UPDATE 8:58pm EST: WikiLeaks account has just been unlocked.
The Twitter account belonging to WikiLeaks and brandishing a total of 5.4 million followers has been locked ahead of its former editor-in-chief and founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, according to Kristinn Hrafnsson the current editor-in-chief of the transparency organization.
Hrafnsson expressed that all attempts to get the account reopened by regular channels made available by Twitter have been unsuccessful. Hrafnsson tagged both the platform’s tech support as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Thanks to @twitter for not long after @wikileaks Editor-in-chief @khrafnsson's tweet resoving said issue.
Julian Assange's Extradition hearing begins next week — 24 February – the future of the free press literally stands in the balance https://t.co/hAzgxObjrw
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 18, 2020
WikiLeaks twitter account has been locked, shortly before Assange extradition hearing. All attempts to get it reopened via regular channels have been unsuccessful. It has been impossible to reach a human at twitter to resolve the issue. Can someone fix this?@twittersupport @jack
— Kristinn Hrafnsson (@khrafnsson) February 17, 2020
Julian Assange Update
Message from @Wikileaks current editor@Wikileaks twitter account has been locked shortly before my sons US Extradition hearing
Justice for Julian has been proven to be obstructed every step of the way since 2010
Is this yet another incidence? https://t.co/iucVsIWFhf
— Mrs Christine Assange (@MrsC_Assange) February 17, 2020
Back in 2018, WikiLeaks, the WikiLeaks Task Force, Assange’s legal team, and Assange’s official defense team were locked out of the platform for over 24 hours, according to a 2018 tweet by Hrafnsson.
These accounts are locked @wikileaks @assangedefence @wltaskforce @assangelegal and cannot be accessed. They also seem to have been shadow banned. Should we be worried in these critical times?
— Kristinn Hrafnsson (@khrafnsson) December 20, 2018
All the accounts were eventually unlocked.
Our twitter account @WikiLeaks is now unlocked. Thanks to those who made a fuss and for @Jack and others responding to the problem. It appears that a denial of service attack had been run against several WikiLeaks and Assange legal accounts to trigger looping security lockouts. https://t.co/0JQOILmk9I
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 21, 2018
Previously, Assange’s personal Twitter account (which was then turned into the AssangeDefense account) was deleted, undeleted, and finally suspended. Caitlin Johnstone also notes that bias was clear from the start with Twitter’s refusal to verify Assange.
A second account associated with WikiLeaks, EmbassyCat, a profile that was created in the likeness of Assange’s pet cat, has also been suspended and unsuspended in the past without reason as well as shadowbanned.
Another third account associated with Assange defense the Unity4J Twitter account dedicated to circulating information about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was also mysteriously suspended last year, along with several people involved with the account including Kitty Hundal and Christy Dopf who are a few individuals who publicly post Unity4J’s tweets.
I’m back on Twitter after the outage but @unity4J is still suspended – we did not receive an email or a reason for the suspension. Appeal process started. #FreeAssange #Unity4J pic.twitter.com/a14DqZaoGt
— Christy Dopf ⏳ ✨🌕✨ (@ChristyDopf) July 11, 2019
However, the suspension of Unity4J was lifted after thousands of Twitter users flooded Twitter support including messages by activist and Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and activist, comedian, and journalist Lee Camp to name a few.
Assange’s own mother was suspended and then unsuspended and her account, AssangeMrs, was taken over by an anti-Assange troll after it was deactivated. Christine Assange can currently be found at MrsC_Assange on Twitter.
Twitter users are now once again attempting to overwhelm Twitter support with requests to reinstate and unlock the WikiLeaks Twitter account. With just a week left until Assange’s first extradition hearing, the timing is certainly suspicious.
The main Twitter account defending Julian Assange, and therefore press freedom & freedom of speech, has been suspended.@Unity4J – suspended for defending a hero.#Unity4J
— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) July 12, 2019
Julian Assange faces 175 years (life) and 17 counts of espionage related to obtaining and disseminating classified information as well as conspiracy to commit computer intrusion stemming from the publication of the Afghan and Iraq War Logs that that were given to him by whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Assange was nominated along with Manning and Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2020 by 17 members of the German Parliament.
TMU reported just last week that the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) demonized hacktivists and “public disclosure organizations” like WikiLeaks, stating they pose a “significant threat” similar to the threat posed by the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as Russia, Iran, and China.