The rush is currently on to produce films about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Dreamworks have one in pre-production with the working title of ‘The Man who Sold the World’. Cast members of the film, which is to be directed by Bill Condon (Twilight), include British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ mini-series, who is to play the role of WikiLeaks’ Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange.
The film reportedly draws on two sources: ‘WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy’ by journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding and ‘Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website’, by Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
– Had trouble keeping his stories straight
As a result of his on-going work with WikiLeaks, Assange is currently a prisoner in the Ecuadorean Embassy under threat of extradition to the United States. He was forced to take refuge there as a result of a European Arrest Warrant pertaining to politically motivated sexual ‘molestation’ allegations. The warrant was taken out by Sweden, whose part in this corrupt, legal-moral fiasco, has allowed the U.S. to turn their country into a standing joke.
It is a matter of public record that Domscheit-Berg, a previous WikiLeaks spokesperson in Germany, was ejected from WikiLeaks after causing internal dissension. He used claims about WikiLeaks documents and other internal WikiLeaks communications, to hold WikiLeaks and Assange to ransom.
I was going to suggest that Domscheit-Berg might be a Salieri to Assange’s Mozart but even Salieri produced some works. Domscheit-Berg’s contribution to the international record, post-WikiLeaks, has been to sit on the side-lines and try to hoover up some reflected glory whilst smearing a person who, despite his situation, continues to change lives.
And he is changing lives. He should be given a medal for ‘Services to the American public’ for releasing the ‘Collateral Murder’ video alone. Americans needed to see that. I, as a citizen of a country who has a military alliance with the United States, needed to see that.
Domscheit-Berg’s achievements, however, are somewhat less illustrious:
Before leaving WikiLeaks, he stole 3,500 unpublished files, leaked to WikiLeaks by sources, including the complete U.S. no-fly list, five gigabytes of Bank of America documents and detailed information about twenty neo-Nazi groups. Along with these files, Domscheit-Berg also stole the entire WikiLeaks encrypted submission system to use in his rival site ‘Openleaks’. The bitchy reason he provided for stealing the files and submission system was that “children shouldn’t play with guns”. This theft resulted in WikiLeaks being unable to receive on-line leaked document submissions for a year, with the site instead being forced to resort to using a Post Office Box in Australia.
WikiLeaks were forced to waste many months trying to negotiate the return of the stolen unpublished leaks and internal communications. Domscheit-Berg then tried to blackmail WikiLeaks by threatening to make available, to forces that oppose WikiLeaks, these communications, should WikiLeaks move to charge him with sabotage or theft. Attempts were made, to negotiate the return of the items, but were terminated by a mediator who had “doubts” about Domscheit-Berg’s “integrity”.
Domscheit-Berg then threatened to destroy the files. In a ‘Der Spiegel’ interview, Domscheit-Berg said he had the files “shredded to ensure that the sources are not compromised”. He then later lied to ‘Der Freitag’, ‘’I took no documents from WikiLeaks with me’. It would appear that Domscheit-Berg is not only an immature and vengeful character, but he has trouble keeping his stories straight.
Domscheit-Berg’s actions would be considered criminal offences in most countries. The encryption system would most likely also be classed as the “intellectual property” of WikiLeaks. It appears WikiLeaks would be entitled to sue Domscheit-Berg for its theft as well as claim for financial damages. How much did he get paid for that book deal?
WikiLeaks clearly made the right decision in kicking this guy to the kerb. A person with such a demonstrated lack of moral integrity and maturity has no place in an organisation where the stakes, for the whistle-blowers, WikiLeaks members and the general public, are so high.
Regardless of who was at fault, in the relationship between Domscheit-Berg and Assange, the only conceivable explanation for Domscheit-Berg’s actions is revenge. Given Domscheit-Berg’s own acknowledgement of the importance of WikiLeaks’ task and the information involved, these are clearly the actions of a self-serving narcissist. These acts more accurately demonstrate the personal failings of a film’s petty, twisted villain, rather than a hero. It’s going to take a lot of poetic license for any film-maker to frame those facts in any other way.
It appears that Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s only contribution to international government transparency and press freedom, since his departure from WikiLeaks, has been to go trolling around Twitter making silly, unsubstantiated accusations about Assange and WikiLeaks supporters reputedly linking to a “neo-Nazi” site. Supporters, including myself, were ominously informed that the request had come from “Berlin”. He must be of the belief that Berlin is still the seat of authority it was in 1940. When challenged, the allegations were down-graded to an unsubstantiated claim that the site had displayed ‘neo-Nazi attitudes’.
