WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an online press conference held earlier today denounced the declassified intelligence report released by the U.S last week in which U.S. Intelligence officials blamed Russia for trying to interfere with the U.S. political process. According to a TIME magazine report, Assange called the intelligence report a “politically motivated press release” that had zero evidence to back up the claims made in it.
“This is a press release. It is clearly designed for political effects,” Assange was quoted saying.
Assange also termed the 25-page report “vague” and said that it served no purpose except damaging the intelligence community’s reputation. Assange went on to ridicule U.S. Intelligence officials and asserted that the U.S. should be embarrassed by the 25-page, declassified document. Assange’s opinion was mirrored by Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov who on Monday morning dismissed all the hacking allegations against Russia and termed the U.S Intelligence report amateurish.
Speaking to reporters, Peskov said the following.
“They are amateurish and are hardly worthy of the high professional standards of top intelligence agencies. We categorically rule out the possibility that Russian officials or official bodies could have been involved. We are tired of such accusations. This is beginning to remind us of a full-fledged witch hunt.”
Last week’s Intelligence report was a declassified 25-page document which was made public just one day after senior intelligence officials from the U.S. testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on their findings in their investigation of the hacks. The report is significant in that it also, for the first time, talked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in the hacking.
An excerpt from the report read this.
“We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
The report further read the following.
“He (Putin) has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him. We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US election to future influence efforts.”
The report also cites the motivation behind Putin’s order for the hacks. According to the report, Putin had a “deep-rooted” vendetta against Hillary Clinton. Another key figure to be named in the report was the leader of the Nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky who is said to have “celebrated the possibility” of a Donald Trump win. Other actions that the report blames on Russia include hacking into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and that of John Podesta. It also blames Russia for using paid “trolls” who were entrusted the duty of making nasty comments on social media pages. It also explicitly accused the Russian government of handing the leaked emails to Wikileaks – a charge that Julian Assange once again denied at today’s press conference.
“As we have already stated, WikiLeaks’ sources with relation to the John Podesta and DNC leaks are not state parties. They do not come from the Russian government.”
Meanwhile, a weekend blog post by Margarita Simonyan, the editor of Russian government funded TV Channel Russia Today (RT) termed that the U.S. Intelligence Report was worded like a school homework assignment.
“Dear CIA: You get a total F for this thing you wrote. You don’t cover the subject sufficiently, the sources are unnamed, out of date or simply incorrect, and it is written like a school homework assignment.”
[Featured Image by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Images]