Field Networking

Recently I hear from people that have gotten visits from the dutch FBI/BKA equivalent called “Nationale Recherche”. Apparently some of the people that work there are making house calls while investigating – I kid you not – my involvement with the Occupy movement. As much as I feel I am an authoritative source with regard to my involvement in anything, I have yet to be asked any questions. So I don’t know how serious this is, nor whether this is part of a broader investigation into me, into Occupy or into something else entirely.

It’s probably nothing and I know I don’t have to, but I hope you’ll allow me to use this space to clarify some things anyway. If only to preserve precious government resources and to make sure other people don’t have to be bothered answering questions about me anymore.

Dear people at the Nationale Recherche,

If you Google me, you’ll find that I like to provide internet to people that would otherwise not be able to get online. You also might see that I like to play with networking technology in field circumstances. If you read some of the things I’ve said over the years, you won’t be surprised to hear that I am a longtime fan of the people at Adbusters, a “global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society”. They are the people behind the original call to occupy Wall Street.

So when the Occupy Amsterdam encampment went up, I was one of the people that went there to see if we could get a decent internet connection up at the tents at Beursplein in Amsterdam. We found some generous people close-by that wanted to share their internet connection and came with a small assortment of crappy base stations. (We later upgraded to some more suitable networking gear – which by the way has come way down in price lately.) This was absolutely not rocket science and I didn’t get much involved in further organization of anything, mostly because I long ago decided that direct democracy in an ad-hoc group is a wonderful thing that I want to stay very far away from. As Occupy Amsterdam descended into escalating chaos some of the networking gear disappeared, like many other things that were there. I shrugged. Good it was so cheap…

So there you have it, dear people at the Nationale Recherche: my involvement in the Occupy movement. Sometimes I find myself rooting for the underdog and I think it’s only fair if everyone has a say, including various fringe groups in society. I know a thing or two about field networking and I sometimes like to help give a voice to various groups of people that question the crumbling status quo. I don’t think of myself as a law-enforcement priority and neither should you, really. We all benefit if you spend your time investigating more important things, such as actual crime. If you still have further questions, I’d prefer it if you just ask me and not various other people, some of whom truly have not a clue what my link to Occupy is. Also: if you absolutely must ask others about me, it would be swell if you could refrain from threatening them or their employers.

Thank you.

P.S.: To prevent the spending of further tax euros: I have also helped transport a modest amount of internet bandwidth at the recent Ter Apel refugee action camp to facilitate streaming audio from there. Please don’t start bothering people about this when you become institutionally aware of it sometime in 2013.


Ik kan de boom in

I’m back…

It’s been a while since I have written anything. Now I’m not the type to continuously blog/tweet/Facebook about what I had for dinner, and I’ve been away for longer periods before. With age comes wisdom: I can now shut up when I have nothing interesting to say… 🙂

But since I last posted there have been some things that I’ve wanted to write. But when you’ve been away for a while, you don’t want to come back writing about something silly or mundane. The longer you’re away, the bigger of a deal the imagined comeback blogpost has to be. Until you reach the point where the only possible post is about how you discovered intelligent life on another planet or cured cancer. Or you just post something anyway…

OK, that out of the way…. So how have I been? I’m still, as always, watching in awe as the world gyrates towards financial and environmental crisis. Not depressed by it (that was 2004-2005) as much as just impressed, slightly intimidated and incredibly curious as to how it’s all going to play out. Apart from that I am dealing with what I guess are fairly common things one deals with when reaching the forties: caring for aging mother, helping people around me as best I can and making sure my kids get educated. None of which is easy to begin with and the particular circumstances are certainly not always helping. All the while I’m trying to learn new things while wondering what the hell I should be doing with the rest of my life. All very stereotypical, I guess.

I’ll follow-up with a semi-quick series of posts about some of the things I’ve been learning and doing, or that have happened to me.

Judge: twitter must hand over my data

Yesterday a judge in Virginia decided that Twitter must hand over all data it has on me, Jacob Appelbaum and Birgitta Jónsdottir. The consequences of this decision for me are extremely limited: there’s not a whole lot you can learn from records that Twitter has on me that you can’t learn from reading my blog. There are bigger principles at stake though, and this is not a good ruling for online privacy. The EFF – they represent Birgitta in this case – has a statement on their website that says it all and links to further documents if you want to read up.

