. . . . When Assange was eight, Claire left her husband and began seeing a musician, with whom she had another child, a boy. The relationship was tempestuous; the musician became abusive, she says, and they separated. A fight ensued over the custody of Assange’s half brother, and Claire felt threatened, fearing that the musician would take away her son. Assange recalled her saying, “Now we need to disappear,” and he lived on the run with her from the age of eleven to sixteen. When I asked him about the experience, he told me that there was evidence that the man belonged to a powerful cult called the Family—its motto was “Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard.” Some members were doctors who persuaded mothers to give up their newborn children to the cult’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The cult had moles in government, Assange suspected, who provided the musician with leads on Claire’s whereabouts. In fact, Claire often told friends where she had gone, or hid in places where she had lived before. . . .
Around 1964 Dr Raynor Johnson was hosting regular meetings of a religious and philosophical discussion group led by Hamilton-Byrne at Santiniketan, his home at Ferny Creek in the Dandenong Ranges on the eastern outskirts of Melbourne. Also connected was a series of weekly talks he gave at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne, entitled “The Macrocosm and the Microcosm”. The group purchased an adjoining property which they named Santiniketan Park  in 1968 and constructed a meeting hall, Santiniketan Lodge.
The association consisted of middle class, professional people; it has been estimated that a quarter were nurses and other medical personnel, and that many were recruited by Johnson who referred them to Hamilton-Byrne’s hatha yoga classes. Members mainly lived in nearby suburbs and townships in the Dandenongs, meeting each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening  at Santiniketan Lodge, Crowther House in Olinda or another property in the area known as the White Lodge .
During the late 1960s and 1970s Newhaven Hospital in Kew was a private psychiatric hospital owned and managed by Marion Villimek, a Santiniketan member; many of its staff and attending psychiatrists were also members.
Many patients at Newhaven were treated with the hallucinogenic drug LSD . The hospital was used to recruit potential new members from among the patients, and also to administer LSD to members under the direction of the Santiniketan psychiatrists Dr John Mackay and Dr Howard Whitaker . One of the original members of the Association was given LSD, electroconvulsive therapy and two leucotomies during the late 1960s.
Although the psychiatric hospital had been closed down by 1992, in that year a new inquest was ordered into the death of a Newhaven patient in 1975 after new claims that his death had been due to deep sleep therapy. The inquest heard evidence concerning the use of electroconvulsive therapy, LSD and other practices at Newhaven but found no evidence that deep sleep had been used on this patient. The Newhaven building was later reopened as a nursing home with no connections to its previous owner or uses.
Anne Hamilton-Byrne acquired fourteen infants and young children between about 1968 and 1975. Some were the natural children of Santiniketan members, others had been obtained through irregular adoptions arranged by lawyers, doctors and social workers within the group who could bypass the normal processes. The children’s identities were changed using false birth certificates or deed poll, all being given the surname ‘Hamilton-Byrne’ and dressed alike even to the extent of their hair being dyed uniformly blonde.
The children were kept in seclusion and home-schooled at Kia Lama, a rural property usually referred to as “Uptop”, at Taylor Bay on Lake Eildon near the town of Eildon, Victoria. They were taught that Anne Hamilton-Byrne was their biological mother, and knew the other adults in the group as ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ They were denied almost all access to the outside world, and subjected to a discipline that included frequent corporal punishment and starvation diets.
The children were frequently dosed with the psychiatric drugs Anatensol, Diazepam, Haloperidol, Largactil, Mogadon, Serepax, Stelazine, Tegretol or Tofranil. On reaching adolescence they were compelled to undergo an initiation involving LSD: while under the influence of the drug the child would be left in a dark room, alone apart from visits by Hamilton-Byrne or one of the psychiatrists from the group.
The leader of Australia’s most notorious cult, The Family, remains unrepentant two decades after the raid that shocked the nation.
Anne Hamilton-Byrne broke her silence yesterday, saying she was ready to die after reconciling with Sarah Moore, the “daughter” who betrayed her to the authorities.
The Family made headlines around the world in 1987 when the Australian Federal Police and Community Services Victoria raided the cult’s property at Lake Eildon and took six children into care.
