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Assange Denies That WikiLeaks Backed the GOP in 2016

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Frank Augstein / AP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rejected contentions by The Intercept that he supported the Republican Party during the 2016 presidential election in a series of tweets.

The report from The Intercept is based on 11,000 messages in a private Twitter chat group of WikiLeaks’ loyal supporters that were turned over by a longtime supporter of Assange known only as Hazelpress. The messages were sent to The Intercept after the WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be run by Assange, made what Hazelpress considered anti-Semitic remarks about an Associated Press reporter. Also included were messages about why WikiLeaks allegedly wanted the Republican Party to win the 2016 presidential election.

The Intercept writes that the messages provide an “unfiltered window into WikiLeaks’ political goals before it dove into the white-hot center of the presidential election” and that they “reveal a running theme of sexism and misogyny, contain hints of anti-Semitism, and underline Assange’s well-documented obsession with his public image.”

The article also contends that “Assange’s thinking appeared to be rooted not in ideological agreement with the right wing in the US, but in the tactical idea that a Republican president would face more resistance to an aggressive military posture than an interventionist President Hillary Clinton would.”

The Intercept recounts some of the most salient messages from the Twitter group:

“We believe it would be much better for GOP to win,” he typed into a private Twitter direct message group to an assortment of WikiLeaks’ most loyal supporters on Twitter. “Dems+Media+liberals woudl then form a block to reign in their worst qualities,” he wrote. “With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute.” He paused for two minutes before adding, “She’s a bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.”

Assange has taken to Twitter to deny that WikiLeaks keeps such messages and says he cannot confirm any messages from a supporter group. He also disparaged the article for failing to carry out “basic fact checking” to realize that the WikiLeaks Twitter account is run by rotating staff and pointed out that the “article uses messages from late October 2016 when I infamously had no internet access.” During that time, WikiLeaks was publishing emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, which damaged her presidential quest.

Assange also questioned the article’s integrity because it was co-authored by someone he said was “formally behind cutting off WikiLeaks’ US tax deductible donations.”

The Intercept disclosed in the article that Micah Lee is a member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s board of directors, which processed payments on behalf of WikiLeaks to bypass potential financial censorship. The foundation stopped doing so in December 2017 after a blockade by PayPal and credit card companies ended. Assange, who has clashed with Lee on Twitter in the past, called the move “politically induced financial censorship.”

Assange also accused The Intercept’s owner, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar, of having a long-running campaign to “neuter Wikileaks.”

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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