At roughly 3 AM London time, Julian Assange sent another cryptic tweet featuring a 60-character code along with a link to the music video “Paper Planes” by Maya Arulpragasam (A.K.A. “M.I.A.”). Of course, as with past such tweets, no one has any clue what the encryption key means but it sparked yet another wave of frenzied speculation by the twittersphere.
— Julian Assange ? (@JulianAssange) January 1, 2018
The reference to “Paper Planes” led some to speculate that Julian Assange had finally secured his freedom from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was en route to the United States…
Is Julian on a plane headed to the US?? ???? Im ready for him to let the truth be known!!
— Deplorable_Gemini610 (@OnlyMe610) January 1, 2018
…while others jumped to far darker conclusions suggesting the the code was a “dead man’s switch” intended to trigger the release of documents in the event of Assange’s death.
Is that a….dead man's switch?
— MAGA Shinobi (@BrandonHathaw12) January 1, 2018
Still others suggested the code was simply a signal that a new Wikileaks dump was imminent.
It signals another Wikileaks drop is imminent.
— name redacted (@nameredacted5) January 1, 2018
Finally, others found a deeper meaning to the Assange tweet in the lyrics of “Paper Planes” and/or the political activism of its author, Maya Arulpragasam. As The Guardian pointed out last fall, Arulpragasam has her own “Visa” issues with the United States after her renewal application got mysteriously delayed back in 2014 and has been stuck in limbo ever since…a fact which she attributed to having “supported Wikileaks and stuff.”
There is a song on the new album called “Visa” that takes aim at American immigration policy, something Arulpragasam unwillingly knows a lot about. Her application to renew an expired visa has been stuck in mysterious bureaucratic limbo since 2014.
In an age when British popstars with any sort of US fanbase are routinely granted permission to work in America, her two-year hobbling seems unconventional. “Obviously what’s happening to me is very deliberate,” she says. “I don’t know who’s doing it, it’s like fucking playing Cluedo.”
In general, though, she does not pitch her suspicions small. “On paper I’ve supported WikiLeaks and stuff. And now Hillary Clinton is running for president. And until that’s solved I might have a problem, because anyone who ever associated with that website is going to get fucked up. Even if you delivered [WikiLeaks] their takeaway, you are going to be on a list. Do you know what I mean?”
I ask her if she ever worries she’s paranoid and she replies, smartly, that in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA it’s wrong “to even use the word ‘paranoia’ as if it’s a weird condition. Because it’s common as a fucking cold now. Everyone has to have an element of paranoia.”
You should read about MIA her activism might be a bigger hint thank decoding lyrics. Do you know she is partially inhibited from visiting the US? https://t.co/dHNSatCRn4
— liz (@lizcaffey) January 1, 2018
As RT points out, while Monday’s message seemed bizarre, it’s not the first time WikiLeaks has published lengthy character codes on Twitter. In October 2016, the organization published three “pre-commitments” regarding then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, Ecuador, and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
In that instance, Gizmodo subsequently reported that the “pre-commitments” were a mechanism to ensure that unreleased information isn’t tampered with, as altering the information would also change the codes. Whistleblower Edward Snowden has also used the tactic, tweeting, and subsequently deleting, a similar message in August 2016.
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