Friday, May 20, 2022
Julian Assange Dead? Dead Man Switch Activated! Wikileaks Tweets Causing Conspiracy Uproar

Julian Assange Dead? Dead Man Switch Activated! Wikileaks Tweets Causing Conspiracy Uproar

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Image: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Earlier today, Wikileaks tweeted out a series of three terse, confusing messages, each containing a 64-character code. Now a lot of people think Julian Assange is dead.

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In the absence of context, some users on Twitter, Reddit, and variousimage boards were quick to speculate that the tweets were the result of a “dead man’s switch,” triggered in the event of Julian Assange’s untimely end. Such switches do exist (both mechanically and electronically) and many speculated that all 349 gigs of the heavily-encrypted “Wikileaks insurance” from 2013 are intended for precisely that purpose.

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Much as these tweets provide great fodder for conspiracy speculation, the secret to their meaning is hidden in plain sight. “Pre-commitment” in this case is a references to a cryptographic scheme to prevent unreleased information from being tampered with. Essentially those unique codes are proof to anyone reading the documents in the future that their contents remain unchanged: alteration to the leaks will likewise alter those 64-character codes.

The same strategy was used by Tor Project developer Andrea Shepard in a warning shot that may have helped reveal years of Jacob Applebaum’s sexual misconduct. Likewise, Edward Snowden tweeted (and quickly deleted) a similar code in August, though its meaning remains uncertain. A torrent file and accompanying SHA-512 hash was even used by someone on Reddit’s r/SilkRoad to share sensitive forum information. The tweets from Wikileaks appear to be in line with these prior examples—and surely a true “dead man’s switch” unleashing all the data Assange currently possesses would amount to much more than three measly leaks.

According to the Inquistr:

Many believed that the tweets represented the “dead man’s switch” that Julian Assange had mentioned in the past. As USA Supreme reported, there was a belief that the insurance protocol may have had something to do with Hillary Clinton.

“When WikiLeaks released a mysterious file labeled ‘WIKILEAKS INSURANCE’ for people everywhere to download in advance of a huge upcoming announcement, everyone was having a second thought of what this file actually contain. This file serves as a type of ‘deadman’s switch’ that is currently encrypted. WikiLeaks will release a second encryption key to unlock the file if they are prevented from making a planned announcement. Because of previous statements made by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, many people are wondering if this insurance file is meant to ensure that WikiLeaks can release potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.”

To many following WikiLeaks closely, the rumors that Julian Assange was dead would not have come as a surprise. There have been increasing conspiracy theories about the site after it began releasing emails directly from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.

Assange has been a thorn in the side of Democrats this entire election cycle and has personally helped spread some conspiracy theories around Clinton. Back in the summer, young DNC staffer Seth Rich was killed in Washington, D.C., in what police called a robbery attempt gone wrong. But there were some who claimed that Rich was killed either by the DNC or Clinton because of some secret he may have threatened to release.

Despite scant evidence to support the theory — and statements from Rich’s family asking that people stop spreading the baseless rumors — Assange jumped on the story. WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information abut Rich’s murderer, and Assange himself insinuated that Rich may have been the source of the DNC leak.

The Gateway Pundit had a transcript of Assange’s appearance on a Dutch television show in which he hinted about it.

Julian Assange: Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. As a 27 year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.

Reporter: That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?

Julian Assange: No. There’s no finding. So… I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.

A later report from a site called True Pundit claimed that Hillary Clinton wanted to order a drone strike against Julian Assange back in 2010, when WikiLeaks had released hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables. The report has been called into question and there appears to be no evidence to support the account of Clinton trying to assassinate Assange.

Despite WikiLeaks posting on Twitter after the release of the so-called “dead man’s switch,” the rumors that Julian Assange may be dead have persisted online. Many people are still openly questioning his fate and calling on Assange to make a statement directly

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