It appears that seeking political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London has been a great decision for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been at the embassy, awaiting the processing of his asylum application, for the last three weeks. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa–a left-wing populist–and his cabinet are quite sympathetic to Mr. Assange’s plight, having offered him residency in Ecuador as far back as 2010.
But perhaps they’re… too sympathetic?
Patch Adams, MD, the clown doctor portrayed by Robin Williams in the eponymous 1998 film, has joined several dozen prominent figures of the American Left in asking Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum.
“The ‘crime’ that he has committed is that of practicing journalism,” states the letter, delivered to the Embassy of Ecuador in London yesterday by American advocacy group Just Foreign Policy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange really doesn’t want to be extradited to Sweden for allegations of sex offenses, where he may be handed over to U.S. authorities. In a tweet at 2:40 p.m., @WikiLeaks said that the Australian activist “has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.” In a followup tweet they added, “We will have more details on the Ecuadorian situation soon.”
Ecuador’s foreign minister confirmed to USA Today that Mr. Assange is at Ecuador’s U.K. embassy where he is seeking political asylum.
Head Wikileaker and house arrestee Julian Assange has been pondering a run for the Australian Senate. Before you even quirk an eyebrow at the prospect of a “Senator Assange,” note that a recent survey by Australian Labor Party pollsters indicates Mr. Assange could garner nearly 25% of the vote. Agence France-Presse reports members of “the left-wing Greens party were most likely to be pro-Assange, with 39 percent saying they would vote for him.”
President Barack Obama will suggest that maybe some other people should try and figure out how to tackle this pesky NSA matter today in a press conference at 11 a.m.
The President is going to call for an end to the National Security Agency’s ability to store Americans’ phone data, USA Today reports, and he’s going to ask Congress, the Justice Department and the intelligence community to decide who should be holding the records instead of the U.S. government.
Guess this thing is really happening: Behold, the trailer for The Fifth Estate, the upcoming cinematic take on Wikileaks. It’s heavy on the standing around staring at ~code~ on computer screens and also government types yelling, topped off with a blonde Benedict Cumberbatch doing a not-bad impression of Julian Assange.
Tumblr is, of course, already flooded with GIFs and screencap collages lovingly assembled by Mr. Cumberbatch’s fanatical followers. Can’t wait for the inevitable Sherlock/Wikileaks fanfic crossover:
At yesterday’s rally to support NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a software engineer who identified himself only as Michael huddled under Union Square subway entrance (just out of the pouring rain). ”The fact that we have this man coming out now puts a face on this,” he said. “The human element is what’s most important, because most people think of these big surveillance things as these impassive, cold structures, but they’re the creation of humans, they’re the creation of people like me and you and all of us and there is a moral equation to all of that.”
He gestured to the northern edge of the park.
“Even in New York City, Union Square Ventures is right over there, which funded Tumblr, which is now owned by Yahoo, which is one of the companies that reported back to PRISM.”
But not everyone’s so sure of their feelings about Mr. Snowden. The occasional 1984 quote from Fred Wilson notwithstanding, the industry’s position in this whole mess is awfully conflicted.
Good morning! It seems we’ve all woken up in a conspiracy theorist’s fever dream, so I hope your wore your finest tinfoil hat to work.
Yesterday opened with the revelation that the NSA is collecting phone records for millions of Verizon subscribers on a daily basis. If that wasn’t Orwellian enough, then came another bomb from the Washington Post. As part of a program called PRISM, the NSA is collecting information from several major tech companies–Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and finally Apple. The Post claims the agency is grabbing “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.”
We know all this, by the way, thanks to a disturbed whistle-blower, who sent PowerPoint slides about the program. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” he told the Post. Hello and welcome to your cyberpunk future!
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is teaming up with a group of high-profile investors, including Fred Wilson, Ron Conway and Paul Graham, to “push for smart immigration reform to attract and keep the best, the brightest and the hardest-working to fuel innovation and American jobs.” [March for Innovation]
It wasn’t so long ago that the Nook was the key to Barnes & Noble’s future. Now the bookseller is planning to back off of its efforts to sell its own e-reader, and is working on strengthening partnerships with tablet suppliers. [NYT]
It’s not that Julian Assange isn’t giving interviews—it’s just that he’s leading a busy life inside the Ecuadorian government’s London embassy, and it’s a question of fitting reporters in. [Ars Technica]
Kara Swisher leans into the backlash against Facebook COO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s new book. [AllThingsD]
In case you can’t wait for the competing biopics currently in production, here’s what it’s like to go on a double-date with John McAfee. [PandoDaily]
This should delight the Sherlock fangirls on Tumblr: Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s currently shooting The Fifth Estate, in which he plays controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, is reportedly in talks to take on his next awesomely nerdy role. Deadline reports that Mr. Cumberbatch may be gearing up to play Alan Turing in a biopic about the famous British mathematician’s life.