UK Police Snowden Probe Declared "Inactive"

Friday 20 December 2019

In 2013, London's Metropolitan Police began a criminal investigation focusing on journalists who reported stories from a trove of secret documents leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Now, after six years and no arrests or prosecutions, the Met has confirmed that the investigation has been shelved.

The Met told me in response to a recent Freedom of Information request that the investigation is "inactive pending further information being received." Since 2014, I've had several updates from the Met regarding the investigation, and this marks the first time that its status has changed from "ongoing." In November 2017, the Met stated that it was a "complex investigation and enquiries continue."

The investigation, which was given the code-name Operation Curable, had been led by the Met's Counter-Terrorism Command, under the direction of assistant commissioner Mark Rowley. In March 2018, Rowley retired from the Met -- and with his departure, it seems the Curable investigation went cold.

The majority of the documents in Snowden's leaked archive revealed classified American mass surveillance operations. But a significant portion of the files disclosed explosive information about electronic spying programs operated by the UK’s largest intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

British authorities responded furiously to the Snowden revelations and tried to prevent The Guardian from publishing them. Infamously, representatives from GCHQ were sent to the newspaper's London offices at one stage to oversee the destruction of hard drives that contained the secret files.

The police went as far as to argue that publishing the Snowden files was itself a terrorist act, thereby explicitly conflating journalism with terrorism. In August 2013, a memo authored by the Met and domestic spy agency MI5 asserted that “the disclosure [of the Snowden documents], or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism.”

In December 2013, one of the London force’s most senior officers, Cressida Dick, was questioned about the case during a parliamentary hearing. She acknowledged that the force’s investigation was looking at whether reporters at The Guardian had committed criminal offences -- some carrying potential 10-year prison sentences -- for their role in revealing secret surveillance operations exposed in the documents. “We need to establish whether they have or haven’t [committed offences],” Dick said. “That involves a huge amount of scoping of material.”

It is unclear how much taxpayer money and police resources were invested in pursuing the Curable investigation. The Met has declined to provide any information about the amount of funds spent on the probe, or disclose the number of officers who worked on it; the force claims that it does not hold records of these details. It is also unclear whether the investigation may at some point resume. The Met said that the probe is inactive pending further information being received -- what that information may be, and whether it will ever actually materialise, is anyone's guess.

Leadership of Google's Dragonfly Project

Thursday 13 December 2018

Earlier this week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made his first ever appearance in US Congress and faced criticism from lawmakers over the company's plan to launch as censored search engine in China. Pichai was evasive on several questions about the project, known as Dragonfly, and declined to answer when probed on the leadership personnel at the company involved in it.

While working on a series of stories about the search engine over the last few months, I pieced together a chart to map out the organisational structure of Dragonfly, which I am publishing here today to shine light on the key players behind the plan. The chart is a work in progress; it's not comprehensive and it is not based on any official Google documents. It is based on reliable information that multiple well-placed sources have shared with me.

In total, only approximately 300 Google employees -- 0.35% of the company's 88,000 total staff -- have worked on the censored search engine, which was designed to blacklist broad categories of information about human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest. The search platform would also link Chinese users’ search records to their cellphone numbers and share people’s search histories with a Chinese partner company — meaning that Chinese security agencies, which routinely target activists and critics, could obtain the data.

As I reported in late November, the secrecy that surrounded the China plan was unprecedented inside the company. The top executives at the internet giant went to extraordinary lengths to keep the project under wraps. But who are those executives and what are their roles within the company?

Board of directors
It is still unclear to me how much the directors -- with the exception of CEO Sundar Pichai -- knew about Dragonfly and when. The project has been underway inside Google since 2016, but co-founder Sergey Brin claimed that he knew nothing about it until we exposed the plan at The Intercept in August. Brin has in the past taken a strong anti-censorship stance, and Google sources have suggested to me that some executives (see Scott Beaumont, below) may have deliberately withheld information from him about Dragonfly. I know for sure that other members of the board were looped in on Google's general work in China (such as projects to push out a translate app for the Chinese market, and a $550 million investment in the online Chinese retailer But the extent of their knowledge on Dragonfly, and how much of it they signed off on -- I am still trying to establish that.

Sundar Pichai, CEO:
Pichai took over at the helm of Google in 2015 and one of the items at the top of his agenda was -- and still is -- getting back into China. He publicly declared in 2016: "We want to be in China serving Chinese users.” Following the Dragonfly revelations, Pichai has faced a torrent of criticism over the censored search engine. He has defended the plan while making a series of misleading statements about how advanced the project was inside the company. Pichai appears to have delegated authority to Scott Beaumont, Google's chief in China, to manage the project.

