This is the extraordinary story of a sting operation that could have been lifted from the script of a ‘Spooks’ episode. It involves WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the US, Russia, and even allegations of paedophilia.
The plot to entrap Assange, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, was exposed when evidence was produced of a plot to implicate him as a paid agent of the Russian government. But having failed spectacularly in that regard, the plotters then fell back on ‘Plan B’, with faked allegations that Assange had engaged in online paedophilia. At times sophisticated, and others ridiculously inept, the plot imploded. But who was really behind it?
An article at The Daily Kos, first published on 16 October 2016, about allegations by ToddAndClare was later deleted by the author, who stated that the ‘evidence’ quoted had been fabricated.
The plotters set up shop
Earlier in 2016, online dating service ToddAndClare (T&C) set about promoting an online ‘tool’, known as KATIA. This ‘tool’ was supposedly able to help identify known sexual predators who use online dating services. The tool appears to be the property of T&C. It even boasted of an endorsement by political commentator and linguistics professor Noam Chomsky, who is famously a supporter of Assange (though it not clear whether this endorsement is genuine and, if so, when it was solicited).
A T&C promotional video features an unnamed woman, who appears remarkably similar to a woman variously named as ‘Molly’ or ‘Emma’ or ‘Lexi Lee’ (on pages 6 and 12 of the WikiLeaks Final Report – see below).
The plotters make their pitch
A web-based report by T&C provided details of their allegations of online paedophilia against Assange. But once the T&C plot was exposed, that web page was deleted. Here is a cached copy of it.
The (deleted) report shows how T&C had attempted to exploit its so-called ‘membership’ of the UN Global Compact to promote the allegations.
On 4 October 2016, matters came to a head when T&C lodged details of its claim against Assange in a county court in London.
The Wikileaks report on the scam
A Wikileaks document, entitled ‘Final Report‘ [pdf] and marked “Privileged and Confidential”, offers a detailed account of what is known about T&C and its activities. In the report, T&C’s social media accounts are described (on page 2) as ‘commercial zombie accounts’. T&C itself is characterised as a “highly suspicious and likely fabricated business entity”.
The report provides plentiful evidence to back these claims up, including how dating photos on the T&C site are merely copied from other sites. Also, T&C’s main contact address is shown to be just an empty warehouse in Houston (Texas), while its mailing address is that of a commercial mail forwarding service (USA2ME.com). Many more examples of fakery are given in the report.
It is shown that T&C’s Twitter account has mostly fake followers too, suggesting the account could be an example of ‘Persona Management‘ (one of several investigations conducted by US journalist Barrett Brown, who was sentenced to 63 months in prison on charges related to his investigative research).
An archived copy of an earlier iteration of the ToddAndClare website gives a San Francisco address and the name Todd Hammond. Hammond was the signatory to a letter to the United Nations, requesting that T&C be included on its Global Compact program. (Note: T&C was apparently included on this program, but on 12 October 2016 was delisted from it by the UN.)
Accompanying the WikiLeaks report is a document that quotes emails sent by T&C to Assange’s legal representative and the responses to those emails. In one of these emails, dated 3 September 2016, T&C offers $1m to Assange if he agrees to appear in a T&C commercial. Two weeks later, T&C stated that the source of the money was the Russian Government.
Needless to say, Assange’s legal representative responded to these emails by accusing T&C of conducting a scam.
Much of the above took place in the lead-up to and during the period of the release by WikiLeaks of Hillary Clinton related documents, including the Podesta emails.
On 16 and 17 October 2016, it was announced by WikiLeaks that it had launched three “Contingency Plans” after its internet connection had been partly cut. On 18 October, the Ecuadorean Embassy issued a statement confirming that it had taken this action because of the US elections, while reaffirming its continuing support for Assange.
A separate investigation discovered that the San Francisco address used by T&C is also used by a private data intelligence agency, Premise Data Corporation (PDC). According to its website, PDC “indexes and analyzes millions of observations captured daily by our global network of contributors, unearthing connections that impact global decisions”.
PDC was in fact founded by David Soloff. His Twitter account is protected, but here is an archive extract: https://archive.fo/7UkQV. And this photo shows Soloff clearly very friendly with Hillary Clinton.
So was the plot conceived and conducted by an inept bunch of scammers, seeking to entrap Assange and so threaten the entire WikiLeaks project in the process? Or were state forces, in a classic ‘plausible denial’ sting, manipulating events all along?
– Read up on the latest from Wikileaks
– Donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation
– Request President Obama provides clemency to Edward Snowden
Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons
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