Julian Assange is no longer editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in May, 2017.

Image: Jack Taylor / Stringer / Gettyimages

WikiLeaks has replaced Julian Assange as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, the organization announced Wednesday. Assange, who will remain on board as publisher, has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as the new editor in chief.

The decision comes six months after Assange’s internet privileges at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London have been revoked.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances where Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been held incommunicado (…) for six months while arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian embassy, Mr. Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson Editor in Chief of WikiLeaks,” the organization wrote in a statement.

Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist, served as WikiLeaks spokesperson until 2016, and has “overseen certain legal projects” for the organization since then.

Assange has spent the last six years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he sought asylum from Swedish government’s attempt to extradite him on charges of rape. While those charges have been dropped in 2017, Assange still may be arrested by the UK for violating bail, as well as extradited to the U.S. for publishing state secrets.

But Ecuador appears to have been less willing to continue giving Assange asylum in recent years. The strife between the WikiLeaks founder and Ecuador culminated in March 2018, when Assange’s communications with anyone outside the embassy were cut for breaching his commitment to the Ecuadorian government he would not interfere with other states.

Originally posted here:
Julian Assange is no longer editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks

Edward Snowden: 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever

The development, which came about over Iran, symbolised a world-turned-upside-down by US leader Donald Trumps unilateralism.

It left Mike Pompeo, Trumps foreign policy chief, disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed.

This is one of the of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional and global peace and security, he told press, after seven decades in which the US and EU had stood together against common adversaries, such as Russia, in the so-called transatlantic relationship.

The measures Pompeo referred to were the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle [SPV] to enable the EU and others to buy Iranian oil in a way that skirted Trumps new sanctions on Iran.

Everything that Ms Mogherini has said is extremely positive, Vladimir Yermakov, a senior Russian diplomat, told press, referring to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

He spoke after Mogherini chaired a meeting with the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Iran, France, Germany, and the UK in New York earlier the same day.

EU member states will set up a legal entity [the SPV] to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world, Mogherini told press alongside Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in the margins of the UN assembly.

EU technical experts would shortly meet to flesh out details, she said.

EU refused to be pushed around by the unilateral decisions of our US allies, Frances Emmanuel Macron said (Photo: Consilium)

Do you have any better alternative than talks in times of conflict and crisis in the world? Is there a better alternative than diplomacy and dialogue? Is war a better alternative?, she told US broadcaster CNN in an interview on Tuesday.

The EU, Russia, and China deeply regret Trumps decision, they added in a statement.

His sanctions went against multilateral diplomacy endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council, they added.

The EU-led group, called the E3+2 and Iran, had, together with the pre-Trump US administration in 2015, when it used to be called the E3+3 and Iran, agreed to lift sanctions on Tehran in return for its freeze of uranium enrichment.

But Trump, in May, tore up the accord on grounds it was not strong enough.

The threat of US sanctions has seen EU firms such as French and German car makers Daimler, Peugeot, and Renault, German engineering company Siemens, and French energy firm Total walk away from new ventures in Iran.

But we [the EU] cannot accept that the US decided the regions with which European companies can or cannot do business, Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said after meeting Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in New York.

Were working hard on this [the SPV] with our European partners, German foreign minister Heiko Maas said.

The EU-US rift on Iran comes after Trump started a trade war with Europe and China, threatened to pull the US out of NATO, and pulled America out of a global deal on climate change the Paris accord.

It comes after he also threatened to fine Austrian, Dutch, German, and French firms if they co-financed a new Russia-Germany gas pipeline called Nord Stream 2.

The French leader, Emmanuel Macron, attacked Trump for fomenting nationalism and protectionism in his UN speech on Tuesday.

Were being pushed around by the unilateral decisions of our US allies, in an approach that led to isolation and conflict to the detriment of everyone, Macron said.

Even those who contest the reality of climate change are suffering its consequences like everyone else, he added.

For his part, Trump, in his UN speech, threatened Iran with military force and redoubled his attack on Nord Stream 2.

Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course, he said.

He also praised Poland for standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty one day after the European Commission, on Monday, took Poland to the EUs highest court for political meddling in its judiciary in violation of EU values and laws.

Trumps speech prompted laughter in the UN chamber when he claimed he had achieved more in the past two years than any other US president in history.

I didnt expect that, he said.

Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength, Irans Rouhani told the UN in his speech.

Rather, its a symptom of weakness of intellect. It betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world, Rohani said.

Via EU Observer

Read more from the original source:
Edward Snowden: 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever

Julian Assange steps down at Wikileaks

JULIAN Assange has stepped down as editor of WikiLeaks.

