The Pirate Parties International 2012 General Assembly is in progress. These are notes that I take as the meeting goes – just personal reflections.
(This page updates as new entries appear – no need to refresh.)
Jul 16 18:52 - According to Associated Press, Assange’s lawyers (Thomas Olsson and Per E Samuelsson) will appeal today’s verdict.
Jul 16 18:41 - The official verdict from the Stockholm District Court, in English, is here.
Jul 16 18:39 - (No more news from today’s hearing. Liveblog ends.)
Jul 16 18:14 - It would increasingly appear as though Julian Assange’s actual crime was “pissing off the United States”, just like the operators of The Pirate Bay. The Defense was walking all over the Prosecution in this hearing, literally quoting chapter and verse to show on the record that they are – and I am not exaggerating – criminally lazy on the job.
Jul 16 18:08 - VERDICT: Julian Assange is to REMAIN in detention in absentia. Just announced.
Jul 16 17:28 - According to side-channels from the Court to Swedish media, the verdict will probably be further delayed: “18:00 at earliest”. This is, of course, just a qualified guess.
Jul 16 17:20 - It’s also important to remember that a lifted detention in absentia does not, repeat not, mean a closed or dismissed case. It does, however, mean that the Prosecution will have to deal respectfully with Assange without being able to restrict his movement in the continued investigation. If there is any.
Jul 16 17:18 - The press conference has still not started, despite being announced to start at 17:00.
Jul 16 17:17 - It’s been my consistent impression that the Defense was just steamrolling all over the Prosecution in this hearing. But this is a political trial, and I’ve seen those before. In those, common sense don’t apply, and the victor can be predetermined and therefore spit gibberish in the hearings if they like, they’ll still win.
Jul 16 17:14 - Regardless of appeals, if this court lifts its previous detention in absentia, it’s undoubtedly a brighter picture even on appeal. Still waiting for a verdict.
Jul 16 17:12 - It’s unclear whether and how this verdict (continued or discontinued detention) can be appealed, considering the Stockholm District Court issued the detention in absentia in the first place. If the same court lifts its previous order, how can that be appealed, and what are the precise mechanisms? Unsure.
Jul 16 17:08 - Press conference in Stockholm District Court, announcing the verdict, is about to start.
Jul 16 16:48 - Hearings are over [as of about 16:20]. The court closes its doors for deliberations.
Jul 16 16:48 - Prosecution, final statement: “The European Arrest Warrant did in no way prevent Assange from coming to Sweden. Quite the opposite, it would have made sure he traveled to Sweden. While this may have been a question of form and comfort rather than actual destination, the EAW did not prevent Assange from traveling to Sweden as such.”
Jul 16 16:46 - Defense: “This case also breaks three other Swedish judicial principles. One, use of force must not only be necessary and in the public interest. Two, it must also be effective, and the use of force must cease when it is no longer effective. In this case, the rules say, the detention shall – shall – be lifted. There’s also the question whether a continued detention is even legal. The court approved a detention because of a flight risk, which was a legitimate reason. However, we know now that this is no longer valid. It cannot be effectuated. The only reason for the Prosecution to keep him detained at this point is to pressure him into abandoning his right to asylum – and this is not legal. Detention may never be used against a defendant to force them into admitting guilt or to make them surrender rights. Third, the proportionality principle: no matter what happens, a continued detention has no positive effects for the Swedish state nor for this case, but it has enormous negative effects for Assange.”
Jul 16 16:46 - Defense plays back clips from Fox News and other channels with political commentators stating Assange should be assassinated, calling him a terrorist, an enemy of the state, his organization a “weapon of mass destruction”, illustrating a clear and present danger to his person justifying political asylum. Defense argues that this shows clearly that Assange needs to exercise his political asylum, without that action being motivated by evading Swedish law. [UPDATED: Added link to video shown by Defense]
Jul 16 16:46 - Defense: “I’d like to play back this clip.” / Court: “That’s not possible. There’s a sound cable missing. Defense didn’t inform they’d be playing sound, just video.” Court starts digging through drawers looking for a sound cable for several minutes.
Jul 16 16:45 - Defense: “In an excerpt from Ecuador’s granting of asylum … it becomes clear that Ecuador is protecting Assange from Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Australia, from persecution in the United States. This has absolutely nothing to do with a Swedish legal case. The conclusion is that the assertion from the Prosecution that Assange only has himself to blame is nonsense on a pure legal basis; there are good reasons for political asylum which Ecuador has listed.”
Jul 16 16:45 - Defense: “In the UN Declaration of Human Rights, it’s clear that political asylum is not just a right to apply for, but also a right to enjoy and exercise, once granted. It’s absolutely clear that Prosecution’s points are in complete violation with international law.”
Jul 16 16:45 - Defense: “Applying for political asylum – is this even something reasonably encompassed in the concept of flight risk? First, you have to separate the application for asylum, and it actually being granted. If somebody is actively evading the law on their own, that’s one thing, but this is not what’s happened here. Assange can’t give himself this asylum. Prosecution is plain wrong in saying Assange did this on his own. He applied for political asylum, but a sovereign country granted it to him. That’s a legitimate mechanism. Granting somebody asylum can’t with any reason be construed to aid and abet a fugitive, of being a flight risk in the legal sense. International law requires respect for the institution of political asylum.”
Jul 16 16:44 - Defense: “Then what legal relevance does it have where the fingers are pointed? Prosecution is pointing at Assange, who applied for political asylum. We’re pointing at the Prosecution. It’s the Prosecution who have a duty under law to be active in an investigation, and not the defendant.“
Jul 16 16:44 - Defense: “By staying in the embassy, Assange has evaded British police and prevented effecutation of the detention, claims the Prosecution. He has chosen to stay in the embassy, they say. I’m not yet at that point, at proportionality. Rather, does the Prosecution have a legal right to stay passive? The answer, legally, is no. Prosecution is breaking the law in their handling of this case.”
