Citing "exclusively obtained" documents, CNN claimed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested on 11 April in London, turned the Ecuadorian embassy into a "command center" to interfere in the US 2016 presidential elections and out Hillary Clinton from the presidential race with Russia's "assistance". The outlet also claimed that during his presence in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the WikiLeaks founder had some 75 visits, including those with Russian nationals, who, by the media account, had "Kremlin ties".
The cited "exclusive" documents have not been presented. As for the "Russian suspects", CNN elaborated that since they are "all living safely in Russia", the US "will likely never publicly produce a smoking gun or prove in court that Russia worked with WikiLeaks".
'CNN Should Start Publishing Spy Novels'
"So Julian Assange is a ‘puppet of the Kremlin’; this assertion spoken of anyone, especially when it is the British press in commenting on a CNN report, first makes me smile and then burst out laughing. It is of course an empty phrase used in frustration when no real evidence lies to hand. Here we go again", says Dr David William Norris, a political commentator and former teaching fellow at a college in Birmingham.
"Of course, the report is based in ‘exclusive reports’, no one will ever see them. This alone above anything else that is said is enough to cast serious doubt on these claims. CNN should give up on the news and start publishing spy novels, but even then, they would need to brush up on the plots which all see highly implausible, as they stand".
Citing Assange's allegedly suspicious meetings with Russians, the mainstream media outlet focused on RT's London bureau chief Nikolay Bogachikhin, who, according to CNN, visited the WikiLeaks founder twice in June 2016, and "gave [Assange] a USB drive on one occasion".
"What can [Bogachikhin] be doing with Assange but plotting Clinton’s undoing?" asks Dr Norris, ridiculing the CNN assumption. "Nothing is said about Mr Assanges’ working relationship with the channel, that does not fit the narrative so is not part of the ‘truth’".
'Julian Told Me That It Had Nothing to Do With Russians'
Israel Shamir, a political analyst and expert on WikiLeaks, echoes Norris: "From what I see in the report of CNN, they didn’t produce anything looking like a proof that Julian used anybody who is connected somehow to the Russian state", he noted.
The political analyst referred to the recent MSM trend of vilifying Russians and dubbed it "racism".
"[The MSM] try to create an idea that whoever is meeting with Russians is doing something that is criminal and forbidden", Shamir underscored. "And obviously it’s impossible to agree with that; there are many Russian people who are integrated into our world and it would be impossible to say: 'let’s avoid meeting with Russians' or 'let’s avoid meeting with Jews', or 'let’s avoid meeting with blacks'."
According to the political analyst, Washington continues its "hunt" of Assange using "all possible tricks".
"After they tried to accuse him of rape, now they they’re going to do the next thing, that is of Russian collusion", Shamir pointed out. "As for the alleged Russian participation, Julian told me that it had nothing to do with the Russians, and I have no reason to doubt what he said".
The political analyst opined that "Julian and WikiLeaks made a huge service to the American voters" by unveiling the truth about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) efforts to dump former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
"I’ll say if Julian helped American people to understand the true nature of Mrs Clinton, I would say that was one of his great achievements", Shamir said.
Why Hillary Clinton's Emailgate is 'More Pressing' Issue
Richard Vatz, a distinguished professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Towson University, believes that CNN, just like many other left-leaning media outlets, "remain[s] intent on attributing Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 United States presidential election to reasons other than her poor campaigning and low intensity support".
"Many observers point out her inexplicable refusal to spend more time in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan at the end of the campaign as germane reasons accounting for her loss", he said. "Yet, CNN and others maintain, without a shred of evidence, that other factors accounted for her losing, including Julian Assange’s, the anti-American Australian editor who founded Wikileaks, alleged cooperation with Russians in publishing Clinton and her aides’ e-mails, illegally kept on a private server".
According to Vatz, "the more pressing question, which may be answered by US Attorney General William Barr’s investigation, is whether Mrs Clinton should be prosecuted for her actions, an issue CNN is unlikely to investigate".
'I Have Yet to See Conclusive Evidence That an Outsider 'Hacked' the DNC'
"The fact that CNN is not yet sharing the 'evidence' upon which it based its 'analysis' should raise suspicions – at this stage, only reliably sourced and vetted information should be the basis of any claims, and new allegations must fit into the known timeline", says Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist who has been looking into the Clinton Foundation's alleged fraud over the past three years.
Echoing Vatz, Ortel poses the question as to why the Clinton emailgate scandal received far less attention from mainstream media outlets then non-existent "collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Likewise, the Wall Street analyst raised concerns over alleged negligence demonstrated by former FBI officials Robert Mueller and James Comey, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein towards the Clinton Foundation controversies and the use of an unsecured server by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for conducting government business.
Commenting on the alleged "collusion" between Julian Assange and "Russian hackers", Ortel highlighted that he had "yet to see conclusive evidence that an outsider 'hacked' the DNC, while, in contrast, one imagines that many Bernie Sanders’ partisans had and have motives to expose the Clinton operatives for their now evident moves to rig the Democrat nomination process".
"One obvious set of questions surrounds the strange decision by the FBI to defer to the DNC and to a firm called 'Crowdstrike' to let that firm be the primary one to assess what actors may have attempted to penetrate the DNC", he noted.
Ortel believes that "CNN and other established media outlets that push globalist schemes, and resist efforts by Donald Trump and others to support robust enforcement of national laws and national interests produce 'reports' that must be greeted with skepticism".
WikiLeaks and "Russian Hacking" Story
In July 2016, WikiLeaks released DNC emails, revealing the DNC leadership's bias against Hillary Clinton's contender, Bernie Sanders, just before the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Later, in October-November 2016, the international non-profit organisation published over 20,000 pages of emails from the personal Gmail account of John Podesta, a former chair of the Clinton presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton blamed her loss in the 2016 race on the leak.
The DNC approached a private cyber firm Crowdstrike that concluded that the entity's server was compromised by two separate hacking groups, Cozy Bears and Fancy Bears, and claimed that the alleged perpetrators had ties with Russia's intelligence services.
US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 18 April 2019 reiterated the claims that the DNC and Podesta emails were obtained via an external hacking attack conducted by Russia's intelligence agents. Russia denies the accusations and has referred to the lack of evidence to back Washington's claims.
Assange has repeatedly denied that he obtained the emails from alleged "Russian hackers". An independent investigation conducted by the US Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in 2017 indicated that the DNC server had never been hacked: the data was most likely copied to a thumb-drive or a storage device, ex-intelligence agents said. The VIPS study was signed by more than 20 individuals, including former NSA Technical Director William Binney. On 24 October 2017 then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with Binney to discuss the matter, according to November 2017 report by The Intercept.
As of yet, the US administration and Attorney General William Barr continue to attribute the leaks to alleged Russian hackers.
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The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.