Assange Flashback thread sabotaged

Censorship is the new black. Even at Flashback – the Swedish forum famous for its freedom of speech – arbitrary deletions are now commonplace. I specifically talk about the thread dealing with the Assange “rape” case.

A new thread discussing the sabotage can be found here.

Protecting freedom of speech has never been more important. True but uncomfortable information is always threatened, more now than ever it seems.

More information can be found at Radsoft.


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Expressen’s double standards

Expressen, the Swedish tabloid, reports on Assange’s new legal team. Interestingly, the internet and paper versions of the article are very different. Thanks to stuxnet and rixstep for pointing this out.

We also note that in both articles it is wrongfully stated that Assange is accused of rape on both women. Furthermore, in the paper version of the article, Tom Hayden’s article in The Nation is “cited” in a highly creative way.

One can only speculate as to why there are two so different versions. Did the Expressen editor not have enough stories to work on for his team so two reporters had to split one story? Or are paper-copy readers and internet readers deliberately treated differently? Perhaps the paper version, with the creative “citation” included is somehow perceived as “added value” to the paying readers?

1. Translation of paper version

Scanned article:

Assange sacks his legal team

Assange changes his tactics to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Julian Assange changes his legal team – and tactics. He hopes that the dramatic move will help him to avoid extradition to Sweden. The Wikileaks founder has now replaced the aggressive attacks against Sweden with a softer approach in court.

Julian Assange is under house arrest in England and is waiting for extradition to Sweden – where he is arrested in absence for rape, unlawful coercion and sexual assault. A court in London has already decided that he be extradited. On July 12, a higher court will hear his appeal.

The new style: soft

Until now, Assange’s legal team has used confrontation. They have criticized Sweden and the Swedish legal and political system. The new team will act more softly and show more “respect” for the Swedish women accusing Assange for rape (sic!), writes the American newspaper The Nation.

“Assange’s previous legal team created antagonism in Sweden through their attacks on the Swedish justice system… The legal strategy hit back by repelling not only the general opinion in Sweden but also some among the left and the peace movement”, writes the American left-wing politician Tom Hayden in The Nation. (Editor’s note: I cannot find anything resembling this citation in The Nation article written by Tom Hayden) The legal team created a dead end for Assange with their agressive tactics. He has an extradiction sentence hanging over him, while he is free on bail, sits in a English mansion with electronic tagging and must report to the police every day.

Human rights lawyer

Now Assange has hired the known human rights advocate solicitor Gareth Peirce, reports Reuters. She replaces Mark Stephens, famous media legal adviser, who during the court hearings this winter made provoking statements directed against the Swedish prosecutor and legal system.

Another member of the previous legal team asserted that Assange could not get a fair trial in Sweden for “political reasons”.

Arne Lapidus

2. Translation of internet version

Screen shot:

Assange changes legal team – and tactics

Assange changes his legal team – and assumes a softer approach against Sweden and the alleged rape victims (sic!). The women’s lawyer Claes Borgström welcomes the decision.

– That’s great if he comes to his senses, says Borgström to

The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is suspected for rape and sexual assault, respectively, on two women in Sweden during summer last year. He is now under house arrest in England, waiting for the hearing of his appeal of the decision to extradite him to Sweden. The hearing is set to 12-13 July and only a few weeks before, Julian Assange decided on a new legal team.

Sharp criticism

Assange was defended earlier by the famous media lawyer Mark Stephens who has pushed a hard line and directed sharp criticism against the Swedish justice system. The new defenders Gareth Peirce, famous human rights lawyer who has for example defended Guantanamo prisoners, and Ben Emmerson, who has worked with antiterrorism and human rights for the United Nations, are expected to use an opposite and softer approach, The Nation reports.

Gareth Peirce writes in an e-mail to The Nation:

“Each of the human beings involved deserves respect and consideration. It is hoped that whatever steps as are required to be taken in the future will be taken thoughtfully, with sensitivity and with such respect.”

“Great if he comes to his senses”

The lawyer representing the Swedish women, Claes Borgström, has received information that Julian Assange has chosen a new legal team. He welcomes Assange’s new stragegy.

