In an hour-long interview with veteran TV host Vladimir Pozner on the state-owned Rossiya-1 television channel that aired on October 30, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shared his views on global events, with a focus on U.S. politics.
The interview was conducted in English and broadcast with a Russian translation voiced over of the original conversation. Polygraph.info translated the quote back into English from the Russian interpretation of Assange’s words for the state TV audience.
In his opening remarks, Pozner did not specify when the interview took place, only where – inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, UK.
The interview aired the same day U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller announced the first indictments in the U.S. investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Responding to Pozner’s question about the alleged ties between WikiLeaks and the Russian government, Assange said:
“If you listen to Barack Obama, the head of the U.S. intelligence agency and James Comey, the FBI director, they say quite the opposite: they say that there is no trace of a conspiracy between WikiLeaks and Russia. The same is said by the most hawkish people in the U.S. intelligence community.” (timecode 3:28’—3:52’)
In his final White House press conference on January 18, 2017, then President Obama was asked: “How do you reconcile that in light of WikiLeaks’ connection to Russia’s hacking in last year’s election?”
He responded: “First of all, I haven't commented on WikiLeaks, generally.”
“The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC emails that were leaked,” the outgoing president told reporters. He added that the U.S. will have to “recognize that there are adversaries and bad actors out there who want to use that same openness in ways that hurt us -- whether that's in trying to commit financial crimes, or trying to commit acts of terrorism, or folks who want to interfere with our elections.”
“…the head of the U.S. intelligence agency”
In his interview with Posner, Assange did not name the “head of the U.S. intelligence agency” he was referring to.
Dan Coats, the current Director of National Intelligence, was sworn into office on March 16, 2017 and has not been quoted commenting on WikiLeaks, either in official statements or by the media.
Coats’ predecessor, James Clapper, who served as DNI from August 2010 to January 2017, said “absolutely” WikiLeaks serves as a “known propaganda platform” and acts as a “non-nation state intelligence service” for Russia.
“The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets,” Clapper said in testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Terrorism on May 8, 2017, after he left office.
James Comey, the FBI director
James Comey, who served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from September 2013 to May 2017, called WikiLeaks “intelligence porn” shortly before he was fired by President Donald Trump.
In his testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Terrorism on May 3, 2017, Comey said he stands by the U.S. intelligence community assessment that that WikiLeaks was a known outlet for foreign propaganda, accusing Assange’s group of “…just pushing out information about sources and methods without regard to interest, without regard to the First Amendment values that normally underlie press reporting and simply becomes a conduit for the Russian intelligence services…”
“…the most hawkish people in the U.S. intelligence community”
Polygraph.info cannot assess Assange’s claim about “the most hawkish people in the U.S. intelligence community” allegedly believing there is no “conspiracy” between WikiLeaks and Russia, since it is not clear who he was referring to. Instead, we chose to quote for this fact-check only the statements made by these in the office in their official capacity.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on April 13, 2017, Mike Pompeo, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, also called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service.”
“In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of U.S. victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo was referring to “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution,” a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on January 6, 2017.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in March that “the Russians ‘weaponized’ the stolen data and used platforms established by their intel services, such as DC Leaks and existing third party channels like WikiLeaks, to dump the documents.”
During the 2016 campaign for U.S. president, officials from the Obama intelligence community put out a statement saying they were “confident the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” of campaign leaders for the Democratic Party and its nominee.