The prosecution and the prison where Alyokhina is detained both opposed the appeal, saying she “systematically breaks the facility’s rules, has outstanding penalties for rule-breaking and therefore should continue doing her term.”The punk group member’s defense stressed that they would appeal the court’s decision, which they blasted as “unlawful and unfounded.” Since the lawyers had been barred from appearing in the courtroom on Alyokhina’s request, a state lawyer appointed by the judge represented her at the hearing. The group member however had not authorized him to do that, the defense team pointed out.On the eve of the trial in Russia’s central Perm region, Alyokhina announced she was going on hunger strike after learning that she was not allowed to attend her parole hearing; she made an appearance in court via a video link. As the trial concluded, she vowed to continue with her hunger strike.Alyokhina, along with two other Pussy Riot members, was jailed for two years last August on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for participating in the infamous ‘punk prayer’ protest in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral, Christ the Savior.Sir Paul McCartney: Steady support After Alyokhina was banned from the hearing, Paul McCartney penned a letter voicing support for her and the other members of Pussy Riot.”My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole, which, of course, is being watched by people all over the world,” McCartney wrote in a letter posted on his website on Wednesday. “In the great tradition of fair-mindedness which the Russian people (many of whom are my friends) are famous for, I believe that you granting this request would send a very positive message to all the people who have followed this case.”In a separate letter, McCartney also expressed support for Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was denied early release on parole last month.”I have had a long relationship with the Russian people, and, with this in mind, I am making the following request in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people — all people, with compassion and kindness,” the letter reads.The ex-Beatles previously voiced support for the band on Twitter last August: “I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest,” wrote McCartney.”Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies,” he added.Tolokonnikova is serving her sentence in a different detention facility than Alyokhina – one 220 kilometers outside Saransk, the capital of the Mordovia region.A third Pussy Riot member, Ekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence last October, as she was not actually inside Christ the Savior Cathedral when the now-infamous ‘punk prayer’ took place. …
Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy-speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, has declared he was insulted by some of the online statements made by members of the opposition movement on May 9, the day Russia marks victory over Nazi Germany. Zheleznyak pointed at participants of the Bolotnaya Square anti-government protests as authors of the remarks in question. He neither gave particular names nor specified which exact words had angered him, only citing those loosely. “They say that they hate parades, they consider the St. George ribbon a fetish, they are not sure what’s better – Russia’s victory or if Hitler had won. They think they have the right to put to doubt our victory in the Great Patriotic War [WWII],” according to Zheleznyak, as cited by Regnum news agency. He demanded the bill on criminal prosecution for attempts to justify Nazism and for questioning the USSR’s role in the WWII victory to be back on the Duma agenda. The proposal for the bill was submitted to the Duma in late March. Under it, offenders could face fines of up to 300,000 rubles (roughly US$ 9,500), or be denied the right to hold certain ranks, or be sentenced to two years of compulsory labor or to a year in jail. A similar proposal has been under the Duma consideration since 2009. The older version is tougher with fines of up to 500,000 rubles (US$16,000) and potential prison term of up to five years. …
According to the latest census on contractors accompanying US forces performed by the Professional Overseas Contractors industry group, the US employs 110,404 people in Afghanistan, 33,444 of which are Americans. Their job classifications include everything from base support to construction and from logistics to security.“There are already far more contractors or mercenaries in Afghanistan than there are [US] troops,” Middle East expert, Phyllis Bennis told RT. Once US troops withdraw, it will be up to this private military to train the Afghan police and army. They will also take charge of the development and reconstruction effort. All of this is stipulated in the Afghan-American strategic partnership agreement which allows a small number of US forces to remain in the country until 2024. Under this strategic partnership agreement the remaining troops – the number of which has not yet been made public – will remain “until the future government in Afghanistan says that they can’t,” Bennis says. But since only a small number of US military personnel will stay, these “would likely be mainly special forces” whose only job “will be largely to kill Afghans, not to do anything else,” Bennis believes. “We don’t know either the final number, if that’s been agreed to yet it’s being held privately, and we also don’t know the critical question of whether the Afghan government will allow those US troops to serve with immunity. That was the reason they were all pulled out of Iraq,” she added. The military troops however may have to leave all together if the Afghan government refuses to grant them immunity, leaving US soldiers prone to prosecution.“The Obama administration was not prepared to have US troops who might be accused of war crimes and might indeed be guilty of war crimes be sent to trial in Iraqi courts,” Bennis explained. “They may face the same decision in Afghanistan.” In any case, experts agree, the US paid contractors will stay in Afghanistan for many years to come.According to casualty figures, contractors are also the primary targets of armed attacks by insurgents in the county. In 2011, at least 430 workers employed by American contractors lost their lives as the US began relying less on military enforcements and more on performance by way of private companies. By comparison, the US military reports that 418 of their own soldiers died that year.With an estimated cost of some $627 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, that is some $50 billion a month, the US aims to reduce its military spending. However it will still pay for contractors to remain as long as the troop contingent stays for a decade.The government spent $516 billion on contracts in 2012 all over the world, according to Bloomberg government study. “Between 2001 and 2011, dollars obligated to contract awards by DOD more than doubled, and contract spending outpaced growth in other DOD outlays,” according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies which discovered DOD spent $375 billion on contracts in 2011.For instance the USAID spent just $1.6 billion on contracts in 2000 – but in 2011 that number rose to $9 billion. The State Department $700 million in 2000 but was awarded $4 billion in 2011.US government agencies do not disclose the funds they spend on contracts related to the war effort.At the height of the US war in Iraq more than 150,000 contractors were employed there. Around 8,500 remain today, including 2,356 Americans.“In Iraq, at its peak, we had at least as many, sometimes many more contractors as we did troops in battle areas,” Stephen Schooner, a professor of government contract law at George Washington University was quoted by the Fiscal Times. …
Larry Wilkerson: President Obama protected Bush/Cheney from criminal prosecution to protect himself …
“The Truth will come out.”
