Julian Assange could be in danger, supporters fear after a strange tweet from WikiLeaks raised the possibility that the controversial whistleblower could be a target for assassination.
Assange's status as a polarizing figure grew during the 2016 election as WikiLeaks fed the public a steady stream of secrets from Hillary Clinton and Democrats. The document-sharing organization leaked internal emails from both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's campaign chief, John Podesta, after U.S. intelligence officials claim Russia hacked these entities with the goal of turning the election toward Donald Trump.
In the weeks after the election, Julian Assange has found himself in the midst of conspiracy theories as supporters at one point thought he was either dead or captured. Though those theories fizzled when Assange gave interviews, a new theory has arisen that the WikiLeaks founder might be in some kind of other danger.
The theory came from a dramatic tweet posted to the WikiLeaks account clarifying that no employees were in danger of dying. The heavy implication was that someone could be targeting the organization's staff, possibly planning an attack that would look like an accidental death.The tweet came one day after Julian Assange said publicly that he would agree to extradition to the United States if President Barack Obama granted clemency to U.S. solider Chelsea Manning, who was given a 35-year sentence after leaving 700,000 sensitive documents. from the U.S. State Department. There had been rumors that Obama may be considering pardoning Manning, whose sentence experts claim was close to 10 times longer than other similar cases.
As AFP reported, Julian Assange has made a public bid for Chelsea Manning to be released.
"If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case," WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.It's difficult to determine if the frantic tweet from WikiLeaks is based on any real fear of danger for Assange and the other staff. During the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the weeks afterward, followers started a string of conspiracy theories that Assange was in custody or dead.
This included an incident in November when WikiLeaks tweeted insurance files and SHA-256 hashes that did not match previous tweets. This led conspiracy theorists to believe that Assange and WikiLeaks were no longer in control of the organization's Twitter account.
Regated published a time line of the events in the supposed theory that Assange was dead. The most critical piece of evidence --- that Assange would not simply show himself to bring all the rumors to an end.
"The most telling aspect of this entire situation is WikiLeak's refusal to do something so simple. Showing proof of life is not a tedious, drawn-out procedure mired with complexities.But when it was proven that Julian Assange is still alive, critics saw the silence from WikiLeaks as intentional. Assange has been accused of basking in the attention he has found, and remaining silent during theories of his death only brought more attention and intensified the rumors. That could be the case with the latest tweet from WikiLeaks predicting that Julian Assange or another of the organization's staff may be the target for assassination.
"It's as simple as having Assange sign off on a message with a PGP signature, it's a simple as snapping a picture of him holding up a currently-dated newspaper. WikiLeaks has countless options to show proof-of-life but so far have shown nothing."
[Featured Image by Matt Dunham/AP Images]