Jul 16 16:44 - Defense: “The prosecution is actively choosing to refrain from completing the investigation, with the justification that “Assange must come to Sweden for a trial or jail anyway” — this is a behavior that’s disgraceful for the Prosecution. This is not up the Prosecution. A sentence is communicated by a Court, and not by the Prosecution.”
Jul 16 16:44 - Defense: “Since Assange has been granted political asylum, force can no longer be applied. The Court must lift the detention, and thereby force the Prosecution to move ahead with the investigation as a case where the defendant has freedom to roam.”
Jul 16 16:43 - Defense: “What else? Well, this weakens the Defense, too. Björn Hurtig asked for hearings in London in fall 2010. We asked the same July 4 2012 in a mail, and repeated it in an in-person meeting. If the Prosecution had done what they were legally obliged to do all along, we [the Defense] would also be able to see the entire case by now. The behavior of the Prosecution is damaging the ability for Assange to mount a legal defense, which is his right. Passivity on the behalf of the Prosecution is not acceptable.”
Jul 16 16:43 - Defense: “Hearings must be held in a time and place which brings the least inconvenience to the heard, unless there is significant danger to the investigation. This is a hard and fast law, and it is no secret at all where Assange is located. Prosecution is choosing to break this law.”
Jul 16 16:43 - Defense: “This investigation is in the exact same state today, in 2014, as it was four years ago, in 2010. This can lead to one or more hearings. But it’s not a complex investigation. After this hearing, it’s time for the Prosecution to decide whether to press charges or not. The fact that this has not moved at all in four years is due to the facts that Attorney Olsson [the other defense attorney] just enumerated: detention for one and a half years, and a political asylum with deadlock for two years. We are at a de-facto deadlock. The only action Prosecution intends to take is to wait out the arrest warrant and wait for Assange to be brought to Sweden. My question to this court: is the Prosecution even formally allowed to just sit down and wait, doing nothing? The response is a clear and resounding NO: This kind of passiveness is not allowed beacuse of actions on behalf of the defendant, in particular not within their legal rights. What duty does the Proseuction have to drive the investigation forward, rather than staying passive, offering nothing but a continued deadlock? Who bears the responsibility? The Court must carry this responsibility, for the Prosecution has shown no intention whatsoever to execute anything but passiveness in this case. The basic fault in the thought process with the Prosecution is that they’re just pointing fingers and find it possible to sit down and do absolutely nothing, which is in violation of the right to a speedy trial [“skyndsamhetskrav”] in the law.”
Jul 16 16:43 - Court has resumed [at 15:20]. Because of connectivity issues in the courtroom, the timestamps won’t match – they’re spread out from 15:20 onward, in reality. They’re posted after recess because the courtroom prevented mobile phone signals.
Jul 16 14:59 - The court takes a twenty-minute break.
Jul 16 14:59 - Defense repeats earlier points that Prosecution must have understood that Assange can’t stay in Sweden forever, and that Assange can be hard to reach, and hammers home the point that absolutely nothing in this justifies the use of force that Prosecution has applied.
Jul 16 14:58 - Defense: “There’s a completely unreasonable dragging-out of time here, causing significant harm to Assange. It has been in everybody’s interest to just go there and hear him, but this hasn’t even been tried.”
Jul 16 14:57 - Defense accuses Prosecution of being plain lazy in not going to London to hear Assange. “It’s too much work.”
Jul 16 14:56 - Defense compares to a case where somebody was suspected of genocide, a much more serious crime, and had been detained for three years. This had been appealed to the European Court of Justice, and after three years, the case was dropped because the defendant had not had a speedy trial. This case has now dragged on for three and a half years. “If he hadn’t complained to the ECJ, he wouldn’t have been detained for three years, so it’s his own fault”, by the Prosecution’s logic. However, the Supreme Court is brutal in its verdict that a person exhausting their legal options cannot and must not be held against them.
Jul 16 14:52 - Defense: “Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador on August 16, 2012. There has been a clear and present danger in the form of threats from the United States, ranging from extradition to plain assassination and execution. The United Kingdom is bound to respect Ecuador’s asylum. Assange has been on the Ecuadorian embassy since June 19, 2012, which has cost the British [enormous amount] and which the British is starting to consider Sweden liable for. In all this time, Assange has not even been able to go outdoors, something normally considered a human right – even detainees in jail are given outdoors time. However, since Assange has shown no intention of surrendering his asylum, there is no purpose to continued detention: it serves no purpose and must therefore be lifted. Assange has a full legal right to maintain his political asylum, and therefore, the detention serves no further purpose. This has now dragged on for three years and six months. In this time, in all this time, Assange has been restrained in various ways, everything from jail to something resembling a permanent house arrest.”
Jul 16 14:47 - Defense: “During these one and a half years, Assange has not been able to maintain a normal life. This is not a British citizen but an Australian citizen. He has been unable to have an income, unable to keep in touch with his family. He has been trapped in a foreign country, unable to fulfill professional or social obligations. Prosecution has used very unusual force in locking Assange in London in this way.”
Jul 16 14:45 - Defense: “During these one and a half years, Assange’s freedom was severely restricted: he was unable to travel, unable to see his family, and unable to have an income, and this was solely use to Prosecution’s actions and use of force. It is clear to the Defense that the Prosecution has been obligated to go to London and hear him: Assange has been unable to travel to Sweden because of Prosecution’s very actions. Defense refers to a case where the prosecution says it’s “impractical” to hear a defendent abroad, coming across as plain lazy. This case was struck down by the Supreme Court for the specific reason that the defendant had repeatedly invited Prosecution to hear him on location. Defense draws clear and direct parallels to this case, except this case is much more serious with disproportionate effects.
Jul 16 14:41 - Defense: “On December 7, Assange was apprehended and detained in London. From December 16, he was electronically shackled with an obligation to report daily to a police station. He was in partial house arrest. He had had his passport rescinded, and had been ordered by a court to not acquire travel documents. So from December 7, 2010, until June 14, 2012, Assange had no practical possibility of coming to Sweden for a hearing. Prosecution’s argument that Julian could have let himself be arrested is nonsense; an accused always has a right to exhaust their legal options, and this must never be held against them.”
