Protect Your Friends -- Protect Julian Assange

01/31/2011 02:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

After months of isolation and sleep deprivation — psychological
torture — Bradley Manning probably no longer knows whether he was
involved in leaking collateral murder video and various other
scandalous documents. True or not, he is likely to confess to it, but
what his captors really want is to get Julian Assange. They want to
claim he was involved in convincing Manning to leak the documents so
they can punish him too. They could make Manning say so, but
testimony from a broken co-defendent may not be very convincing. They
need more.

They may try to use you to get it.

I hear that they are focusing on Manning's friends in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, seeking to link Manning to Assange through them and
some chain of other people, then accuse the whole lot. Any chain of
people they can get will do.

Prof. James Duane, of the Regent University School of Law, href=""> explains how stating even a harmless fact
to the police can enable them to convict you of a crime that you did
not commit. (The second part too.) I
didn't refer to these on because you need to run
non- href="">free/libre
Javascript code to view the videos there, even if you use the free href="">Gnash player instead of Adobe's
nonfree player which href="">implements digital

During the present witch hunt, it's worse. Innocent-seeming
information they get from you could give them the opportunity to
convict you or your friends, and Assange, even if you had nothing to
do with the leak and neither did they.

Suppose that federal agents believe that Bradley Manning knew
J. R. Gensym. Suppose they find out that you met J. R. Gensym. They
could try to pressure you into testifying that you helped Julian
Assange communicate with J. R. Gensym and Bradley Manning (even if you
didn't). With that testimony, they can condemn Assange to a life of
solitary confinement. Whatever they threaten you with, it won't be as
bad as the shame of knowing you were their tool to destroy

If they don't see a good way to use you against Assange, they might
try to use your friends or acquaintances instead.

Suppose they find out from you that Fred Crunchly knew
J. R. Gensym. And suppose they see a way to accuse Fred of some
felony — maybe a real one, or perhaps a plausible falsehood
fabricated out of strained interpretations of innocent facts. Then
they can invite him to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for
testifying that Julian Assange used him to communicate with
J. R. Gensym and Bradley Manning.

If he cracks, they get Assange. Whether Fred ever communicated with
Julian Assange will make no difference if he testifies that he did.
(A state that practices imprisonment without trial based on secret
evidence, and shields torturers, cannot be relied on to be scrupulous
about the truth.) As for you, your sentence will be 40 years' hard

If you're in the computing community or the dissident community, or
you know someone who is, be careful for your friends' sake. It is a
crime to lie to investigators, and they can twist most anything you
might say to them into a lie; but it is lawful to refuse to answer, or
(much better) to bring a lawyer who will remind you to say

Meanwhile, and don't gossip about your acquaintances with people you
don't know very well — nor on the telephone even with friends
— nor in a room where there is an eavesdropping device (aka cell
phone) unless ALL its batteries have been removed.

Copyright 2011 Richard Stallman

Released under the Creative Commons Attribution Noderivs 3.0 license.