I believe these harassing Tweets emanated from that ‘Star of stage and screen’, Domscheit-Berg, himself. They were sent from a pseudonymous account, “Wikinews”. This account displays a drawing on the profile page with an arrow pointing to Domscheit-Berg’s name. This account responds directly to questions Tweeted by followers to Domscheit-Berg’s @Openleaks account.
It appears that the allegations were in response to Assange supporters, including myself, re-tweeting links to Swedish News organisation, Rixstep News. The ‘neo-Nazi’ allegations appeared immediately after Rixstep published a mirth-making article providing excerpts of Domscheit-Berg’s book, with amusing asides commenting on the ‘shite’ contained therein. Obviously Rixstep had touched a raw nerve.
This apparent concern about neo-Nazism is ironic given the fact that Domscheit-Berg apparently destroyed WikiLeaks documents providing details identifying ‘neo-Nazi’ groups.
Julian Assange – Continues work at the Ecuadorian Embassy despite immense external pressures.
Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian
Whilst our cinematic hero has been engaging in this idiocy, Julian Assange continues his life’s work from a single room, in the Ecuadorian Embassy, whilst under continued intrusive surveillance from police and Intelligence Agencies. Among other activities, he has been using his prodigious intelligence to alert the world to the real and present threats to our global autonomy and personal freedoms as a result of misuse of our information systems. In this area he has taken on the role of educator, producing a book on the subject, ‘Cypherpunks – Freedom and the Future of the Internet’. The information he provides, both through the written and spoken word, is considered threatening to those who would usurp our power, including the United States and his activities have brought him under increasing pressure from politicians and the government and corporate-controlled Main Stream Media. In short, he continues to make genuine sacrifices for a cause greater than himself.
His situation is one which would send most people, including myself, howling to the nut-house. But Assange appears to be holding up well, continuing to network and communicate with an ever-growing group of sympathetic individuals, including prominent public figures, in the international community.
I have been keeping an eye on the ‘Openleaks’ website and Twitter account for signs of life – waiting for evidence of the amazing leaks of information which will show the world that Domscheit-Berg is the wronged hero he’s selling himself as. It’s been well over a year since ‘Openleaks’ opened for business but still nothing…
But then who, in their right mind, would risk their life or future to leak information to a man who has completely and publically sold-out WikiLeaks and Julian Assange – who has confessed to stealing documents from WikiLeaks and destroying them.
Any attempts by Dreamworks to make Domscheit-Berg into the hero of their film are going to fall flat. There’s just too much information out there and too many high-profile supporters who know the real story.
You don’t have to be a genius media commentator to know that even members of the public who don’t like Julian Asssange for whatever reason, recognise Domscheit-Berg as a jealous, cowering character, who has had little to do with the massively influential focal point for freedom-fighters, which WikiLeaks has become.
This is a man who did not only sell out WikiLeaks and Julian, he sold out all of us, every one of us who believe that Democracy and Freedom of Speech are in trouble. And, as any thinking person knows, the threat to Democracy, led by the United States Government and its Intelligence services, is palpable, real and upon us.
For all we know, the proposed title, ‘The man who sold the world’, may end up correctly referring to Domscheit-Berg. One can only hope that the film-makers have the intelligence and perspective not to waste an opportunity to chronicle an important international development, by producing a B-grade, smearing, fluff-piece.
Maybe Steven Spielberg isn’t that silly after all – to pillory himself with a film that will be looked back on as so completely backing the wrong horse. I mean, would you want history to refer to you as the guy who made a film backing the Ku Klux Klan against Martin Luther King, or the South African Government against Nelson Mandela? Does he really want to take that risk?
I have no doubt that, regardless of what happens with the U.S. sealed Espionage indictments and/or the Swedish fiasco, the international influence of Julian Assange will continue to grow and become an even more important part of the historical record.
At the end of the day, WikiLeaks was always Assange’s organisation. Domscheit-Berg was a bit player who had neither the talent nor drive to achieve what Assange has with the organisation. His own jealousy and failure to recognise this and get behind Assange, proved his undoing.
Julian Assange and his organisation, WikiLeaks, have never released the identity of a WikiLeaks source, indeed have never sold-out anyone. A lesser man in his position might have tried to do a deal of some kind to bargain himself out of the position he is in. Domscheit-Berg, in contrast, stole and apparently destroyed information, provided at great risk, by whistle-blowers and tried to destroy WikiLeaks for reasons of sheer vengeance. He then sold the story of his treachery, with himself re-framed as the victim and hero, for thirty pieces of silver.
So who is the lesser man of the two? Events, past and present, clearly demonstrate which one of them is the sell-out. Let’s hope the film-makers can figure it out. Meanwhile, I watch the cyber-traffic and wait for Daniel Domscheit-Berg to do something for someone other than himself.
Julian Assange – Christmas Speech from the Ecuadorian Embassy – 2012