WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange issued an official response after CIA director Mike Pompeo blasted the organization during his first press conference. The back and forth has surprised many as President Trump formerly claimed to love WikiLeaks and the work the organization did. In Pompeo’s April 13, 2017, press conference, he declared WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service,” and vowed to stop the organization, as well as Assange. President Trump has yet to publicly comment on Pompeo’s remarks. Trump previously referred to WikiLeaks’ documents that exposed Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s private email conversations as a treasure trove. Assange specifically talked about the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the threat of tyranny in his response that was shared via Twitter.
Read Julian Assange’s Response to CIA Director Mike Pompeo Via WikiLeaks’ Twitter
Watch CIA Director Mike Pompeo Attack WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning
Pompeo began his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies by praising the CIA and denying that the agency is rogue. The topic was a discussion on national security, and Pompeo stated the CIA is open and accountable to U.S. citizens. The claims come as WikiLeaks released Vault 7 that allegedly shows the CIA utilizing viruses to spy through common, everyday electronic equipment. WikiLeaks first published Vault 7 on March 7, 2017, revealing that the CIA can hack everything from cell phones to automobiles and spy on their selected target. You may read more about Vault 7, via Wired. Access Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed at WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks continues to reveal more documents regarding the alleged CIA’s hacking tools.
In a press release, Assange explained how the CIA’s alleged control over viruses, malware, and the like is, in fact, a cyber weapon used in cyber war.
“There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons.’ Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons,’ which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of ‘Year Zero’ goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”
CIA director Mike Pompeo did not address Vault 7, or the first of its release Year Zero during his scathing remarks about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and whistleblowers.
It didn’t take long for the internet to return with one of Pompeo’s own tweets where he cited documents from an earlier WikiLeaks dump.
Not only did Pompeo fail to address Vault 7, but he denied Julian Assange’s stated vision for WikiLeaks and accused him, as well as Edward Snowden, as being whistleblowers for notoriety’s sake. Pompeo stated the following.
“And that’s one of the reasons we at CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling because while we do our best to quietly collect information on those who pose very real threats to our country, individuals such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden seek to use that information to make a name for themselves. As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.”
Assange addressed the accusations and expressed that the reason WikiLeaks exists is to prevent governments from abusing their power and to combat tyranny. Assange also addressed other comments made by Pompeo where he specifically called out Assange and referred to him as a narcissist and fraud.
“No, Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended America’s First Amendment freedom shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they’re wrong. Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He’s a fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen.”
To these accusations, Assange spoke about the nature of journalism, the importance of a free press in the United States, and that all journalists rely upon sources and people to step forward. Assange also pointed out that WikiLeaks and the CIA are not in the same business. The CIA is an intelligence agency that keeps its findings and actions secret, whereas WikiLeaks is a media organization that distributes information that was hidden from the public to mass audiences. Assange addressed the accusations of being a fraud and a coward.
“As for the CIA’s attempt to demonize a publisher as a fraud and a coward, the public can judge what is fraudulent about an award-winning, decade-long record for publishing the truth and what is cowardly about WikiLeaks standing up to years of authoritarian bullying. Director Pompeo lacks irony when he suggests ‘WikiLeaks should focus its fire on autocratic regimes’ while simultaneously calling for a crackdown on free speech. Director Pompeo has attempted to turn both the facts and the First Amendment on its head and finds himself in the company of Erdogan of Turkey (57,934 documents published by WikiLeaks), Assad of Syria (2.3 million documents) and the Saudi dictatorship (122,609 documents), to name but a few autocratic regimes that have attempted, and failed to censor WikiLeaks.”
In conclusion to his statements, Julian Assange responded with the following warning.
“America’s Founders, with brilliant foresight, understood the absolute necessity for preservation of a free press to foster critical debate about the actions of the government. The alternative is tyranny.”
What do you think about Pompeo’s comments and Julian Assange’s response?
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