The whistleblower, who has lived inside the Ecudorian Embassy in London for six years, will continue as the sites publisher.

Assange, 47 will be replaced by Kristinn Hrafnsson who is an Icelandic investigative journalist.

In a statement, WikiLeaks said, Due to extraordinary circumstances where Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks has been held incommunicado (except visits by lawyers) for six months while arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorean embassy, Mr Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks. Mr Assange will continue to be the publisher of WikiLeaks.

Hrafnsson, 56, has slammed the treatment off his predecessor, who has continued to be denied access to the internet and other forms of communication, however he welcomed his new responsibility.

Assange also faces an arrest warrant in the UK after skipping a bail payment.

He was also accused of sexual assault in Sweden, however the charges have since been dropped.

The whistleblower also fears being extradited to the US where authorities have spoken about prosecuting him for publishing classified information from the National Security Agency.

RELATED: Ecuador and UK working to end stand-off over Julian Assange

RELATED: Julian Assange faces imminent expulsion from Ecuadorean Embassy

The Ecuadorean Embassy cut off Assanges communications to the outside world in March after he tweeted Britain was readying itself for a propaganda war against Russia following the Salisbury poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal.

However, Ecuadors president Lenn Moreno recently declared that both his country and Britain were working on a legal solution for Assange to allow him to leave the embassy in the medium term.

Before he was stopped communicating online, Assange continued making provocative statements via social media.

Assange has always argued that he was only exercising his right to free speech and that monitoring power politicians was important.

Read more from the original source:
Julian Assange steps down at Wikileaks

Julian Assange Went After a Former Ally. It Backfired Epically.

A botched power play by Julian Assange has led to a split within a key organization supporting whistleblowers and leaves the WikiLeaks founder more isolated than ever among his core constituency of radical transparency activists.

Assange has grown furious at a one-time ally with substantial moral authority within their movement: the journalist and activist Barrett Brown.

Since his release from federal prison on trumped-up charges related to a major corporate hack, Brown been increasingly public in voicing disgust at Assanges embrace of Donald Trump and his general comfort with the nationalist right. That has led Assange, an erstwhile transparency advocate and whistleblower champion, to retaliate.

I have been increasingly vocal about my growing distaste for WikiLeaks in general and Julian Assange in particular, largely due to his close and ongoing involvement with fascist entities, his outright lies about his role in the last U.S. election, and his willingness to have others tell similar lies on his behalf, Brown told The Daily Beast. I have also continued to support his rights against the state and private organizations that have pursued him from the very beginning, when his original mission of ethical transparency was still in play.

Assange had a lever against Brown. Brown has received financial backing from the Courage Foundation, a whistleblower protection group. Courage operates WikiLeaks legal defense fund, which is increasingly important to Assange amid rumors that Ecuador will soon evict Assange from its London embassy, where he has lived since 2012 following a since-shuttered rape investigation in Sweden and possible interest in Assange from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller, as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, last week subpoenaed an alleged backchannel between Assange and Trump consigliere Roger Stone.

While Assange has no formal role on Courage, multiple knowledgeable sources said he continues to exert informal influence over it. Assange co-founded what would become the group and was an initial trustee. In May 2017, Courage formally took on WikiLeaks as a beneficiary.

On Thursday, three Courage trustees aligned with Assange instructed Courages widely respected director, Naomi Colvin, to cut off Brown. According to a new statement Colvin has posted on Medium, the trustees explicitly based their reasoning on nasty adversarial remarks about WikiLeaks Brown has made.

Colvin rejected the retaliation on principle. But they persisted, instructing her to work out getting rid of Brown expeditiously.

On Sunday, Courage trustee Susan Benn, who came to Courage from the Julian Assange Defense Fund, informed Brown that Courage will no longer represent him.

You have made a number of hostile and denigrating statements about other Courage beneficiaries who are facing grave legal and personal risks, Benn wrote in an email acquired by The Daily Beast. Courage expects solidarity and mutual aid from its beneficiaries, especially when those among you face extreme uncertainty and danger; and Courage as an organisation cannot afford to be conflicted because of the conflicting interests of others. Moreover, your own criminal proceedings have concluded and you were released from prison almost two years ago. (Chelsea Manning, its worth noting, remains a Courage beneficiary despite being released from prison in May 2017.)

Brown told The Daily Beast: Im afraid I cannot agree with the stance, presented by the Courage board to me yesterday via a poorly written email, that I am somehow obligated to not only defend Assanges rights, as Im happy to do, but also to refrain from speaking out about the problems facing a movement that I risked a hundred years of prison time in order to defend.

