FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds asserts Pierre Omidyar decided to create The Intercept to not only take ownership of the Snowden leaks but also to continue his blockade against WikiLeaks and create a “honey trap” for whistleblowers.
WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now, the fight to silence Wikileaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.
As this three-part series seeks to show, these outlets and organizations are being stealthily guided by the hands of special interests, not the public interest they claim to serve. Part I focuses on the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Intercept, and the oligarch who has strongly influenced both organizations in his long-standing fight to silence WikiLeaks.
Mid-November, 2017 – The Daily Beast ran an exclusive report detailing how the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) was set to break ties with WikiLeaks amidst concerns among the foundation’s board, which includes such well-known figures as Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, John Cusack and Glenn Greenwald, among others. The news was confirmed less than a month later when the nonprofit’s board officially voted to stop accepting U.S. donations for WikiLeaks, which had been blacklisted for years by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal after publishing leaked U.S. government documents provided by Chelsea Manning.
Even though the FPF had been founded to allow WikiLeaks to circumvent the banking blockade — which, according to WikiLeaks, sapped nearly 95% of the transparency organization’s funds — the board’s decision to end its founding mission was unanimous.
Last Monday, the FPF made it official, severing its ties with WikiLeaks, leaving it to rely on cryptocurrencies and other esoteric means of funding in order to get around the banking blockade. Journalist Trevor Timm, the FPF’s director, told WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange in an email that the foundation’s reason for ending the partnership was “that the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect, and as such, we will soon cease processing donations on behalf of WikiLeaks readers.”
“The financial censorship of WikiLeaks is ongoing in various ways, as is our litigation in response,” Assange told Timm in response, adding that:
The FPF faces criticism for receiving donations on our behalf, but that is its function. If it bows to political pressure it becomes part of the problem it was designed to solve and yet another spurious free-speech organization — of which there are plenty.”
Assange had made the exchange public by publishing it on his personal Twitter, but it has since been deleted.
Indeed, the pressure against WikiLeaks has reached fever pitch, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ calling Assange’s arrest a “priority” and CIA Director Mike Pompeo labeling it a non-state hostile intelligence service. Last Thursday, former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou stated his belief that “the Americans want Assange’s head on a platter.” All of this has followed Wikileaks’ publication of the Podesta emails and DNC leaks in 2016 prior to that year’s U.S. presidential election, as well as its more recent publication of CIA hacking secrets in the “Vault 7” and “Vault 8” releases.
Though Timm’s explanation seemed benign enough, WikiLeaks took to Twitter to suggest that something more nefarious was behind the board’s decision to cut ties. Once the news became public, WikiLeaks and its associated accounts linked the FPF’s decision to the fact that many of its members now work for organizations financed by eBay billionaire and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar. In addition, the FPF itself has received large sums of money from Omidyar and his various businesses and foundations.
WikiLeaks, in recent tweets, has suggested that Omidyar’s influence was responsible not only for the FPF’s decision but also for the unusual attacks that some FPF members have launched against WikiLeaks, particularly Assange, in recent months. The most outspoken of these members has been FPF director Micah Lee, who is employed by the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept.
In February of last year, Lee called Assange a “rapist, liar & ally to fascists” in a tweet — despite the fact that Assange was never charged with rape, his alleged accusers have also claimed that Assange had not sexually assaulted them, and there is abundant evidence suggesting that the rape investigation was a means of ensnaring Assange to ensure his extradition to the United States. Based on Lee’s other tweets, the “ally to fascists” charge ostensibly refers to Lee’s belief that Wikileaks’ publications of emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was done explicitly, with Assange’s blessing, to aid the Trump campaign.
Lee has also claimed that Assange is a “Putin fanboy” who doesn’t care “about government transparency if the government in question is Russia,” even though WikiLeaks has published information damaging to the Russian government while Putin was president. Lee also intimated that Assange may have a direct relationship to the Kremlin, an outlandish claim for which there is no basis.
Lee, in other tweets, has also perpetuated the “Russiagate” conspiracy in attempts to link Assange to Trump to Putin. …
I think it’s reasonable to wonder whether Lee being bribed or blackmailed. Likewise with Greenwald and even Snowden. What happened to the millions of pages of documents that Snowden supposedly gave to Greenwald when they met in hong kong? Why isn’t Snowden asking about them?