Jul 16 14:39 - Defense: “There has never ever been a statement from Assange to refuse a hearing.”
Jul 16 14:37 - Defense: “It’s easy to see, looking at the time frame leading up to September 27, that Assange has showed up to a hearing, has stayed in Sweden, has asked the prosecution whether there would be a problem leaving Sweden, and that Assange could not stay in Sweden indefinitely waiting for whatever the Prosecution was doing. Nowhere here is there anything constituting anything resembling a flight risk (in the legal sense). Also, there was nothing preventing Prosecution and Assange to agree on a date for a hearing, and there was a tentative date set in October. It’s correct that it was hard to reach Assange. But this was a PRACTICAL matter, which does never constitute a flight risk. Flight risk must be based on intent of flight, not practical difficulties.“
Jul 16 14:34 - Defense: “Assange leaving Sweden on September 27, 2010 was planned well in advance and was based on a planned keynote in Berlin, and was not related to this case or any imaginary flight risk.”
Jul 16 14:33 - Defense enumerates the threat situations against Assange, and shows an article from [UPDATED:] Washington Times with the headline “Assassinate Assange”, with his face against a target with blood spilling out the back of his head. Defense argues that it’s beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a clear and present danger against Assange’s person, and that he has reason to fear being abducted to the United States and fear for his health, liberty, and even life. By reason of this, Defense argues, Assange has a good and valid reason to be careful to announce his whereabouts at all times, and that this had absolutely nothing to do with this case. [UPDATED: Clarified “American media” to “Washington Times”, which was named in hearing and stated to be a well-known publication; linked to article and its graphics; and added “blood out the back of his head” describing graphic, which was said in hearings but not initially noted here]
Jul 16 14:30 - Defense: “One can clearly see that when these charges were filed, including when the decision was made to re-open some dismissed charges, Assange was visiting Sweden. He’s an Australian citizen and well known; it comes to a surprise to no one that he does a lot of travel and works internationally. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to assume that Assange had no need whatsoever to leave the country to do ordinary work. Still, Assange deliberately chose to stay in Sweden and showed up to the first hearing on August 30 . He shows no flight tendencies whatsoever. After that point, Assange stayed in Sweden until September 27. There were a few contacts between Prosecution and Defense in this time frame, when Defense asked if there was anything preventing Assange from leaving the country. Therefore, Prosecution was well aware that Assange had an interest in international travel.”
Jul 16 14:27 - Defense: “Prosecution hasn’t taken any action that would indicate this is a matter of a serious nature. Even if there would be a public interest to theoretically move ahead with all charges ever filed, the nature of this case clearly shows that the ends can’t justify the means.”
Jul 16 14:25 - Defense: “As for how these allegations were originally filed, there are considerable irregularities. The intention of the original accusers were NOT to press charges but something completely different, and there is considerable doubt whether the alleged actions even constitute a criminal act.”
Jul 16 14:24 - Defense: “As for the flight risk: this may be acceptable as an argument in the general case. However, in this case specifically, there are several facts talking against a public interest of allowing any means imaginable to conduct this investigation, in particular the unacceptable time elapsed. First, the allegations are not one of the more serious crimes in the Swedish Law. We’re not talking about murder, genocide or terrorism. The Court must consider that the severity of the alleged crimes presented by the Prosecution is limited, and can’t justify any arbitrary use of force against a suspect.”
Jul 16 14:21 - Defense: “The third principle is the principle of expedience, saying that any accused has the right to a speedy trial. These three principles are pillars in a democratic state. Putting a suspect in detention during the entire investigation would be considered by many to be considerably more use of force than sentencing somebody to jail following a trial – and, importantly: detention is only allowed to be used as an exceptional tool. It is not allowed to be used to be used by Prosecution and Police as a general rule or to get less work.”
Jul 16 14:19 - Defense criticizes Prosecution that any unclarity must speak to the favor of the defendant, rather than in favor of use of more force.
Jul 16 14:18 - Defense criticizes Prosecution that they haven’t justified how a continued detention remains in the public interest (European Convention on Human Rights specifies that a restriction in freedom must be necessary, effective, and proportionate).
Jul 16 14:17 - Defense calls on European Convention on Human Rights point 5.3, the presumtion of innocence.
Jul 16 14:17 - Defense: “There are three principles here. The necessity and proportionality principles, being applicable on the detention themselves, but also on the effectuation of this detention. Defense argues that you can’t effecutate a detention by any means available [letting the ends justify the means] but must evaluate whether the means applied must be evaluated whether they are proportionate to the presumed gains.”
Jul 16 14:15 - Defense: “We claim this detention must be lifted. Is it reasonable to keep Assange detained given these circumstances? Prosecution brings up three issues, and in combination, Defense means they lead to unreasonable consequences. The first is the time passed. In Assange’s case, it’s the lack of progress in the case that has the real effect [and not an arbitrary day count in jail]. The second is the effects to Assange’s personal situation and the restrictions on his freedom, in real effect. The third is how the case has been handled by the Prosecution, and specificially, the Prosecution’s refusal to go to London to hear Assange.
Jul 16 14:12 - Defense opens.
Jul 16 14:12 - Prosecution compares to other cases which appear peripheral to the argumentation. Prosecution closes: “There are no reasons whatsoever to re-evaluate this detention. There is a clear and present flight risk and we don’t consider a continued detention disproportionate.”
Jul 16 14:11 - Prosecution: “We do not consider a continued detention disproportionate. Assange has not been formally detained more than ten days; he has chosen to restrict his own freedom over and above in Ecuador’s embassy in London, but we argue that the time detained should count as the ten days in British jail. His time in the embassy is not a restriction of freedom effected and under control of the State.”
Jul 16 14:09 - Prosecution: “We have tried the question of hearing Assange in London and dismissed the idea as not effective.”