But the retaliation came with a price for Assange. It prompted a split within Courage, complete with at least one outraged resignation: Colvin, the director of the organization. A transition in staff may be underway, knowledgeable sources said.

The short-term result of Assanges behavior may be to consolidate control over Courage. But it has come at the expense of broken ties with two heavily respected and influential figures within the hacktivist circles from which Assange emerged. At this point, it leaves Assange with more solid support from the extreme right and its media organs than from his original community.

I am fundamentally and implacably opposed to excluding anyone from beneficiary status on the basis of their political speech, and still more when that comes out of responding angrily to being baited on Twitter.

Naomi Colvin

Courage supports our beneficiaries because they have spoken out, at great risk to themselves, in order to make the world a better place, Colvin wrote in a statement. I am fundamentally and implacably opposed to excluding anyone from beneficiary status on the basis of their political speech, and still more when that comes out of responding angrily to being baited on Twitter.

Colvins statement anticipates a line of attack she is likely to face by WikiLeaks remaining supporters and hints at the raw emotions within the transparency community where Assange is concerned.

In resigning from Courage on a fundamental point of principle, I am not turning against WikiLeaks or abandoning Julian in his hour of greatest peril, Colvin continues in the statement. I remain absolutely, unambiguously opposed to the withdrawal of Julian Assanges asylum and the prospect of his extradition to the United States. I do, however, have acute concerns about the way advocacy on this issue is developing.

Losing the Courage money wont be a significant financial blow for Brown.

Courage, though a fine organization staffed by extraordinary people, has provided me with something along the lines of $3,500 out of the total $14,000 that was donated to me since FreeBB [the Free Barrett Brown legal-defense fund] was incorporated into that organization, Brown said. Assange and close associates have nonetheless chosen to publicly imply that I am somehow indebted to Assange for having made me a beneficiary after Id already been sentenced.

But Assanges allies at Courage, sources said, didnt try to argue that Brown no longer needs the money. They instead made it clear they wanted Brown excommunicated for the sin of criticizing Assange and WikiLeaksa move reflecting a willingness to become a cudgel for Assange, despite Courages lofty principles.

Colvins departure from Courage is especially ironic for Assange and speaks to the botched manner in which his allies retaliated against Brown. Colvin led and recently won a fight to prevent the U.K. from extraditing the computer scientist and activist Lauri Love to the United States to face hacking charges. With Assange ostensibly fearing his own prospective extradition, his desire to silence Brown has cost him a key legal asset.

The Assange-Brown falling out is simultaneously predictable and astonishing.

It is predictable because Assanges ego for years has prompted him to publicly condemn ally after ally for minute infractions, usually encouraging a horde of trolls to harass targets and police deviations from a narrative of glory for WikiLeaks. Last year, as The Daily Beast first reported, a formerly crucial source of support and funding for WikiLeaks, the influential Freedom of the Press Foundation, cut ties, in part because of disillusionment with Assange. As well, Browns extensive, National Magazine Award-winning body of writing demonstrates an inability to resist subjecting lordly figures like Assange to abrasive examination and ridicule.

But it is also astonishing considering Browns closeness to WikiLeaks. His willingness, as part of Anonymous, to examine a hack exposing a corporate plot against Assange preceded the Justice Departments malicious, pretextual prosecution that led to Brown doing four years in federal prison.

The original FBI investigation into me stemmed directly from my involvement in defending WikiLeaks from firms like HBGary, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Palantir, as made clear by the FBIs own search warrant, Brown noted.

Many of Assanges dwindling original allies have stuck with Assange in part because of U.S. intelligences now-public assessment that WikiLeaks is a catspaw of Russian intelligence. Mueller, in a recent indictment of 12 members of Russian military intelligence, alleged that the Kremlin used an online persona, Guccifer 2.0, to provide WikiLeaks with thousands of Democratic National Committee emails it had stolen. WikiLeaks published them on July 22, 2016.

Brown is no fan of the intelligence agencies. Yet he has been unsparing in his public criticism of his former ally. WikiLeaks is bullshit and WikiLeaks is over are two of his recent tweets. An appearance last month at the hacktivist HOPE conference in New York featured Brown in conversation with this reporter and is said to have contributed to Assanges desire to retaliate.

During that appearance, Brown reflected that back in WikiLeaks early days, I was very much enthusiastic about WikiLeaks existing. I was enthusiastic about Assange jumping into the vacuum here and serving in a leadership role in an effort to enforce transparency on fascist institutions. But now, Brown continued, Its time for [WikiLeaks] to pass the baton to something with the moral authority and the capability to publish whistleblowers exposs of powerful opaque institutions.

