Julian Assange is missing and his organization, WikiLeaks, has been taken under government control, a viral, but fake conspiracy theory is claiming.
Assange has been a popular target for conspiracy theories in recent months, as WikiLeaks launched what appeared to be a partisan campaign against Hillary Clinton, releasing damaging emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
The latest report that Julian Assange is missing comes from a number of conspiracy theory blogs, including one called SuperStation 95. In a report cited to “Newsroom,” the site claimed to have information from a WikiLeaks staffer that Assange was missing and that WikiLeaks had been taken over.
“A stunning claim from a WikiLeaks Staffer who says he violated a US National Security Letter to make public the fact that WikiLeaks has been taken over by government and is no longer safe. He also says Julian Assange is ‘missing’ and presumed in Custody, while government operators use WikiLeaks computers to give the APPEARANCE that all is well.”
But the report that Julian Assange is missing is almost assuredly false. SuperStation 95 is known for churning out conspiracy theories with either a loose connection to the truth, or sometimes outright fabrications. In fact, the rumor-busting site Snopes has even compiled a number of false claims emanating from the site.
— WikiLeaks Shop (@WikiLeaksShop) November 18, 2016
This is not the first time that conspiracy theorists have brought up the idea that Julian Assange might be missing. Back in late October, there were rumors flying that some government group staged a raid at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been holed up — a raid that took place at the same time that Assange’s internet connection was cut off.
Officials from Ecuador said they cut off Assange’s internet connection because of his interference with the U.S. presidential election. The WikiLeaks founder was still allowed to seek asylum in the embassy and WikiLeaks itself could still continue releasing documents, Heavy.com noted, but Assange was cut off from doing it himself.
“The government of Ecuador respects the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries and it does not interfere in the electoral processes in support of any candidate in particular,” Ecuadorian officials said in a statement.
This came after some pressure from U.S. officials, NBC News reported.
“The general view is he is a willing participant in the Russian scheme but not an active plotter in it. They just realized they could use him,” said a senior intelligence official.
But some conspiracy theorists believe that there was still more action taken against Julian Assange. As Tweak Town noted in a timeline of strange, but unconfirmed events, witnesses noted a heavy police presence and people nearby allegedly had cell phones confiscated. An even stranger clue came two days later, the report noted.
“Wikileaks tweets 5 tweets with misspelled words,” the report noted. “The incorrect letters spell ‘HELP HIM.’ The Wikileaks Twitter has never made a spelling error, let alone 5 in two days.”
The theory that WikiLeaks is under government control came after a series of insurance files tweeted on November 14. The hashes for these files do not match those tweeted in October, Tweak Town noted, which is seen as a sign that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks may no longer be in control of the Twitter account.
— David Manuel Sr. (@iloveakqj10) November 19, 2016
But NYMag.com noted that there is likely a simple explanation for the hashes not matching — a common mistake from WikiLeaks. And the organization itself clarified that the conspiracy theories were mistaken and that Assange is not missing (or dead, as some others have claimed).
NOTE: When we release pre-commitment hashes they are for decrypted files (obviously). Mr. Assange appreciates the concern.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 16, 2016
“In other words, WikiLeaks is saying the only hashes that WikiLeaks would put out in the public would be for non-insurance files, thus the non-matching hashes aren’t relevant,” NYMag.com noted. “Reddit users, however, remain skeptical.”
There are plenty of other false reports about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in the past few weeks. A story this week from the website Winning Democrats claimed that Julian Assange was seeking a presidential pardon from incoming president Donald Trump, a claim that Snopes found to be false.
And there is already proof that the reports claiming Julian Assange is missing are false as well. The WikiLeaks founder this week met with a Swedish prosecutor to be questioned for rape allegations made six years ago against him, CNN reported.
[Featured Image by Matt Dunham/AP Images]