Jul 16 14:08 - Prosecution: “We would not be able to conduct a secure and just investigation, were we to go to London to conduct the hearings.” Prosecution compares to a case where they did go abroad, which was a case concerning economic crime.
Jul 16 14:06 - Prosecution: “There are several reasons we haven’t made hearings in London. This kind of allegation don’t work well for leaving public defenders or prosecutors on foreign soil, and we can’t apply force for taking DNA samples and similar if we consider it necessary. Besides, we can’t hold a trial in London. We’ve re-evaluated this continuously.”
Jul 16 14:04 - Prosecution: “We have exhausted everything speaking in favor of the defendant. There’s nothing we’re withholding from his lawyers in that regard.”
Jul 16 14:02 - Prosecution appears trying to define political asylum as a “flight risk”.
Jul 16 14:02 - Prosecution: “We are arguing that Assange has deliberately refused to come to Sweden for this hearing … and have learned that Assange has no intention of coming to Sweden to such a hearing … which we consider to fill the definition of a flight risk.” Prosecution handwaves and tries to diminish a point of proportionality, which the defense will probably pounce on.
Jul 16 14:00 - Prosecution talks about the possibility of traveling to London to hear Julian Assange. “We didn’t know where he was until December. We also tried repeated attempts to contact Assange through his lawyer, Björn Hurtig. This led to prosecutor Marianne Ny detaining Assange in absentia on Sep 27 2010.” … “These statements that the Prosecution has failed trying to hear Assange are forcefully refuted.” … “Detaining in absentia appeared as the only way to proceed with the investigation.”
Jul 16 13:57 - Prosecution begins talking about “risk of flight”.
Jul 16 13:57 - “The negotiations are now public again.” We are let back into the room. Guards remind us that no recording of sound or video is permitted.
Jul 16 13:56 - It’s been over 30 minutes since the doors closed when the defense wanted to show something on-screen, after the first few minutes where the court just exchanged opening pleasantries. The effect of today’s proceedings remains uncertain: if the detention in absentia in Sweden is lifted, that’s one thing, but what’s keeping Julian Assange locked into a room in an Ecuadorian embassy is an Interpol Red Notice. In other words, the internation arrest warrant must be revoked, which is a separate step from lifting the Swedish detention. Will the Prosecution do that if they lose today’s proceedings? They would be supposed to.
Jul 16 13:55 - It’s been over 30 minutes since the doors closed when the defense wanted to show something on-screen, after the first few minutes where the court just exchanged opening pleasantries. The effect of today’s proceedings remains uncertain: if the detention in absentia in Sweden is lifted, that’s one thing, but what’s keeping Julian Assange locked into a room in an Ecuadorian embassy is an Interpol Red Notice. In other words, the internation arrest warrant must be revoked, which is a separate step from lifting the Swedish detention. Will the Prosecution do that if they lose today’s proceedings? They would be supposed to.
Jul 16 13:47 - Still waiting. More nothing.
Jul 16 13:39 - We’re still waiting outside of room 27. There are quite a few reporters here talking to members of the public, including from the large news agencies. They’re typing a lot on laptops, despite oxygen-starved standing room only.
Jul 16 13:30 - We’re still standing outside room 27 with no sign of what’s happening behind closed doors.
Jul 16 13:22 - We of the public are standing waiting outside room 27 in the Stockholm District Court.
Jul 16 13:20 - Network is painfully inadequate. (Testing.)
Jul 16 13:19 - Before the doors closed, prosecutor and defender presented their respective stances. No surprises there: Defense; “we call for the detention of Julian Assange to be lifted, effective immediately”. Prosecution: “We object to this motion and call for its dismissal.” After that, the defense wanted to “show something” on-screen, at which point the court closed its doors to the public. This is not unusual for sensitive parts of trials dealing with privacy-sensitive material.
Jul 16 13:14 - Parties greet each other. The court starts off by closing its doors and chasing everybody out, to resume public parts later.
Jul 16 13:10 - Call over the PA system: “Renewed-detention negotiations, Prosecutor v Assange. Parties and representatives are called to room 37”. Room 27 opens; we of the public pour in.
Jul 16 13:04 - It’s almost five past the hour, and the room has still not opened. Rumors in the audience here say that the press conference with the Police afterward won’t be open to the public and is by pre-announced presence only.
Jul 16 13:03 - Some people have asked me why I haven’t taken a clear stance on this issue. The explanation is simple: since I have first-hand observations of the events surrounding the allegations, if this should ever come to trial, I would be a defense witness (and I have left a deposition with the Police to that effect). Therefore, I have refrained from speculating on the case in the media, given that such speculation could burn my testimony, and I consider that to be more valuable than a random voice with opinions. When people have asked me about my opinions anyway, I have pointed to the fact that I’m slated to be a defense witness and asked them if they can draw any conclusions from that, refusing to elaborate further.
Jul 16 13:00 - The room (27) has not opened yet. Maybe 30 people of the public are gathered outside. I recognize many or most of them.
Jul 16 12:58 - Test
Jul 16 12:57 - Only people with media accreditation are being let into the room where the actual court proceedings are held (room 37 in the Stockholm District Court) – the public is only welcome to an audio feed of the proceedings, which is fed to a room on a different floor (room 27). This mirrors the mock trial of The Pirate Bay, which was done the same way, in this very court, actually.
May 26 06:53 - Closing: the European Pirate Parties grew significantly, having seven parties with a strong showing rather than just the one Swedish party five years ago. Still, we went from two seats to one. New summary written in an article edit (liveblog ends).
May 26 02:11 - Unconfirmed reports say that the German Piratenpartei was 0.08% (zero point zero eight per cent) short of the bar for a second seat.
May 26 02:10 - Pirates in Czech Republic finished at 4.78% with 5.0% needed to pass the bar for seat allocation, so the Czech Pirate Party fell just short of one seat.
May 26 01:01 - As the vote count stabilizes, it appears final that the German Piratenpartei has won one seat and one seat only. The Czech Republic is still open.
