The Cryptosphere is in the unusual position of occasionally featuring several of its contributors not only as writers but also as, ahem, material.
Love’s cause has recently been adopted by the Courage Foundation, putting him in the company of Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Matt DeHart, and Edward Snowden. Hundal has just announced the #Donate11 campaign: 11% of the Lulu.com sales of her book, From the Shadows: Persecution Games will go to Love’s defence fund. We spoke to them about the case to date, the campaign, and the implications of international prosecutorial overreach for the future of activism.
The Cryptosphere: Lauri, what is the situation with your case? As we understand it, the only court proceedings against you in the UK relate to the US request for extradition.
Lauri Love: I have not been charged with any offenses in the UK since my arrest in October 2013 due to a lack of what ever-so-quaintly refer to over here as ‘prima facie evidence’. This means in practice that the National Crime Agency — after arresting me and questioning me and taking all our computers and things and poking them with sharp sticks or whatever, and threatening me with prison time for not helping them decrypt things… — went to the Crown Prosecution Service and dumped a big binder on their table and the CPS came back and said “no dice.” The National Crime Agency are tirelessly persistent however, and insist that their investigation is ongoing and that evidence may manifest to allow charges to be brought at some point in the future. I wish them the best of luck, of course — they’re lovely people — but I cannot, for reasons of philosophical, religious, ethical and political conviction, render any active assistance in the matter.
I was seeking civil remedy for the return of my property, but that is currently stalled due to the court decided that it should cost more money than I possess for them to consider the issue. I imagine at some point, this will be addressed, as it’s kinda a bit of a piss-take really.
I am due at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 15th for a Case Management Hearing, which will undoubtedly be formalities, technicalities and tedium. I’m hesitant even to invite people to come along. I would suggest at least bringing an mp3 player or a good book. (I’m currently reading Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, which is highly recommended)
The Cryptosphere: What kinds of costs have you incurred due to fighting the extradition request?
[After the arrest] I was kept in a private prison in London run by the delightfully apathetic Serco until my passport had been surrendered and £5000 paid to the Court, and then another 20 hours just for fun or in the service of incompetence, we’re not sure yet. I was then spending 60% of my weekly income on bus tickets to sign on at the police station every day. This condition has been relaxed to twice-weekly, but it’s still a significant proportion of my meager means.
There are also travel costs to London, where my legal representatives are kept safely away from regular human beings. (No, they’re lovely. Really.) These add up. We expect to require several experts to assess and give testimony on medical and forensic matters, and there will be some expenses incurred for awareness-raising and also I’ve been toying with the idea of building an airship, just in case it all goes tits-up.
However, I hate money; I hate thinking about money; I don’t particularly enjoy having money — it tends to migrate very quickly to whoever or whatever seems be a good use of it around me. Therefore, I’ve left all such matters in the hands of good people like the Courage Foundation and some personal friends who are coordinating campaigny-type stuff.
The Cryptosphere: When did you hear about Kitty Hundal’s #Donate11 campaign for you?
I only heard last night when I was calling into the [AnonUK] radio show. I am bashfully but profoundly appreciative. Had to blink away a few onion spirits when she explained.
The Cryptosphere: Who came up with the idea?
Kitty Hundal: The basic idea was mine, and the only person I discussed it with was Raymond Johansen. He actively encouraged me and built on the concept. All I knew at that point was that I really wanted to give something back to the people who have given so much of themselves and sacrificed so much to help us all. Ray took that basic idea and built an entire concept around it. So the credit for the concept goes to him.
Lauri Love: I will be buying a copy from Lulu (who do not exploit authors — in fact, they are so good Kitty is also voluntarily kicking back some proceeds to them) http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/kittyhundal and I fully expect it to greatly improve my Monday and Wednesday morning bus rides to autograph the police’s prom yearbook.
The Cryptosphere: Why did you choose Lauri Love’s defense as the object of your donation?
