WikiLeaks Twitter codes spark Assange death rumors
An online frenzy has erupted after three coded tweets from WikiLeaks sparked bizarre rumors that the organization’s controversial co-founder Julian Assange has died.
On Sunday, WikiLeaks posted three tweets containing intriguing references to John Kerry, Ecuador, and the UK Foreign Office alongside a 64-character code.
pre-commitment 1: John Kerry 4bb96075acadc3d80b5ac872874c3037a386f4f595fe99e687439aabd0219809— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 16, 2016
pre-commitment 2: Ecuador— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 16, 2016
pre-commitment 3: UK FCO f33a6de5c627e3270ed3e02f62cd0c857467a780cf6123d2172d80d02a072f74— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 16, 2016
Theories have propagated online that the code is actually a “dead man’s switch” to release WikiLeaks information if something drastic were to befall Assange.
It looks as if Julian Assange may have just been killed. Look at his last tweets. Dead mans switch! pic.twitter.com/iKMZsy98u1— DeplorableSchwein (@schweinehund74) October 16, 2016
John Kerry ending encryption key, dead man's switch from Julian Assange? https://t.co/mrzh1Fwtmp— Corey (@tubebuzzer) October 17, 2016
I'm ignorant about this but @wikileaks seemingly just released 3 codes to unlock posted files. Dead man's switch? Did they "get" Assange?— Tom Angell (@tomangell) October 16, 2016
Assange apparently dumped A LOT of Wikileaks at once making people think his "dead man trigger" had been activated.— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) October 17, 2016
Speculation about the numbers was also rife on Reddit.
“I hope he isn’t dead. This does look like an emergency dead man’s switch,” a Redditer said.
Meanwhile, one person asked: “The mythical Dead man’s key?”
“I am hearing that Ecuador has caved to Clinton & Co,” another person speculated.
There have been no official reports of Assange’s death or indeed any of his removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been staying for the past four years as he fights extradition to Sweden.
Clues to the swathe of potential meanings to the numbers appear to lie in the tweets themselves and the word “Precommitment.”
Precommitment is a practice in cryptography to provide proof that any future leaks have not been tampered with.
For example, judging by the latest WikiLeaks tweets, any future WikiLeaks download of documents involving Secretary of State John Kerry is likely to contain the “Pre-commitment 1” tweet code as proof of their authenticity.
The codes come amid more WikiLeaks drama, including claims Assange’s internet access had been “intentionally severed” by a state party and the release of over 12,000 hacked emails from Clinton campaign chair, John Podesta.