Assange Banged OUT of the Tanty: This Week in Online Tyranny

Wikileaks boss Julian Assange was awarded bail this week but not initially released. He had been taken into custody on a European arrest warrant for alleged rape and sexual assault in Sweden. His retention in jail was for an appeal by Sweden against the bail. It did not succeed, and Assange was freed this morning.

The response to the release of diplomatic cables, especially in the U.S., was closer to an overreaction than a reaction. Among the many actions taken were U.S. students warned off looking at the cables, U.S. federal workers and others warned not to read them, the cables being blocked by the U.S. Air Force, Wikileaks being blocked by various countries and the most witless, illegal and ill-considered slavering on the part of politicians since last week.

Chávez pushes anti-free speech law forward. The “Law on Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media,” a fig leaf of legitimization for the Venezuelan strong man’s campaign of silencing opponents, has taken another step toward implementation. This campaign has included journalist arrests and news organization shut-downs.

He has followed this up with a request for “decree powers” from the legislature, which he controls. Next month a new legislature, with fewer Chávez politicians, will take power. Decree powers would allow him to bypass legislative approval of his actions while they last.

Among other implications, this law would make ISPs and other “enablers” responsible for whatever appeared on websites they permitted access to, a shift to the Chinese approach.

Hungary is also seeking the passage of a restrictive media law, while Lebanon is trying to make theirs less onerous. We wish Lebanon good luck in this positive step.

Hackers arrested for DDOS attacks. A designer named Alex Tapanaris was arrested after his information was found embedded in a PDF press release purporting to come from the hacker group Anonymous. Several teenagers, said to be allied to Anonymous, were arrested in the Netherlands.

Detention extended for Vietnamese-French blogger. Blogger and university professor, Pham Minh Hoang, who has been imprisoned for four months. is now to be held for another four months while authorities “investigate” his crimes, which include attempting to overthrow the government (how they don’t say) and being part of a “terrorist organization” (read illegal opposition party).

Derakshan returned to jail. The Iranian-Canadian blogger was freed temporarily on bail but has now been returned to prison in Iran. His $1.5 million dollars bail got him two days with his family. The price of freedom? $520 an hour, apparently.

Lawyers boycott tortured blogger trial. One of the lawyers, Jalila Al-Sayed told the judge why they were boycotting the trial of bloggers, activist, clerics and journalists.

“We are withdrawing because the court is taking no account of our calls for an investigation into the torture allegations. We now consider this trial to be unjust and contrary to international standards and we refuse to be a party to it.”

Chavez photo by Jari Karl

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