– That’s great if he comes to his senses, says Borgström to

Other than that he has no comments.

-The best would be if this case could be tried in court as soon as possible.

Oscar Julander

Published 25 jun 2011 16:11

Updated 25 jun 2011 16:15

Just for the lulz, I reproduce here what, according to The Nation article, Claes Borgström  said to Hayden:

Asked if he thought Assange would be extradited from Sweden to the United States sometime in the future, Borgström answered, “I hope not. And I believe that my clients [the two women] feel the same way.  But you can’t print that.” Upon being told that sources are expected to request being off-the-record before they make any statements, not after, Borgström then repeated the same words about Assange’s potential extradition, with emphasis.

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Staatsfeind Wikileaks: Harm minimization and the Afghan war logs

In WikiSecrets –  a special report on WikiLeaks aired last week by US broadcaster PBS, David Leigh repeats his allegations that Julian Assange had said that informants in Afghanistan ‘deserved to die‘.

Julian Assange denies that he ever said that, see transcript of the interview recorded for the PBS programme here.

Not only Guardian journalists but also SPIEGEL journalists were present at the meeting in question. How do the SPIEGEL journalists describe the story? I have translated the relevant pages (165-167)  from the German book Staatsfeind Wikileaks written by Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark.

My translation:

“For the participating media organizations, the intense work with the material soon lead to a number of possible stories, but also critical questions.

The classified documents from the field contained a lot of names: of militaries as well as of insurgents and their suspected collaborators. The documents also identified local sources, who provided the Isaf troups with warnings and information for their fight against the Talibans. Even the payment they received was reported. Furthermore, whoever was not mentioned directly by name could be identified through information about their location, since the GPS coordinates were supplied in all documents.

The Guardian and SPIEGEL reporters discussed the problem with their editors in chief and later, during a dinner, directly with Julian Assange. At this point, there was still a bit more than three weeks until the planned publication date. It was one of those moments, when the difference between WL and the established media would be clarified. The participating newspapers would not print the names, and during that evening in London we and the Guardian journalists urged Assange not to do that either.

For WikiLeaks – an organization which had been set up precisely in order to publish original documents – this was by no means self-evident. The platform, which had already published the private emails of Sarah Palin and the member list of the extreme right-wing party BNP, had no experience in respecting individual rights.

Only recently, Assange had at least allowed a so-called mitigation process. Behind that hid not much more than advance notice to the concerned individuals, and a small time delay of publication. In this way, Assange told us that evening, they had dealt with the BNP member list, for example. And nothing happened to anyone. >>Well<<, he added, >>some of them might have lost their jobs.<<

But the Afghanistan documents could not be compared with the member list of a British political party. In Afghanistan there was war. The Talibans killed their fellow citizens on much less grounds than betrayal to the enemy. Assange promised he would take care of this problem. He conceded that a lax management of this matter not only would put lives in danger, but also would discredit his organization. He envisioned a technical solution, he said, but he needed to speak with his people about it. The decision, however, he apparently made alone. Daniel Domscheit-Berg became aware of it only through der SPIEGEL and was perplexed with the breach of the hitherto principles of WikiLeaks.

With these vast amounts of data, completely excluding all danger would hardly be possible. >>We have already in the past been forced to make difficult decisions. WL will try to minimize damages but in any case publish. This archive belongs to the Afghanistan people.<<

And the expected outcries and protests from the Pentagon? Assange laughs, he enjoys the show already. In fact he is – three weeks before the publication – downright boisterous. >>Last time<<, he jokes, >>the American foreign minister criticized that the Bagdad incident video {Collateral Murder] showed only a moment, a small excerpt, like through a straw. This time they cannot complain, this time we show also what is before and after, the entire context, simply everything.<<

In the end, WL decides to hold back around 15,000 documents. Material, which possibly could constitute a potential danger for the people mentioned in it.”

Original text:


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Free speech not so free in Sweden

The Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) had (and still has?) a habit of collecting and storing information about politically active citizens. Five of these took their cases to The European Court of Human Rights, which found that Sweden had indeed violated the European Convention on Human Rights, more precisely

Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life);

Article 10 (freedom of expression);

Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association);


Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

One of the plaintiffs is an established journalist at Göteborgs-Posten, one of the largest daily newspapers in Sweden. He had written a number of articles in the paper on Nazism and on the Security Police which have attracted wide public attention. Others had been active in left-wing political parties.