Kitty Hundal: Mainly because Lauri is facing extradition, his case is coming up soon, and it’s the most immediate. Extradition will have a huge impact on how his case is dealt with in the courts and how he is dealt with in the prison system.
We already know how Chelsea Manning was tortured in the US prison system and there are strong suspicions that Matt DeHart is being framed by the US justice system because the information he had on those thumb drives was so explosive. Fidel Salinas was being abused by having his medication withheld, medication that had been prescribed by a medical doctor. Barrett Brown and Jeremy Hammond have had privileges suspended and been placed in solitary at various times for suspect reasons.
The US justice system and prison systems are extremely corrupt. The UK isn’t great either, but they aren’t targeting the hacktivists in the same extreme and harsh way.
In addition, Lauri is just the first. I will be donating to as many of these organizations and individuals that I can.
The Cryptosphere: What are the terms of your donation?
Kitty Hundal: It’s the Lulu.com sales that will be donated; the reason for this is that Lulu’s [own] commission is very small compared to Amazon and other sites whose commissions can go as high as 60% of the purchase price of the book. I’d like to reward Lulu for not engaging in gross exploitation of the artists and so I’m encouraging everyone to purchase only from them.
The donation is 11% of sales. I wanted a number that would be significant in some way. Memorable. 10% is the standard that most sponsorships like this will pay out, but that’s also the amount of tithe that the religious pay, so that number has a history and an association. I’m an atheist and freethinker so we decided that number wouldn’t be appropriate.
In 2011, there was a campaign by some Anons to help each other identify each other by setting their watch alarms to 11:11. If two people heard their alarms go off at the same time anywhere they would be able to identify each other as Anons. It didn’t really take off in any big way but somehow it seemed appropriate. So we went with it.
The #Donation11 campaign is just starting. Whatever gets sold in August will go to Lauri through the Courage Foundation. Every month, the needs of different cases will be assessed and the monthly donation will be determined on that basis and that person’s case will be promoted when I promote the book. The Courage Foundation is doing a lot of important work on behalf of the Transparency Enforcers. I’d like to promote that fact and so, will be donating through them.
I will also be donating through FreeAnons on behalf of specific Transparency Enforcers as well and for the same reasons.
In my opinion, it’s critically important at this time, that this entire “We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers” infrastructure be built and stabilized. My contribution to doing that is to promote that infrastructure.
The Cryptosphere: Are there points of commonality between your two experiences?
Kitty Hundal: In the sense that given the openly hostile environment to activism that we live in today, Lauri and/or any member of his family could potentially become the target of the types of crimes I was victimized by.
I don’t want to see what happened to me happen to anyone else. That’s why I wrote From the Shadows, Persecution Games. I want people to know that these dangers are very real and we really do need to stand up and fight them.
The story I tell is also a means of educating social activists to the strategies that could be used against them. While the implementations of the strategies have changed because of developments in technology, the strategies themselves are the same. You just have to read the Intercept articles on JTRIG to see that. My second book, which I hope to release next year, will introduce this in much more depth.
In other words: The persecution isn’t likely going to be limited to charges, convictions, and immediate financial ruin. In the case of some of these hacktivists, whistleblowers and independent media journalists, the persecution could become life long and all-encompassing.
I’m very afraid that my case (which was unusual for the time that it started in) will become the norm, and it won’t just be the activists at risk, but their family members as well. That type of persecution, before the new millennium, was usually limited to high-profile leaders and key people. Low-level activists or innocent family members were not normally targeted in this way. They might have become short-term targets in order to force them to turn on the real targets, but I’m not aware of any life-long persecution campaigns against them if they refused. They faced some harassment and rumor mongering but nothing like what was done to me.
Just looking at the impact that this had so far, I think people should be able to see what I mean. Jeremy Hammond’s mother, Sue Crabtree [of FreeAnons], and Matt DeHart’s parents have lost everything. They are financially ruined, and finding employment has been a challenge. Kylie Ochoa went through a great deal and was in desperate financial straits while trying to look after herself and her infant son while [her husband] Higs was in prison.