Scott Beaumont, vice president of Google, Greater China & Korea
Beaumont is a British citizen who began his career working for an investment bank in England. He joined Google in 2009, working from London as director of the company’s partnerships in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In 2013, Beaumont relocated to China to head Google’s operations there. He is a leading force inside the company directing the Dragonfly project, viewing it as an integral step for the growth of the company and liaising directly with CEO Sundar Pichai on the progress of the plan. Beaumont's handling of Dragonfly has caused internal friction -- Yonatan Zunger, who was until last year one of Google's leading engineers, told me Beaumont did not take seriously human rights concerns that were repeatedly raised internally about the censored search engine. Beaumont “wanted the privacy review [of Dragonfly] to be pro forma and thought it should defer entirely to his views of what the product ought to be," said Zunger. "He did not feel that the security, privacy, and legal teams should be able to question his product decisions, and maintained an openly adversarial relationship with them — quite outside the Google norm.”

Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs
Walker oversees Google's policy, legal, trust and safety, and corporate philanthropy teams, and formely served as the company's general counsel. His day-to-day involvement in Dragonfly appears to have been fairly limited, but he has been involved in a number of high-level meetings about the project and its policy and legal status with other top executives, including Pichai and Beaumont. Following the public exposure of Dragonfly, Walker helped handle the backlash that ensued. In October, he wrote a letter to human rights groups defending Google's mission to provide "access to information to people around the world," while claiming the company remains committed to "protecting the rights to freedom of expression and privacy for our users globally."

Caesar Sengupta, vice president, Next Billion Users Team
Sengupta leads Google's effort to "engage the next billion internet users," and has had a leadership role on the Dragonfly project, collaborating closely with Scott Beaumont. One source who worked on Dragonfly told me: "Scott tends to treat Caesar like a lackey. Scott definitely considers himself in charge and Caesar is there to do his bidding." In November, after I reported that Google's privacy and security teams had been shut out of key meetings on Dragonfly and had felt sidelined by Beaumont, Sengupta claimed on Twitter that there was "no sidelining of privacy and security" and described Beaumont glowingly as "a person of very high integrity." Sengupta stated that he had experience "working on Dragonfly", but did not mention that he had a leading role on the project.

Andrew Bowers, senior director, project management
Bowers began his career at Google in 2006 as a marketing manager, based out of California. In 2016, he relocated to China as the company began to ramp up its operations in the country. His remit is to "reintroduce Google as a brand" to people in China, doing so through various products, such as a translate app and a WeChat game designed specifically for the Chinese market. Working out of Google offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing, Bowers is a key player on the Dragonfly project. He has helped manage the day-to-day operations of Dragonfly and has helped to develop strategy for the launch.

Ben Gomes, head of search
Gomes joined Google in 1999 and is one of the key engineers behind the company’s search engine. He took over the role as Google's head of search in April this year, succeeding John Giannandrea in that role. Giannandrea had helped develop the Dragonfly project before he left Google to take up a new job with Apple. Gomes inherited the blueprint for Dragonfly that Giannandrea had worked on. In July, Gomes told staff in a private meeting that the censored search engine project was "extremely important to the company," and said he hoped it could be launched between January and April 2019 or sooner. “We have to be focused on what we want to enable,” Gomes said. “And then when the opening happens, we are ready for it.”

Product managers
Have been looking at studies profiling the kinds of people that might use Google search in China.

Ranking teams
Working to finely tune the quality of the search results on the censored search engine.

One Box teams
These teams have been localising Google's search results to China, so that when people perform searches for certain phrases they will receive, for example, a separate box displaying information about weather, sports results, or news (see examples of 'one box' results here). Notably, sources have said that the weather results -- specifically, air quality data -- will be provided from a source in Beijing, meaning it could be distorted to downplay toxins in the air. (The Chinese government has a track record of manipulating air quality data.) News results will also be heavily censored and they will not include content from many western outlets -- for example, the BBC, New York Times, or Wall Street Journal.

Infrastructure teams
Developing the systems that will run the search engine, host and process the data.

User experience teams
Studying Chinese people's search behaviour and looking at how they might use Google.