This case was finalized in 2006, but continues to be newsworthy.

Full text here:

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UPDATE: More Clues Point Towards Guardian Gag Order in Assange Case

The following entry is a continuation of an earlier entry on this blog: “The Guardian comment section experience” and is a contribution from Bella Magnani.

The UK’s status as libel capital of the world and the use of celebrity gagging orders have been making headlines recently, with many commentators moaning that the latter was hardly the most important thing to be worried about when it came to freedom of the press. A curious, little noticed event in a humble corner of the blogosphere may well illustrate their point.

On 25 February this year a comment was posted to WL Central complaining that the Guardian was moderating away readers’ comments on the Assange case. It contained an email from the Guardian indicating that readers’ links to a particular Swedish blog “potentially pose legal risk to the Guardian”. What made this significant, as explained in this legal overview of UK libel laws governing online publication, is that the defence of “innocent dissemination” protects publishers from liability for material they neither authored nor physically published themselves (i.e. readers’ comments) and could not reasonably have known to be defamatory: “However, they will have a responsibility once they are put on notice of any libellous material as then they will have control over it.” In practice, therefore, it’s only when such legal notifications come through the door that this type of material gets taken down.

The following day, 26 February, this story was picked up and republished on the Rixstep website and on a pro-Assange blog by the Julian Assange Fanciers Guild called “Fuck Yeah, Julian Assange” (FYJA for short). From there, it was picked up by feeds to other blog sites and attracted enough attention to hover around the 4th or 5th position in Google search results for the term “Fuck Yeah Julian Assange”. And so it remained, even beyond the sudden and unexpected demise of the FYJA on 10 April when the owner of the blog, despite pleas it should be left up as an archive, deleted the entire tumblr, an event much mourned within the Wikileaks Twitter community for the welcome spot of light-hearted humour it had provided. Someone else picked up the mantle and FYJA Version 2 continued; the world rolled on.

Even though a click-through from Google search results would now result in a Page Not Found, the title of this particular page – Possible Gag Order on the Guardian in Assange Case? – obviously piqued enough interest and clicks to maintain its relatively high position in the search results for the site. Then, for one day in early May, it showed up as the top search result for FYJA, and then… it disappeared entirely. All trace of it vanished, not only from the main pages of Google search results, but also from the Google store of cached pages for the site (more on this later), through which access to it had still been possible.

Yet remnants of the original blog page remain on the internet, like scattered ghosts, in feeds to other sites, such as this archive page at The #Wikileaks Daily (scroll down to the Stories section), showing that it had indeed existed at one time, although the link will now lead nowhere.

Interestingly, there is an intriguing connection between the FYJA story and the one that appears immediately above it on that archive page – “Assange goes off deep end – blaming Jews and Guardian in Private Eye” by James Ball – which can be found on the 25 February FYJA page (whoever removed the Gag Order page from Google seems to have missed that the conversation about it had actually started two days earlier). There, one commentator states that she has sent an email to Private Eye about the Guardian censorship issue (editors note: link no longer working at the time of publishing, but the screengrab can be viewed below).

As Ian Hislop helpfully emailed Greg Mitchell at The Nation (see the entry at 8.55) with the exact time that Private Eye went to print, we can surmise there were at least two or three days in which to assemble a story – “as much as [Hislop] could remember” – about an off-the-record telephone conversation with Assange a couple of weeks previously. Not conclusive evidence of a Guardian/Private Eye ‘conspiracy’ perhaps, but it’s still an interesting detail to add to the back-and-forth of arguments and counterarguments set out by Mitchell.

