The Washington Post reports that the ability of former government contractor Edward Snowden to flee from Hong Kong to Moscow on an Aeroflot flight, even though his passport was revoked and there was a warrant for his arrest, was a collaborative effort ay of China, the Kremlin, WikiLeaks and the Ecuadoran government, to keep Snowden out of the grasp of the U.S. government.
Snowden arrived in Hong Kong on May 20, n2013. He said that he had chosen the city for its “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”(Wall Street Journal.)
The United States filed a criminal complaint against Snowden in federal court on June 14, 2013, charging him with theft and offenses under the Espionage Act for turning over documents related to top-secret U.S. surveillance programs to The Washington Post and the UK Guardian. The United States then requested that Snowden be detained detention in Hong Kong on a provisional arrest warrant. The United States filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia and issued its own arrest warrant. (The Washington Post).
WikiLeaks’ decision to help Snowden evade Washington’s extradition attempts in Hong Kong demonstrates its adherence to a policy of resistance to the covert operations of the United States and Britain.
WikiLeaks became internationally well known in 2010 when it began to publish U.S. military and diplomatic documents with assistance of its partners in the news media. Assange was first arrested in the UK in 2010 after accusations of sexual assault by two Swedish women were made against him. Sweden filed a warrant for extradition to question Assange, and British courts upheld it. Assange and his followers believed that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would soon be extradited to the United States, where he would face espionage charges for his work with WikiLeaks.
In June 2012, following final dismissal by the Supreme Court of the UK of his appeal against enforcement of the European Arrest Warrant, Assange he fled to Ecuador. Ecuador granted Assange asylum. It is believed Snowden will likewise flee to Ecuador.
But will freedom of information bring about the Utopia in which the informers believe?
In an article in the 2013 edition of Time Magazine entitled “The Geeks Who Leak,” it was reported that the documents Snowden provided to the media concerned a massive program by the National Intelligence Agency to compile US telephone records into a database for antiterrorism and counter intelligence investigations.
Snowden is among a new breed of radical technophiles that believe that transparency and personal privacy are the foundations of a free society. Secrecy and surveillance, they believe are the beginning of tyranny. They have the conviction that this information belongs in the public domain. They do not regard themselves as traitors.
The Obama administration has come under criticism for supporting these intelligence efforts.
Another of the new breed is Bradley Manning, an army intelligence analyst that was arrested in November 2010, and went on trial the week of June 3, 2013. The Army PFC. faces a court martial in Fort Meade, Maryland for sending 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks Manning is charged with “communicating with the enemy.” The government claims that that Manning and Assange collaborated in stealing and publishing U.S. military and diplomatic documents. (MSNBC.)
But the desire to provide the free flow of information is not supported by everyone, even those who previously advocated it. An article in the January 2013 issue of the Smithsonian concerned Jerome Lanier, a pioneer and promoter of digital Utopianism. An artificial intelligence visionary, he had been developing virtual reality machines since the 1980s
This culminated in the development of Web 2.0, a collection of web site which has the goal of allowing users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue, creating user-generated content in a virtual community, in contradistinction to websites in which users are limited to the passive viewing of content. Lanier espoused freedom of information and the “wisdom of the crowd.” He also wrote a book entitled You Are Not a Gadget.
But then, shortly after the beginning of the century, Lanier wrote an n an article called “One Half of a Manifesto” that was published in Wired. He attacked the idea that the “wisdom of the crowd” would assure the continual advancement of humanity, and argued that the crowd could as likely become an “internet lynch mob.” He became one of the fiercest critics of the digital world. He still continues to lecture and give addresses to annual meetings and convocations, in which he voices his criticism of digital technology.
So the questions remains whether the free flow of information by Snowden, Assange and Manning will guarantee the enlightenment of humanity
By: Tom Ukinski