Security, privacy, legal teams
Fairly self explanatory: these teams have focused on security, privacy, and legal issues around Dragonfly. But their work has not been straightforward, and sources said their efforts to carry out reviews of the censored search engine was hindered by Scott Beaumont, who handled the project in a "highly unusual" way and opposed the privacy review process (you can read more details on that here).

Developing the mobile apps for the censored search engine. There are two versions, named Longfei and Maotai. Sources say Google is working on designing the app for both Android and iOS devices.

Ads, Geo, and Identity
Teams working on advertising, Google maps, and identity, respectively. The identity team focuses on user sign-in and authentication issues. The Dragonfly search app will force people in China to log in to perform searches and will link their search records to their mobile phone number.


If you know more about the leadership structure of Dragonfly, you can contact me securely using one of the methods detailed on this page.

Google China Censored Search Coverage

Thursday 16 August 2018

My reporting so far on the Google-China censorship story (from oldest to newest):

Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal (1 August)

Google Struggles to Contain Employee Uproar Over China Censorship Plans (3 August)

Lawmakers Pressure Google Over “Deeply Troubling” China Censorship Project (4 August)

Inside Google’s Effort to Develop a Censored Search Engine in China (8 August)

Questions for Google on China Censorship (9 August)

Google Censorship Plan Is “Not Right” and “Stupid,” Says Former Google Head of Free Expression (10 August)

How Google's China Censorship Would Likely Violate Its Human Rights Commitments (12 August)

Google China Censorship Project Named After Co-Founder Sergey Brin's Luxury Yacht? (16 August)

Google Staff Tell Bosses China Censorship is “Moral and Ethical” Crisis (16 August)

Google Executives Misled Staff in Meeting on China Censorship. Here Are 13 Questions They Must Answer. (17 August)

World’s Leading Human Rights Groups Tell Google to Cancel Its China Censorship Plan (28 August)

Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China (13 September)

Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers (14 September)

Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users in China (21 September)

Former Google Scientist Tells Senate to Act Over Company’s “Unethical and Unaccountable” China Censorship Plan (26 September)

Leaked Transcript of Private Meeting Contradicts Google’s Official Story on China (9 October)

Google CEO Tells Senators That Censored Chinese Search Engine Could Provide “Broad Benefits” (12 October)

Amnesty International To Stage Worldwide Protests Against Google’s “Dystopian” Censored Search for China (27 November)

Hundreds of Google Employees Tell Bosses to Cancel Censored Search Amid Worldwide Protests (27 November)

Google Shut Out Privacy and Security Teams From Secret China Project (29 November)

Rights Groups Turn Up Pressure on Google Over China Censorship Ahead of Congressional Hearing (10 December)

Google CEO Hammered by Members of Congress on China Censorship Plan (11 December)

Leadership of Google's Dragonfly project (13 December)

Google’s Secret China Project “Effectively Ended” After Internal Confrontation (17 December)

Google Faces Renewed Protests and Criticism Over China Search Project (18 January 2019)

Google Employees Uncover Ongoing Work on Censored China Search, (4 March 2019)

Google is Conducting a Secret "Performance Review" of Its Censored China Search Project (27 March 2019)

A few interviews on the topic:

PRI's The World (2 August)

NPR (2 August)

CNBC (2 August)

BBC (at 14m) (2 August)

Tech News Today (2 August)

ABC (6 August)

TBS EFM (15 August)

PRI's The World (17 August)

Slate "If Then" podcast (22 August)

Google China Censorship Project Named After Co-Founder Sergey Brin's Luxury Yacht?

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is the owner of what is reportedly one of the world’s fastest motor yachts. The luxurious 240-foot boat (pictured below) is worth $80 million and has nine cabins and space for 18 guests and 16 crew. It has an open-air cinema, a bar, and a jacuzzi on the sundeck, which can be converted into a dance floor.

But that is all less interesting to me than the boat’s name: Dragonfly. As I reported for The Intercept earlier this month, Google has since spring 2017 been working on a secretive project to launch a censored search engine in China. And the internal code-name for the China project is… Dragonfly.

I’ll explain why this small detail is very curious.

Back in 2006, Google launched a censored search engine in China. But four years later, in March 2010, it pulled the service out of the country, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack Google’s computer systems.

At that time, Sergey Brin was one of the main forces inside Google arguing that the company should not be complicit in Chinese government censorship. As a child, he had spent six years with his family in the Soviet Union, and he was all too familiar with state repression.

