WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is still insisting that his organization was not in collusion with Russian state actors when it published hacked information about the Democratic Party during the U.S. presidential election, putting himself at odds with the findings of American intelligence officials.
“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,” Assange told Fox News conservative host Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since August 2012 in self-imposed exile to avoid questioning by Swedish authorities over rape allegations.
Assange has expressed concern that the Swedes would extradite him to the U.S., where he may face espionage charges for publishing thousands of cables containing classified military information in 2010, which were leaked by former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Assange’s refutation of Russian involvement contradicts the joint report released by the FBI and the CIA on Dec. 29, which stated that Russians hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee over the summer and from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in the run-up to Election Day. The report says that hackers interfered in the election with the aim of securing a victory for Donald Trump. Trump has also continued to dispute those findings.
“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange told Hannity in the Fox News segmen, which will air on Tuesday. “They are trying to say President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.”
The interview between Hannity, an outspoken Trump supporter, reflects a stark shift in his view of the WikiLeaks founder.
Formerly a scourge of the Right — Hannity once accused Assange of “waging war against Americans” and called for his arrest — the WikiLeaks founder has become something of a darling of Republican conservatives in recent months. After Trump’s victory, Hannity invited Assange to speak on his conservative talk radio show, and thanked him. “You’ve done us all a great favor,” Hannity said, praising Wikileaks’ “perfect record.”
In an interview in early September with Hannity, Assange indicated that WikiLeaks would release more incriminating information on the Clinton campaign before the election, sending, as an article by Bloomberg described, “shivers of anticipation deep into the right-wing fever swamps.”