Julian Assange hit back at The Intercept over a February 14 article claiming he backed Donald Trump's presidential campaign in leaked group chats from a disgruntled former WikiLeaks associate who set up the chat room.
[I]n the fall of 2015, Trump was polling at less than 30 percent among Republican voters, neck-and-neck with neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Assange spoke freely about why WikiLeaks wanted Clinton and the Democrats to lose the election.
“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.” -The Intercept
In a series of rebuttals over Twitter, Assange notes that The Intercept's Micah Lee failed to do basic fact checking, such as noting that the WikiLeaks account has a rotating staff (i.e. anyone could have written the controversial messages), and used "messages from late Oct 2016 when I infamously had no internet access."
- the @WikiLeaks account is run by a rotating staff as has been repeatedly stated over the years: https://t.co/RYrYbLeaNt— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
- basic fact checking would have shown this. another example: the article uses messages from late Oct 2016 when I infamously had no internet access.
Assange also notes Lee's long-standing grudge against the WikiLeaks co-founder, which he called "obsessive" and "obscenity laden."
- the editorial propriety of letting Micah F Lee, of all people, instrumentalize the Intercept to further his obsessive, obscenity laden campaign against WikiLeaks must be questioned. Lee was formally behind cutting off WikiLeaks' US tax deductible donations.— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
- after I wrote to the FPF board last year on that serious subject, Lee has become hysterical. The conflict of interest is obvious. Such a story should have been given to someone else. By failing to do so the story's credibility has been marred.— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
- here is the letter to the board on the financial threat to WikiLeaks together with the full context (as you expect and love from us) https://t.co/hAnISYZzX0— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
- the fragments referencing Lee are below, but I do recommend reading the whole letter. Bonus for John Perry Barlow fans. pic.twitter.com/8TdhCYfHsy
Assange, who remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London following a failed appeal of his arrest warrant also notes that WikiLeaks cannot confirm the Twitter support group messages, and that there are "dozens of such groups, full of people's freewheeling banter and quips, but even the funniest do not represent editorial policy."
(as an aside, the judge who upheld Assange's warrant, Emma Arbuthnot, stands accused of being influenced by British authorities and the secret service, while her husband and ex-Conservative MP, Baron James Arbuthnot, is listed as the director of a security company along with the former head of MI6)
The Intercept also stands accused of changing the context of several quotes used in their article:
- the article changes the context of its quotes even compared to the clearly highly selective claimed excerpts Lee placed on Document Cloud: https://t.co/1p9wmyhYnJ— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
Assange's defenders, such as journalist Caitlin Johnstone, and Disobedient Media's Elizabeth Vos have come out in force against The Intercept's "disingenuous and sloppy character assassination against the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief."
The Ecuadorian embassy in London cut off Julian Assange’s internet access in October of 2016, but the WikiLeaks Twitter account kept posting about leak drops uninterrupted. The embassy’s action made headlines all across mainstream media. It is common knowledge for anyone who was paying attention to WikiLeaks during that time. The Intercept‘s editors are unquestionably aware of this.
They are aware of this, and yet they allowed an article to be published about allegedly leaked Direct Messages on Twitter which continuously, pervasively and fundamentally assumes that the WikiLeaks account is controlled by Assange and Assange only. The account is referred to as “Assange” throughout the entire article. -Caitlin Johnstone
The timing of the article’s publication acted to brutally counter growing support for Assange that arose in the wake of a clearly unjust UK ruling. Essentially, the publication of the smear attempted to deflect attention from the revelation of corruption in the ongoing detention of Assange, and to assassinate his character in the process. -Disobedient Media
So, whether The Intercept is now simply another establishment tool masquerading as a legitimate news outlet, or its editors simply let one of its journalists publish a terribly inaccurate hit piece curiously timed to coincide with Assange's UK court action, Julian Assange's defenders are out in force to set the record straight.