FBI director lashes out at Apple, Google for encrypting smartphones

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The companies responsible for powering nearly 95 percent of the smart phones in the United States say they’re embracing encryption for the sake of their customers’ privacy, and that’s concerning to the head of the FBI.

On Thursday this week, FBI Director James Comey attacked recent reports regarding both Apple and Google’s efforts to provide customers of their respective operating systems with the ability to secure data with encryption unlike anything previously available for mainstream mobile devices: Apple claims that even its own Palo Alto, California engineers can’t crack into locked phones running the iOS 8 platform released this month, and Google says its new Android devices will offer data encryption by default.

Speaking to reporters during a briefing in Washington on Thursday, Comey outright complained about the companies’ announcements and insisted that their efforts will severely hinder law enforcement operations.

“There will come a day — well it comes every day in this business — when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device,” the Huffington Post quoted Comey as saying. “I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes.”

“I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘how come you can’t do this thing,’” he added.

Unfortunately for the Obama-appointed head of the FBI, however, that day may have already come and gone, at least with respect to Apple. Upon release of the company’s latest operating system last week, Apple said in a statement that “personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode,” adding, “Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data.”

“So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8,” Apple said.

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On Sept. 18, Google announced they’d be adopting now security-minded practices as well. “For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” spokeswoman Niki Christoff said to the Post. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

According to a recent study conducted by digital pollsters comScore, Android and Apple control a 52.1 percent and 41.9 percent share of the market, respectively, with regards to operating systems in the US as of May 2014.

Big names from within the FBI and Justice Department at large have previously spoken out about the federal government’s desire to eavesdrop on conversations conducted in the digital realm, be it on websites or with text messages sent between cell phones, but Comey’s latest remarks may be the most direct yet to come from an individual as high up in the executive branch.

“I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” HuffPo quoted Comey. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”

“Google is marketing their Android the same way: Buy our phone and law-enforcement, even with legal process, can never get access to it,” he said.

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According to the Washington Post, Comey told reporter that he said he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law” — a quip that quickly attracted criticism.

“Um, what ‘law’ is that?” Hanni Fakhoury, a former federal public defender who currently works as a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tweeted on Thursday.

“It’s disappointing that the FBI has chosen to focus on examples where encryption might potentially slow hypothetical investigations, while ignoring the fact that strong, reliable encryption is the only way we have to prevent a wide range of very real and very serious crimes,” Matt Blaze, a computer security researcher and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press. “We rely on smartphones to manage and protect more and more aspects of our business, personal and financial lives.”

Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union’s chief technologist, Christopher Soghoian, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that “it wasn’t so long ago that top FBI officials were advising people to encrypt data to protect it from hackers,” along with a link to remarks made by then-FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry about “some of the most critical threats facing our nation” in 2011.

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“Managing the consequences of a cyberattack entails minimizing the harm that results when an adversary does break into a system,” Henry said at the time. “An example would be encrypting data so the hacker can’t read it, or having redundant systems that can readily be reconstituted in the event of an attack.”

In the three years since those remarks were first made, however, the revelations concerning the US National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance programs has prompted an increasing amount of people worldwide to adopt standards intended to protect themselves against eavesdroppers, be they government agents or otherwise. Leaked NSA documents have shown that government agencies have adopted spy practices that may range from tapping into data sent to Google’s massive server warehouses to breaking into iPhones with a 100 percent success rate, the likes of which have been attributed with the marketing of ultra-secure mobile devices as well as a surge in the number of people turning to online anonymity solutions, such as the Tor browser.

As Georgetown University law professor Orin Kerr told the Washington Post, however, the FBI wants to be able to pry into the phones and ergo the lives of Americans — but first with an individualized order, and not a blanket issue like the kind that lets the NSA sweep up phones records of millions of Americans on a regular basis.

“The outrage is directed at warrantless mass surveillance, and this is a very different context. It’s searching a device with a warrant,” Kerr told the paper.

Earlier this year in July, the US Supreme Court ruled that police, in most circumstances, must get a search warrant before they can scoop up data from cellphones. Los Angeles Police Department Detective Brian Collins told the Washington Post this week that he does forensic analysis on about 30 smartphones a month for the LAPD’s anti-gang and narcotics investigations and fears being unable to further aid law enforcement if Apple, Google and other tech companies increasingly turn towards encryption.

“I’ve been an investigator for almost 27 years,” Collins said, “It’s concerning that we’re beginning to go backwards with this technology.”

“Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile,” John J. Escalante, the chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department, added to the paper. “The average pedophile at this point is probably thinking, I’ve got to get an Apple phone.”

FBI FORCES POLICE DEPARTMENTS ACROSS THE US TO KEEP QUIET ABOUT CELLPHONE SPYING GEAR

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Law enforcement agencies turning to StingRay

Not only are local police departments across the United States increasingly relying on so-called StingRay devices to conduct surveillance on cell phone users, but cops are being forced to keep quiet about the operations, new documents reveal.

Recent reports have indicated that law enforcement agencies from coast to coast have been turning to IMSI-catcher devices, like the StingRay sold by Florida’s Harris Corporation, to trick ordinary mobile phones into communicating device-specific International Mobile Subscriber Identity information to phony cell towers — a tactic that takes the approximate geolocation data of all the devices within range and records it for investigators. Recently, the Tallahassee Police Department in the state of Florida was found to have used their own “cell site simulator” at least 200 times to collect phone data without once asking for a warrant during a three-year span, and details about the use of StingRays by other law enforcement groups continue to emerge on the regular.

But while the merits of whether or not law enforcement officers should legally be able to collect sensitive cell information by masquerading as telecommunication towers remains ripe for debate — and continues for certain to be an issue of contention among civil liberties advocates — newly released documents raise even further questions about how cops use StingRays and other IMSI-catchers to gather great chunks of data concerning the whereabouts of not just criminal suspects, but seemingly anyone in a given vicinity that happens to have a phone in their hand or pocket.

Relentless pleas for details about use of IMSI-catchers by the Tacoma Police Department in Washington state paid off recently when the investigative news site Muckrock obtained a six-page document after following up for several months on a Freedom of Information Act request placed with the TPD.

According to the document, police in Tacoma were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before they could begin conducting surveillance on cell users with a Harris-sold StingRay.

Although the majority of the December 2012 document is redacted, a paragraph from FBI special agent Laura Laughlin to Police of Chief Donald Ramsdell reveals that Tacoma officers were told they couldn’t discuss their use of IMSI-catchers with anyone.

“We have been advised by Harris Corporation of the Tacoma Police Department’s request for acquisition of certain wireless collection equipment/technology manufactured by Harris Corporation,” the FBI letter reads in part. “Consistent with the conditions on the equipment authorization granted to Harris Corporation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state and local law enforcement agencies must coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to complete this non-disclosure agreement prior to the acquisition and use of the equipment/technology authorized by the FCC authorization.”

Muckrock first obtained documents in August referring to the NDA between the Tacoma PD and the US Department of Justice, but Shawn Musgrave wrote for the site this week that the agreement itself — albeit a highly redacted one — were only provided last Friday.

“The Tacoma document provides key insight into the close cooperation among the FBI, Harris Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission to bar StingRay details from public release,” Musgrave wrote.

“The fact that the FBI received notification from Harris that TPD was interested in a StingRay reveals a surprising level of coordination between a private corporation and a federal law enforcement agency,”Musgrave continued. “The agreement also makes clear that completing the NDA is compulsory by order of the FCC.”

Alan Butler, an appellate advocacy counsel for the Washington, DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, was quick to comment to Muckrock about the information revealed by the FOIA request.

“What is so fascinating about the beginning paragraph of the NDA you received,” Butler said, “is that it makes clear that Harris, the FCC and the FBI are working together to facilitate the proliferation of these devices among state and local law enforcement agencies.”

“It’s not clear to me why the FCC would have an interest in requiring law enforcement agencies to sign NDA’s with the FBI, unless they were concerned that the spread of this technology could harm users of American communications networks,” added Butler, whose group has previously filed multiple FOIA requests and legal complaints on its own with the FBI over the use of IMSI-catchers.

And Matt Cagle, an attorney who specialized in surveillance an serves as a police fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California office, tweeted that it’s “alarming” to see that the FCC — a public agency — “is conditioning certification of cell spy tech” without informing the public.

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As RT reported recently, the US Marshals Service recently intervened in a dispute between the police department in Sarasota, FL and the ACLU by seizing cell phone records collected by an cop-owned StingRay before the civil libertarians could review them.

“This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for Stingray information,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed told Wired back in June. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

At the time, Wired reported that the ACLU believes that “dozens” of US police department have used StingRays under the caveat that they sign an NDA.

