Julian Assange and Israel Shamir: An Update
In December, I wondered why Julian Assange was employing a known anti-Semite and Holocaust denier—and why no mainstream media outlets thought this bit of information worth covering. Slowly, after the story was batted around the blogosphere, a columnist for the Guardian, WikiLeaks' British media partner, pushed the story further into the mainstream. BoingBoing, Fast Company, and The Jerusalem Post provided some follow up coverage. And now, according to a British journalist friend, the BBC's flagship documentary program, Panorama, will take up the troubling Assange-Shamir relationship next week.
Despite professing a love of leakers (liar!) but a deep distrust of this particular leak broker (neocon!), a smattering of spittle-flecked fringe bloggers, many of whom suggested that to distrust Assange was to hate freedom, went on the attack, bizarrely claiming that there was no evidence to backup any of my claims (there was plenty) and that Wikileaks was certainly not involved in employing Shamir (they were). One excitable blogger wrote that the walrus-faced Jew-hater had no connection to WikiLeaks and was merely an "enthusiastic fan" of the site. Well, I hate to say I told you so, but…I told you so. According to this new report from right-wing reactionaries at The Guardian ("Holocaust denier in charge of handling Moscow cables"), it is slightly worse than I suspected.
At Ellingham Hall, the Norfolk country house where he is staying while on bail, Assange was seen handing over batches of them to visiting foreign journalists, including someone who was simply introduced as "Adam".
"He seemed like a harmless old man," said one staffer, "apart from his habit of standing too close and peering at what was written on your screen." He was introduced as the father of Assange's Swedish crony, journalist Johannes Wahlström, and took away copies of cables from Russia and post-Soviet states. According to one insider, he also demanded copies of cables about "the Jews."
Internal WikiLeaks documents, seen by the Guardian, show Shamir was not only given cables, but he also invoiced WikiLeaks for €2,000 (£1,700), to be deposited in a Tallinn bank account, in thanks for "services rendered—journalism". What services? He says: "What I did for WikiLeaks was to read and analyse the cables from Moscow."…
According to a reporter on Russian paper Kommersant, he was offering to sell articles based on the cables for $10,000 (£6,300). He had already passed some to the state-backed publication Russian Reporter. He travelled on to Belarus, ruled by the Soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko, where he met regime officials. The Russian Interfax news agency reported that Shamir was WikiLeaks' "Russian representative", and had "confirmed the existence of the Belarus dossier".
According to him, WikiLeaks had several thousand "interesting" secret documents. Shamir then wrote a piece of grovelling pro-Lukashenko propaganda in Counterpunch, claiming "the people were happy, fully employed, and satisfied with their government".
So yes, despite knowing Shamir's extremist background, his desire for cables about "the Jews," his meetings with Belorussian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko, Julian Assange continues to work with his Russian distributor (and his son, the equally dubious Johannes Wahlström) and is indeed paying him for his role in spreading the cables in Russia.