After Google pulled its search engine out of China in 2010, Brin said of the Chinese government: “In some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling."

It’s clear Brin was at the time genuinely uncomfortable with the censorship – he didn't just say what he did for public relations reasons. I have heard this from several people inside the company who spent years working with him. He took a principled stand and had arguments with colleagues over the issue.

In recent years, Brin has taken a more hands-off role at Google. Since 2015, CEO Sundar Pichai has taken the helm, and he has steered the company’s policy on China. But Brin still serves on Google’s board of directors, and would surely have been briefed on the search engine plans, given their importance for Google both politically and strategically. So did Brin change his mind about the censorship? Was he simply outvoted by his colleagues on the issue?

More to the point at hand, why was the Chinese censorship project given the same name as Brin’s yacht? Is it possible somebody inside Google is trying to troll Brin, knowing that he has in the past spoken out against the Chinese government censorship? Or was Brin himself involved in giving the project this name, indicating that he has changed his views? Or is it all just some bizarre coincidence?

I’ll have to add this to my long list of questions for Google (which the company has still not answered, by the way).



How Google's China Censorship Would Likely Violate Its Human Rights Commitments

Sunday 12 August 2018

As I recently reported, Google is planning to launch a censored search engine in China. The search engine has been designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political opponents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. It would “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases.

Google’s development of the censored search engine has been condemned by US senators and human rights groups and triggered anger inside the company, with many Google employees feeling that the project is a betrayal of Google’s mission to be a force for good in the world and provide open access to information.

Significantly, Google’s development of the search engine calls into question the company’s adherence to ethical principles and human rights codes of conduct that it has previously committed to implement. Below, I've put together a short summary detailing some of the codes of practice and human rights standards that Google’s China censorship would likely violate. (I have asked Google to explain its censorship plans, but so far it has refused to comment.)


Google is a member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), an organization that seeks to defend digital rights across the world. Companies that join the GNI – like Google – commit to implementing its Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. The principles make clear that member companies should not engage in the sort of broad censorship that is widespread in China, stating:

Participating companies will respect and work to protect the freedom of expression rights of users when confronted with government demands, laws and regulations to suppress freedom of expression, remove content or otherwise limit access to communications, ideas and information in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.

Google's search engine plan also has privacy and surveillance implications, because companies providing internet services in China have to operate their servers and data centres in the country, which means user data is accessible to Chinese authorities, who have a track record of monitoring and harassing human rights activists and journalists critical of the ruling Communist Party regime. It is unclear how Google proposes moving its data centres to China while protecting the privacy of Chinese users. The GNI principles are clear on this issue:

Participating companies will employ protections with respect to personal information in all countries where they operate in order to work to protect the privacy rights of users.


Participating companies will respect and work to protect the privacy rights of users when confronted with government demands, laws or regulations that compromise privacy in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.

The GNI’s principles incorporate parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the pillars of international human rights law. Operating a censored search engine in accordance with Chinese government demands would seem to clearly contravene Article 19 of the declaration, which states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights advise (emphasis added):

Business enterprises should respect human rights. This means that they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.

Companies should also, the Guiding Principles say (emphasis added):

Avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and address such impacts when they occur; [and] seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.

The UN explains:

Companies complicit in human rights abuses committed by others, including States – for example, if they collude with security forces in violently suppressing protests or provide information on their customers to States that then use it to track down and punish dissidents.

The Association of Computing Machinery is the world’s largest organisation for computing professionals. Many Google employees are ACM members. According to the ACM’s ethical code, goals of technology development should be (emphasis added):

[To] contribute to society and to human well-being, acknowledging that all people are stakeholders in computing. This principle, which concerns the quality of life of all people, affirms an obligation of computing professionals, both individually and collectively, to use their skills for the benefit of society, its members, and the environment surrounding them. This obligation includes promoting fundamental human rights and protecting each individual's right to autonomy.

The ACM's ethical code also says that (emphasis added):

Technologies and practices should be as inclusive and accessible as possible and computing professionals should take action to avoid creating systems or technologies that disenfranchise or oppress people. Failure to design for inclusiveness and accessibility may constitute unfair discrimination.

Earlier this year, there were protests inside Google over a project to help develop artificial intelligence for U.S. military drones. The protests caused Google to cancel the project and release a set of artificial intelligence ethical principles. One of the principles was that Google would not "design or deploy":

Technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.

