A former WikiLeaks employee says that Julian Assange, the organization’s founder, pressured him to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that would have hid the fact that he had been friends with the man who revealed the identity of a woman he was accused of raping.
In a column for The Daily Beast on Thursday, James Ball explained that Assange had made WikiLeaks’ primary mission to defend him against accusation of two sexual assaults.
But it was the restrictive nondisclosure agreement preventing him from talking about Assange’s shady friendship with Holocaust denier Israel Shamir that eventually led to Ball’s resignation.
The New Statesmen reported last year that Ball had revealed that Assange had given Shamir access to unredacted U.S. Embassy cables to former Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
“In December 2010, Israel Shamir, a WikiLeaks associate and an intimate friend of Julian Assange — so close, in fact, that he outed the Swedish women who claim to be victims of rape and sexual assault by Assange — allegedly travelled to Belarus with a cache of unredacted American diplomatic cables concerning the country,” according to the New Statesmen.
Ball goes into greater detail in Thursday’s Daily Beast column: “The reason I quit was because of a friend of Julian’s whose activities were unstomachable and unforgivable. That man was Israel Shamir. Shamir is an anti-Semitic writer, a supporter of the dictator of Belarus, and a man with ties and friends in Russian security services.”
“Disturbingly, Assange seems to have a personal motivation for staying friendly with Shamir. Shamir’s son, Johannes Wahlstrom, is apparently being called as one of Assange’s defense witnesses in his Swedish trial. That’s not the only time self has come before principle.”
“The final straw was—as it always is—the attempted cover-up,” Ball wrote. “In November 2010, WikiLeaks asked everyone who worked there to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) covering the material we were being given access to—not to sell it, disclose without permission, or similar.”
Ball agreed that the request was reasonable and signed the document. But Assange soon wanted a more restrictive NDA that would have prevented employees from talking about any WikiLeaks activities “on the pain of millions of dollars of penalties.”
“Faced with the bizarre situation of being asked to sign a gag order by a whistleblowing organization, I, alone, refused,” he recalled. “Early the next morning, I awoke with Assange sat on my bed, pressuring me to sign—even before I was dressed. I held out, eventually left our remote location, and didn’t go back.”
Ball first exposed Assange’s attempts to silence WikiLeaks employees in 2011.