Quito A network of independent initiatives including hackerspaces. Differential Quito [ Twitter , Website. Connection space aiming to promote projects and activities that stimulate the development of digital culture.
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