It’s hard to imagine being a part of an experience such as being the center of a classic witch trial: accused by your neighbors of obscure misdeeds, defending yourself against the authorities, suffering an escalating course of torture designed to “loosen your tongue.” Witch hunts lie at the dark heart of Western culture, so much so that they’ve become synonymous with any kind of vicious, dogged and irrational persecution.
Some of those people are trying to stop the 1800’s from repeating. One of those people is Raymond Johansen. He is a writer, columnist, contributor and subeditor for many groups, pages and blogs - with a large international network. Furthermore, he sits on the board of several organizations, including Pirate Parties International. He is a Human Rights and Privacy Activist, a Hacktivist and is heavily involved in Whistleblower support. He has taken time away from his busy schedule to help us understand this movement that is starting to brew.
So, there has been a saying going around online lately and appears to be the creation of a movement, “We burned our witches, don’t crucify our geeks.” What does that mean and where did it start?
- I am not sure where it originated but Somerset Bean, the incredible .gfx artist, started using it in conjunction with our Free Lauri Love campaign. It is an expression that basically says that we need our talented and productive people as part of society, not behind bars. Last couple of days I was asked to help the #FreeBogatov campaign and as part of that I wanted to point out that he was one of a great many geeks being hunted for what they do. I wanted to lift Bogatov's image so I had a designer throw together a few photos and made a few tweets. All the photos can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/0ZyJ6
Along with the quote there’s always some sort of hashtag connected to it with someone’s name and there been a few different names. Do you mind explaining who they are and how they relate to this possible upcoming movement?
- First of all, I am not sure if there will be a movement. I just wanted to remind everyone of our «fallen» heroes. The tag #DontCrucifyOurGeeks seems to have been well received and people want me to add more to the list. I'm quite busy with a number of ops these days, but when things settle I will try to ask a few people if we shouldn't bundle our resources under one flag and maybe have a greater impact. At any one time, I am involved with around a dozen campaigns but I would like for a great many more to be recognized under the hash tag. We will just have to see if this is just an idea or an idea that will grow wings.
When we first got wind of this quote it was referencing Lauri Love. Currently, he is under investigation for cybercrimes. Him, his family, and friends do not believe he will survive if extradited to America. Is that due to them thinking he will be murdered or due to a mental illness?
- Nobody thinks he will be murdered, but maybe we can call it that if Lauri Love takes his own life rather than endure the torture that is the US legal and prison system. He is pretty clear about these things himself and doctors have given testimony to the fact that they don’t think he will survive his kidnapping to the U.S.
As we stated earlier, the first-time hearing about this it was connecting to Lauri, but it also referenced the Courage Foundation. Is the Courage Foundation connected to this and if it is then how so?
- I work alongside, and sometimes cooperate with, a great number of organizations. One of them being the great Courage Foundation. I am not connected to Courage in any formal way at all. They were not informed about the hash tag or imagery. What may end up as nothing more than a little stunt, is on me. Except of course the graphics. One of my great friends made them for me.
There is so many young innovating “geeks” around the world that are helping better the technology in this world. What would you tell or advise the ones that are worried about what the American government as well as others are doing to fellow geeks?
- What does one tell the ones that are worried? If I could write an essay answering that might be of value. Since I can’t, I would tell them to use the energy simply to get involved in helping those in jail or in trouble. Worrying does nobody good, but action does. Activists, hacktivists of all kinds are being targeted as subversives on all continents these days. Oppression, repression and persecution seems to be gaining ground and we all must stand up or all of our freedoms will become a thing of the past.
The latest hashtag connected to the Don’t Crucify Our Geeks is #FreeBogatov. Who is he and why is he arrested?
- Dmitry Bogatov is a well-known coder who also ran an exit node/relay for Tor from his home. Both VPN and Tor is about to be illegal in Russia. The law was put forward in the Duma on the 19th. He was arrested for «inciting terrorism» or words to that effect. We have proven that he could not have done what he stands accused of, so we must conclude that they went after him for his connection to the Tor Project. This, we cannot simply let pass. You will find all you need to know under the hash tag or the Twitter account I have set up for those close to Bogatov - @freeBogatov.
If anyone wants to write the geeks that have been locked in a cage, is there a central location to find the addresses?
- Sadly, there is but a few places to find the information but searching for #MailToTheJail on Twitter or the web should give people access to some information. They can also visit me or @FreeeAnons on Twitter and we will most probably be able to find the address of any of our geeks currently in trouble.
One of our geeks, Aaron Swartz, was crucified due to wanting the flow of knowledge to be free. Maybe not today or even tomorrow, but do you think there will ever be a time that geeks won’t have to worry about being crucified?
- The short answer is no. Innovators will always be at risk. When you challenge the old, by making something new you will always become a target of the establishment. The fight for and the future always comes at a high cost to those brave enough actually do something worthwhile.
The history of the witch hunts also offers a caution against glorifying the “community” offered by small towns when the bonds of such communities are too often paved by abusing their members. It is difficult to comprehend the sheer viciousness of the way villagers attacked those they held to be witches. It may take a village to raise a child, but history also keeps telling us that it takes a village to burn a witch. As the list of Americas’ “witches” grows, where will you stand? For more information regarding this possible upcoming movement search your social media sites for the hash tag #DontCrucifyOurGeeks