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Key US Witness Against Assange Arrested in Iceland

Thursday 7 October 2021, by siawi3


Key US Witness Against Assange Arrested in Iceland

October 7, 2021

It’s unclear if Thordarson recanting his testimony is related to his arrest. He said the FBI promised not to tell Iceland about crimes he committed there, but also said the deal would be off if he lied, reports Joe Lauria.

Photo: Sigurdur Thordarson on board a helicopter in New York City, March 2011. (Wikimedia Commons).

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

A key U.S. witness in the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge against imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange who earlier this year admitted to fabricating evidence he gave to the FBI has been arrested in Iceland, according to a report in the Icelandic newsmagazine Stundin.

Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson was arrested in Reykjavík on Sept. 24 and put in Iceland’s highest security prison under a “rarely invoked” law that allows police in Iceland to detain someone considered to be in the middle of crime spree, Stundin reported.

Thordarson “was brought before a judge after police requested indefinite detention intended to halt an ongoing crime spree. The judge apparently agreed that Thordarson’s repeated, blatant and ongoing offences against the law put him at high risk for continued re-offending,” Stundin said. Thordarson admitted in an interview with Stundin last month that he was engaged in ongoing criminal activity.

Thordarson admitted in an earlier interview with Stundin in June that he lied to the FBI about Assange directly ordering hacking operations — a key element of the U.S. computer charge against the WikiLeaks founder. Thordarson was granted immunity by the FBI against prosecution in exchange for becoming an FBI informant in a sting against WikiLeaks in 2010.

It is not clear if Thordarson recanting his testimony is related to his recent arrest. In his September interview Thordarson said the FBI promised not to reveal to Icelandic authorities any crimes he committed in Iceland in exchange for his cooperation.

Stundin reported:

“It is not clear to what extent the Icelandic authorities were informed about these arrangements, if at all. Indeed Thordarson claims he was assured by the FBI that no information would be shared with the Icelandic police about crimes he committed in Iceland, particularly the hacking attempts against Icelandic institutions.

Siggi: ‘My worry was that if I told them who was hacked and how, like Landsvirkjun and the government’s website and all that, I would become a target of Icelandic authorities.’

Reporter: ‘Why?’

Siggi: “Eventually I asked if they [Icelandic authorities] would get access to the data I talked about and they [the FBI] just said no, that would never happen. That was the only discussion I had with the FBI about Icelandic authorities.’”

But Thordarson also said if he lied to the FBI the immunity deal would be off.

“Reporter: ‘The amount of pressure you are under, mental and physical, from the FBI. If you aren’t cooperating 110% you are simply f—ked.’

Siggi: ‘They would have already revoked this immunity deal if I was lying.’

Reporter: ‘Is that really so?’

Siggi: ‘Yes!’

Reporter: ‘Because they are basing a lot on just your word.’

Siggi: ‘It’s stated many times in my agreement that if I were to be caught out lying, just one false word, the immunity agreement would be revoked. And they could proceed with prosecuting me.’”

In the Assange Indictment

Thordarson, 28, is referred to as “Teenager” in the part of the U.S. indictment against Assange that focuses on events in Iceland, where Assange was working in 2010. It is key testimony in the computer intrusion charge against Assange, testimony which Thordarson has recanted.

The indictment alleges that, “In early 2010, ASSANGE asked Teenager to commit computer intrusions and steal additional information, including audio recordings of phone conversations between high-ranking officials of the government of NATO Country-I, [Iceland] including members of the Parliament of NATO Country-I.”

But Thordarson told Stundin in June that this is a lie. The publication reported:

“In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.”

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.