WikiLeaks pioneered the use of encryption and air gapped desktops to safeguard sources and private documents later employed in major stream news rooms, in accordance to proof by an Italian investigative journalist.

Stefania Maurizi claimed that the organisation had taken comprehensive actions to secure hundreds of state section files leaked by Chelsea Manning in 2010.

She gave penned evidence during the 4-week extradition trial of Julian Assange at the Outdated Bailey, which finished yesterday.

In accordance to her proof, US cables published by WikiLeaks confirmed that the US experienced properly positioned stress on Italian politicians not to extradite and prosecute the CIA officers accountable for the kidnap and torture of an Egyptian cleric seized from the streets of Milan.

Assange is accused of offences below the Pc Fraud and Abuse Act and 17 counts less than the Espionage Act right after obtaining and publishing hundreds of categorised paperwork from former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

US prosecutors have alleged that Assange knowingly revealed hundreds of unredacted point out department paperwork which place US informants at possibility.

Maurizi, a journalist with newspapers l’Espresso and La Repubblica, labored as a media companion with WikiLeaks for more than 9 months to analyse US Point out Section cables related to Italy and utilised community awareness to redact the names of folks who could possibly be at danger if their names were being disclosed.

Revolutionary cryptography

Maurizi, who has a degree in maths and wrote a dissertation on cryptography, explained that WikiLeaks experienced pioneered the use of encryption to guard journalistic sources.

“Julian Assange and WikiLeaks had been groundbreaking the use of encryption to secure journalistic sources and this was of good curiosity to me each as an investigative journalist and a mathematician,” she stated.

At the time no significant newsroom was applying cryptography to systematically protect resources, and it would be a long time right before other newsrooms, these types of as the Guardian and the Washington Put up introduced Cryptography.

WikiLeaks made primary documents available on its world wide web sites so that people today could accessibility the initial documentation and verify the precision of posted media studies. Assange termed it “scientific journalism,” mentioned Maurizi.

The journalist worked with Assange on the Iraq War logs in 2010 and was provided entry to more than 4,000 Condition Section cables in 2011.

“I was offered an encrypted USB adhere and after I returned to Italy I was provided a password that would then make it possible for opening the file. Almost everything was carried out with the utmost responsibility and notice,” she explained.

Maurizi applied an air-gapped pc, which she never still left unattended, to analyse the cables, and adopted other safety steps.

“Even the perform performed by near colleagues on stories concerning the Italian Mafia requiring severe warning and security in no way arrived at these ranges,” she said.

Maurizi claimed that she redacted any sensitive names – utilizing 12 X’s, so that the size of the title did not present any clue to the id –  before they were revealed by WikiLeaks.

US set pressure on Italy to stop extradition of CIA suspects

The diplomatic cables drop light-weight on “extremely serious human rights violations” such as torture and kidnapping, said Maurizi.

They discovered that the US experienced place tension on Italian politicians not to extradite US citizens and CIA agents held liable for the kidnaping and extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar from the streets of Milan.

Omar was taken to Egypt in 2003 where he was held in cell, blindfolded and handcuffed and frequently tortured for 14 months, according to an investigation by Mother Jones. 

Omar was sentenced in his absence to 6 a long time on terrorism charges in a decision confirmed by the Italian Supreme Courtroom in 2015.

Thanks to a sequence of blunders by the US agents, Italian prosecutors identified 26 US citizens, typically CIA officers, responsible for the kidnapping.

They were being tried out in absentia and convicted by the Italian supreme court between 2012 and 2014 to sentences of concerning 6 and 9 several years.

Underneath US tension, successive Italian justice ministers refused to problem extradition requests to the US to set the suspects on demo in Italy, and quite a few of the suspects been given presidential pardons.

Without having WikiLeaks publication of US diplomatic cables, “it would have been not possible to get factual and good proof about the US pressures on the Italian politicians,” claimed Maurizi.

Issues led to publication of unredacted documents

Maurizi reported that she figured out that one particular of WikiLeaks media partner’s passwords experienced been compromised for the duration of a trip to pay a visit to Assange, who was then a guest at Ellingham Corridor, a place dwelling in Norfolk, in August 2011.

The password had been disclosed in a book on WikiLeaks, Within Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy penned by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding.

Afterwards the German Newspaper Der Freitag posted a story that did not reveal the password  but built it achievable for “people to link the dots”.

“There was an at any time-widening recognition that the data files, right until then thought of to be safely and securely encrypted might even so be general public extremely shortly,” she stated. 

Copies of an encrypted file that contains the unredacted Point out Section paperwork experienced been circulating on the world wide web.

Christian Grothoff, an specialist in network safety from the College of Used Sciences in Bern, explained to the court on 21 September that the file was most likely to have been distributed following people today mirrored the contents of WikiLeaks next a denial of provider attack.

Maurizi mentioned, “WikiLeaks was in the position of its have info acquiring been irreversibly and repeatedly embedded in the world-wide-web and they could not undo what had occurred.”

She mentioned that Assange was acutely troubled by the scenario and produced urgent makes an attempt to advise the State Department that facts was circulating out of manage.

When WikiLeaks released the unredacted documents, adhering to their publication on the US world-wide-web web page Cryptome, Maurizi contacted safety qualified Bruce Schneier.

In accordance to extracts quoted in Maurizi’s evidence, Schneier reported in an electronic mail that “both functions created dumb faults.” He explained that “If I had been to assess the blame the Guardian built the worse mistake”. Without the need of the essential no a person would have been ready to brute drive the file. “No just one, likely not even aliens with a earth-sized laptop or computer.”

A choose will rule no matter if the United kingdom must grant the US request to extradite Assange on 4 January 2021.



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