It was difficult for me to come out and have to criticize WikiLeaks for the first time. I just did four years in prison largely because I was inspired by WikiLeaks.

Barrett Brown

I will always defend Julian Assange against governments. They are not going after him for his vices, theyre going after him for his virtues. Theyve been going after him since the very important work that he did. I was not opposed to that release of the DNC emails because that is an appropriate thing for a leaking organization to do, Brown said.

But Assange, Brown continued, has collaborated closely with outright fascists. He has uttered absolute demonstrable falsehoods over and over again recently It was difficult for me to come out and have to criticize WikiLeaks for the first time. I just did four years in prison largely because I was inspired by WikiLeaks. It wasnt fun for me, but it was a necessary thing for me to do if I was to maintain intellectual honesty, which is all I have.

Browns allies consider the retaliation attempt yet another revealing moment from WikiLeaks.

Kevin Gallagher, who ran the Free Barrett Brown legal-defense fund for nearly three years before Courage stepped in, said he was initially hesitant about its involvement. Id thought that WikiLeaks was like an octopus with its tentacles reaching into everything, trying to capture all of the politicized hacktivist legal cases at that time, Gallagher said.

Assange prefers to surround himself with a cult that washes his feet and thinks he can do no harm; and therefore finds himself increasingly isolated due to flexibility of his principles and these devious and foolish machinations of petty revenge, Gallagher continued. That said, I support and defend WikiLeaks and what they stand for and have accomplished, as well as their right to publish, and I once admired and respected Assange. This is not surprising but its completely unwarranted. Julian, were sick of your shit, get a grip, man.

Colvin, in her statement, suggested that Assanges maneuver may fatally weaken Courage.

Building Courage up into a useful organisation has been a major part of the past four and a half years of my life, she said. I still believe that an organisation that fulfills Courages mission would be valuable to have around: we might just have to put together a new one.

Neither Courage nor WikiLeaks responded to The Daily Beasts requests for comment.

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Julian Assange Went After a Former Ally. It Backfired Epically.

WikiLeaks replaces Julian Assange as editor-in-chief

In a statement, Hrafnsson blasted Ecuador for the treatment that led him to his new role, but was thankful for the chance to “secure the continuation” of WikiLeaks’ work.

This might not represent a significant change in direction for WikiLeaks. Assange hasn’t had much input since March, and Hrafnsson appears focused on maintaining the existing strategy. That still leaves it with many issues on its plate, however. It’s still facing both a Democratic National Committee lawsuit over allegations it cooperated with Russia to disseminate hacked info from the 2016 presidential election, and the US Department of Justice has indicted 12 Russian intel officers with a not-so-subtle reference to WikiLeaks’ role.

And of course, Assange himself isn’t out of trouble. While he’s no longer facing the Swedish rape investigation that prompted his stay in the embassy, Ecuador’s current leadership hasn’t been shy about its dislike of the WikiLeaks founder. There’s a looming threat of expulsion from the embassy, and he could still face plenty of legal heat if he leaves.

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WikiLeaks replaces Julian Assange as editor-in-chief

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt …

People love secrets. Ever since the first word was written, humans have sent coded messages to each other. In The Code Book, Simon Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat’s Enigma, offers a peek into the world of cryptography and codes, from ancient texts through computer encryption. Singh’s compelling history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls “the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers,” never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World WarII. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides’ success.

In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian–corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don’t fall into the hands of competitors and regulators, and ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection.

The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography. Singh’s accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying. –Therese Littleton

See more here:
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt …

Julian Assange: International diplomat? – hotair.com

A massive dump of internal Wikileaks documents have made their way into the hands of the media recently and some of the revelations have been intriguing. (Just as an aside, how ironic is it that the organization who made radical transparency a thing is getting beaten up over leaks?) Some of the most notable revelations have concerned their founder, Julian Assange. On Monday we learned that a plan had been put in place to attempt to get Assange safely out of the Ecuadorian embassy and into Russia, but that scheme fell through. As it turns out, however, Russia was involved with more hijinks than just that. Dating back to 2017, Ecuador attempted to name Assange a special diplomatic representative to Russia, have Britain recognize him as such and allow him to fly out to take up an office in Moscow. (Reuters)

Ecuador in 2017 gave Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a diplomatic post in Russia but rescinded it after Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity, according to an Ecuadorean government document seen by Reuters.

The aborted effort suggests Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno had engaged Moscow to resolve the situation of Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy for six years to avoid arrest by British authorities on charges of skipping bail.

The incident was revealed in a letter by Ecuadors foreign ministry to a legislator who had asked for information about Ecuadors decision last year to grant Assange citizenship.

