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The Media Crime Government United States Your Rights Online

FBI Paid Informant Inside WikiLeaks 458

Posted by timothy
from the anything-to-keep-the-nsa-off-your-mind dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "On an August workday in 2011, a cherubic 18-year-old Icelandic man named Sigurdur 'Siggi' Thordarson walked through the stately doors of the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik, his jacket pocket concealing his calling card: a crumpled photocopy of an Australian passport. The passport photo showed a man with a unruly shock of platinum blonde hair and the name Julian Paul Assange. Thordarson was long time volunteer for WikiLeaks with direct access to Assange and a key position as an organizer in the group. With his cold war-style embassy walk-in, he became something else: the first known FBI informant inside WikiLeaks. For the next three months, Thordarson served two masters, working for the secret-spilling website and simultaneously spilling its secrets to the U.S. government in exchange, he says, for a total of about $5,000. The FBI flew him internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C., and on the last meeting obtained from Thordarson eight hard drives packed with chat logs, video and other data from WikiLeaks."
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FBI Paid Informant Inside WikiLeaks

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  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 28, 2013 @08:26PM (#44138951) Journal

    RTFA. He didn't get paid for his work and risk, just for the time he missed from his regular job.

    "We'd still like to talk with you in person," one of his handlers replied. "I can think of a couple of easy ways for you to help."

    "Can you guys help me with cash?" Thordarson shot back.

    For the next few months, Thordarson begged the FBI for money, while the FBI alternately ignored him and courted him for more assistance. In the end, Thordarson says, the FBI agreed to compensate him for the work he missed while meeting with agents (he says he worked at a bodyguard-training school), totaling about $5,000.

    As to why

    He offered a second reason that he admits is more truthful: "The second reason was the adventure."

  • Re:Cheap (Score:4, Informative)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Friday June 28, 2013 @08:31PM (#44138975)

    Read the article. It wasn't exactly an agreed-upon amount for his services or anything. As far as I can tell, he didn't even bother asking for anything until he got canned from wikileaks over setting up a website to sell wikileaks shirts for his own profit, and even then he just asked the FBI if they could help him out with some cash. Hardly a great position to be asking for compensation for services already rendered...

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Friday June 28, 2013 @08:57PM (#44139091)

    $5000 ... is not nearly enough to cover being known as an evil traitor everyone in the world. His reputation is now destroyed and is essentially unemployable in any company or organization that cares about its own image.

    I think you significantly overstate the support for Assange and his activities. Living in a bubble with do that to you [commentarymagazine.com].

    Poll: Americans say WikiLeaks harmed public interest; most want Assange arrested [washingtonpost.com] - December 14, 2010

    The American public is highly critical of the recent release of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks Web site and would support the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by U.S. authorities, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

    Most of those polled - 68 percent - say the WikiLeaks' exposure of government documents about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy harms the public interest. Nearly as many - 59 percent - say the U.S. government should arrest Assange and charge him with a crime for releasing the diplomatic cables.

    World opinion is more favorable, but also split.

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 28, 2013 @10:02PM (#44139471)

    Isn't wikileaks supposed to be about opening all secrets?

    No, they are not. They believe in transparent government. But they also believe in personal privacy.

    What secrets is wikileaks hiding that he traitorously revealed?

    The identity of people exposing corruption. Some of these people have risked their lives to do so.

  • by bonehead (6382) on Friday June 28, 2013 @10:09PM (#44139505)

    and the enemies of the U.S.

    I want to make one thing perfectly, crystal clear.

    They may be enemies of the US government, but they are not considered enemies by the American people. At least not the American people who paid attention in History class when we were in school.

    Don't hate us all just because powerful people gamed the system. There are plenty of us over here that are FAR MORE pissed at the current state of affairs than any of you foreigners are.

    The sad truth is that there is "just" enough of a voter base here, and enough liberal pussies, that those of us who are still strong, able, and have integrity are getting outvoted at every election. It's become a nanny state, and people only vote for the guy that they think will give them the most "free money". Once elected on bullshit promises, he is free to disregard them and then pursue his real agenda. And as long as the govt keeps handing out free money, they'll keep voting the traitors back in.

    I, for one, am NOT happy about this situation. I desperately long to live in the "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave". I want to live or die, fail or succeed, on my own efforts and merits, not on a handout that I got by "successfully" managing to be lazy enough to not actually *earn* any money.

    But it doesn't work that way anymore. I have a decent job. I make more than average. But truth be told, I could be in a better financial position if I quit my job, declared bakruptcy, and took the handouts. I'll never do it, but I'd have more cash in my pocket if I did.

