Wikileaks Asks CIA to Stop Spying on It

Wikileaks, the crusading non-profit web site that publishes documents companies and governments don’t want released, is alleging that the U.S. State Department and possibly the CIA have been spying on the group and its volunteers, following them on airplanes and even monitoring their production meetings in an Icelandic fish-and-chip restaurant. In a blog post on the Wikileaks site, the group’s co-founder, Julian Assange, asserts that the spying “includes attempted covert following, photographing, filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks’ volunteer in Iceland.”

Wikileaks believes the surveillance campaign is driven in part by the fact that it has obtained “a classified military video showing civilian kills by U.S. pilots” in Afghanistan. The group has said that it plans to release details about the video in a press briefing on April 5. In the blog post, Assange alleges that a Wikileaks volunteer was recently detained by police on a “wholly insignificant matter” and was shown photos of Assange outside the Icelandic Fish & Chips shop in Reykjavik, where a production meeting had been held to review the bombing-run video. Wikileaks later described this incident on its Twitter feed, saying, “We have been shown secret photos of our production meetings and been asked specific questions during detention related to the airstrike.”

In another Twitter message, the group said, “If anything happens to us, you know why: it is our Apr 5 film.” Assange also says in the blog post that after taking a flight from Reykjavik to Copenhagen to speak at an investigative journalism conference, the group got a tip that they were under surveillance and checked the records for the flight (he doesn’t say how this was accomplished) to find “two individuals, recorded as brandishing diplomatic credentials, checked in for my flight…under the name of ‘US State Department.’ The two are not recorded as having any luggage.”

According to the Wikileaks blog post, there are a number of possible reasons for the U.S. government to be spying on the group, including:

  • the classified film “revealing civilian casualties occurring under the command of the U.S. general, David Petraeus.”
  • the release of “a classified 32 page U.S. intelligence report on how to fatally marginalize WikiLeaks”
  • the release of “a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the U.S. and the UK over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees.”
  • pending releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic “oligarchs”

Assange says that Wikileaks has been the subject of a number of suspicious government-related spying attempts, intimidation and harassment over the years, including what he describes as the assassination of two human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March and an “armed attack on my compound there in 2007,” as well as an attack by Chinese computers on Wikileaks servers in Stockholm after the site published photos of murders in Tibet. He also says that a Wikileaks member was “ambushed” in a Luxembourg parking garage by a “James Bond” character.

Wikileaks has recently been raising money to continue its efforts, and has also been working with members of the Icelandic government to try and create an “information haven” in that country.

Post photo courtesy of Flickr user alancleaver_2000, thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr user practical owl