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SCHOOL SECRETLY MONITORS STUDENTS’ FACEBOOK PAGES AFTER RECEIVING CALL FROM NSA

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“People are very good about ‘If you see something, say something'”

by MIKAEL THALEN | INFOWARS.COM | SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

School officials in Huntsville, Alabama, say a phone call from the National Security Agency led them to create a secret surveillance program to monitor their students’ social media accounts.

According to Superintendent and former U.S. Army colonel Casey Wardynski, the program began 18 months ago after the NSA alerted Al Lankford, the school’s security officer, to a “violent threat” made by a student on Facebook.

Wardynski says school officials immediately searched the student’s vehicle and found a “very good size knife,” leading to the student’s expulsion.

The NSA denied any involvement with the situation whatsoever when contacted by AL.com, the news group that obtained documents relating to the school’s “SAFe,” or Students Against Fear, monitoring program.

“The National Security Agency has no record that it passed any information to the Huntsville school district, and the description of what supposedly occurred is inconsistent with NSA’s practices,” said NSA Public Affairs Specialist Vanee Vines.

Vines argued that the action would be illegal as the NSA’s alleged primary mission is to focus on foreign threats. Wardynski said that the NSA told him that the student was in a group chat with an individual from Yemen when the threat was made, making the surveillance legal.

“There was a foreign connection,” said Wardynski.

Since then, the school district has expelled at least three students for posting photos with firearms on their Facebook pages according to SAFe documents.

Despite the program’s inception coming from an unconstitutional action, Wardynski hailed SAFe for its success in breaking up the “Wolfpack,” a group of troubled students who were later expelled and sent to a boot camp.

“People are very good about ‘If you see something, say something,’” Wardynski said.

When asked, Wardynski denied that the program was being used to search for posts related to drugs, sex and alcohol, but only “gangs, threats of violence and threats of suicide.”

In one case, an 18-year-old student was expelled for posing with a handgun off of school grounds despite handgun ownership being legal at 18 in Alabama.

While the NSA continues to deny the allegations, if true, the situation represents a new criminal low for the agency.

Despite their claims of only monitoring foreign targets, NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden have shown the agency to be primarily focused on the American public and economic espionage.

Earlier this month, Alex Jones interviewed 36-year NSA veteran and whistleblower William Binney, who revealed the NSA’s plan to implement total information awareness within the United States.

HUGE NAVY DRONE THAT IS BIGGER THAN A 737 TAKES TO THE SKIES FOR FLIGHT ACROSS AMERICA

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By PETE D’AMATO FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 09:15 EST, 19 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:39 EST, 19 September 2014

An airliner-sized Navy surveillance drone made its first transcontinental flight Wednesday night, flying 11 hours across the United States before landing Thursday morning at a Navy base in Maryland.
The cross-country test was the first for the MQ-4C Triton, which will play a role in the Navy’s planned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
The Triton left from an airfield in Palmdale, California, at Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the aircraft, crossing the Gulf of Mexico before tracking up the Atlantic coast and landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
Scroll down for video
Safe landing: The massive MQ-4C landed Thursday morning in Maryland after flying overnight from California, showing off the long-range capabilities of the aircraft
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Safe landing: The massive MQ-4C landed Thursday morning in Maryland after flying overnight from California, showing off the long-range capabilities of the aircraft
A Navy press release stated that the unmanned aircraft flew above 50,000 feet to avoid commercial air traffic and that after 11 hours and 3,290 miles landed safely in Maryland.
MQ-4C Triton
Wingspan: 130.9ft (39.9m)
Length: 47.6ft (14.5m)
Height: 15.4ft (4.6m)
Gross Take-off Weight: 32,250lbs (14,628kg)
Max. Internal Payload: 3,200lbs (1,452kg)
Max. External Payload: 2,400lbs (1,089kg)
Max. Altitude: 56,500ft (17.22km)
Max. Velocity: 331 knots
Max. Flight Endurance: 28 hours
• Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine
• 360-degree field of regard sensors
• Multi-function electronically steered radar
• Electro-optical and infrared targeting system
• Electronic Support Measures to track and identify electronic signals
(source: Northrop Grumman)
The Washington Post reports that the drone can provide blanket surveillance for the Navy as part of the branch’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
Triton uses ‘radar, infrared sensors and advanced cameras to provide full-motion video and photographs’ to Navy personnel.