The artificial intelligence principles have a direct bearing on Google’s plans to launch a censored search engine, because Google’s search technology incorporates artificial intelligence to help provide people better search results. Operating a censored search engine in China in compliance with the Communist Party's censorship demands would self-evidently amount to a violation of — or at least complicity in violations of — "accepted principles of international law and human rights," such as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it would restrict Chinese citizens' "freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information."

Questions for Google on China Censorship

Thursday 9 August 2018

Last week, I revealed that Google has been working on a confidential plan to launch a censored search engine in China. Since then, several human rights groups have called on Google to cancel the project, and a bipartisan group of six US senators have condemned it as "deeply troubling." Only a a few hundred of Google's employees knew about the project -- code-named Dragonfly -- before we revealed its existence. And once the news spread through the company, a wave of anger spread through its offices across the world.

Despite this, Google has not yet issued any public statement and internally managers have refused to address employee concerns. Dozens of reporters have questioned Google about Dragonfly but have been met with a wall of silence. I have now published several stories about the project and have not received a single response to multiple inquiries I have sent Google's press office. I have worked on many stories involving top secret information from government spy agencies like the NSA and GCHQ, and I have found them to be more responsive to my questions than Google has been in regard to Dragonfly -- seriously.

It is not tenable for Google to continue to stay silent in the face of widespread concerns about the project, which would affect hundreds of millions of people in China and have implications for internet freedom globally. Google's leadership must come out and provide an explanation to the public.

Here are a number of questions that Google should answer. I have sent these to the company and in the unlikely event that I receive a response I will post it here.


1) In 2010, Google pulled its search engine out of China, citing efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack Google computer systems as reasons why it “could no longer continue censoring our results.” Since 2010, according to analysts and human rights groups, internet censorship in China has become more pervasive. Can you explain why Google wants to now relaunch a censored version of its search engine in China? What has changed in the last eight years that has prompted this decision? Does Google leadership no longer have concerns about censorship in China, or the “forces of totalitarianism” in the country that co-founder Sergey Brin described in 2010?

2) A bipartisan group of six US senators has called Google’s censorship plans for China “deeply troubling.” Human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Access Now, Reporters Without Borders, and Human Rights in China have each issued statements raising concerns about the project. Amnesty said: “It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google’s ‘do the right thing’ motto, and we are calling on the company to change course.” What is Google’s response to this?

3) Before and during the planning and development of the censored search engine, did Google consult with any human rights experts familiar with the situation in China? If so, what did these experts advise and did Google accept their recommendations? Will Google publish any advice it received from China human rights experts? If Google did not consult any organisations specialising in Chinese human rights issues, why not?

4) The Association of Computing Machinery is the world’s largest organisation for computing professionals. Many Google employees are ACM members. According to the ACM’s ethical code, goals of technology development should be “to contribute to society and to human well-being” and “promoting human rights and protecting each individual’s right to autonomy.” The code also states that, “computing professionals should take action to avoid creating systems or technologies that disenfranchise or oppress people.” Does Google believe that its censored search platform for China is consistent with the ACM’s ethical code?

5) Earlier this year, there were protests inside Google over a project to help develop artificial intelligence for U.S. military drones. The protests caused Google to cancel the project and release a set of artificial intelligence ethical principles. One of the principles was that Google should not help build “technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.” Does Google only hold this value in relation to artificial intelligence work? If this principle applies more broadly to all of Google’s work, can Google explain how its planned censored search engine in China does not contravene “widely accepted principles of international law and human rights”?

6) According to Google documents I have seen, the censored search engine will operate as part of a “joint venture” with another company, which will presumably be based out of China, because internet companies providing services in China are required by law to operate their servers and data centers in the country. My understanding is that Google will supply the third-party company with an “application programming interface,” or API, which will potentially allow it to add blacklisted words or phrases to the search engine without Google’s approval. Is this correct? How will the relationship with the partner company work in practice, and how will Google have oversight of the phrases and websites and other information that is censored?

7) Will Google publicly release, outside of China, the list of blacklisted websites and "sensitive search queries" that will be censored? If not, why not?

8) Who at Google approves particular websites or search terms to be censored? Is this a decision made by legal and policy teams, or can blacklists be created by programmers and engineers? Is there a single person with ultimate authority over this duty, or is control delegated to a particular department?

9) Google employees were told not to discuss the project with colleagues. Only a few hundred of the company's 88,000 staff knew about it. Why did Google feel the need to keep the project so secret inside the company?