May 25 23:04 - First Swedish election results project the Swedish Piratpartiet at 2.2%, slightly below the exit polls. This confirms that the Swedish Pirate Party has lost both seats in the European Parliament.
May 25 21:01 - Exit polls published in Sweden. The Pirate Party is projected to get 2.5% of the votes. That is not enough for a single seat, and it’s very unlikely that this can be caught up as the votes are counted.
May 25 20:56 - According to Sampo Smolander in the comment field, Finland is not taking any seats with 0.5% of the votes.
May 25 20:53 - The lowest score in Germany that gave a seat was 0.7%. The German Piratenpartei is projected at 1.4%, suggesting that they are very very close to a second seat.
May 25 20:52 - Swedish exit polls are expected at 2100, in seven minutes. That’s the first gate we need to pass. If the exit polls are in the 1-2% range, achieving 4% is tough; if it’s 3-5%, the rest of the night is a nailbiter.
May 25 19:14 - It’s going to be a while until results come in. Expect meaningful news at about 2200.
May 25 18:36 - Exit polls in Germany predict between 1.3 and 1.5 percent for the Piratenpartei, securing one seat and closing in on a second. We’ll also need to pay close attention to Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Finland as the night progresses.
Mar 21 07:50 - MtGox has found 200,000 bitcoin which apparently were just laying around in a random drawer, following the scam blueprint to the letter, although on a slightly more drawn-out schedule.
Mar 03 20:45 - An article at CryptoCoinsNews, dealing with the past of Mark Karpeles, describes a previous business arrangement of Karpeles’ where he basically took the money and ran, bankrupting his business partner and not doing any of the contracted work. This fits very well with the overall image of a string of complete and untroubled deceptions and lies.
Mar 02 03:20 - Added more detail to the February 2014 timeline, with links to the now-gone press releases, courtesy of Internet Archive.
Mar 01 14:29 - Don’t miss the comments in the discussion thread over this article at /r/bitcoin on Reddit. Otherwise, mostly silence today on the matter. First relatively quiet day on the subject of Empty Gox in what feels like a month.
Mar 01 02:11 - Added the CoinLab lawsuits and the 2011 proof-of-solvency to the timeline. They are both relevant in context.
Feb 28 18:22 - According to the bankruptcy filings, the situation is even worse than previously imagined: 64 million US dollars and 850,000 bitcoin are missing.
Feb 28 14:47 - Unconfirmed just now (via Joanne Heidi): It seems Karpeles is seeking a reconstruction of Empty Gox though bankruptcy proceedings and to pay back account holders partially with a reconstructed company. If true, it continues the blueprint copycat scam.
Feb 28 13:08 - It’s possible to watch Mark Karpeles in the Japanese press conference declaring the bankruptcy. His body language is interesting to observe.
Feb 28 11:27 - A class action lawsuit has been filed that sues Mark Karpeles, MtGox Inc (US), MtGox KK (JP), and Tibanne KK (JP) for pretty much all of the above.
Feb 28 11:20 - Live updates, additions, and/or corrections will be posted here as the story keeps unfolding. All timestamps are European.
Feb 27 07:21 - You can feel the noose tighten around Karpeles’ neck as the picture becomes clearer, both in a figurative and literal sense. The horror stories of ordinary people losing all their savings, the money they were going to pay off their house or student loan, are beginning to surface. At the same time, the degree of mismanagement is becoming clearer – it appears that Karpeles was hiding a billion-dollar hole in the assets by cooking the books for three years. If that’s the case, this is no longer the “MtGox implosion” but the “Karpeles Scam”, second only to the Madoff scam as far as private schemes go (not counting LIBOR, etc). Jail would be one of few places Karpeles would be adequately protected from former clients, and there will be an interesting legal case as authorities will probably want to have a go at his personal assets.
Feb 27 06:41 - New information from Two Bit Idiot who first leaked the crisis response document detailing the loss of 744,408 bitcoin: There were never any interested buyers, there was a desperate CEO of Empty Gox who tried to get bought out. Once the courted propspective buyers saw the extent of mismanagement or fraud, they alerted the authorities instead. All of them.
Feb 26 22:44 - The site GoxBalance has been set up to gather information from individual people on just how much is stuck in Gox. As of this time, 807 people have submitted their claims on Empty Gox, adding up to 26.2 million US dollars and 108,522 bitcoin.
Feb 26 22:09 - Jesse Powell, a self-declared MtGox insider, makes a very interesting qualified guess that the loss of coins happened much, much earlier and at a much higher amount – possibly over 800k coins, and in June 2011, almost three years ago – and that Gox has been operating a fractional reserve since, working to fill the hole. Powell guesses that it seemed to work until fiat withdrawal problems caused people to start withdrawing bitcoin instead, depleting the thin reserve. Hence the absence of books and balance sheets, posits Powell: they wouldn’t have added up, so Gox management preferred to go without them entirely rather than declare the gaping hole where its assets should have been.
Feb 26 12:23 - Another update to the Gox home page. This one says “We’re working very hard […] to find a solution to our recent issues. Stop asking us questions”. Yes, they really are calling the loss of a billion dollars “recent issues”. Also, the “stop asking us questions” statement at this time has to go down as a superb case study of a glass crater in future Public Relations textbooks.
Feb 26 11:27 - On Reddit, user ‘thesacred’ notes about the first interview with Mark Karpeles (CEO Gox) after the shutdown, that “in the first public communication after shutting down site containing millions of dollars belonging to thousands of people, who have been kept completely in the dark with no information about the status of their money, Karpeles posts a picture of his cat, links to a batman meme, and complains about getting fat.” He then adds, “This fucking guy”.
Feb 26 08:10 - The bitcoin exchange rate passes $600 per coin, already having regained 50% from the bottoming out at $400 yesterday on these news. You have to give it to bitcoin; its ability to survive and overcome crises that would have killed anything else is remarkable.
Feb 26 07:26 - Roger Ver, who has seen the Gox books, has made a video statement where he states that the cause was “…a total lack of book keeping on the part of Mtgox”. If the Gox management did indeed fail to list the one-billion-dollars-worth of vault bitcoin assets in their books and balance sheets, then that’s criminal mismanagement in most jurisdictions.
