Assange says WikiLeaks will show ‘all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA’

In a podcast interview, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange characterized his site’s most recent series of leaks as showing “all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA.”

In the same interview for the “Intercepted” podcast, Assange accused the CIA director of slamming him “to get ahead of the publicity curve.”

The comments came at the beginning of the interview conducted by Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, as the two discussed CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s recent speech calling out WikiLeaks as a “nonstate hostile intelligence service.”

“In fact, the reason Pompeo is launching this attack is because he understands we are exposing in this series all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA, so he’s trying to get ahead of the publicity curve and create a pre-emptive defense,” Assange said. 

The conversation addressed recent allegations that WikiLeaks has stretched the facts in its descriptions of what the CIA files showed. Those allegations were made in The Hill and other news outlets, including The Intercept.

Pompeo told The Intercept that WikiLeaks was “stretching the facts” in saying the CIA was likely intercepting new Apple cellphones to implant malware before the iPhones were sent to purchasers. 

“I never liked that article,” Assange said on the podcast. 

Though he did not defend the Apple claim, he did say that a separate controversy referenced in The Intercept — that another WikiLeaks summary may have implied that the CIA specifically developed techniques to hack encrypted chat apps, which the documents did not show — was unwarranted. 

“One of the important revelations from our initial Vault 7 publication was that the CIA had spent enormous resources on developing endpoint attacks, that is, to attack your smartphone directly. … We thought it was very important to show that, no, that’s not true. The encryption itself is quite good, but if you can hack the endpoints, the encryption doesn’t matter,” he said. 

Assange also used the interview to reaffirm stances he’s taken since publishing internal Democratic Party emails last year during the presidential campaign.

He said he still does not believe his site received files stolen by the Russian government and defended the site as nonpartisan. He said it would have published Republican National Committee emails if it had received them.

He also said he had no “back channel” communications with Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Trump, as Stone has claimed. Stone has told The Hill he communicated with Assange through a mutual friend but said perhaps Assange did not consider the communications as formal as he did. 

Assange told “Intercepted” that he does not have a vendetta against 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as is often alleged. 

“I think I’d probably like her in person. Most good politicians are quite charismatic in person. In some ways, she’s a bit like me, She’s a bit wonkish and a bit awkward, so maybe we’d get along,” he said.

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