10) Google employees say the company's leadership has issued no internal statement yet about Dragonfly since the news broke, despite widespread concern about it within the company. Why? Does Google plan to issue a statement to employees?

11) Companies operating in China are required by law to turn over data to security agencies upon request. How will Google safeguard its Chinese users’ data from the Communist Party regime, which routinely targets people – including human rights activists and journalists – who express criticism of its orthodoxies? How will Google ensure that information about people's search queries are not monitored by the Chinese state?

12) Google’s stated central mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The company’s informal motto is “don’t be evil.” Google has since its early years maintained a list of “10 things” that represent foundational values for the company. One of these values is: “You can make money without doing evil.” Another is: “Democracy on the web works.” Can Google explain how these values are consistent with its plan to launch a censored search engine in China, which will limit people’s access to information about subjects such as human rights, democracy and peaceful protest?



WikiLeaks-Trump timeline

Tuesday 31 July 2018

I put together a short timeline comparing WikiLeaks' public statements on Trump with its leaked private comments on him. Useful for anybody trying to keep track of all the duplicity that's going on:


Privately, 19 Nov 2015: WikiLeaks says "we believe it would be much better for GOP to win." Calls Clinton a "well connected, sadistic sociopath." (Source: copy of DMs - via The Intercept. Note: I personally verified the authenticity of these DMs.)

Publicly, 26 Aug 2016: Assange appears on Fox & Friends and says "We do have some information about the Republican campaign" but suggests he won't publish it because "it’s actually hard for us to publish much more controversial material than what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth every second day." (The material is never disclosed.)

Privately, 20 Sept 2016: WikiLeaks sends Donald J Trump Jr a password to an anti-Trump website which it claims to have "guessed." (Source: Twitter DMs - copies released by Donald J Trump Jr.)

Privately, 3 Oct 2016: WikiLeaks asks Donald J Trump Jr to "push" a dubiously sourced story from a conservative website called "True Pundit" alleging Hillary Clinton wanted to kill Assange with a drone. (Source: Twitter DMs - copies released by Donald J Trump Jr.)

Publicly, 7 Oct 2016: The Washington Post, at about 4pm US Eastern Time, publishes a now infamous video recording in which Donald Trump can be heard boasting about grabbing women's genitals. Within an hour, WikiLeaks publishes an email leak from Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta. (Source: Politifact.)

Privately, 21 Oct 2016: WikiLeaks asks Trump Jr to let it publish copies of his father Donald Trump's tax returns because it says doing so would "dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality" & get "much higher impact" for "the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing about Clinton." (Source: Twitter DMs - copies released by Donald J Trump Jr.)

Privately, 8 Nov 2016 (day of the election, before results announced): WikiLeaks advises Donald J Trump Jr that Donald Trump shouldn't concede the election if he loses & instead should blame "rigging" and "media corruption" to "keep his base alive." (Source: Twitter DMs - copies released by Donald J Trump Jr.)

Publicly, 10 Nov 2016 (after Trump election victory announced): WikiLeaks claims in a Reddit AMA that "allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter...are just groundless and false." (Source: Reddit.)

Publicly, 10 Nov 2016: WikiLeaks claims in a Reddit AMA that "we were not publishing with a goal to get any specific candidate elected." Claims it did not "editorially back one candidate over another." (Source: Reddit.)

Publicly, 10 Nov 2016: WikiLeaks says in a Reddit AMA that it has "not received information on Donald Trump’s campaign." (Three months earlier, on 26 Aug 2016, Assange said "We do have some information about the Republican campaign" - see above.) (Source: Reddit.)

Privately, 16 Dec 2016: WikiLeaks asks Donald J Trump Jr to get Donald Trump to pressure Australia to "appoint Assange ambassador to DC" because he is a "really smart tough guy." (Source: Twitter DMs - copies released by Donald J Trump Jr.)

Publicly, 14 Jan 2017: WikiLeaks denies Assange is trying to endear himself to Trump, claims it's just "using Trump aligned media to amplify its publications and critiques of secrecy and war." (Source: Twitter.)


(The Donald J Trump Jr private messages were first disclosed in Nov 2017; the original source material can be found in three parts, here, here, and here. The other referenced private messages were first disclosed in Feb 2018 by my colleagues at The Intercept - the full archive of 11,000 private messages were released this week by activist Emma Best and can be found here. This is only a partial analysis; it is not comprehensive. There's a lot more information out there. I may add to this timeline once I have reviewed other material.)