Police later found 14 children had been brought up in almost complete isolation believing they were the offspring of Hamilton-Byrne and her late husband Bill.
In fact none of them was the Hamilton-Byrnes’, but children of single mothers who had been pressured into giving them up for adoption or cult members who did not want them.
But it was the way the children had been treated that really shocked the nation.
Hamilton-Byrne had ordered the children’s hair be dyed peroxide blonde and they be dressed in identical outfits.
It was also alleged they had been half-starved, beaten and forced to take large quantities of tranquilisers to “calm them down” and even fed LSD when they became adults.
Now, in the first ever interview at her sprawling Olinda compound, the cult leader has defended how she raised the children and attacked those who said she mistreated them as “lying bastards”. Of her critics, she said: “I would love to put them right, but I can’t.” . . .
Lex De Man, the policeman who spent five years bringing The Family cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne to justice, is still haunted by the case and its toll on everyone involved.
And while proud that Operation Forest, the taskforce on which he worked from 1989 to 1994, eventually secured her conviction for perjury, he is still angry Hamilton-Byrne escaped punishment for alleged maltreatment of the children in her care.
Mr De Man said Hamilton-Byrne was lucky the children who had endured beatings, druggings and starvation at The Family’s Lake Eildon property were too traumatised to testify against their alleged tormentor.
“One girl looked like she was seven but was, in fact, 11. She was suffering from psycho-social dwarfism,” Mr De Man said.
“I didn’t think at that time – and even today – that many of the kids would be able to sustain giving evidence in the witness box. I think they’d been damaged too much.”
The detective’s decision to go after Hamilton-Byrne for falsifying documents came in 1991 when the cult’s solicitor, Peter Kibby, decided to co-operate with police.
“Documents don’t lie. People lie on documents. A document might be false, but it’s a human being that puts the information on it,” Mr De Man said.
Kibby then persuaded one of the former “Aunties”, Pat MacFarlane, to make a statement.
After months of interviews, and later armed with the evidence to secure a warrant to arrest Hamilton-Byrne, police still took three years to find her.
. . . Conway’s autobiography says that he began his LSD experiments at St Vincent’s Hospital. And former patients say that Conway also administered LSD to them at the Newhaven psychiatric hospital which was situated at 86 Normanby Road, Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east.
In the late 1960s and during the 1970s, Newhaven hospital was owned and managed by Marion Villimek, a member of a “New Age” sect called the Santiniketan Park Association, also known as “The Family”. A leader of the sect, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, was also an administrator at the Newhaven. Conway, Eric Seal and other therapists hired consulting rooms there on a sessional basis, and were not involved with the sect. Newhaven ceased being a hospital in 1992.
Ronald Conway became one of Australia’s most prominent Catholic intellectuals, writing books and newspaper articles about Australian society. He also appeared in radio and television discussion programs as a psychologist and social commentator.
When the church’s sexual scandals became news in Australia in the 1990s, Conway sometimes commented on the issues of celibacy and sexual abuse. . . .
. . . “After several sessions with Conway, it was suggested that I undergo LSD therapy in Newhaven Private Hospital as an overnight patient. It was explained to me that this therapy was a way to fast-track psychoanalysis and would be very helpful in accepting my sexuality. Conway, as a psychologist, had no qualifications to administer drugs. I did not understand this at the time.
“During the last session I came to believe that I had been in the presence of God who authorized me to lead the sexual life which had been chosen for me.
“Conway then suggested that I continue to see him without the use of LSD.I explained to him that my finances were stretched and that it was not possible. He said that it was important that I continue to see him and that if I were willing he would see me at his home in Torrington Street, Canterbury, gratis.
“What a shock I got when one night he made advances to me and we ended up on the floor of his sitting room. The room was decorated as if it were the inside of an Egyptian tomb. He said this should not have happened but that, as it had, we should do it properly in his bedroom. It was a spartan room with the bed covers on a single bed already turned down and electric bar heaters turned on resting on tables either side.
…”In the early 1990s, when I was 48 years of age, I was a patient in the Freemason’s Hospital and woke up one afternoon to find Ron Conway sitting on my bed holding my hand. He had heard from someone that I was in hospital. I made it clear that I was not happy with his presence .He explained to me that he had been following my life through a work colleague of mine, another psychologist.
