Julian Assange has once again denied the Russian government’s involvement in the DNC hacks. In an interview with Fox News, the WikiLeaks founder made it clear that the Russian government was not involved in the hacking of the Democratic emails that his organization had leaked during the 2016 Presidential election, CNN reports.
Speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Julian Assange denied interacting with the Russians, claiming that their source was not a State Party.
“Our source is not the Russian government. It is not state parties.”
The WikiLeaks founder was not directly asked if he believed that the Russians had orchestrated the 2016 Presidential Election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin & U.S. President Barack Obama. [Image by Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool/AP Images]
There have been several reactions to Assange’s interview with Sean Hannity. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in via a series of tweets. In one, he writes “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”
Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017
Former vice-presidential candidate Sara Palin, once a vocal opposer of WikiLeaks& Julian Assange herself, took to Facebook in praising Assange’s recent comments, even apologizing for their past differences.
“This important information (the emails) that finally opened people’s eyes to democrat candidates and operatives would not have been exposed were it not for Julian Assange. I apologize for condemning Assange when he published my infamous (and proven noncontroversial, relatively boring) emails years ago. Julian, I apologize.”
The U.S. government recently cited Intelligence sources claiming that the Russian government was directly involved in the hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee & the Hillary Clinton campaign, in an attempt to directly influence the election. The Obama administration declared that they would retaliate and as such made a decision to sent 35 Russian diplomats home and close two Russian compounds operating within U.S. soil last week. The Russians replied tit-for-tat; they expelled 35 U.S. diplomats and closed two U.S. compounds operating near Moscow.
Russia has denied that they were behind the hacks right from the beginning. But to back the Obama administration’s claims, the FBI and Homeland Security Department released a report last week showing technical evidence that the Russian government was in fact behind the attacks, as part of a project called “Grizzly Steppe.”
Obama’s decision has put President-elect Donald Trump on the spot. Reverting these decisions would put him at odds with the Intelligence agencies and with Republicans in Congress who support these sanctions on Russia. And going along with the decision would put him at odds with Putin and Russia, who he has claimed he wants to work closer with. Trump is set to be inaugurated as U.S. President on Friday, January 20.
The U.S. and Russia could be on the brink of an open cyber war. [Image by Profit_Image/Shutterstock]
There have been tensions between the U.S. and Russia in recent months and the Obama’s most recent response points towards an open cyber-war. Experts such as former FBI agent turned cyber-security consultant, Austin Berglas, believe that the United States being a much more digitized society than Russia is more vulnerable to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. Other experts, however, disagree, pointing out that even though the United States is much more dependent on the internet, Russia is the weaker and more unstable country, something that could be advantageous to the U.S. Michael Hayden, former CIA director, points out how the U.S. could provide Russian citizens with software that can make it easier for them to speak against their government. Kenneth Geers, of NATO’s Cyber Center, agrees.
“Dictators may win cyber battles, but they will lose cyber wars.”
Jason Healey, a Columbia University scholar, calls the election hacking one of the most serious kinds of conflict we’ve ever come across. And he doesn’t think the U.S.’s diplomatic tactics or sanctions against Russia are doing it any help.
“It’s clear Putin does not care about sanctions or other diplomatic means we might use to get him to back down.”
The U.S. already maintains a strict sanction against Russia, and if it were to seek additional sanctions, Laura Galante, director of Global Intelligence for FireEye, believes that Russia could start targeting American businesses as well. She believes that the Russians could hack “U.S. businesses and executives for reputation damage,” comparing the ramifications to the damages done to the Democratic Party during the election.
[Feature Image by Richard Frazier/Shutterstock]