Coverage: Unmanned aircraft do the ‘dull, dirty or dangerous’ work for the military, including surveillance of large swaths of empty ocean
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Coverage: Unmanned aircraft do the ‘dull, dirty or dangerous’ work for the military, including surveillance of large swaths of empty ocean
Big bird: The largest Boeing 737s have a wingspan of 112 feet, which can’t compete with the 130-foot wings of the MQ-4C Triton
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Big bird: The largest Boeing 737s have a wingspan of 112 feet, which can’t compete with the 130-foot wings of the MQ-4C Triton
According to Ars Technica, the Navy is also looking for carrier-based attack drones, with Naval Air Systems Command soliciting proposals for an unmanned aircraft capable of both surveillance and air strikes in April.
Surveillance drones have attracted their share of criticism as the military has been reluctant to offer transparency on their use or safety record.
The ACLU says both the military and the FAA refuse to release data on drone crashes.
In 2012, a RQ-4A Global Hawk, an earlier unmanned aircraft built by Northrop Grumman, crashed during training exercises in an unpopulated area near Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762481/The-Navy-s-huge-surveillance-drone-completed-cross-country-test-flight-Wednesday-night.html#ixzz3DngfLJ9j
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Mysterious unidentified spying cell towers found across Washington, DC

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Washington, DC is littered with surveillance devices designed to trick surrounding mobile phones into logging onto signal-lifting networks, thereby allowing for tracking or call-monitoring purposes.

While traveling around the capital city with Washington Post reporters, a top executive using his company’s mobile-security technology detected as many as 18 such devices mimicking legitimate cell towers around the city, especially in sensitive areas around the likes of the White House, the US Capitol building, and foreign embassies.

Aaron Turner’s company Integricell is one of many outfits that has developed technology to indicate surveillance devices – known as ISMI catchers – used by police, intelligence entities, private individuals, and others to track surrounding devices or to even spy on phone calls.

ISMI catchers are named after a “unique identifying phone code called an ISMI,” according to the Post, and can hijack phone signals, tricking an average mobile phone attempting to hook into established cell networks such as Verizon or AT&T.

While Integricell found at least 18 such ISMI catchers, others believe that is simply the beginning.

“I think there’s even more here,” said Les Goldsmith, top executive with ESD America, a tech company partnering with Integricell to promote the company’s GSMK CryptoPhone. “That was just us driving around for a day and a half.”

Others expressed doubt to the Post that the CryptoPhone – currently marketed at $3,500 apiece – can accurately identify individual ISMI catchers.

“I would bet money that there are governments that are spying in DC,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Whether you can detect that with a $3,000 device, I don’t know.”

Goldsmith said that though there are ISMI catchers in the locations identified by Integricell’s technology, CryptoPhone cannot very well determine the source of espionage, whether it is the US government, local police, a foreign intelligence entity, or an individual.

The Federal Communications Commission has taken notice of ISMI-catching technology, as even skilled hobby technologists could build a surveillance device for less than $1,500. This summer, the FCC organized a task force to study potential use and abuse of ISMI catchers by foreign governments or private citizens. The FCC does not have authorization to police US government use of the catchers – which are illegal to use without a search warrant or other legal clearance.

Meanwhile, researchers across the globe are racing to counter ISMI catchers with a device known as “ISMI catcher-catcher.” These efforts include the development of free or inexpensive apps that could offer some protection from surveillance.

CryptoPhone looks for three indicators when attempting to identify an ISMI catcher: when a phone moves to a 2G network from a more-secure 3G one; when a phone connection “strips away” encryption; and when a cell tower does not offer a “neighbor’s list” of other cell towers in the area. ISMI catchers will not provide such lists, hoping to capture any phone that it comes in contact with in a general area.

When cruising around DC with the Post, Integricell’s Turner reported one or two of the three indicators. Only once in 90 minutes were all three indicators detected.

While there is a surge of interest in the likes of the CryptoPhone, researchers contend that makers of IMSI catchers will boost their own technology to outwit ISMI catcher-catchers, signaling an arms race in surveillance and counter-surveillance technology.

Earlier this month, Popular Science published a story – citing ESD America’s CEO Goldsmith – reporting that the CryptoPhone had found 17 different fake cell phone towers, or interceptors, across the United States in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and more.

“Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated,” Goldsmith told Popular Science. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”

Although these interceptors act as fake cell phone towers, they are not necessary large, physical structures. They could simply be small mobile devices that act exactly like a real tower, deceiving phones into giving up information. Such devices are known as ‘Stingrays,’ after the brand name of one popular type of interceptor.

Police agencies across the country are increasingly relying on Stingrays to conduct investigations, but the powerful tools aren’t often discussed in public.

