WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange said he wasn’t trying to influence the US presidential election when his organization published hacked emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
In a statement Tuesday, Assange denied he was trying to support Green Party candidate Jill Stein or take revenge for the jailing of former US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who now goes by Chelsea Manning.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing secret US government documents to WikiLeaks.
Assange suggested WikiLeaks would publish material on Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump, if it received appropriate information and judged it newsworthy.
But, he said, said Wikileaks has not so far received information on the campaigns of Trump, Stein or other candidates “that fulfills our stated editorial criteria.”
Wikileaks has been a prominent actor in the 2016 US presidential campaign, after it released 20,000 emails last July hacked from the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer system. Some of the emails disparaged Clinton’s rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, eventually prompting the resignation of then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. US officials and private computer crime specialists blamed that leak on Russian-linked hackers.
In mid-October, Wikileaks launched tens of thousands of emails from the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The emails cover a wide range of topics, including discussions about campaign strategy between top Clinton aides, as well as correspondence about the Clinton Foundation, which has been the subject of much controversy during the election due its accepting of donations from foreign governments while Clinton was Secretary of State.
Clinton campaign officials have declined to discuss the emails, questioning whether some of the material might be doctored.
WikiLeaks launched in January 2007, with Assange saying it would use encryption and a censorship-proof website to protect sources and publicize secret information. The site has since published more than 10 million leaked documents.
It first caught the world’s attention when it released manuals for prison guards at Guantanamo Bay. But WikiLeaks really hit its stride in 2010, unveiling logs of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a video showing a US helicopter crew mowing down a group of unarmed civilians — including two journalists — in Baghdad.
That same year it also published a cache of diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world, deeply embarrassing Washington.
Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador and lives in its embassy in London. He fled there in 2012 after Sweden pressed a warrant for his arrest on a sexual assault allegation.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report