Jonsdottir Accuses U.S. Government Of Cyber Stalking

9 Apr

Birgitta_Jonsdottir Leading ProtestThe United States creates another pro-transparency martyr.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the Icelandic MP who was part of a small team of activists that produced the WikiLeaks dump of US state secrets, has arrived in the United States for the first time since the controversy three years ago, to protest against what she sees as a disproportionate clampdown by the US government on internet whistleblowers.

Jónsdóttir is marking the third anniversary of the “Collateral Murder” video –which put WikiLeaks on the map on 5 April 2010 by revealing footage of a US apache helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad – by staging an exhibition of still photographs drawn from the video in New York. She hopes the display will draw attention to the plight of Bradley Manning, the US soldier currently facing court martial for being the source of the WikiLeaks material, as well as increase public debate about the treatment of online whistleblowers.

“The crackdown on whistleblowers has gone way beyond what is reasonable,” she says in an interview with the Guardian. “There is no other US president who has prosecuted as many whistleblowers as Obama – that’s not in the spirit of transparency that he promised when he was elected.”

Jónsdóttir believes that the American public has failed to keep up with the pace of change, that has seen a rapid transference of whistleblowing activity onto the internet. “The general public doesn’t understand that activism to keep our government honest has moved online.”

Jónsdóttir talked about her experiences on Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how you have been targeted by the U.S. government?

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Yes. It’s actually—like, most people don’t understand how serious it is, because—like somebody asked me, “Have you been followed since you came to the States or in Iceland?” And yes, I am followed all the time. But it’s not with the people in the offline world; it is online. And it is much easier to follow people there—everything they do and everybody they meet and at what time.

So, what happened in January 2011, I get an email from Twitter saying that they had taken a subpoena to court and unsealed it. And in it, it said that the Department of Justice wanted all my personal messages and IP numbers and so forth, without my knowledge, within three days. And I was fortunate enough to be represented by EFF and ACLU to try to—

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Electronic Frontier Foundation


AMY GOODMAN: —and American Civil Liberties Union.

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Yeah. And they did that pro bono, and I’m thankful for that, because it’s an unprecedented case. And unfortunately, we lost it on every count—every account. But it is not only these Twitter messages that they want. There are apparently four other companies that were requested to hand over my information, which they already have.

AMY GOODMAN: What companies?

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: I don’t know. We can’t get it unsealed, by request by the U.S. government. And we’ve taken it again and again to court to try to unseal it, because they say the U.S. government says to the judge that they have investigative interests, or they don’t want me to know because they’re investigating. But they won’t tell me what they’re investigating. And I have been told by the Department of Justice, through the U.S. embassy in Iceland, that I am not the subject of criminal investigation. But the justice system here is so opaque. It’s so impossible to understand how it functions. And like my case is relatively mild compared to the cases I’ve heard of people here in the United States, like Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown and all these young, really talented people—and let’s never forget Aaron Swartz—that are being persecuted for things that they would never be persecuted for in my country.

AMY GOODMAN: Aaron Swartz is the young social justice hacktivist, 26 years old, who took his own life a few months ago, committed suicide in Brooklyn, New York, who was being prosecuted by the U.S. government in Massachusetts for—well, their charge was that he had released millions of pages of JSTOR documents, that are available to students all over the country in the United States for free.

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Yes, I think, like many of these harsh sentences—

AMY GOODMAN: Not for the release of, but for downloading them from a computer at MIT.

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Yeah, downloading them, yeah, yeah. So, and I think that many of these cases are because—the harshness of them are because those that are putting forward the sentences, they don’t really understand the nature of the Internet and how we function there, those of us that spend a lot of time there working. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean by that.

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: I explain—well, like I started to work on the Internet in ’95, and it completely opened up a new world, because all of a sudden I had access to like-minded people that were doing similar things, and we could share knowledge and do projects together. And it is all based on this sort of crowdsourced openness and sharing. So, when you try to put forward all the restrictions we have in the real world—well, actually, the offline world, because the Internet world seems just as real sometimes—it’s impossible, because this system was created to be able to bypass all these walls and restrictions. And so, when you grow up in a culture of sharing knowledge, work, passions, friendships, across borders—there are no borders—and so you can’t put up the walls, because we will always find ways around the walls, because it is the nature to crowdsource and share. And that is how we have developed so fast. And that’s how I’m here. I would never be here unless I had lived on the Internet for a while. We could never have released the “Collateral Murder” video like we did, unless we had access to the Internet.

Government employees are so incompetent!

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One Response to “Jonsdottir Accuses U.S. Government Of Cyber Stalking”

  1. brashley46 9 April 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Reblogged this on brashley46.

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