“Ron Conway never appeared again.” . . .
My mother was Anne Hamilton-Byrne, the leader of a small sect in the Dandenongs called the Family or the Great White Brotherhood. I was a small part of her plan to collect children in what she herself once called a “scientific experiment”. Later I discovered it was her intention that we children would continue her sect after the earth was consumed by a holocaust. She saw us as the “inheritors of the earth”. I didn’t know that then. In those days I was just a child. A child of a guru, but a child no less.
Twenty-two to twenty-eight children in all lived at Uptop in its heyday, although the fosters had varying lengths of stay
She used to say that she couldn’t remember all the dates very well because she had so many children. Maybe, in retrospect, we should have realised that was weird but then we never thought it was anything out of the ordinary. She decided upon sets of twins and triplets and gave us ages and birth-dates to fit in with that idea. Birthday changes were just something you accepted. It was as if Anne knew so much more about everything than us and she just might be revealing another piece of our life plan if she changed our birthdays.
We were the children of The Family, the children of Anne Hamilton-Byrne. We were dressed alike. Most of the girls’ hair was dyed blond, cut into fringes and worn long with identical hairstyles and identically-coloured ribbons. All the boys had bowl haircuts.
…Why did she raise us in almost total social isolation, miles from anywhere, with minimal contact with other humans apart from the sect members who looked after us? Why did she subject us to the bizarre and cruel regimen in which we grew up? Was it to demonstrate that she had the power to create a generation that would be reared with her beliefs and believing in her? I suspect perhaps that there were more sinister motives than these alone. Some of us had multiple birth certificates and passports, and citizenship of more than one country. Only she knows why thus was and why we were also all dressed alike, why most of us even had our hair dyed identically blond.
I can only conjecture because I will never know for sure. However I suspect that she went to such great lengths in order to enable her to move children around, in and out of the country. Perhaps even to be sold overseas. I’m sure there is a market somewhere in the world for small blond children with no traceable identities. If she did it, it was a perfect scam. Many ex-sect members have said that they were aware that Anne was creating children by a “breeding program” in the late 1960s. These were ‘invisible’ kids, because they had no papers and there is no proof that they ever existed. Yet we Hamilton-Byrne children had multiple identities. These identities could perhaps have been loaned to other children and the similarity of our appearance used to cover up their absence. One little blond kid looks very like another in a passport photo. I don’t suppose we will ever know the truth because only Anne Hamilton-Byrne knows the truth about the whole affair and the truth is something she will never tell.
…I am training to be a doctor but sometimes I think my medical career will be sabotaged because there are still many in the sect who have a lot of influence in professional and academic circles. It may sound melodramatic, but I know that some who were Anne’s enemies have disappeared in strange circumstances. . . .
. . . It has been suggested that Anne would have had no power without a syringe. She claimed a lot of knowledge of medical things. She said she had been the matron of a hospital but there is no evidence she ever did nursing. I can’t emphasise the importance of nursing in the sect enough. It was critical to the way she viewed the Aunties and, it was what she planned for the girls’ future profession. She said nursing was one of the ideal occupations because it was a form of ‘selfless service’ that led to spiritual advancement. We knew that on their weeks off from Uptop the Aunties were either training to be nurses or practised as nurses. Several of the Aunties nursed Lord Casey, a former Governor-General of Australia. [Italics are mine–D.E.] Rumour has it that he made a significant donation to the sect. . . .
In public, Casey seemed to be a devoted Cold-War warrior, fervently supportive of Britain and the U.S.A., and deeply hostile towards the Soviet Union and China; he was the minister responsible for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.”
…Once initiated, came the ‘go-through’ and that meant LSD trips. Everyone knew that it was an inevitable consequence of initiation, one of the rituals that was integral to the spiritual development of the new initiate. I’ve been present at many ‘go-throughs’ of people in the sect and ended up having at least a dozen myself.
During a ‘go-through’ you were supposed to look at yourself and see the badness inside, to regress to significant incidents in childhood and in previous lives which affected your personality and retarded your spiritual development. The drug, which Anne sometimes called the ‘herb’ or the ‘dream medicine’, was meant to make this easier. It was also meant to make the spiritual bonding easier between master and disciple. You were supposed to recognise her as the “one true master”, Christ incarnate.