Dear media people: going on past experience there may well be 30 to 50 of you trying to reach me today. Please accept my apologies if I won’t pick up the phone or if I just point you to this statement if you do manage to reach me.

Nothing to worry about

climate change worried

Wow. Now there’s a powerful image to show where we are. Click on the image above and you’ll see the percentage of people worried about climate change in various countries. The Netherlands is on the list, all the way down with the climate deniers, right next to the wonderful US of A. Now you try to explain how a supposedly well-educated and liberal northern european country that is partly BELOW SEA-LEVEL ends up there.

(Image taken from a Guardian article.)

Newsflash: not being extradited

Our foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal made headlines today as he responded to some questions from two members of the Dutch Parliament.

Do you agree […] that the Netherlands will not cooperate with criminal procedures of the American authorities, such as in the case of potential suspects connected to Wikileaks. If not, why not?

Answer: In case the US indicts mr Gonggrijp at any point in the future and requests his extradition, the request will be studied to see if the Netherlands can cooperate. Such a request would need to specify, among other things, the criminal offenses under investigation, such that the American interests of prosecution can be weighed against the interests of the accused. This process has adequate checks and balances. I therefore do not exclude the possibility that The Netherlands will cooperate.

This has caused yet another media storm and a lot of people getting upset to the point of even petitioning the queen. I am truly grateful to all the MPs, journalists and netizens that have shown they are right on top of this as well as to the many people who have mailed to support me in what must seem very difficult times. As we speak the international media seem to be picking up the story . I think it’s time to calm down a bit. I’m really OK and I think this is a becoming a bit overblown.

About the answers our foreign minister gave: I think there is not much else he could have said. Was anyone really expecting him to say: “We have an extradition treaty with the US, and we have laws in place that deal with extradition requests. But if there is ever an extradition request for Gonggrijp we’ll ignore all that and we’ll tell you now that we’ll never extradite him, no matter what.” ?

I may disagree with the people that signed a treaty which allows the extradition of nationals. I may disagree with the Dutch take on the US legal system as being equivalent to ours when it comes to protecting the rights of those presumed innocent and I may disagree with a lot of other things. I may disagree with there being adequate checks and balances. I also think a blanket provision for not extraditing in clearly political matters would have been very nice. But the minister is not asked for his opinion on standing laws and treaties. He is mostly stating facts and I think it’s perfectly OK for a foreign affairs minister to take a slightly legalistic stand and just clarify the current state of affairs. So give his excellency a break. (For now, anyway.)

It may be good if we all take a deep breath and get grounded a bit here. There are no new events other than a minister in The Netherlands providing rather obvious answers to questions from MPs. I really don’t think the minister giving perfectly predictable answers should be news. There is, as of yet, no indictment. Let alone an extradition request. I helped publish a video documenting war crimes. My lawyers and me have absolutely no idea what crime they could even charge me with. If they indeed want something from me, the prosecutors are likely facing the same problem.

So there may very well never be an extradition request, just a very long period of nothing much happening. Which doesn’t mean this isn’t something to worry about or keep a close eye on. But it’s probably not worthy of getting in a nationwide or even global frenzy over just yet.

I’ll try to write some more about how I’ve been and what’s going on over the next days and weeks.

Internet dialin for Libya

XS4ALL, the Amsterdam-based Internet Service Provider I co-founded in 1993, is offering a dialin service for people that want to get online from Libya, or any other country where despotic assholes are trying to turn off the internet.

Use your modem to dial +31205350535, username xs4all password xs4all. Please use the comments if this number gets blocked and I’ll update with new numbers.

News from the future?

For a very short time earlier this evening (Tuesday evening, sometime before 22:00 CET that is), our newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Sweden has dropped charges against Julian Assange. The article was on the site for at least a few minutes minutes before disappearing again, and all someone mailed me was a screenshot of the link from the front page to the article. So what we have is the headline “Sweden drops charges Assange”, the sentence “The house-arrest of wikileaks-boss Julian Assange has been terminated, now that Sweden is no longer requesting his extradition.” and the fact that it was on there for a few minutes so it could get 5 reactions. By the time someone made this screenshot, the article itself was already 404 not found.

