The @WikiLeaks Twitter handle is widely considered to be run by founder Julian Assange.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2014
On Monday The Intercept reported, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, that the NSA is able “to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation” in the Bahamas and an unnamed country.
Editor Glenn Greenwald said The Intercept didn’t reveal the country because they were “very convinced” that doing so would lead to “deaths.”
After a heated discussion between WikiLeaks, Greenwald, Intercept Editor-In-Chief John Cook, and American WikiLeaks hacker-turned-Der Spiegal contributor Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks tweeted that it will reveal the name of the second country being spied on by the NSA.
That implies that WikiLeaks knows the other country — which would only be possible if the rogue publishing organisation has access to the Snowden documents. There is no overt indication that it does.
Consequently, there is no clear indication that WikiLeaks can back up the threat. The only plausible way for this to be possible is if Appelbaum, who led the reporting on several Der Spiegel articles based on NSA documents (which may or may not be from Snowden), shared information with his friend Assange after agreeing that the redaction by The Intercept is “a mistake.”
Appelbaum, a friend of Laura Poitras, the other journalist whom Snowden gave a large set of documents, also gave a presentation detailing a classified document listing technology available to TAO. It is not known how he acquired those documents.
These coincidences do not imply that Appelbaum knows the unnamed country, or that he offered this information to Assange. But they are significant if they lend credibility of WikiLeaks’ threat.
The threat’s potential for harm is real: Snowden’s closest source and the U.S. government believe that revealing the unnamed country “could lead to increased violence.”
Scary stuff. Journalist Jeremy Duns, who assumes that Assange is behind the WikiLeaks tweets, summed it up like this:
@20committee If his 72-hour SPECTRE-to-UN-style tweet is true, he a) May cause deaths b) Now has access to Snowden material. What a maniac.
— Jeremy Duns (@jeremyduns) May 19, 2014
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