She would come in to people when they were under and ask, “Do you know who I am?” The correct answer was, “the Lord Incarnate”. The incorrect answer meant you weren’t ‘working’ hard enough. “Working” was ‘looking at yourself’ and realising what a “horrible” person you were, repenting for your sins and purifying yourself.
Before my first ‘go-through’ I was deprived of sleep for several nights and made to read ‘Yoga and the Bible’. Beforehand I’d watched one of my brothers get down on his knees and beg me not to hate him for being a closet homosexual. This confession had been wrung out of him by Anne after several days of intensive ‘working’ under the drug. He felt that he was a failure and I did my best to tell him that he’d never be a failure to me because I loved him. We were all scared of revealing our weaknesses but doubted that we would be able to hold anything back once under the influence of the drugs.
Anne’s technique, pretty typical, of keeping us awake for several days before a ‘go-through’ meant that we were incredibly vulnerable anyway. You have to hand it to Anne, she knew her stuff; this was chronic sleep deprivation and it added to the strain of the whole experience. Even today, I find if I am really tired I’m prone to flashbacks of LSD and it is harder to cope than it should be. Add to that the sensory deprivation, for I was placed in a quiet and dark room and never knew whether it was day or night.
…It was also at this time in 1984, just before my initiation, that Anne changed my name and gave me a new identity. No longer was I to be called Andree who was born in June, July or maybe September. Now, for some reason that I never knew, I was called Sarah. I was now a triplet and had even changed nationalities: I was now born in New Zealand on 16 November 1970. I even had a passport to prove this.
It may seem bizarre now but at the time I took this in my stride. I didn’t even consider it strange that Anne had never told me this information up to now, that previously I had believed I was someone else. This sort of thing – sudden changes in our reality– was par for the course in our lives and we never questioned surprises. We were used to unpredictability as far as Anne was concerned. I hated the name Andree anyway and being a triplet was more interesting than being a single. I now know that there were several passports in my name, a couple of which were Australian. They all had different birth-dates. I also had several birth certificates in different names and in different states.. . .
…The bulk of the sect was made up of professional people. Without their support and participation, Anne Hamilton-Byrne would never have become what she is today. It was their names, or most importantly, the letters that went after their names, that gave her the credibility and social power she needed. It gave her the means to keep those she already had and to get more and similar people into the cult..
These professional people: doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers allowed her successfully to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for more than twenty years.
Had The Family been a group of strangely dressed people meeting once or twice a week for meditation, an address by the Master, playing of music and chanting, they would never have gone unnoticed for so long. But pin-striped professionals in their conservative suits with their impeccable social credentials could get away with maintaining in their private life morals that were completely at variance with their professional ethics. They looked respectable, people thought, therefore they must be respectable.
Who were these professionals? They were doctors who wrote out the prescriptions that controlled us; lawyers, who wrote out the Deed Polls that were needed to forge passports and birth certificates that created our false identities; social workers, who allowed Anne to by-pass normal channels to allow her to adopt, or simply steal in some instances, sixteen children; doctors and nurses who gave her contacts with rich dying people who then left their estates to her. It was the same doctors who signed their death certificates; psychiatrists who had people committed to Newhaven – the Family owned psychiatric hospital; and doctors and nurses who supervised the abuse of LSD,( which for a while they actually obtained free of charge from the Swiss drug company, Sandoz). . . .
. . . Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events. In an invitation to potential collaborators in 2006, he wrote, “Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations.” he has argued that a ‘social movement” to expose secrets could ” bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality–including the US administration.”
Assange does not recognize the limits that traditional publishers do. Recently, he posted military documents that included the Social Security numbers of soldiers, and in the Bunker I asked him if WikiLeaks’ mission would have been compromised if he had redacted these small bits. [Italics are mine–D.E.] He said that some leaks risked harming innocent people–“collateral damage, if you will”–but that he could not weigh the importance of every detail in every document. Perhaps the Social Security numbers would one day be important to researchers investigating wrongdoing, he said; by releasing the information he would allow judgment to occur in the open.