Now it’s going to be interesting to see if this is an accurate description of events that have, at least apparently, not yet taken place. And if so, the interesting question is how and why, of all the world, exactly the Dutch newspaper that has been exaggerating my relationship with Wikileaks seems to have this direct line to the future.

Update: Never mind. Probably nothing. De Telegraaf just not checking the facts: this was apparently a short hoax on twitter this afternoon, a media-echo of earlier events. See the comments…

Everyday anger over something simple

Sorry to bother you all with something so mundane after all these big events. But life goes on after all. There’s this article in the dutch press today which covers a provincial candidate for the PVV (the party of Geert Wilders). He’s a cop (or maybe ex-cop, the article doesn’t say) that in 2003 got a fine for beating a suspect that was already in handcuffs. But it’s not that fact that bothers me enough to blog about it. It’s the explanation by the PVV member of national parliament, himself a long-time ex-cop, charged with helping to select the candidates:

MP André Elissen, who helped select the candidates, calls it “a small incident“. “In the current day and age, this would be handled with a stern talking to. In that time, a police officer wasn’t allowed to do anything.

Never mind these people’s opinions. They might be fine upstanding citizens (although I’m guessing we probably disagree on some pretty fundamental issues). I just mostly wonder if it’s true what’s said here. Are we really at the point where dutch cops can beat suspects in handcuffs and risk nothing but maybe a stern talking to? So it’s like what? Getting donuts for yourself only? Coming to work late? Not properly filling out some form? Leaving the headlights on again?

On a more personal note

I have received e-mails and comments from what must be almost everybody that knows me, pledging worry and support. Thank you all, even if I haven’t gotten to answering every mail. People also ask how I am doing. I am OK. This is a bit stressful, yes. I especially hope the media side of things gets a little quieter. But I’m really holding up, so please don’t worry too much, OK?

Remarkable transformations

Some rather bizarre developments here in The Netherlands. Monday there was an extensive article (PDF, dutch) about me in De Telegraaf. De Telegraaf is the newspaper with the largest circulation and it leans to the right politically. In it, they describe all the developments with the court order to Twitter.

More interestingly, the article features me as “Julian Assange’s adjudant” as well as “a left-wing terror activist” with “close ties to the Chaos Computer Club who in turn had ties with RAF terrorists”. Also, the article claims that “their research shows that US intelligence has been told by a Dutch source that I was offering close to a million euros to various web hosting companies on behalf of Wikileaks.”

The article leans quite extensively on “research” done by “intelligence expert” Peter Siebelt. Siebelt wrote a book in 2005 called “The Fourth World War”, a crackpot theory of seamless continuity from Marxism to radical Islamism in which everyone left of center in this country is part of a large and well-coordinated conspiracy to introduce sharia law and make the Netherlands a caliphate. (Don’t ask me what happened to the third world war.)

Now: I did not arrange web-hosting for Wikileaks. Not now, not back in the time I was helping out. Not that I see anything terribly wrong with doing so, but I just didn’t. And I most certainly didn’t do it with “close to million euros” in my pocket. I mean: think about it…  A million euros worth of web-hosting. I’m not sure what kind of hosting services package to imagine at 1M euro. A million euros probably gets you a sizable stake in many web hosting companies, if it doesn’t buy them outright.

Remarkable transformations happen. You go to bed having helped release a video of soldiers routinely killing people trying to save the wounded, and you wake up the next day a nefarious left-wing terror activist-adjudant secretly spending millions on web hosting. I wonder what I’ll be tomorrow.

On the Twitter court order

Dear journalists,

Yet again I am being inundated with your e-mails, text messages, phone calls and unannounced house visits. (The latter is new, unwelcome and the fastest way to get a non-expiring entry on my media blacklist.)

