News World Julian Assange in rare interview: ‘Our source is not the Russians’
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Julian Assange in rare interview: ‘Our source is not the Russians’

Julian Assange
Only an outstanding British arrest warrant for failing to appear in court is stopping Julian Assange leaving the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian embassy. Photo: PA
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UPDATE 8.25AM (AEDT)

President-elect Donald Trump is using WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to cast doubt over the US intelligence community’s case that Russia was behind hacking affecting the Democrats ahead of the 2016 election.

Mr Trump has suggested that the Democrats themselves were to blame for the hacking of its computers and mass emails leaks, including those of top Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta.

He argued the Democrat National Convention (DNC) did not have a “hacking defence” and questioned why the Democratic Party had not responded “to the terrible things they did and said”.

The president-elect appeared to be referring to information in the DNC emails that was made public and led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other officials.

It was a striking spectacle for the incoming president to give credibility to Mr Assange, whose organisation has been under criminal investigation for its role in classified information leaks.

Mr Assange said his source for the hacked emails WikiLeaks published during the campaign was not a government, but his assertion left open the possibility they came from a third party.

EARLIER

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appeared on the US network Fox News to deny Russia was the source of hacked Hillary Clinton campaign emails released during the presidential election.

In the interview with Sean Hannity, the Australian also accused outgoing US President Barack Obama of trying to delegitimise Donald Trump ahead of his inauguration on January 20.

Mr Assange said WikiLeaks had not received the emails from Russia, saying the source was “not a state party”.

“We can say, we have said repeatedly that over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”

Mr Assange would not reveal whether the source was based in the US.

“I don’t want to constrain whether it was someone inside the United States, in the DNC [Democratic National Committee], in the service providers … etcetera.”

The 90-minute interview was pre-recorded from London’s Ecuadorian embassy, where Mr Assange has been living since the summer of 2012 for fear of being extradited to the US.

The more than 19,000 emails published by WikiLeaks at the height of the election campaign were stolen from Democratic Party servers.

The emails embarrassed Mrs Clinton by revealing infighting between staffers; allegedly porous borders between Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation and his personal financial interests; and staff criticism of both Mrs Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

President Obama recently imposed sanctions on Russia for the alleged hacking of emails that were damaging to the Clinton campaign during the election.

In the interview, Mr Assange said Mr Obama was “playing games” and “trying to delegitimise the Trump administration as it goes into the White House”.

“They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president,” he told Fox News.

The 45-year-old said the focus on Russia had been part of a “serious attempt to distract from the content of our publications”.

Mr Assange said had not spoken to Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump, or their “surrogates”, and told Hannity he would have released any information on the Republican candidate if it had been provided to him.

The WikiLeaks publisher said the operation used to hack the emails in question used phishing, a common practice online.

“We published several … emails which show [former chairman of the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign John] Podesta responding to a phishing email,” Mr Assange said.

“Podesta gave out that his password was the word ‘password’. His own staff said this email that you’ve received, this is totally legitimate. So, this is something … a 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta that way.”

hillary clinton
Hillary Clinton was widely expected to win the 2016 election. Photo: Getty

Mr Assange said outgoing President Obama was “acting like a lawyer” instead of being honest, and “pretending Russia hacked voting machines for which there is no evidence”.

“What they want to do … is conflate our publication of true information with, say, hacking, or rather alleged hacking of US vote counting machines,” he said.

He said it was too hard to say whether the release of emails belonging to Mr Podesta had swung the outcome of the election.

“But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election,” he said.

Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan was asked about Mr Assange’s previously denials in an interview with PBS on Tuesday, saying he wasn’t “exactly a bastion of truth and integrity”.

“I would suggest to individuals that have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments,” he said.

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