Julian Assange defended WikiLeaks’ publishing strategy, denied ties to Russia, and read out the previous night’s sports scores to prove he’s still alive on a live video Tuesday morning, in which he took questions from Reddit users.
Assange and Russia
Several questions touched on WikiLeaks’ release of a trove of Hillary Clinton campaign-related emails before the election. Intelligence agencies claim the emails were hacked by people connected to the Russian government in order to swing the election for Donald Trump, and many Democrats have said the leaks caused Hillary Clinton to lose the election.
Assange has plenty of suspicious connections to Russia, but even his critics generally describe him as simply willing to accept help from the enemies of his enemies in a world where he has few allies. Rather than a Russian stooge, Assange may just be willfully ignorant of the source of leaks to provide himself plausible deniability.
Assange dismissed claims of a WikiLeaks-Russia connection as “rubbish,” saying WikiLeaks’ “100% accuracy rate” makes it hard for organizations, corporations and governments to discredit leaks they don’t like.
“The media has to make ad-hominem attacks because no direct attack is possible,” Assange said. He pointed to “more than 800,000 documents that relate to Russia or Putin,” that he called mostly critical, that WikiLeaks has published
He also defended the timing of the email publication, saying it was “designed to maximize uptake, readership, engagement, and knowledge extraction,” and to make the leaks hard to spin, by keeping things unpredictable. Assange said the only information WikiLeaks received related to Donald Trump’s campaign was already publicly available, and that’s why it only published documents from the Clinton campaign.
Proof of life
Assange closed the session by attempting to address persistent rumors that he has been killed or kidnapped as a result of his activities.
“Yes, I’m alive, and free from duress,” he said, despite not being able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London for four years. Assange went on to read from the bitcoin blockchain, a constantly updated listing of bitcoin transactions, to prove the video was not pre-recorded.
“The better way” to prove the video is live, he said, “is news that can be widely checked, is widely spread, and is unpredictable,” like natural disasters or sports scores, which he proceeded to read.
“The New Orleans Pelicans versus the NY… Knicks? Kicks? 110 to 96. Oklahoma 109 versus 94 Chicago. Dallas 92 versus 101 Minnesota.”