A year and a half ago, WikiLeaks published the results of an Army test, conducted in 2004, of electromagnetic devices designed to prevent IED’s from being triggered. The document revealed key aspects of how the devices functioned and also showed that they interfered with communication systems used by soldiers–information that an insurgent could exploit. By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices. I asked Assange if he would refrain from releasing information that he knew might get some one killed. He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.” . . . .
. . . . In 2007, he published thousands of pages of secret military information detailing a vast number of Army procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and a volunteer spent weeks building a searchable database, studying the Army’s purchase codes and adding up the cost of the procurements–billions of dollars in all. The database catalogued materiel that every unit had ordered: machine guns, Humvees, cash-counting machines, satellite phones. Assange hoped that journalists would pore through it, but barely any did. “I am so angry,” he said. ‘This was such a fucking fantastic leak: the Army’s force structure of Afghanistan and Iraq, down to the last chair, and nothing.” . . .
The secret-spilling website WikiLeaks appears to be a frugal spender, tapping less than 5 percent of the funds received through two of its three donation methods, according to the third-party foundation that manages those contributions.
WikiLeaks has received 640,000 euros (U.S. $800,000) through PayPal or bank money transfers* since late December, and spent only 30,000 euros (U.S. $38,000) from that funding, says Hendrik Fulda, vice president of the Berlin-based Wau Holland Foundation.
The money has gone to pay the travel expenses of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and spokesman Daniel Schmitt, as well as to cover the costs of computer hardware, such as servers, and leasing data lines, says Fulda. WikiLeaks does not currently pay a salary to Assange or other volunteers from this funding, though there have been discussions about doing so in the future, Fulda adds. The details have not yet been worked out. . . .
. . . . The site got another boost in donations in April after it published the controversial video showing a 2007 U.S. Army helicopter attack in Baghdad. WikiLeaks claimed it raised more than $150,000 in less than a week after the release of the video. A U.S. Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning was since arrested and charged with being WikiLeaks’ source for the video. Assange and other WikiLeaks volunteers have claimed that the organization commissioned lawyers to defend Manning, and the group has campaigned for more donations from the public to cover the legal expenses.
Fulda said that no money handled by the foundation has gone to pay expenses for Manning’s defense. [Italics are mine, D.E.] He didn’t know if WikiLeaks obtained money from other sources for the purpose. He said, however, that his foundation would have no problem in principle paying such legal expenses. . . .
The controversial website WikiLeaks, which argues the cause of openness in leaking classified or confidential documents, has set up an elaborate global financial network to protect a big secret of its own—its funding.
Some governments and corporations angered by the site’s publications have already sued WikiLeaks or blocked access to it, and the group fears that its money and infrastructure could be targeted further, founder Julian Assange said in an interview in London shortly after publishing 76,000 classified U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July. The move sparked international controversy and put WikiLeaks in the spotlight.
In response, the site has established a complex system for collecting and disbursing its donations to obscure their origin and use, Mr. Assange said. Anchoring the system is a foundation in Germany established in memory of a computer hacker who died in 2001.
WikiLeaks’s financial stability has waxed and waned during its short history. The site shut down briefly late last year, citing a lack of funds, but Mr. Assange said the group has raised about $1 million since the start of 2010.
WikiLeaks’s lack of financial transparency stands in contrast to the total transparency it seeks from governments and corporations. . . .
A Swedish Internet company linked to file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay says it’s helping online whistle-blower WikiLeaks release classified documents from servers located in a Stockholm suburb. Mikael Viborg, the owner of the Web hosting company PRQ, on Friday showed The Associated Press the site — the basement of a drab office building — in Solna on the condition that the exact location was not revealed.
“This is the office. The server room is further inside,” the 28-year-old Viborg said, with the door to the office cracked open. Desks with computers, documents, and empty pastry boxes and soda cans could be seen inside before he closed the door.
WikiLeaks posted more than 76,900 classified military and other documents, mostly raw intelligence reports from Afghanistan, on its website July 25. The White House angrily denounced the leaks, saying they put the lives of Afghan informants and U.S. troops at risk.
The secretive website gives few details about its setup, but says its “servers are distributed over multiple international jurisdictions and do not keep logs. Hence these logs cannot be seized.” . . .