It wouldn’t be the first time, of course, that Private Eye has come to the rescue of the Guardian in legal matters, as Alan Rusbridger gratefully noted in a lengthy 2008 article for the New York Review of Books detailing the eye-watering costs of fighting a libel action brought against it by Tesco (the case was dropped when Private Eye dug up related information). He thanked them again for that one in his excellent Anthony Sampson lecture on libel law reform earlier this month. In fact, there’s a long history of collaboration between the two media outlets – from sharing a writer who specialises in tax affairs during the Guardian’s Tax Gap campaign (incidentally, that campaign was another instance where readers complained their comments and links were being heavily moderated by the newspaper) to David Leigh winning the Paul Foot Award (co-sponsored by Private Eye and the Guardian) for investigative journalism in 2007. Of course, there’s nothing untoward in such allegiances and friendships across the establishment media – they are only to be expected – and it would be ridiculous to characterise them as in any way ‘conspiratorial’; nevertheless, it would be rather shabby if such friendships had formed the basis of a deliberate attempt to smear someone.

Back to the FYJA blog page. An analysis of Google’s cache store for the V.1 tumblr blog, dated 5 May (see screengrabs: B, C, D, E, and F ) (Editor’s note: at the time of publishing, only three items remain for the search performed.) reveals some odd anomalies: sometimes comments on old pages are fully accessible, despite FYJA V.1 having been subsequently deleted; sometimes Discus comments are showing but not accessible; sometimes they are missing entirely. It appears that there’s been some selective pruning of pages subsequent to the 26 February page, but it’s hard to tell for certain exactly what is missing. This raises more questions. Does Google simply remove specific URLs from its cache store at the request of parties other than a site’s owner on request, or does this need to be court-ordered? And, if so, who would spend good money to do that in this instance? As the original comment containing the Guardian email can still be viewed at WL Central and on the Rixstep website, the only effect of removing this particular page from public view would seem to be to remove the comments of forum members underneath the material that it had reproduced from WL Central.

So, what were the good ladies of the Fanciers Guild discussing that day that might have been so contentious? Well, I decided to contact a few of them to find out (God bless Twitter) and it seems they were mostly talking about Karl Rove – articles about him on the Professors Blogg site (strangely silent since 18 April); his involvement in past scandals, such as the outing of Valerie Plame or the Michael Connell story; his close association with Billy McCormac and Fredrik Andersson of Prime PR (and theirs with Anna Ardin); Prime’s hand in the #prataomdet/Talk About It ‘grassroots’ campaign, which punts the idea that silent nonconsent to sex is common in Sweden (the Swedish equivalent, presumably, of Thinking of England); Rove’s political consultancy work for Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his (and Prime’s) part in Reinfeldt’s successful re-election campaign; most of all, whether or not Karl Rove was at the annual Harpsund party at the Swedish PM’s country residence on 20 August last year, where Niklas Svensson and colleagues from Expressen were when they got the leak that a police report had been filed against Assange. It’s known Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was at the party, as was an official from Beatrice Ask’s Justice Ministry who is married to Maria Kjellstrand, the prosecutor who illegally confirmed the story to the press – but, alas, the full guest list has yet to surface.

I have no idea whether these matters were the intended target of the Google take-down – nor who was behind that take-down – they are just some points participants in the FYJA forum remember discussing. There is no doubt, however, that someone used some fairly sophisticated site analysis tools to take a very close look at the FYJA blog on 28 April and 29 April (see screengrabs G and H, respectively), ( editors note: and here is a link to the same page as it looks now) shortly before the Gag Order page from that site disappeared from the internet.

For anyone who thinks this is all a little fanciful or far-fetched, here’s another example of material being removed from the record in ways that outfox retrieval from Google’s cache store.  This one concerns the removal from Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter of comments made by Marianne Ny that British and Swedish law prevented her from interviewing Assange in England.

In a recent interview with e-flux Journal, Julian Assange spoke of three types of history (he uses the term interchangeably with “historical record”): type one is everyday knowledge subsidised by an industrial economy – how to build a pump, how to create steel, how to cook, etc – that keeps such information around and makes use of it; type two is information already in the intellectual record but no longer having an economy behind it, some of it slowly vanishing – books go out of print, and so on – but no one is actively trying to destroy it. “…And then there is the type-three information that is the focus of my attention now. This is the information that people are actively working to prevent from entering into the record. Type-three information is suppressed before publication or after publication. If type three information is spread around, there are active attempts to take it out of circulation.”

