The United States’ lead witness in the case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has admitted that he lied in the testimony he gave to US authorities, raising serious questions about the reliability of the statements in the indictment against the beleaguered whistleblower.
Assange is facing multiple charges in the US related to his publication of leaked documents a decade ago.
The Icelandic national, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, a convicted paedophile and fraudster, said in an interview with Stundin that accounts of the leak of sensitive information to Wikileaks and Assange were fabricated.
Over nine hours of interviews were conducted with Thordarson, during which he willingly discussed his crimes, involvement, and the “deceptions” he was a part of relating to charges against Assange.
In particular, this casts doubts on the basis for the indictment against Assange that is currently in the UK courts and could result in his extradition. The prosecutors are claiming that Thordarson received audio files containing secret recordings of Icelandic parliamentarians. This was allegedly then handed to Assange in early 2010.
The indictment claims that Assange asked Thordarson to “hack into computers to obtain information including audio recordings of phone conversations between high-ranking officials, including the members of Parliament of the government of a NATO country.
The prosecution claims that Assange actively sought out information and attempted to obtain the data through hacking. Thordarson is cited as the source of this information in the indictment.
But during his interview with Stundin, he clearly stated that while he had given a memory stick to Assange, he had no idea what was on them. “I never listened to them, so I have no idea what was on there,” he told the interviewer.
He then stated that he had never told the FBI that he gained the files through hacking. Additionally, he said that Assange did not ask him to hack to obtain them. When questioned about the disparity between the indictment and his claims, he replied, “I can’t answer that.”
When pressed on the matter, he said he couldn’t answer more questions of this type “because I’m not allowed to.”
The bombshell interview also lays bare Thordorson’s possible motivation for going along with the contradictory indictment.
Thordarson got involved with Wikileaks and the case at the age of 18. Despite his young age, he had already developed a reputation as a fraudster. In 2010, he set up an online store with Wikileaks merchandise and claimed to be raising money for them.
Instead, the money went into his personal bank account, and even today, he refuses to clarify what happened to it.
At the time, he was also wanted for other crimes in Iceland, including financial fraud and paedophilia.
As the pressure was mounting upon him, he walked into the US Embassy in Reykjavik and offered to testify against Assange in exchange for immunity. But this move found him in more hot water.
Thordarson had previously asked an infamous hacker named Lulzec to hack into Icelandic government sites for him. Lulzec had turned informant, and the FBI told Thoradarson that if he didn’t cooperate fully, he faced a long stretch in prison.
In his interview with Stundin, Thordarson said that he was under the impression the charges in Iceland would disappear if they cooperated with the US. He added that he received full immunity from Iceland and the US, and he had the threat of losing it, hanging over him at all times.
When asked what will happen to him and his immunity if Assange wins his fight against US extradition, he replied, “I don’t know,” but added he thought he would still get away with all his crimes, including the sexual abuse of minor boys.
As one of the main witnesses and sources in the US case against Assange, this brings the basis of the whole matter into question.
Assange is wanted in the US on 18 charges, including conspiring to hack into US military databases and publishing sensitive information. His site, Wikileaks, published thousands of sensitive US documents between 2010 and 2011.
These included files and videos that caused significant embarrassment to the US government. Some footage showed a 2007 US attack in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including Reuters journalists and civilians.
The US government said that publishing these documents was illegal. If he’s extradited to the US, he faces up to 175 years in prison.
In 2010, he was accused of rape in Sweden but the charges are largely believed to have been fabricated to allow extradition to Sweden which in turn would extradite him to the US. The charges were dropped in 2019.
In the UK, he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London between 2012 and 2019. His protection was revoked, and British police stormed the embassy and took him into custody. He was charged with breaching bail in 2019 and has been incarcerated at Belmarsh Prison since.
The US has failed to extradite him from the UK. In January of this year, the court blocked the US’s attempts to extradite him but kept him in custody. In July, the US government won the right to appeal against the decision. The case will be heard on 27 and 28 October.
After the most recent court ruling, Assange’s partner Stella Morris spoke through tears outside the court. She spoke of the threats made against her, Assange, and their children.
“These are sustained threats to his life for the last 10 years…this is our lives, we have the right to exist, we have a right to live, and we have a right for this nightmare to come to an end, once and for all.”