In June, the US Marshals Service intervened in a dispute between a Florida police department and the state’s ACLU chapter, with the Marshals sweeping in at the last minute to seize controversial cell phone records obtained with a Stingray device before the ACLU was able to review them.

The ACLU has asserted that a Stingray enables the “electronic equivalent of dragnet ‘general searches’ prohibited by the Fourth Amendment,” and convinced a court to force the Sarasota police to make the documents available for review.

Spying and storing: Assange says ‘Google works like NSA’

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange equated Google with the National Security Agency and GCHQ, saying the tech giant has become “a privatized version of the NSA,” as it collects, stores, and indexes people’s data. He made his remarks to BBC and Sky News.

“Google’s business model is the spy. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behavior, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others,” Assange told BBC.

“So the result is that Google, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ,” the whistleblower argued.

‘Google deeply involved in US foreign policy’
Google has been working with the NSA “in terms of contracts since at least 2002,” Assange told Sky News.

“They are formally listed as part of the defense industrial base since 2009. They have been engaged with the Prism system, where nearly all information collected by Google is available to the NSA,” Assange said. “At the institutional level, Google is deeply involved in US foreign policy.”

Google has tricked people into believing that it is “a playful, humane organization” and not a “big, bad US corporation,” Assange told BBC. “But in fact it has become just that…it is now arguably the most influential commercial organization.”

“Google has now spread to every country, every single person, who has access to the internet,” he reminded.

Police stand guard during a news conference by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014.(Reuters / Toby Melville)Police stand guard during a news conference by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014.(Reuters / Toby Melville)

During his interviews, Assange also touched on his own situation at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been trapped since June 2012, after being offered asylum.

The embassy is watched around the clock by British police who are ready to place Assange under arrest should he attempt to leave.

Assange said that his stay there has impacted his work, as surveillance makes certain tasks very difficult.

“The 7.3 million pounds (US$12 million) of police surveillance admitted outside this embassy. It is a difficult situation. It is not a situation that is easy for [a] national security reporter. You can’t read sources. It is difficult to meet some of my staff because of that surveillance,” he said.

“On the other hand, there are no subpoenas, there are no door knocks in the night, unlike [for] other national security reporters. So in some ways there are benefits to the situation,” Assange noted. “Other people are in more difficult situations. Chelsea Manning for example, who was sentenced last year to 35 years in prison, my alleged co-conspirator.”

Attitude shift
Assange spoke optimistically about recent changes made to Britain’s extradition laws.

“Early this year, the UK passed modifications to ban extradition without charge, to insist on if you want to speak with someone you have to come to the UK or charge them. You can’t just say, ‘I want to speak to that person and I am not willing to use any standard mechanisms.’”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (R) speaks as Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino listens, during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014. (Reuters / John Stillwell)WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (R) speaks as Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino listens, during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014. (Reuters / John Stillwell)

Meanwhile, the situation has also been changing in Sweden, with general elections taking place over the weekend. According to Assange, there is a shift in attitude there, which could mean a significant change for him as early as next year.

“The Swedish election was on Sunday. We don’t know yet what the formation of the government will be. It will probably be a center-left government. And there is attitude changes there. We have appeal in Sweden in just two weeks’ time.”

Assange filed an appeal against a Swedish warrant for his arrest earlier in September. His lawyers are arguing that the prosecutors are acting “in gross breach of Swedish law.”

“We argue against the district court’s decision and believe they do not properly take account of the situation,” said Assange’s Swedish attorney, Thomas Olssen, according to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning in Sweden, for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in Stockholm in 2010.

Assange denies the allegations, but will not travel to Sweden to be questioned because he says the charges are politically motivated for his work with WikiLeaks and he will be extradited to the US. WikiLeaks enraged Washington by publishing thousands of leaked diplomatic cables in 2010.

Meanwhile, Assange has released a new book titled ‘When Google Met WikiLeaks.’ In the book, the WikiLeaks founder describes his vision for the future of the internet and recounts a meeting with Google chairman Eric Schmidt in 2011.

Mystery Surrounds Unexplained Cellphone Tower in NC

Tower not being used by any major communications company

by Paul Joseph Watson | September 18, 2014

Questions are being asked about a strange communications tower disguised as a tree which was discovered by a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina after media reports of fake cellphone towers popping up across the country which are being used at surveillance devices.

The tower is not listed as being operated by any of the major telecommunications firms, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile or Cricket – and the firm that built the tower is refusing to answer questions as to who operates it and for what purpose.