Following the furore surrounding the recent Twitter disclosure of supposed superinjunctions (some swiftly denied by the people named), Geoffrey Robertson QC argued that things have gone badly wrong with UK privacy law, which – in its current form – is being used to impose prior restraint on newspapers to protect “celebrities threatened by ‘kiss and sell’ stories from discarded lovers as well, it is said, as stories of some public import.” That last, rather pointed, note was echoed by Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index on Censorship, who pointed out that privacy injunctions weren’t the only form of legal gag having a chilling effect on the press: “If privacy vs freedom of expression issues are simply reduced to who is sleeping with whom, we lose sight of the more important cases where there is a real need for whistle-blowing, and acceptable breaches of privacy where there is a strong public interest.” Mark Stephens, media specialist lawyer at Finers Stephens Innocent, for his part simply suggested that whoever was responsible for the Twitter feed should pack their toothbrush for a stay in Pentonville jail: “Their emails used to upload this information are being traced, I imagine, as we speak.”

A Screengrab add-on for Firefox browsers can be downloaded here.

Final editor’s note: indeed an impressively quick removal of all traces of a blog. Of the original FYJA V1.0  only three items remain in cache (all dated April 6) right now. Will they too be gone tomorrow?


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Police officer Irmeli Krans’ behavior ok according to JO

A couple of days ago, JO decided that Irmeli Krans did not have any conflict of interest when she interrogated one of the women in the Assange case. There is a complete disregard of the fact that Irmeli Krans knew that the two women went together to the police station to report on the same man. This issue is not problematized at all. There are also some (small) factual errors in the document. Please comment if you want to add info on critical errors or omissions in JO’s description.

Link to original document

My translation:


Date 2011-05-23

Dnr 1373-2011


Hans-Gunnar Axberger

Report to JO

RO has, in a report that arrived to JO on March 10, 2011, expressed complaints against the Police Authority in the County of Stockholm. RO has asked JO to review the behavior of a police officer in connection with a preliminary investigation regarding a case of rape (the allegations against Assange). According to RO, the police officer was a close friend to the plaintiff, and despite them being acquainted to one another, “she took the role as interrogator without reporting conflict of interest.” In addition, the police officer has clearly taken a position against Julian Assange through various statements on her blog (translators note: her facebook page). Because of this report, Maria Edlund, on May 2, 2011, submitted a letter on the subject.

The same day that RO’s complaint arrived to JO, the journal Expressen published, on their web, articles describing the events. In those articles, the following, among other things, was reported.

“The police interrogator in the Assange investigation is a friend of one of the two women issuing complaints of sexual assault against the founder of WikiLeaks”. The police officer and the woman came to know each other since they are both active within the social democratic party. In April 2009, the police officer cited a blog entry written by the woman regarding white men “giving themselves the right to decide what is offensive and what is not”. The police officer pointed out that what the woman had written “sets the finger on the important point and speaks for itself”.

Sixteen months later, i.e., in August 2010, the woman went together with another woman to the police and reported the rape. The police officer in question was on duty and interrogated the other reporting woman, without stating a conflict of interest.

When Aftonbladet in February 2011 let their readers chat with Julian Assange, the police officer comment the event on her facebook page. She wrote, among other things “What the hell is this supposed to be? Judgement zero!” She also payed tribute to the plaintiffs’ counsel: “Cheers for Claes Borgström!!!” and described the man [Assange] as the “exaggeratedly haussed up ready-to-burst bubble”.

Documents from the National Police Board’s internal investigation unit have been brought in and examined. These documents show that the case has been subject to scrutiny by the Prosecution Authority, National Unit for investigation of police cases. According to this investigation, the police officer in question only registered the initial report and interrogated the woman she did not know. She was thus not present when the second woman’s report was registered and she has also not been part of the investigation since then. The Deputy Chief Prosecutor Kay Engfeldt decided against this background on March 22, 2011 not to open a preliminary investigation regarding possible misconduct.

