Cybersecurity

WikiLeaks says Senate panel requested Assange testimony for Russia probe

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WikiLeaks is claiming that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked its founder, Julian Assange, to testify as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The organization posted a letter on its Twitter account dated Aug. 1 that purports to come from committee leaders Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) requesting that he make himself available “for a closed door interview with bipartisan Committee staff at a mutually agreeable time and location.”

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A spokeswoman for Warner declined to comment on witnesses. A spokeswoman for Burr also declined to comment.

Assange’s legal team is “considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.

Assange’s testimony would be of interest to those investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

WikiLeaks released troves of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta ahead of the 2016 election. The U.S. intelligence community has tied the email releases to the broader plot by the Russian government to interfere in the election. 

The unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment released in January 2017 concluded with “high confidence” that Russian intelligence officers “relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.” James Comey, then FBI director, testified last year that WikiLeaks did not communicate directly with the Russians but used “some kind of cut-out.” 

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russian interference for more than a year, interviewing witnesses behind closed doors or in public. Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller is spearheading the federal probe into Russian interference, which includes looking at whether there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Moscow. 

Last month, Mueller indicted 12 Russians working for the GRU, Moscow’s military intelligence agency, in connection to cyberattacks against Democratic officials and systems used to administer elections in the United States.

It was also revealed last year that Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, communicated with WikiLeaks during the campaign. 

WikiLeaks said that a letter from the committee requesting his testimony was delivered via the U.S. Embassy in London.

Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 evading extradition, but there has been recent speculation that Assange could soon be evicted.

Reports surfaced in April 2017 that U.S. officials were weighing charges against Assange under the Espionage Act.

WikiLeaks first attracted attention nearly a decade ago when it published classified files stolen by former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning. WikiLeaks’s tweet on Wednesday also shared an opinion article arguing that Britain should reject an effort by the U.S. to extradite Assange.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Hillary Clinton James Comey Mark Warner Richard Burr Robert Mueller

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