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has been announcing it for months on his website and a white paper released today is the first big step towards that goal.
Titled “The United States vs You (and Kim Dotcom)” and written by Megaupload lawyers Ira Rothken and Robert Amsterdam, the paper accuses the Obama administration of being a pawn of big corporations. It further describes in detail how the authorities obliterated Megaupload on flaky legal grounds.
“The message is clear. The White House is for sale. Due process and the rule of law have little value to the current administration. More and more of our rights are eroding away to protect the interests of large corporations and their billionaire shareholders,” Dotcom tells TorrentFreak.
According to Dotcom his case is just one example of how corporate interests threaten people’s rights and freedom on the Internet in general.
“Silicon Valley has been turned into Surveillance Valley. Kids with keyboards are the new terrorists. Copyright is now a matter of national security. This is all very un-American. Read the White Paper and wake up.”
The 38-page white paper starts with a bang:
“The criminal prosecution of Megaupload and Kim Dotcom is purportedly the ‘largest copyright case in history,’ involving tens of millions of users around the world, and yet it is founded on highly dubious legal principles and apparently propelled by the White House’s desire to mollify the motion picture industry in exchange for campaign contributions and political support,” the white paper begins.
One of the main complaints against the legal process is that under U.S. law Megaupload and its employees can’t be held criminally responsible for copyright infringements committed by the site’s users.
“The prosecution seeks to hold Megaupload and its executives criminally responsible for alleged infringement by the company’s third-party cloud storage users. The problem with the theory, however, is that secondary copyright infringement is not – nor has it ever been – a crime in the United States.”
“The federal courts lack any power to criminalize secondary copyright infringement; the U.S. Congress alone has such authority, and it has not done so. As such, the Megaupload prosecution is not only baseless, it is unprecedented,” Rothken and Amsterdam write.
The paper continues to give a detailed overview of legal jurisprudence in Megaupload’s favor. Among other things, the lawyers note that Megaupload granted very broad DMCA takedown powers to copyright holders, who could remove any file from the cloud hosting service without oversight.
Most of the legal arguments laid out in the white paper have been highlighted previously. What is new, however, is the legal team’s frontal attack on the Obama administration. The suggestion is, that the White House has been corrupted by corporate money and that the assault on Megaupload was a payoff.
“The degree to which the Copyright Lobby, and the MPAA specifically, have managed to instrumentalize the current Administration to take down a foreign corporation and its executives is, quite literally, un-American,” the lawyers write.
Corrupted by sizable election contributions from corporate interest groups, the United States no longer stands for principled standards and the rule of law, the lawyers argue.
“Those values appear to have fallen by the wayside under this White House, which seems content to violate the due process rights of criminal defendants, mislead the courts, and advance baseless legal theories so long as its fund-raising remains uninterrupted.”
The Truth Will Come Out
Megaupload’s lawyers see the MPAA as the driving force behind the criminal prosecution of the cloud hosting site and its employees. According to them, it is no coincidence that the Hollywood group is headed by former Senator Chris Dodd, one of Vice President Joe Biden’s best friends.
“As the new Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, Chris Dodd improperly leveraged his friendship with Joe Biden to achieve the MPAA’s objectives. Former Senator Dodd’s relationship with the Vice President– who comes off manipulated, a cheerfully credulous facilitator – together with the Obama Administration’s ravenous hunger for campaign contributions, has given the MPAA absolute control over how the U.S. Department of Justice plays the game in enforcing copyright law,” they write.
Continuing on the corruption theme, Rothken and Amsterdam go on to describe MPAA’s influence in Washington as “State Capture.”
“The MPAA’s overt use of campaign contributions to sway the U.S. government into engaging in what amounts to unlawful action against Megaupload reflects a form of State Capture, a term coined by the World Bank to describe a brand of corruption characterized by the ability of a relatively small number of private interests to shape the official rules of the game through direct payments or other forms of financial influence.”
One cited example of how political funding was used to influence decisions was a January 2012 threat from the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. He stated that Hollywood would stop donating to politicians who fail to protect their interests.
“By threatening to revoke vital political and monetary support from the Administration at a crucial moment, the MPAA has exercised de facto control over key levers of executive power in Washington – law enforcement, prosecutors, trade negotiators – and is using those instruments of state power to further the financial interests of its members in Hollywood.”