Feb 26 00:13 - Andreas Antonopoulos (one of the key bitcoin developers) points out, in a rather technical post, that it is impossible for funds to “leak” from cold storage. The very definition of cold storage means it doesn’t leak. Either there was no leak, or there was no cold storage.
Feb 25 23:53 - Mark Karpeles, CEO of Empty Gox, has confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document, though he points out that it’s a draft with suggested options.
Feb 25 23:39 - This story has reached beyond tech and financial media; it’s being covered in mainstream oldmedia up to and including the evening TV news.
Feb 25 18:06 - Mark Karpeles has recently bought the domain gox.com, according to the people who brokered it, which lends further credibility to the leaked crisis recommendations document which suggested just that – a rebranding to “Gox”.
Feb 25 17:20 - The exchange rate seems to already recover from the loss of Empty Gox from the ecosystem; the exchange rate at Bitstamp is already back at $550, having bottomed out at $400. However, as with anything bitcoin, this is too early to call.
Feb 25 17:14 - Empty Gox has added a nonsense statement on their previously-empty web page: “In the event of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.”
Feb 25 16:42 - The claim of a years-long-running hack against the vault comes from the leaked strategy document: “At this point 744,408 BTC are missing due to malleability-related theft which went unnoticed for several years”, in bold. At this point, there is nothing that contradicts its being genuine; to the contrary, the timetable of the report agrees with events unfolding today.
Sep 29 18:00 - Yiiee-hah! Meteor server is operational on VM Smallwebs. In addition, this meteor.js seems better-behaved than the old one…
Sep 29 17:55 - Testing after having configged Meteor better (hopefully)…
Sep 29 17:38 - Testing, foobar
Sep 29 17:36 - Testing II – why is Meteor not updating?
Sep 29 17:34 - Testing aplenty – is the new Meteor up?
Jun 21 12:34 - (End of liveblogging session. This page will not update further.)
Jun 21 12:33 - I will publish a longer article about today’s events in about an hour.
Jun 21 12:31 - Last question from the press – press conference is ending.
Jun 21 12:28 - The press conference room is full, with people standing in the back again. The press is starting to ask (relevant!) questions – the room is acting as if ACTA is a done deal now, disregarding the fact that the European Parliament still has its plenary vote to go. The discussion feels like a post-mortem of just exactly where the crazy train was driven off the nearest cliff.
Jun 21 12:19 - EPP representative plays down rumors of EPP gunning for a secret vote in INTA. “That’s not how it should be done.”
Jun 21 12:10 - EPP: It appears that the Polish EPP delegates voted against ACTA, breaking party lines.
Jun 21 12:09 - Andersdotter concludes with a healthy dose of reminder that today’s copyright/patent regime is an active impediment to the next generation of entrepreneurs and industries in Europe. More people need to hear that.
Jun 21 12:07 - Amelia Andersdotter is applauded from the audience, as the first speaker getting that treatment.
Jun 21 12:06 - “This was the first time that the citizens of Europe won against combined forces of big industry and the Commission. Epic, really.”
Jun 21 12:06 - Amelia Andersdotter (Greens/EFA, Pirate Party). She talks about access to medicine, and weaves in the three pillars of the Swedish Pirate Party. She moves on to bash the Commission’s lack of respect of Parliament in the most eloquent and unmistakable ways.
Jun 21 12:04 - “Thanks to participatory democracy, and citizens who voiced their concerns about this agreement, we canow go in a different direction.”
Jun 21 12:02 - EPP: “We are going to lose a lot of time and put people at risk of counterfeit products where they’re working if we ultimately reject ACTA…” How does that work with ACTA not changing any laws whatsoever?
Jun 21 12:00 - Now, a representative for the EPP group, explaining their desire for ACTA’s passage. “ACTA as it stands needs to be clarified and improved.” Yes, except that wasn’t possible. Smoke and mirrors.
Jun 21 11:59 - Still can’t move my left foot without searing pain.
Jun 21 11:59 - “Second lesson: Parliament needs to be better at engaging with citizens.”
Jun 21 11:57 - “First lesson: This vote proves that the European Parliament is definitely perceptive; it is definitely hearing the voice of citizens.”
Jun 21 11:55 - Rapporteur David Martin is sitting next to Amelia Andersdotter (Pirate Party MEP) on stage, talking about the benefits of “intellectual property”. Something tells me the entire stage doesn’t agree with that. Martin ends with a brilliant conclusion, though; “In the end, [we decided that] civil liberties should win over intellectual property.”
Jun 21 11:53 - “I think it is quite telling that nobody put forward an alternative to adopt ACTA. The only alternative was to reject or postpone. What this shows is that ACTA was a political decision, and not a legal one.”
Jun 21 11:52 - The rapporteur, David Martin, opens and thanks everybody involved in the process so far. “I welcome particularly the active involvement of citizens, who have been highly involved in this dossier.”
Jun 21 11:50 - Press conference starts. “The committee decided today to recommend the rejection of ACTA, with 19 votes in favor [of rejection] and 12 votes against.”
Jun 21 11:49 - If I were still in the military, I’d know exactly how to bandage my foot right now. But I don’t have any bandages… (It’s not broken, is it? Hurts terribly.)
Jun 21 11:48 - Now in press conference room, where the rapporteur on ACTA (David Martin) will be giving comments on the INTA committee approving his opinion. On the way there, I sprained my left foot and ankle badly – I hope I’ll be able to get through the day despite the pain :/
Jun 21 11:37 - “Could I ask the journalists to leave the room…” the room is in disarray. Moving to press conference room.
Jun 21 11:35 - The recommendation to reject ACTA PASSES, in a 19-against-12 vote! WE WON! WE WON!
Jun 21 11:34 - The final vote remains, and there appears to be some major confusion as to the results of the vote on the amendment that just happened.
Jun 21 11:33 - WE WON IN INTA!