I could easily spend all my time answering the same questions with the same answers instead of taking some time to think for myself. This is not your fault. I can see there’s a story here and you need to cover it. I just hope you’ll forgive me for writing down my thoughts just once on this blog. I realize you may “just have a few questions” or desperately need my voice or footage of my talking head, but I’ll most likely still point you to this text. It’s nothing personal.

What happened?

On December 14 of 2010, the US Department of Justice has had a court order issued to force Twitter to send them various bits of information regarding my Twitter account as well as of the twitter accounts of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Jacob Appelbaum. In my previous blog post, I have erroneously referred to this order as a subpoena, which it isn’t. I’m not a US lawyer, but some apparently profound thoughts about various aspects of this order can be found here.

I found out about the order because Twitter did the right thing and successfully fought for a second court order so they were able to tell us. The e-mail from twitter also says we have ten days to announce that we’re fighting this in court or otherwise they’ll give the DOJ the requested information.  I’ll write more about Twitter’s role soon.

Apparently someone thinks that whatever records Twitter has regarding my account are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation”. It is not clear from the documents that have presently been made public what my role in this apparent investigation is.

So what does Twitter have on me?

Basically my tweets, which are publicly accessible, and the IP-numbers I connected from. I don’t use Twitter all that much and for convenience my tweets are generally posted through a plugin on this blog. I have never sent or received private messages on twitter. In other words: what Twitter has on me is unspectacular.

This matter does beg the question who else has gotten such court orders and whether other parties have silently complied with such orders. Hello Facebook? Google?

Why did this happen?

I don’t know. But from the list of names we can speculate this has something to do with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video in april of 2010. That video, shot from a US helicopter over Baghdad, shows the shooting of a Reuters photographer and subsequently of the civilians that try to rescue him. I travelled to Iceland to help out with the preparations for disseminating this video. I feel, probably like most people that saw the video, that showing that video served the important purpose of shining light on the hidden realities of present-day war.

The entire process of releasing this video is ridiculously well-documented as Raffi Khatchadourian, a journalist for The New Yorker, was with us the whole time. I recommend his article for an in-depth look at what happened. For a broader look at my life over the past year or so, I recommend reading a keynote speech I delivered in Berlin a few weeks ago.

So what am I going to do now?

Being involved in a criminal investigation, and especially one which is likely to have huge political pressure behind it, is a very serious matter. So I am talking to lawyers, trying to better understand what is going on and I am weighing my options. Frequent readers of this blog will likely be the first to know if I have something new to say.

US DOJ wants my twitter account info

It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that somewhere, far away, people are thinking about you. Last night I received this rather interesting e-mail from twitter:

Kessel, Jan-07 11:20 am (PST):
Dear Twitter User:

We are writing to inform you that Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account, @rop_g. A copy of the legal process is attached. The legal process requires Twitter to produce documents related to your account.

Please be advised that Twitter will respond to this request in 10 days from the date of this notice unless we receive notice from you that a motion to quash the legal process has been filed or that this matter has been otherwise resolved.

To respond to this notice, please e-mail us at <removed>.

This notice is not legal advice. You may wish to consult legal counsel about this matter. If you need assistance seeking counsel, you may consider contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation <contact info removed> or the ACLU <contact info removed>.


Twitter Legal

While I was still thinking about whether to write about this or talk to my lawyer first, I was told the mail and attachments were already published by Glenn Greenwald at, including the original subpoena dated December 14, 2010. It says the DOJ wants twitter’s records on Jacob Appelbaum (a.k.a. ioerror), Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and yours truly. This all because, apparently, “the Court finds that the applicant has offered specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Plenty of thoughts to be had over this one. For one: in a case like this you’d think they would check the spelling of my last name. Furthermore I would have guessed that the US government has more discreet and effective ways of getting my IP-number, which is essentially all this would get them.

Also it appears that twitter, as a matter of policy, does the right thing in wanting to inform their users when one of these comes in. For those who wonder if twitter ignored a court order by telling me: I did get a second PDF with a January 5 order to unseal the subpoena so that twitter could tell me, which is quite possibly the result of some communication between twitter and the DOJ. Heaven knows how many places have received similar subpoenas and just quietly submitted all they had on me.