The mysterious "Vault 7" continues to arouse public curiosity.
WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified information, started releasing cryptic questions about "Vault 7" on Twitter on February 4, 2017.
The riddle has prompted speculation among social media users as to what exactly WikiLeaks was going to expose this time. Some users suggested that it would be explosive revelations about the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, while others opined that the international organization is about to leak a new portion of Hillary Clinton's emails.
WikiLeaks Exposes CIA's Meddling in French Presidential Election
A video released by Anonymous Scandinavia on Twitter hinted at the possibility that something "big" is likely to surface on February 19.
"WikiLeaks asked what Vault 7 was, where Vault 7 was, and when is Vault 7. While the world waits for the 'why' and 'who', we assume that the answer as to 'when' is on February 19," the video said.
However, it was on February 16 when Julian Assange tweeted about the US Central Intelligence Agency's meddling in the French presidential election back in 2012.
"My new story: the CIA conducted a 10-month espionage operation targeting the last French presidential election," Assange wrote on his brand new Twitter account.
According to CIA documents published by WikiLeaks, the US intelligence service officially ordered its agents to penetrate all the major political parties in France as well as their electronic systems before the country's 2012 presidential election.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik on Sunday, veteran journalist Diana Johnstone said that this operation was obviously part of a broader pattern.
"We know that the United States and the CIA in particular are notorious for intervening in elections all over the world. There is nothing surprising about that," Johnstone remarked.
The unconfirmed claims regarding Russia's alleged interference into the 2016 US election have immediately paled in comparison with the large-scale cyber campaign launched by the CIA against France a few years ago.
The Flynn Scandal and Clinton's Aides' Alleged Meeting With the Chinese Ambassador
Meanwhile, on February 19 WikiLeaks turned the spotlight on Hillary Clinton's national campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails it released last October.
One such email said that back in January 2016 Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai sought "an informal, private, off the record get-together" with the Clinton campaign's top aides "to discuss the next year and the current state of US-China affairs."
Predictably, this email has taken on a new significance amid the scandal over Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's alleged contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
However, to the disappointment of many, neither WikiLeaks nor Assange have released anything explosive comparable to the Iraq War Logs or the Podesta emails.
So, is the "Vault 7" mystery overhyped?
'We Open Governments': WikiLeaks' 'Vault 7' Exposures
Sputnik got in touch with Charles K. Ortel, an investigative journalist and renowned Wall Street analyst and investor, to discuss this issue.
"I am happy to try answering your questions with the caveat applying to each of my answers that I am joining you in making educated guesses — I have no connection, direct or indirect, with WikiLeaks or with anyone connected to WikiLeaks," Ortel responded to Sputnik.
"Under President Obama, the United States government and elements connected to it intervened in openly expressing preferences concerning candidates and issues in foreign elections and referenda," the Wall Street analyst pointed out.
Donald Trump's victory was a bolt from the blue for Hillary Clinton's supporters from both Democratic and Republican camps, prompting some of them to claim that elements connected with "the Russians" had stepped in to intervene in the election.
"As a guess, WikiLeaks knows precisely who leaked the Podesta emails and that this source was not Russia or elements connected to Russia," Ortel said.
"Moreover, as a guess, WikiLeaks (and others) have obtained all of the missing Hillary Clinton emails and may have obtained emails found in October 2016 on Anthony Weiner's laptop computer. If so, WikiLeaks has much valuable information it could choose to share on a schedule of its own choosing," he suggested.
"If Vault 7 is a reference to the 7th Floor at the US State Department (which it may or may not be), then it is possible that the forthcoming release will document more intervention in foreign elections and referenda and show previously unseen communications and deliberations involving US government personnel, possibly including Hillary Clinton, her aides, and other members of the Obama Administration," Ortel noted.
According to the analyst, it is also possible that WikiLeaks may release heretofore unseen communications explaining how the Clinton Foundation came to be re-organized after January 20, 2009 when the Obama administration acquired the ability to understand how the Foundation and its affiliates operated outside compliance with applicable state, federal and foreign laws from October 23, 1997 — when it was founded — onwards.
"To me, the release of 'Vault 7' seems a natural progression in the evolution of WikiLeaks," Ortel noted, "and I should add that no credible person has argued that the Podesta emails, for example, or other releases are forgeries, so their record is noteworthy and any additional releases should be taken seriously and reviewed carefully."
Ecuadorian Elections: 'Vault 7' and Julian Assange's Future
Is it possible that the Vault 7 campaign was aimed at drawing attention to Julian Assange amid the Ecuadorian election, which took place on February 19?
"Julian Assange may lose protection from extradition that is afforded by the Government of Ecuador, depending upon national elections in progress there, so your suggestion is certainly possible," the Wall Street analyst responded.
However, the election is due to go to an April runoff between the candidate from the Left, Lenin Moreno, and Lasso. That means that Assange's future is hanging in the balance.
Can we assume that Assange postponed the much-discussed leak to the time of the April runoff?
"I suspect that the next set of WikiLeaks papers may drop earlier than this coming April — if they are extensive, they may need many days to disseminate this information to the general public," Ortel said.
'Vault 7' and Upcoming 2017 Elections in Europe
The Wall Street journalist believes that the forthcoming leaks would have something to do with Europe's 2017 elections — in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The release of the CIA's files concerning the 2012 French election could have been an appetizer.
"Watching the reaction in France, I suspect that WikiLeaks may wish to have Vault 7 spread particularly to other nations scheduled to hold elections and referenda during 2017," Ortel highlighted.
"I think Wikileaks has evolved to become a serious force and there is no doubt that powerful governments and individuals have positive and negative reasons to consider intervening in national elections (and in the affairs of multi-lateral grant-making government entities) so educating the general public concerning potential corruption and influence peddling is truly a welcome service," he said.
Ortel pointed out that those who operate within governments using secrets have a paramount duty, under the US Constitution, to obey laws, and to protect secrets.
"Concerning the Podesta emails, what WikiLeaks shows us is rampant, so far unprosecuted criminality particularly with regard to soliciting and spending funds in the supposed care of the Clinton Foundation, and evident failures to protect secrets, some of which held commercial value (as well as being classified at the highest levels)," the analyst stressed.
So should we expect more from the much discussed "Vault 7" campaign?
"Given its long record, and recognizing that WikiLeaks has become bigger than Julian Assange alone, I fully expect more releases," Ortel emphasized.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.