Leaked audio obtained by Project Veritas reveals that in 2011, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned the Hillary Clinton-led State Department that a rogue employee had stolen a trove of classified cables from the whistleblower organization and was about to release it.
Assange told State Department attorney Cliff Johnson that WikiLeaks had planned to release the cables with sensitive information redacted, and expressed concern over endangering people by what he believed to be a reckless release.
"Yes, so the situation is that we have intelligence that the State Department Database Archive of 250,000 diplomatic cables including declassified cables is being spread around and is to the degree that we believe that within the next few days it will become public," said Assange, adding "We're not sure but the timing could be imminently or within the next few days to a week and there may be some possibility to stop it."
State Department attorney Cliff Johnson: “Who would be releasing these cables? Is
Julian Assange: “No, we would not be releasing them--this is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a previous employee that we suspended last August.”
Johnson: “And he apparently has access to the material that Wikileaks also has?”
Assange: “Yes. That’s correct.”
Johnson: “And he has access to everything you have is that right?”
Assange: “That's correct.”
Johnson: “OK. And that includes classified as well as the unclassified cables.”
Assange: “That's correct.”
Listen to part of the 75-minute conversation:
BREAKING: @Project_Veritas Obtains Recording Of Call Between @Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange & Lawyer In Hillary Clinton's State Dept.— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) December 16, 2020
Warns US Government Trouble Was Coming Their Way With Unredacted Release Of Classified Cables Stolen From Wikileaks pic.twitter.com/hx5u2fSzuC
"The thing that stands out throughout this tape is that over and over again, Assange expresses his concern for the people endangered by what he believes to be a reckless release—like when he told Johnson: ‘In case there are any individuals who haven't been warned that they should be warned.’," said Veritas founder James O'Keefe - adding "Political pressure is building for President Donald Trump to pardon Assange at the end of his first term and this tape goes a long way to rebooting how he has been portrayed."
This extraordinary recording (which I had never heard before) confirms claims that @Wikileaks made for years, but its critics dismissed as lies.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 16, 2020
1) Assange DID seek to minimize risks to individuals.
2) Bulk release of cables was forced, not intentional. https://t.co/zUt6MPOvQY
State Department attorney thanks assange (more via Project Veritas):
Although Assange said to the attorney, he did not actually control the classified information, he did have the encryption key to unlock the materials and he knew where on the web it was being held.
“The material, there is an encrypted version of the materials on the web somewhere, that we do not control,” Assange said. “One doesn't actually need to convey the material itself, one only needs to convey the location of the material, and its encryption key.”
With Assange’s help, the journalist said he believed the U.S. government with its resources could corral the information in time to prevent its release or to even eliminate the files covertly.
“If there is another possibility which is the taking down of those files, that is a degree of research and effort that we do not have the capacity to do,” he said. “There are not so many of them.”
Cliff Johnson: “And, you know all the locations of them, do you think?”
Julian Assange: “We know several and it's probably not that hard to find the others.”
Johnson: “Can you provide us with that location information?”
Assange: “I can encourage other people to do so.”
Johnson: “Right. I appreciate what you've told us Mr. Assange.”
Assange’s work with Manning made him a fugitive from American justice
The Australian-born journalist has been targeted by the U.S. government since 2011, when he partnered with Pvt. Chelsea Manning, an Army intelligence specialist, to release documents and videos Manning downloaded from Army computers.
Manning pleaded guilty to violating the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and accepted a 35-year sentence.
President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to time served, roughly seven years, Jan. 17, 2017—three days before the end of his term.
For many years, Assange was holed up in the Ecuador’s embassy in London, until he was turned out in 2019, and then apprehended by British officials acting in concert with the U.S. government.
The day he was arrested by British officials, April 11, 2019, the Justice Department unsealed its indictment of Assange charging him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, or hacking. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and stems from Assuage offering Manning help cracking a government password.
Journalists have broad privilege to publish classified or otherwise illegally obtained information, only if they do not participate in the acquisition.
Assange remains in British incarceration awaiting his January hearing where it will be decided if the United Kingdom will extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States.
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Entire recording below: