Leaked chat logs on hacks may be part of case against Julian Assange
November 16, 2018, 2:43 PM CST
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in 2017. (Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters)
In December 2011, two former members of Lulz Security, or LulzSec — a hacktivist group notorious for penetrating or disrupting a number of corporate and governmental targets like Fox.com, Sony Pictures, gaming websites and the CIA — were discussing a new friend and partner.
That contact, according to Hector Xavier Monsegur, writing under the fictitious name Leon Davidson, was WikiLeaks founder and CEO Julian Assange.
“Between you and me, I’ve been working a lot with the internals of WikiLeaks,” wrote Monsegur, who commonly went by the nickname “Sabu” — and who became infamous for becoming an FBI informant.
“Before lulzsec broke apart, they came to us to hack the entire government of iceland,” he continued, sending a message over encrypted chat service Jabber to fellow hacker Jeremy Hammond, who was later convicted in 2013 for hacking private intelligence firm Stratfor.
The chats appear to reveal a specific instance when Assange may have specifically solicited a crime — the theft of official documents from within the Icelandic government.
While the chat log references an apparent request made by Assange, it does not include any direct communication from the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange, who had gained notoriety for publishing hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and Army reports revealing classified details about the Iraq War from Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, has consistently shielded his work behind the First Amendment — while simultaneously selling his brand, on cellphone cases and mugs, as the “first intelligence agency of the people.”
The chat logs, part of a 100,000-page trove of documents currently in the Department of Justice’s possession, were obtained and published by independent national security journalist Emma Best on Thursday. Best tells Yahoo News the chats are part of the Justice Department’s sealed files, and which the department has verified across multiple sources, including Monsegur’s hard drives and WikiLeaks’ own devices.