    I would fight to defend the country that my grandfather fought to defend. Would I sign up to defend the country it has become? Hell no, it disgusts me. And as much as I miss that man, I'm glad he passed before he had to see what it turned into.

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @10:26PM (#44139589)

    The second reason was adventure? So basically this guy was just like Bradley Manning who was self-avowedly in it for the thrill and the power trip.

    The usual motives are MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion and Ego: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_spying [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Cheap (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aighearach (97333) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @12:17AM (#44140149) Homepage

    You're way off base on numerous points. The FBI is law enforcement regardless of location; the CIA never is. You imagine a US/rest of the world split between the CIA and the FBI, but the reality is, the CIA is doing the intelligence gathering and the FBI is doing the law enforcement. Regardless of location. The specific location split that does exist is that the CIA is restricted in a lot of its activities inside the US; and the FBI is tasked with oversight of the CIA inside the US.

    For somebody grousing about the government, and how different things are, you sure don't know much civics.

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @12:47AM (#44140255)

    They believe in transparent government. But they also believe in personal privacy.

    Wikileaks has been a bit "uneven" in its respect for privacy.

    Wikileaks Fails “Due Diligence” Review [fas.org]

    ...calling WikiLeaks a whistleblower site does not accurately reflect the character of the project. It also does not explain why others who are engaged in open government, anti-corruption and whistleblower protection activities are wary of WikiLeaks or disdainful of it. . . .

    WikiLeaks says that it is dedicated to fighting censorship, so a casual observer might assume that it is more or less a conventional liberal enterprise committed to enlightened democratic policies. But on closer inspection that is not quite the case. In fact, WikiLeaks must be counted among the enemies of open society because it does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals.

    Last year, for example, WikiLeaks published the “secret ritual” of a college women’s sorority called Alpha Sigma Tau. Now Alpha Sigma Tau (like several other sororities “exposed” by WikiLeaks) is not known to have engaged in any form of misconduct, and WikiLeaks does not allege that it has. Rather, WikiLeaks chose to publish the group’s confidential ritual just because it could. This is not whistleblowing and it is not journalism. It is a kind of information vandalism.

    In fact, WikiLeaks routinely tramples on the privacy of non-governmental, non-corporate groups for no valid public policy reason. It has published private rites of Masons, Mormons and other groups that cultivate confidential relations among their members. Most or all of these groups are defenseless against WikiLeaks’ intrusions. The only weapon they have is public contempt for WikiLeaks’ ruthless violation of their freedom of association, and even that has mostly been swept away in a wave of uncritical and even adulatory reporting about the brave “open government,” “whistleblower” site.

    On occasion, WikiLeaks has engaged in overtly unethical behavior. ... more [fas.org]

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @03:36AM (#44140651)

    Let us count some of the things the leaked diplomatic cables revealed:
    - That the US and UK had both been intercepting communications involving Kofi Annan, in violation of international treaty. Bit of old-fashioned code-war style bugging going on at the UN offices.
    - An instruction to US diplomats to attempt to obtain encryption keys belonging to Ban Ki-moon. Not even a CIA covert-op thing: Diplomats were engaged in spying on a supposed ally. Further orders instructed everything from keys to frequent-flyer identification numbers be collected from a large number of forign diplomatic personel. It sounds like the plot to a cheap spy novel - but it's real. Even US diplomats cannot be trusted.
    - A communication from the US embassy in Strasbourg describing EU human rights laws as 'an irritant.'
    - Proof that US diplomatic offices are instructed to promote sales for US defence contractors overseas.
    - That DynCorp employees had been accused of running a child prostitution ring, and the US had assisted in a cover-up operation to avoid embarassing one of their significent contractors.
    - When Pfizer was sued in Nigeria over claims that improper test protocols lead to the deaths of children, they hired a private investigator to find material that could be used to blackmail the country's attorney general.
    - The US issued instructions to diplomats to lobby against EU regulations requiring the labeling of genetically modified food and to apply pressure for broadening the scope of patents on GMOs in order to allow Montanto to export their products to Europe.
    - Libya threatened to nationalise the operations of Petro-Canada in their country if they did not recieve a public apology for a diplomatic gaffe made by the Canadian forign minister.
    - Numerous messages, largely relating to Canada, containing instructions to US embassies that they are to push for stricter copyright law in their host countries.

    And that's just a few select examples. I could spend all day looking these up. People have long suspected that the US was playing diplomatic games, using their political influence to benefit major US corporations, covering up embarassments to the country and so on - but these claims were dismissed as the ramblings of foil-hatted conspiracy theorists. The leaked cables reveal that many of those claims are true.

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