The white paper further gives numerous examples of how Megaupload’s lawyers believe the authorities abused their power to further the interests of the copyright lobby. The overall conclusion is that people’s rights and freedoms are trumped to secure political donations, which are clear signs of contract prosecution.
“The U.S. government’s attack against Megaupload bears all the hallmarks of a contract prosecution: a case resting on erroneous theories of criminal law, littered with due process violations and prosecutorial abuses, carried out for the benefit of a select few in exchange for their political and financial support,” the lawyers write.
“In the name of eliminating copyright infringement, Hollywood has exerted a corrupting influence in Washington, leading us all down a slippery slope that not only threatens innovation and Internet freedom, but also has profound implications for constitutional principles of free speech, privacy and due process.”
Finally, the white paper suggests that this is not an isolated incident. It warns the public that these corrupt forces can quash anything that stands in the way of the private interests of those who make significant campaign contributions.
“Megaupload and Kim Dotcom are today’s targets, but the crosshairs can just as easily be trained on anybody who dares challenge or inconvenience a special interest that holds sway in Washington, and the current Administration – with its notoriously insatiable appetite for campaign contributions – seems all too willing to cooperate.”
The above points are just samples from the white paper, which is certainly worth reading in its entirety. There is no doubt that the Megaupload legal team have just planted a virtual bomb under the Megaupload prosecution. It will be interesting to see how this is received, and whether we will hear a response from the accused.
Source: Megaupload Launches Frontal Attack on White House Corruption
Earlier this month prosecutor Henry Olin of the International Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm announced that Gottfrid Svartholm had been charged with several hacking related offenses including serious fraud, attempted aggravated fraud, and aiding attempted aggravated fraud.
The public heard of the charges via a press statement on April 16 but Gottfrid discovered the news only after watching TV in his Mariefred prison cell later that day. According to ComputerSweden, Gottfrid and his alleged accomplices will now go on trial starting May 20.
At this stage it appears that Gottfrid will plead “not guilty” to what is emerging as a sophisticated hack, between January 2010 and April 2012, of Logica, a Swedish IT company working with local tax authorities. Much of the prosecution’s evidence was obtained from a computer seized from Gottfrid. The Pirate Bay co-founder says that the information was placed there via the Internet but he won’t name the culprit out of fear of reprisals.
According to the indictment, Gottfrid and accomplices first gained access to an FTP server on which scripts were run to obtain such things as password lists. These were subsequently cracked and the information was used to gain access to more systems. It is claimed that the attackers took steps to hide their identities by using compromised wireless networks and relay servers around the world.
According to authorities around 16GB of confidential data was copied by the hackers and the transfer of such a large amount of data was one of the factors that led to their discovery. But it’s the nature of that data and the way it is being presented to the media by Swedish authorities that’s causing concern for Gottfrid’s mother Kristina Svartholm.
“The prosecutor has claimed in the media that the hacking of Logica, and thus the access to information emanating from the Swedish tax authorities, has caused worries among people who live with protected identities. Some of them have even felt compelled to move from one place to another, according to the prosecutor,” Kristina told TorrentFreak.
“I have recently been approached by people who have told me that this simply can’t be true. Personally I don’t know much about how the system works, but since one of these persons has a protected identity him-/herself, I find it less plausible that I am totally misinformed.”
Kristina says that her sources report that there’s no possibility that obtaining information from the tax authorities would be harmful to protected individuals in the way the prosecutor has claimed, since their identities are protected both within and outside the system.
“What was hacked and published on the Internet were so-called personal numbers (not to be mixed up with security numbers), numbers that are public in themselves. Some of them did belong to people that were protected, and other numbers did not. Anyhow, the numbers couldn’t be used for finding out the identities and whereabouts of anyone.”
Kristina believes that if this scenario is true, the bleak picture now being painted by the authorities is the cause of anxiety among people. She adds that one of the companies involved reported to the police that the publicity being given to the data breach could be more harmful than the hacking itself.
“My question is why the prosecutor wants to give this picture of severe damage caused to individuals, a picture quite different from what my sources have told me. Unfortunately it is well on line with what was communicated to the Cambodian authorities last year when the Swedish prosecutor asked for their help to pick up Gottfrid,” Kristina notes.
“These documents haven’t become public until now. They show that the Swedish authorities presented daunting ‘facts’ to Cambodia about Gottfrid. No wonder that they placed him in their anti-terrorist locals in Phnom Penh. However, I can’t see much of that information reflected in the prosecution presented two weeks ago.”
Finally as further reading, researchers at Lund University, Sweden, have been commenting on the hacks and subsequent prosecution. Marcin de Kaminski asks what lessons can be learned and Håkan Hydén asks whether the $4,200 Gottfrid is alleged to have transfered from a Danish bank amounts to aggravated fraud and “abusing the public trust.”
Source: Pirate Bay Founder on Trial Next Month Facing Societal Damage Claims
A Dutchman has been arrested in Spain in connection with last month’s unprecedented cyberattack that reportedly slowed down the Internet, the Dutch prosecution service said. The 35 year old identified only as S.K. was arrested in Barcelona and the house where he was staying searched by…