Julian Assange Case: Key Witness Admits He Lied, US Media Ignores Exculpatory Revelations

Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson admitted to an Icelandic newspaper that he lied about being asked to hack computers in order to get immunity and misrepresented his ties with the Wikileaks founder.

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New Delhi: The United States’ Department of Justice’s case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange took a serious hit last week after a key witness admitted that he fabricated accusations in order to get immunity. Though these revelations were made public by an Icelandic newspaper on June 26, the mainstream media in the US has largely chosen to ignore them.

According to the bi-weekly Stundin, the witness, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, “has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud”. He was recruited by US authorities in order to build a case against Assange, and misled them into believing he was a close associate of the Wikileaks founder. In reality, however, he had only “volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organisation”, the Icelandic newspaper reports.

The US is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the UK. If it succeeds, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail because of the charges filed against him. But now, with Thordason accepting that he fabricated his testimony, the veracity of the indictment submitted by American authorities in the UK has come under serious question.

The court documents, according to Stundin, claim that Thordarson (referred to only as ‘Teenager’, because he looks young even though he is 28), was asked by Assange to hack MPs’ computers in Iceland to access certain recordings of them. However, the witness has now said that Assange made no such demand, and instead Thordarson received these recordings from a third party and offered them to Assange without checking them himself. He has also made clear that his earlier allegations, on Assange asking him to hack computers, was false.

There are also other misleading elements in the court documents based on Thordarson’s false testimony, Stundin reports:

“One is a reference to Icelandic bank documents. The magistrate court judgement reads: “It is alleged that Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a “NATO country 1” bank”.

Thordarson admits to Stundin that this actually refers to a well publicised event in which an encrypted file was leaked from an Icelandic bank and assumed to contain information about defaulted loans provided by the Icelandic Landsbanki. The bank went under in the fall of 2008, along with almost all other financial institutions in Iceland, and plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. The file was at this time, in summer of 2010, shared by many online who attempted to decrypt it for the public interest purpose of revealing what precipitated the financial crisis. Nothing supports the claim that this file was even “stolen” per se, as it was assumed to have been distributed by whistleblowers from inside the failed bank.”

Thordarson, Stundin has claimed, continued his own criminal activities even while he was in contact with US authorities. “It is as if the offer of immunity, later secured and sealed in a meeting in DC, had encouraged Thordarson to take bolder steps in crime. He started to fleece individuals and companies on a grander scale than ever; usually by either acquiring or forming legal entities he then used to borrow merchandise, rent luxury cars, even order large quantities of goods from wholesalers without any intention to pay for these goods and services,” the report notes.

Also read: Wikileaks Acted in Public Interest, ‘Pentagon Papers’ Whistleblower Says at Assange Hearing

“This is just the latest revelation of how problematic the United States’ case is against Julian Assange – and, in fact, baseless,” human rights attorney Jennifer Robinson told Democracy Now on the Stundin investigation. “The evidence from Thordarson that was given to the United States and formed the basis of the second, superseding indictment, including allegations of hacking, has now been, on his own admission, demonstrated to have been fabricated. Not only did he misrepresent his access to Julian Assange and to WikiLeaks and his association with Julian Assange, he has now admitted that he made up and falsely misrepresented to the United States that there was any association with WikiLeaks and any association with hacking.”

“…the factual basis for this case has completely fallen apart. And we have been calling for this case to be dropped for a very long time. And this is just the last form of abuse demonstrated in this case that shows why it ought to be dropped,” Robinson continued.

Media silence

While these revelations should have created an uproar, most big, corporate-owned media houses in the US have ignored them FAIR, an American media watchdog, has pointed out in an article on its website.

“Such a blatant and juicy piece of important news should have made worldwide headlines. But, instead, as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR. A search online for either “Assange” or “Thordarson” will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the VergeWired or Gizmodo,” FAIR says.

“It is not that the corporate press are completely uninterested in Assange. A number of outlets have covered the news this week that he and his partner Stella Morris are planning to get married (e.g., SBS, 6/27/21Daily Mail6/28/21Evening Standard6/28/21; London Times6/29/21). Yet none of these articles mentioned the far more consequential news about Thordarson and how it undermines the entire prosecution of Assange,” FAIR continues.

Other independent journalists too have pointed out the one-sided and biased coverage of the Assange case.