Wikileaks’ Non-Mountainous Non-Bunker


The current issue of Vanity Fair (#606, February 2011) has an interesting piece on the collaboration between Wikileaks, the Guardian and other old media. On page 110 we’re told that Wikileaks is “partly hosted on a server in Sweden that is lodged in a former nuclear bunker drilled deep inside the White Mountains”. This confused me for a moment, since there is no mountain range of that name in Sweden. Then I realised the journalist’s error and laughed.

The server plant alluded to in the article is indeed in an area known as Vita bergen, “the white mountains”. But it’s not a mountain range. It’s a low hill in central Stockholm. And the “former nuclear bunker” is one of the old bomb shelters cum garages excavated into the side of the Vita bergen hill. The place is easy to find, just take the bus to the Church of Sophia. In fact, a photograph of the facility’s entrance on page 58 of the magazine issue tells you its name: “Pionen – White Mountains“. Anybody can rent server space there.

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7 thoughts on “Wikileaks’ Non-Mountainous Non-Bunker

  1. Translation of names can be tricky. For instance, I’d say Sofia Church rather than Church of Sophia, since it is a regular Christian church, not a church where you worship some Sophia. Nor has it Bulgarian connections.


  2. The site would sound even more intimidating if they named it after Ered Lithui in Mordor -the Ash Mountains!

    Or if they want to emphasise the protected nature of the site, use “Orthanc”.


  3. Then I realised the journalist’s error and laughed.

    That wasn’t the journalist’s error – that’s what they consider their job. Reporting the facts is so yesterday – it’s all about dramatizing the facts. And “partly hosted on a server in Sweden that is lodged in a parking garage in a flat hill in central Stockholm” just hasn’t the same ring to it, admittedly – the phrasing they chose is much more John le Carré-ish.


  4. “much more John le Carré-ish. ”

    Yes, I can visualise the Bad Guy in Nehru jacket, sitting in a chair with a white fluffy cat in his lap.

    Actually, there are several cool sites left over after the Cold War, but here in Sweden the decommissioned tunnels and bunkers are filled up wiith gravel and the sites left in a state as close to before the construction as possible.

    Before 9/11, there was a brief opportunity to get an insight into the launch silos and underground bunkers that were the backbone in the western nuclear strike forces. Cool, in a Bond-ish way, but that hardware nearly bled the western economy dry over four decades.


  5. Well, to be honest, the stuff about nuclear bunker and White Mountains is taken directly from Bahnhof’s web page and advertising material, so the journalist just faithfully reported the information given. Bahnhof for their part make their best to dramatise their location.


  6. So a Swedish IT company dramatises its product by saying, “the Pionen White Mountains, is an upgraded version of a nuclear-safe shelter that the Swedish civil defense used during the Cold War” and an American journalist reporting this at face value, has made a laughable mistake.

    The interesting thing about the whole Assange extradition for me is how one European country can request that another hand over someone who is merely suspected of a crime where no trial has been prepared or date for it set.


  7. @#6, it would be a waste of time to prepare a trial and set a date to try a person at a time when you don’t know whether or not you will get your hands on them. Extradition proceedings can be long, of varied length and are often uncertain in outcome. If you want an example, check out the story of the extradition of Gary McKinnon – Wikipedia will do but there’s good analysis at the Jack of Kent blog (not sure links work well here, so I’ll trust your google-fu). Extradition from England is not always a foregone conclusion.

    In the case of Assange, it appears the Swedish court is currently investigating and feels they need to interview him in order to complete their investigation, so it makes even less sense to wait until there is a trial prepped and/or date set.


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