For police offers who have to take action or report a decision according to [the Swedish Code of] Judicial Procedure, the same kind of regulations regarding conflict of interest are valid as for judges and prosecutors. Thus, conflict of interest is present for a police officer if, among other things, any special circumstances are present which may undermine the confidence in his or her impartiality (4th chapter, 13 § 10 compared to 7th chapter, 6 and 9 §§ The Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure)

As has been shown, the matter in questions has already been subject to investigation by the Prosecution Authority. The facts which have been revealed regarding the police officer’s dealings in the case also do not motivate any further action from the side of JO. The same is true for the various statements the police officer has made on her blog.

The matter is therefore dismissed from further processing.

Signed by Hans-Gunnar Axberger and Lina Forzelius.

Sent to:


Maria Edlund

The National Police Board, internal investigation unit in Stockholm (K1516-11)

The Prosecution Authority, National unit for investigation of police cases (AM-45325-11)

Glossary of legal terms:

Google translate fails on certain terms like JO and RO, but here’s my attempt anyway:

JO = Justitieombudsmannen = Ombudsman (of Justice)

RO = Rättsäkerhetsorganisationen = Organization for the rule of law

Polismyndigheten = Police Authority

målsägande = plaintiff

jäv = conflict of interest

inge en skrivelse = submit a letter

målsägandebiträde = plaintiff’s counsel

Rikspolisstyrelsen = National Police Board

internutredingsenheten = internal investigation unit

Åklagarmyndigheten = Prosecution Authority

Riksenheten för polismål = National unit for investigation of police cases

förundersökning = preliminary investigation

tjänstefel = misconduct

Rättegångsbalken = The Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure

Here it is, translated to English btw:

Vice chefsåklagare = Deputy Chief Prosecutor


Expressen is not a right-wing tabloid. It’s just a tabloid.


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Recipe for a smear piece

On May 17, 2011, an article by Emanuel Karlsten with the title “Wikileaks har helt förlorat fotfästet” was published in Dagens Nyheter (translation of title: “WikiLeaks has completely lost its foothold”). The article was linked at the very top of, making it maximally visible. The way in which the text is cooked up is interesting and therefore I’ll go through it.

The article begins with criticizing the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) recently discussed in several places, for instance in the jackofkent blog and on wlcentral. The criticism in Karlstens’s article seems to amount to mainly complaining about the large liability sum mentioned in the NDA, plus generally not liking the idea of an NDA in the first place. (There exists well founded criticism of the NDA as it is currently formulated, but that was not the issue in the article.)

Then, Johannes Wahlström is suddenly thrown in and it is insinuated, using a discussion between him and a police regarding possible leaks from the police investigation concerning Julian Assange, that Wahlström is somehow not too happy with open government (offentlighetsprincipen). This is of course nonsense, please read the witness statement “E” in English and Swedish yourself. (And yes, I have read the footnote in the Resumé article.)

Karlsten later complains on his blog that his article had to be limited to 2800 characters. Still, he chooses to continue the article with a lengthy description of what open government means – something we all already know. Apparently this took up so much space that there was, unfortunately, no place to mention the principle of confidentiality of pre-trial investigations (förundersöknings-sekretess), which you can read more about here (in Swedish).

In a final blow, Karlsten concludes that all of this means that “[WikiLeaks] misslyckats leva efter sina egna krav på öppenhet” (translation: [WikiLeaks] has failed to follow its own demands of transparency”).

WikiLeaks is a tiny organization handling highly sensitive information and working for increased transparency of governments, investment banks, large corporations and other powerful bodies who certainly do not wish to become more transparent. And now, please think about what those large, powerful entities could and would do to this tiny organization if they knew everything about it, or if the people working there could easily be pressured into disclosing whatever information.

In summary: mix some uninformed assertions and unfounded insinuations, throw in something with positive connotation (e.g., the open government doctrine) and make it sound vaguely threatened or criticized. Finally, spice the whole thing up with a refusal to think logically. That’s how to cook up a smear piece.

To me, a person who demands total transparency of WL either

simply doesn’t get it (cannot apply logic)


doesn’t like WL and wants it to go away


believes that WL is a CIA front or similar.

That said, there are certainly ways in which WL as an organization could and should be improved. However, it is also clear that WL has learned from its past and adjusted the organization accordingly. In fact, it has been clearly demonstrated that WL cannot function on trust alone, and the NDA is a consequence of this.

A couple of deleted comments (not mine) to the article can be found below.

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