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Wednesday, 08 March 2017 10:32

Vault 7: Ecuador poll runoff has influenced date of dump Featured

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The prospect of Ecuador expelling WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange from its London embassy after its elections are decided appears to have played a role in the organisation deciding to dump Vault 7, a massive trove of CIA documents, overnight.

While WikiLeaks claims that it has released the documents because they were analysed and ready to go, the shadow hanging over Assange's head cannot be discounted as not having contributed to the decision to make the dump.

Ecuador will go to a runoff vote on 2 April, with the right-wing candidate Guillermo Lasso, who won 28% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, forecast to win in the second round.

The ruling party candidate, Lenín Moreno, of the Alianza Pais party, won 39% of the vote. Lasso has said that if elected, he would ask Assange to leave the embassy where he has been taking refuge since December 2012 when current Ecuador President Rafael Correa took him in.

The Vault 7 dump contains documents that show the CIA's activities in Latin America; some of this information has been redacted, according to the release notes. If this material, in any way, puts Ecuador offside and indicates more US meddling in the country, then it would probably give Lasso reason to reconsider his pre-election statements on Assange.

That is one very good reason for the Vault 7 dump to take place now.

Despite being stuck in a very confined space in the embassy, Assange has shown that he is able to marshal his troops very well. The quantity and quality of documentation that accompanied the Vault 7 dump are testimony to this.

WikiLeaks always times its major document releases for the maximum impact. A few weeks back, documents on how the CIA tried to influence the 2012 French presidential election were released, in order to provide perspective to those who will vote in the forthcoming election on 23 April.

A better example of timing is the leaks from the US Democrat National Committee which occurred last year and did influence at least a few events in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

In order to organise these leaks and ensure that no shadow is cast on the organisation insofar as its claim to never release documents that are bogus goes, Assange needs a base of some kind. If he were out of the embassy, it would be impossible for him to organise anything.

And given his dominant role in WikiLeaks, it is unlikely that there is a nominated second-in-command who can take the torch and run with it at short notice.

In its Vault 7 release notes, WikiLeaks mentioned that US President Donald Trump had ordered an executive order in February calling for a cyber war review to be prepared within 30 days, but added that this had not influenced the date of the Vault 7 release either.

What will happen to Assange if he is evicted is open to speculation. He is likely to be extradited to the US and put on trial there. And then, WikiLeaks is unlikely to ever be as effective as it has uptil now.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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