On Monday morning, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange held a news conference to address the United States intelligence report on Russia’s hacks of Democratic operatives. Unsurprisingly, Assange who has insisted the source of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta were not provided by a Russian actor, tore into the report. Among other things, he called it “embarrassing to the reputation of the US intelligence services” and a “press release.”
Due to Assange still being stuck in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, the news conference had to be disseminated via Periscope.
Notably, Assange did not suggest that the United States had made anything up, instead claiming that the report is largely speculative in nature. “Most of this so-called intelligence report is not even fabricated,” he explained. “It does not even make assertions for the most part… it uses speculative terms… it engages us in sneaky conflations. […] How good a report is it as an intelligence report from 1 to 10? The evidentiary weight is literally zero. There is no evidence of any kind supplied.”
“We haven’t said whether we know or don’t know our sources. We have made one statement, and that the election material is not from a state party,” he said, sidestepping a question about how he could be sure since the site encourages anonymous uploading. When asked if his source could have been a cut-out or intermediary used to distance Russia from the leaks, Assange wouldn’t directly answer, saying that “We can’t play 20 questions with our sources.”
It wasn’t all pot shots and doublespeak, though: Assange did provide some direct answers on some of the topics that have cropped up around the hacking story. He outright denied having access to anything from the Republican National Committee thatWikileaks didn’t publish, and he even made a comment that suggests he doesn’t see the United States becoming more friendly to his organization under a Donald Trump presidency. “No system of authority likes those who undermine their authority,” he said when asked if he thought the Trump administration will prosecute whistleblowers.