Jun 21 11:33 - Amendment three is re-voted, and it is rejected 19 to 12. WE WON!
Jun 21 11:32 - It is now clear that INTA will recommend a REJECTION of ACTA with a safe margin!
Jun 21 11:31 - AMENDMENT THREE FAILS, 13 VOTES FOR AND 19 AGAINST! This, however, is 32 votes, one too many.
Jun 21 11:30 - “If amendment three is adopted, the final vote on ACTA is suspended until the European Court of Justice has given its verdict. If it is rejected, we go to a final vote.”
Jun 21 11:30 - Amendment procedures have started. Amendment one (yes to ACTA) was just WITHDRAWN. As was number two. There’s only one amendment – postpone ACTA.
Jun 21 11:29 - ACTA COMING NOW.
Jun 21 11:29 - People are not just standing along the back of the room now, but also along the sides of it. I count four TV cameras from where I’m sitting (Jerezim counted six, but I can’t see the entire room), in addition to the eleven (!) TV cameras built into the room itself.
Jun 21 11:25 - “Establishment of instrument for stability”, six amendments. Still not ACTA.
Jun 21 11:19 - Still not ACTA, but voting is proceeding at a breakneck pace on a large number of other items. ACTA is last in today’s session.
Jun 21 11:14 - “Establishing rules and procedures for the European Union’s instruments for something something external actions”. Voting on amendments. In other words, still not ACTA.
Jun 21 11:13 - Ok, so the live page is updating. All set for today’s main attraction: ACTA coming up any minute now.
Jun 21 11:12 - Test – do I have enough bandwidth, here?
Jun 21 11:11 - Still not voting on ACTA.
Jun 21 11:03 - Bandwidth is becoming scarce in the room, indicating that we’re approaching today’s main attraction.
Jun 21 11:02 - Another item. Still not ACTA. 58 amendments.
Jun 21 10:57 - 31 votes in a vote right now. A lot of stirring in the room. It appears another MEP with voting rights has joined the session, upsetting the vote balance AGAIN!
Jun 21 10:57 - “We are approaching the end of the session…” INTA votes on an item with 57 amendments right now, didn’t catch which one, but obviously not ACTA as it has three or two amendments – two if MEP Fjellner (EPP) has retracted his amendment to recommend acceptance of ACTA, as he told media.
Jun 21 10:53 - INTA session continuing. Still not ACTA. When ACTA arrives, there will be voting on amendments first, and then on the final, possibly amended, report. All amendments must fall for INTA to recommend a rejection of ACTA.
Jun 21 10:48 - By “another vote just appeared”, I should clarify: it was not a random extra vote, as before, but another Member of European Parliament with voting rights actually entering session.
Jun 21 10:47 - Another vote just appeared in INTA, changing the ACTA vote balance! It’s one of the non-inscrits, one of the groupless Members of European Parliament. I did not catch his name. This vote is now completely up in the air.
Jun 21 10:46 - “One person too many was voting, there. It’s like a crime story – whose vote is extra?” Recurring theme.
Jun 21 10:44 - I’ve been told that the EPP group tried to disqualify one vote count from the S&P group. One ordinary member was prevented from voting, and when this happens, reserves from the party group take their place – this is standard procedure. However, the EPP argued that the reserve would not be allowed to vote in stead of the ordinary member, and that S&P would have one vote less. This parliament can really be kindergarten level sometimes – such disrespect for democracy would never happen in places like a high school student council.
Jun 21 10:41 - Media is everywhere in this INTA session, and people are standing in the back. Yes, the session room has run out of seats – this kind of bureaucracy practically never draws attention otherwise.
Jun 21 10:39 - According to @EuroparlPress, the ACTA vote will come around 11:00, around 20 minutes from now. However, this is far from certain and determined – it will come whenever the previous items are finished.
Jun 21 10:36 - The list of amendments on the still-upcoming ACTA vote is here, in LQDN’s summary. We see that amendments one and two, if adopted, change INTA’s recommendation to a “yes”, and amendment three calls for a postponement of the ACTA decision until the European Court of Justice has decided on the treaty’s legality. Thus, no amendments on ACTA must pass; the rapporteur’s draft opinion must be passed as written.
Jun 21 10:26 - Yet ANOTHER vote interrupted because the EPP group had one vote too many. I did not track on which session item, but there’s a clear pattern here. That was the third time today.
Jun 21 10:25 - Still not voting on ACTA. Some big-business industry group had gotten to the session entrance and put up big posters about how industry organizations comprising 120 million European jobs (this number climbs fast!) support ACTA passing.
Jun 21 10:23 - The pace of voting is ridiculously fast. “Amendment two, those in favor, those against, abstentions, carried. Amendment three, those in favor, those against, abstentions, carried.”
Jun 21 10:18 - The number of people voting are varying quite a bit. Another proposal (still not ACTA) just passed by 29 votes to none. I’ve been told that it’s supposed to be 14 INTA delegates in favor of ACTA and 14 against in session.
Jun 21 10:16 - Ok, I was confused by the rapid pace of the voting here. We are not voting on ACTA yet; it is the final item of the day.
Jun 21 10:14 - The final vote on a random item (not ACTA) was re-made AGAIN, with one too many EPP votes, and then passed 25 against 2.
Jun 21 10:12 - An amendment to a random report (not ACTA) passed with a 16-13 vote, but was redone. The chair is now pointing out that there are too many EPP members voting. After a re-vote, the amendment passed 17-10.
Jun 21 10:10 - Voting has started. The chair warns of a long list of items today. ACTA is last.
Jun 21 10:08 - The session starts. The chairman addresses some media formalities for the session, and reminds the press that there will be a press conference 15 minutes after the vote [on ACTA, presumably]
Jun 21 10:07 - The live video broadcast from this session is right here. Unfortunately, it appears to be Windows-Media only, so it doesn’t work on Android.
Jun 21 10:04 - There is a live broadcast of this meeting for those who prefer following video. I am trying to find it; Google-fu with “INTA committee video european parliament” should be a starting point. Despite being past 10:00, the meeting has not yet started.
Jun 21 10:01 - Jeremie Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net is also here in the room.
Jun 21 09:59 - The voting margins are harrowingly narrow, and nobody knows which way INTA will lean. One thing is clear – INTA does not care at all about the recommendations of the previous committees (ITRE, DEVE, JURI, and LIBE); this issue is far too high-profiled to vote on somebody else’s recommendation. But that sword swings two ways: that also means that INTA’s recommendation today will be next to meaningless, being little more than a half-time indication of what the plenary majority looks like, rather an actual recommendation with weight. Still, it draws enormous interest.
Jun 21 09:56 - What we can expect from today is that the conservative and big-business party groups (ECR and EPP) will attempt to recommend a postponement of the final vote on ACTA until after the European Court of Justice has given its final opinion, thus delaying the final vote by about two years. Nobody knows if an INTA recommendation of postponement means an automatic postponement by the European Parliament as a whole: as usual, the ones deciding that are the ones interpreting the rules, and the ones interpreting the rules are the ones who are politically strongest for the time being.
Jun 21 09:53 - On location in the INTA room, JAN-4Q1. I can’t recall having seen a room this full 15 minutes ahead of the session start time before.
Apr 22 19:22 - Testing on reinstall of Peregrine with separate SATA controller.
Apr 16 15:32 - Ok, live updates (refreshless) seem to work again. It was really a very simple error.
Apr 16 15:30 - (Yes, I’m still testing.)
Apr 16 15:30 - Except perhaps Game of Thrones.
Apr 16 15:29 - Indeed it was. And that concludes the postmortem of this session. Nothing more to see here.
Apr 16 15:28 - Testing again. Looks like it was a simple case of PEBKAC.
Apr 16 15:27 - Testing April 16.
Apr 16 15:09 - Ok, liveblogging appears broken. Sorry about that (it does not auto-refresh). I will have to troubleshoot that later.
Apr 16 15:02 - Testing CloudFlare interference.
Apr 16 15:01 - Testing meteor.
Apr 16 14:52 - Ping meteor server.
Apr 16 14:52 - My server died right after the last note. I still have no idea why – a cold reboot (power cycling) was needed to bring it back online, the hardwire reset button was not enough. Sorry about that.
Apr 14 16:04 - Doctorow: “If all the Napster users in the US had voted for a particular president, that person would have been president.”
Apr 14 16:02 - Now: Cory Doctorow!
Apr 14 16:01 - I’m not sure if the live updates work on all browsers.
Apr 14 15:57 - Meeting with many of the people who were at the first 2007 meeting in Vienna. It’s kind of funny how we share this feeling of being veterans, and explaining how things were “back then” – meaning five years ago – to new pirates.
Apr 14 15:43 - Pulled back from the crowd for a few minutes just to breathe, hanging out in the openspace area where people are discussing various projects. Doctorow on soon.
Apr 14 15:35 - Met Fabio Reinhardt, one of the people elected into the Berlin Parliament. He’s giving a keynote tomorrow, shortly before I give the closing keynote. Another guy I’m looking forward to hearing. The purposely chaotic arrangement of this conference really shows its strengths, letting each and every participant get the most from it.
Apr 14 15:28 - The social parts of the PPI general assembly is starting to show its merits. Everybody is hanging out and getting to know one another, rather than necessarily listening to everything going on in the main session. People getting to know one another across country borders is what causes the organization to learn across those same country borders.
Apr 14 14:41 - Cory Doctorow has arrived, hanging out at the bar with a really large coffee. Apparently, he just flew in from the States.
Apr 14 14:40 - Several new pirate parties are being voted in as new members of the Pirate Parties International. Applause follows after every vote.
Apr 14 14:29 - Back after lunch. I could hardly get through the door before being grabbed by reporters and have done three more interviews. This liveblog is getting a very boring message, me doing what I do. One observation, though, is that the (MANY!) reporters here have definitely done their homework. They know about minute details of the movement and ask about plans, about trends, about leadership. Cory Doctorow is coming up for a keynote shortly – I’m really looking forward to that.
Apr 14 13:06 - Lunch break. My entire morning was spent before TV cameras, so I missed much of the in-session action, but on the other hand, I did things as well as I could in order to spread the ideas, the messages, and the message about the parties’ impact. Sessions resume… when people get back from lunch.
Apr 14 11:38 - Another five interviews later, I need some air. Currently outside, chatting to a couple of Slovenian reps that I last met in Ljubljana.
Apr 14 11:07 - Three TV interviews later. Interest remains high.
Apr 14 10:43 - The room is full and out of seats, as I can tell. People are standing in the back – I can’t tell if media or participants. We are still in the meeting opening formalities. One of the organizers just asked me to go to the press room, so small pause in liveblogging.
Apr 14 10:36 - What strikes me at the 2012 PPI meeting is how many new countries are here, and how successful they are already. Greece founded three months ago, and are already polling at 1%. Moldavia is here, as is Romania. I’ve met with reps from pretty much every country in Europe already. Oh, Portugal was another nice surprise.
Apr 14 10:34 - The meeting as such has just started. media is EVERYWHERE. Gefion_UK tweeted succinctly, “wherever there is @Falkvinge, there is Camera”. The PPCZ has arranged this beautifully, especially given the unexpetedly large interest at the last minute.
Mar 26 21:35 - Final test before disabling post
Mar 26 17:32 - ooh aah, a little bit more
Mar 26 17:31 - Testing a little bit more
Mar 26 17:27 - Demoing more
Mar 26 17:12 - Foobar
Mar 26 16:52 - Demoing more
Mar 26 16:48 - Update, showing off as demo
Mar 26 16:39 - Testing la la la
Mar 26 16:30 - And more – foo
Mar 26 16:23 - Testing again
Mar 26 16:20 - Testing after installing Meteor
Mar 26 10:07 - Final test
Mar 26 09:44 - Testing again
Mar 26 09:43 - Testing. Start.