Julian Assange and WikiLeaks: Allegations of association with Russian intelligence and the Russian government





Allegations of association with Russian government

According to the Associated Press, leaked documents from WikiLeaks include an unsigned letter from Julian Assange authorising Israel Shamir to seek a Russian visa on his behalf in 2010. WikiLeaks said Assange never applied for the visa or wrote the letter.[475]

In 2012, as WikiLeaks was under a financial blockade, Assange began to host World Tomorrow, a television show that was distributed by Journeyman Pictures and aired on RT.[476][477]

In 2013, the Russian national newspaper Izvestia reported that Russian intelligence officers had coordinated with WikiLeaks to get Edward Snowden‘s flight from Hong Kong to Moscow had been co-ordinated with Russian authorities and intelligence services. Snowden was accompanied by Wikileaks employee Sarah Harrison. Izvestia reported that Snowden and Harrison intended to stay in Moscow for a short time before taking an Aeroflot flight to Cuba, and from there travel to Venezuela.[478][479][480] In 2015, Assange told reporters that he had told Snowden to take asylum in Russia instead of Ecuador because Russia was one of the few places in the world where the CIA’s influence did not reach. The Guardian wrote that this was at odds with WikiLeaks’ statement at the time that Snowden became stranded in Russia after his US passport was revoked.[481][482][483]

In 2015, it was reported by Fernando Villavicencio [es] that Assange requested he be allowed to “choose his own Security Service inside the embassy, suggesting the use of Russians”. The article said the then Ecuadorian intelligence service SENAIN said “would have been the equivalent of ‘a coup in the embassy’.”[484][485][486][487]

In April 2016, WikiLeaks tweeted criticism of the Panama Papers, which had among other things revealed Russian businesses and individuals linked with offshore ties. Assange said that journalists had “cherry-picked” documents to maximise “Putin bashing, North Korea bashing, sanctions bashing, etc.” while avoiding mention of Western figures.[468] The WikiLeaks Twitter account tweeted, “#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID and [George] Soros“.[488] Putin later dismissed the Panama Papers by citing WikiLeaks: “WikiLeaks has showed us that official people and official organs of the U.S. are behind this.”[488] According to The New York Times “there is no evidence suggesting that the United States government had a role in releasing the Panama Papers”.[489]

In August 2016, after WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails, DNC officials and a number of cybersecurity experts and cybersecurity firms claimed that Russian intelligence had hacked the e-mails and leaked them to WikiLeaks.[490][491] Assange said that Russia was not the source of the documents and that the Clinton campaign was stoking “a neo-McCarthy hysteria“.[492] In October 2016, the US intelligence community said that it was “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations”.[493] The US intelligence agencies said that the hacks were consistent with the methods of Russian-directed efforts, and that people high up within the Kremlin were likely involved.[493] On 14 October 2016, CNN stated that “there is mounting evidence that the Russian government is supplying WikiLeaks with hacked emails pertaining to the U.S. presidential election.”[494]

WikiLeaks said it had no connection with Russia.[494] When asked about Guccifer 2.0’s leaks, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said “These look very much like they’re from the Russians. But in some ways, they look very amateur, and almost look too much like the Russians.”[495][496] President Putin stated that there was no Russian involvement in the election.[370][371] In August 2016, a New York Times story asked whether WikiLeaks had “become a laundering machine for compromising material gathered by Russian spies”. It wrote that US officials believed it was unlikely there were direct ties between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence agencies.[476] A report by the Central Intelligence Agency shared with senators in 2016 concluded that Russia intelligence operatives provided materials to WikiLeaks in an effort to help Donald Trump’s election bid.[497][498]

In September 2016, the Daily Dot wrote that according to leaked court documents and a chatlog, a WikiLeaks release excluded evidence of a €2 billion transaction between the Syrian government and a government-owned Russian bank.[499] Responding to the Daily Dot, WikiLeaks said that all the Syria files they had obtained had been published. Their spokesperson also stated, in reference to the Daily Dot’s reporting of the story: “Go right ahead, but you can be sure we will return the favour one day.”[499][500]

In December 2016, Julian Assange said that WikiLeaks wasn’t necessary in Russia because there are “competitors to WikiLeaks” and the “many vibrant publications, online blogs, and Kremlin critics” like “Novaya Gazeta, in which different parts of society in Moscow are permitted to critique each other.” Assange also cited WikiLeaks not havin staff that spoke Russian and being focused on English-speaking cultures. Salon, the Guardian and others criticised Assange for being “dishonest” about Russia.[501][502][503][504] In 2010, WikiLeaks had announced a partnership with Novaya Gazeta to begin releasing information on Russian government corruption.[505]

In March 2017, The Moscow Times wrote that a former WikiLeaks collaborator said that “in recent years, WikiLeaks and the Russian state have effectively joined forces.” The article reported that, since submissions to the Wikileaks portal are anonymous and encrypted, it was very difficult for Wikileaks to trace their source. Mark Galeotti, a researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and an expert on the Russian security services, said he had suspicions “that things are sometimes fed in, and [WikiLeaks does] know where they came from.” Galeotti said Assange would have to be “extraordinarily stupid and naive” not to conclude the DNC leaks came from Russia.[506] According to the Mueller indictment, WikiLeaks knew the source was the Russian Guccifer 2.0 persona.[507]

In April 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated: “It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Pompeo said that the US Intelligence Community had concluded that Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet,” RT had “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks.[508]

In August 2017, Foreign Policy wrote that WikiLeaks had in the summer of 2016 turned down a large cache of documents containing information damaging to the Russian government.[468][509] WikiLeaks stated that, “As far as we recall these are already public … WikiLeaks rejects all information that it cannot verify.[468] WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere”.[468] News outlets had reported on contents of the leaks in 2014, amounting to less than half of the data that was allegedly made available to WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016.[468]

In September 2018, The Guardian reported that Russian diplomats had secret talks with people close to Julian Assange in 2017 with plans to help him flee the UK Several possible destinations were suggested, including Russia. The Russian embassy denied the report.[510] It was also reported that Ecuador attempted to give Assange a diplomatic posting in Russia, but Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity to leave the embassy.[511] In October 2018, this was confirmed by documents released by Ecuador.[512]



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