Assange hits out at Trump administration's vow to crack down on WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lambasted Donald Trump's administration for threatening to crack down on the website because it had revealed their own failings.
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, having claimed political asylum because he fears deportation to the United States, where he faces prosecution for revealing state secrets. He is still wanted for extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of raping two women in 2010, but the statute of limitations on those offences will expire in 2020.
Assange penned an article in the Washington Post in which he criticised the CIA's new director, Mike Pompeo for 'declaring war on free speech'.
He said that rather than going after America's 'actual adversaries' Pompeo had gone after WikiLeaks, which recently gave descriptions of CIA-developed malware that could turn Samsung TVs into recording devices. It was part of WikiLeaks' Vault 7 series, which it claims to be information leaked from secret CIA files. Assange wrote: 'In Pompeo's worldview, telling the truth about the administration can be a crime — as Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly underscored when he described my arrest as a "priority".'
Last week Sessions told reporters Assange's arrest was a priority and added: 'We've already begun to step up our efforts, and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.'
Assange wrote: "Vault 7 has begun publishing evidence of remarkable CIA incompetence and other shortcomings. This includes the agency's creation, at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, of an entire arsenal of cyber viruses and hacking programs — over which it promptly lost control and then tried to cover up the loss." Assange claimed the Trump administration was racked by hypocrisy. He wrote: 'As a candidate, Trump tweeted: "Very little pick-up by dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks." The president mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times during the last month of the election and gushed: "I love WikiLeaks".'
But now his senior officials, like Pompeo and Sessions, were targeting WikiLeaks and Assange himself.
Assange, who is an Australian citizen, wrote: "When the director of the CIA, an unelected public servant, publicly demonizes a publisher such as WikiLeaks as a "fraud", "coward" and "enemy", it puts all journalists on notice, or should."
Pompeo described WikiLeaks as a 'non-state hostile intelligence service', which Assange claimed was 'a dagger aimed at Americans' constitutional right to receive honest information about their government'.
He added: "This accusation mirrors attempts throughout history by bureaucrats seeking, and failing, to criminalise speech that reveals their own failings."
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