In an extensive interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Julian Assange said unequivocally that the Wikileaks source for the DNC email leaks was not Russia nor a state actor. In keeping with the Wikileaks tradition of never disclosing a specific source, Assange refused to elaborate further. Others, however, including former British diplomat Craig Murray, have said that the source was someone in the United States with easy access to the leaked information.
Many have suspected that the source is Seth Rich, a former DNC worker who was murdered in mysterious circumstances in July of 2016.
When asked why Obama has used the ‘Russian hacker’ narrative to justify the expulsion of Russian diplomats, their families and other embassy and councilor workers like chefs, Assange said that Obama is ‘playing games’ and ‘acting like a lawyer instead of being honest’. The implication here is that Obama himself doesn’t believe the lies but is simply stretching the narrative to the safest possible brink of credulity.
Assange also denied having ever spoken to President Putin, President-elect Trump nor Roger Stone, the outspoken former Trump assistant and flamboyant Donald Trump supporter.
Interestingly, the interview contained rare moments of personal contrition from Assange and Hannity, two men not known for backing down. Sean Hannity admitted that in 2010 he accused Wikileaks of putting American lives in danger by exposing US war crimes in Iraq (Hannity didn’t use the term war crimes, but that is in fact what Wikileaks exposed).
Hannity went on to state that his erstwhile dislike of Wikileaks had transformed into a deep sense of respect. He said in an un-characteristically trembling voice that Wikileaks performed an important service to American democracy by first of all, demonstrating how weak America’s cyber-security is and moreover, by exposing that corruption in parts of the American political system is far more severe than even an arch-conservative (in the past something of a neocon) like Hannity could have previously imagined.
Assange responded to a question about whether Wikileaks has ever endangered lives by stating the three things about Wikileaks which Assange is most proud of. First of all, Assange stated that he was proud Wikileaks never had to publish a retraction or apology. Second, he was proud never to have revealed a source and finally that not a single Wikileaks publication has been linked to the physical harm of any person.
Assange for his part, who prior to the election, crudely compared the choice between Hillary and The Donald between that of ‘syphilis and gonorrhea’, now seems to be willing to give Trump a chance. He certainly must be embarrassed about his false prediction that Trump would never be allowed to win.
This interview demonstrates how much has changed in American and global political discourse since Trump’s victory. Conservatives like Sean Hannity have gone from critics of Wikileaks to admirers and renegade freedom fighting journalists like Julian Assange have gone from dismissing Trump as a mere lesser of two evils, to someone who may just challenge the very establishment that Assange has challenged for so long.
Hannity furthermore seems to have become less of a neocon and more of a traditional conservative. It is a welcome change, to say the least.
To paraphrase recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, ‘you don’t need a Russian hacker to know which way the wind blows’.