Jon Cowden, now released from prison has been forced into homelessness and he’s destitute [ed. note: we’ll have an update on Jon Cowden’s situation in a few hours]. Even the lawyer who sacrificed a great deal to help our transparency enforcers, Stanley Cohen, has paid a huge price and is financially ruined.
This is just the beginning and it scares me.
The Cryptosphere: So activists should study these cases and others, both to learn how to avoid the same fate or, if unsuccessful, to know what to expect and how to cope?
Kitty Hundal: I agree, but there’s more. Yes, people should study these cases seriously and take them seriously and learn from our experiences. People should also continue to follow these new cases, keep tabs on what is happening to everyone and not dismiss the seriousness of situations that many of these people may find themselves in.
We ARE our brothers keepers. That means that we must protect and defend the Transparency Enforcers, who, at key times, stood up for us.
Their sacrifices are real and long term. They don’t end the day they’re released from prison. The impact that [their actions] have on their lives and the lives of their families are real and also doesn’t end the day they’re released from prison.
In Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Jacob Applebaum and other cases, they may not go to jail but the impact on their lives and those of their families may still be long term and devastating.
Let’s not forget that even though Malcolm X died in 1965, that didn’t stop the FBI from targeting his daughter and grandson years later in the 1990’s.
Lauri Love: It behooves she who would work towards positive change in her environment or the world at large to know the perils that can befall the effective, or those perceived to be upsetting the wrong apple-carts. Moreover, this is fundamental to the tapestry of solidarity that binds all struggles and all who fight in them. Through awareness of historical reactionary persecution or subversion or distraction or co-option, and through solidarity and mutual-aid with those current and actively facing such responses, the aspiring agent of change not only strengthens the bonds that will secure her to the wider body of community – the same that will support her in her turn – but she is able to negate the efficacy of these attacks and tactics.
Forewarned is forearmed, and fraternity is formidable.
The Cryptosphere: Lauri, how long is your case expected to continue?
The short and glib but also accurate answer is that it’ll last until we win. More prosaically, the main substantive hearing is now scheduled for Dec. 17-18th on this year (three days after my birthday…). That may be the end of the matter if the Judge is favorably disposed. Otherwise, there will be an appeal to the High Court, which may take up to 6 months, then thereafter potentially to the Supreme Court on the UK or to the European Court of Human Rights, which may entail similar protracted drudgery.
I would rather things were dealt with this afternoon by a nice polite telephone conference and a cup of tea — it would save taxpayers a lot of money and my family and me a lot of stress and consternation.
However, there are some very serious points of law and justice to be considered, so I cannot really begrudge the law’s delay, nor the insolence of office. Not too much, anyway.
The Cryptosphere: Kitty, are you doing this #Donate11 campaign to send a message to governments, or to activists?
Kitty Hundal: My message is to the activists and the mass of people out there who need to wake up to the grim and dangerous realities of today’s world. I guess there’s an indirect message to the governments that the people are waking up and we are going to be a force for Transparency, Accountability and Equal Justice whether they like it or not.
I don’t doubt for one second that they consider us all terrorists. because it must be a terrifying prospect for them to realize that there are those who object to the treasonous acts of our governments to undermine our democracies and replace them with oligarchies.
We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers.
Don’t just learn from history. Make sure it doesn’t repeat itself.
The Cryptosphere: Any advice from the point of view of the experienced for people who want to make the world a better place without getting black-bagged and traded to foreign countries as political tokens?
Lauri Love: Aye, wait a year or so and I’ll see about ending the practice. Use the meanwhile to organize, self-educate, cultivate the values and virtues and skills and tactics and resilience to endure and succeed, engage in solidarity with those at the coalface, up against the line. Love one another.
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