We called up WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson to run some of Siggi’s statements by him and also offer him a chance to give his perspective on the whole Siggi/WikiLeaks/FBI affair. What follows is our conversation.
Hi Kristinn. We are publishing and in-depth interview with Sigurður Ingi Þórðarson, Siggi, regarding his role within WikiLeaks and his involvement with the FBI. Would you care to comment on your dealings with him?
I’m sure I would like to comment.
Firstly, can you confirm that you introduced Siggi to Julian Assange?
Let’s see. I think that he met Assange for the first time when Assange was speaking at the University of Iceland [in 2010], at an open lunch forum about the IMMI project. He attended, and I believe it’s correct that I probably introduced him to Julian at that point. I don’t think that they had met before that.
What was Siggi’s role within WikiLeaks?
Well, his role within WikiLeaks was volunteer, as he has testified himself. Unless he’s lying about it, which he has done frequently on various different venues, calling himself a board member, a chief of staff, what have you. His role was basically as a volunteer. Around the fall of 2010, he took part in moderating the open chat forum. And then when one of the supporters approached him on that forum with the idea of raising money for WikiLeaks through online sales of t-shirts and coffee mugs and things of that nature. He was tasked to oversee the project, which resulted in him stealing or embezzling—whatever words you would use for it—around $50,000, which was the proceeds from the sales.
Is there anything else that you would like to say about him?
Oh I could say a lot about Sigurður Þórðarson. I mean, he is a liar, a pathological one it seems from our experience. He is of course a thief. His apparent involvement with the US Embassy and the FBI started in late August 2011, when I was starting to press him about the proceeds of the sales from the merchandise I mentioned. And shortly thereafter, he indicated that he would break up all relations and was no longer volunteering for WikiLeaks, so I mean from the point he was in contact with the US Embassy and started as a voluntary informant for the FBI, he had no contact with the organisation.
Why was he allowed into WikiLeaks? Was it not obvious that he was a pathological liar?
You can talk to various journalists in Iceland and they will basically tell you the story that it took a little time to come to that conclusion. And, I mean, his role was not of any major importance from a security point of view. He didn’t have any access to source material. He couldn’t compromise any great things. We did have to rely on a lot of volunteers, and he seemed honest. He had a back history that lead us to believe that he understood the importance of the cause, but it turned out to be quite a disappointing connection.
Did he do anything positive?
Did he do anything positive?
You know, apart from being an FBI informant and trying to steal $50,000 from a cash strapped organisation, well I mean you can just imagine how that question would sound in anybody’s mind. Trying to balance anything positive. The question is a little bit absurd.
He set out to do damage. He is an attention seeker who is still going on, in between the phases when he’s attempting to apologise to my colleagues and myself. He has signed a confession admitting to the thefts. This amount, so, I don’t know what to say, I mean it’s very hard for an organisation to guard themselves from rotten apples like this troubled young man. And I am appalled. The simple type that he is, he is getting his way, his attention seeking characteristics, by actually getting a platform for his continued lies. So, I mean, what is the story here?
It’s just an interview with him.
Do you go around interviewing a lot people that are charged with embezzlement, theft, who are notorious liars, and…
You know, I personally am not the one who did the interview. It’s just my task to call people and follow up to see what their response is to what he said…
I’m not very pleased when you have this pathological attention seeker going around trying to get, you know, attention anywhere. And he is basically getting this, for what? As an organisation, we’re the party he damaged and that’s something that, in my mind, should be acknowledged. But if you’re giving him a platform with a good public warning that people should stay away from this person, I basically applaud you for doing that.
The more people who know the better. Are there any more specifics you want to run by me?
Yes, actually. We were hoping to ask Julian Assange for his response to Siggi, if you are able to transfer a question to him.
Everything is out in the open. It’s been discussed in detail in various media. I think Wired Magazine did quite a big one recently. The fact of the matter is that it’s not possible to trust any of the material that he has been trying to shop around, for example, to various media, because he’s a notorious forger and has forged the documents. That is basically known, and it has been exposed. I mean, I know of various media organisations that have just about almost made a fool of themselves when they were about to publish something, whether it was chat logs or documents that he mentioned. They just didn’t hold scrutiny when they took a better look. And I’m just telling you to, not to discredit him, but just a warning to you guys not to be another one bluffed by this guy. He is quite an amazing achiever when it comes to that.
We definitely heed your warning and understand that. I’ve read the Wired article. It’s quite interesting. So, would it be possible—would Julian be interested in making a comment?
Jesus Christ, I can assure you that he is not going to be interested in that.
That’s completely understandable.
If you are following the current affairs we are at this moment trying to assist a man of truth. And trying to put behind us the man of lies we had to have among us for a short period of time.
You understand that.
Well if you want an Icelandic angle to a WikiLeaks story, for heaven’s sake, try to write a critical piece about why Edward Snowden is not in Reykjavik at the moment with an Icelandic passport. I would be very interested in contributing to that.
Actually, that’s what I’ve done.
This article is part of our issue 10 feature, which spotlights the ongoing, interconnected saga of WikiLeaks, IMMI and the rise of the surveillance state.
Read our interview with former WikiLeaks volunteer/FBI informant “Siggi the Hacker” here.
Read informant Adrian Lamo’s comments on the case of Siggi here.
Read about espionage in Iceland here.
Read about the US’ attempts to gather intelligence on WikiLeaks head Julian Assange by spying on Icelanders (including an MP) here.
Read about the dead or dying dream of Iceland as “whistleblower haven” here.