So Ecuador was attempting to use whats called a special designation to establish Assange as a diplomat. This is similar to the (mostly unofficial) distinction that the United States makes when presidents appoint ambassadors, splitting them between political appointees and career diplomats. Presumably, the important posts where actual diplomacy is likely to be required call for experienced personnel. Other countries without too many tricky negotiations expected might just receive an ambassador who donated a lot of money to the presidents party.

In the same fashion, in addition to career diplomats, the Ecuadorian president is allowed to appoint a fixed number of political allies to plum positions. He attempted to use one of those slots for Assange just to get him out of their hair, but the Brits refused to recognize him as a lettered diplomat, once again squashing the plan.

The curious point here is that the Russians would have to be on board with each of the attempted plans before Ecuador wasted any time or energy in trying the scheme. Why has Russia been so interested in Assange and what benefit did they see in locking him away in their country? You can understand why they would want Snowden. He not only had a laptop full of secrets to bargain away, but experience inside the intelligence community as well. We may never know how much damage was done to American security interests when Snowden flew the coup.

But Assange? Id been under the impression that Wikileaks was basically just a firehose and they dumped everything they received online not too long after they received it. How many secrets could Assange have locked up in his head to make if worth the headache of allowing him in and establishing him as a permanent resident of Russia? They might have been considering it just to be another pain in the backside to the United States I suppose. Or, conversely, he might have been a potential bargaining chip they could trade away to us if we wound up with something (or someone) they wanted back very badly.

Stay tuned. The Associated Press is currently pouring through literally thousands of Wikileaks internal emails and documents. Who knows what they might find next?

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Julian Assange: International diplomat? – hotair.com

Julian Assange ‘considering’ testifying before US Senate …

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Julian Assange ‘considering’ testifying before US Senate …

Ecuador wanted to make Julian Assange a diplomat and send him …

Enlarge / Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, gestures from the balcony of Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Last year, Ecuador attempted to deputize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as one of its own diplomats and send him to Russia, according to a Friday report by Reuters.

Citing an “Ecuadorian government document,” which the news agency did not publish, Assange apparently was briefly granted a “special designation” to act as one of its diplomats, a privilege normally granted to the president for political allies. However, that status was then withdrawn when the United Kingdom objected.

The Associated Press reported earlier in the week that newly-leaked documents showed that Assange sought a Russian visa back in 2010. WikiLeaks has vehemently denied that Assange did so.

On Friday evening, neither WikiLeaks nor the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry immediately responded to Ars request for comment via Twitter.However, earlier in the day, WikiLeaks categorically denied that Assanges proposed diplomatic status had anything to do with Russia.

On Friday, also prior to the Reuters report, the Russian Embassy in London denied being involved with trying to get Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy.

“The Embassy has never engaged either with Ecuadorian colleagues, or with anyone else, in discussions on any kind of Russias participation in ending Mr Assanges stay within the diplomatic mission of Ecuador,” it wrote.

The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to Ars request for comment late Friday evening.

The Reuters report comes a day after Paola Vintimilla, a member of the Ecuadorian parliament, started raising public questions about Julian Assanges status inside the countrys London embassy and about the citizenship Assange was granted last year.

Vintimillia said at a press conference (Spanish) in Quito on Thursday that Assanges citizenship should be rescinded.She also said that it is not clear precisely what legal status Assange has, as he appears to have withdrawn his asylum claim as of December 4, 2017, just eight days prior to his being granted citizenship.

“At this moment, what is Assanges status?” she said. “Hes an Ecuadorian living in the London embassy and were paying for this?”

Vintimilla also noted that Assanges naturalization documents “mysteriously” lack the signature of then-Foreign Minister Mara Espinosa.

As Reuters reported, the United Kingdoms Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Ecuador on December 21, 2017 that it would not accept Assange as a diplomat. Had the UK accepted his diplomatic status, he likely would have been allowed to leave the embassy and travel to Moscow.

Once Ecuador learned of the UKs perspective on Assanges status, the country abandoned the plan to make him a diplomat.

Were Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has lived since 2012, he would almost certainly be arrested by British authorities. Assange has said he is concerned that he would be extradited to the United States.

In July 2016, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, a hack that likely originated from Russia.

“We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence wrote in a January 7, 2017 report. “Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.”

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Ecuador wanted to make Julian Assange a diplomat and send him …

Russia plotted sneaking Julian Assange out of Ecuadorian …

Russian diplomats have secretly discussed extracting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and escorting him out of the U.K. and beyond the reach of a potential U.S. extradition request, The Guardian reported Friday.

Citing four sources, The Guardian said Russians held secret talks in London last year with people close to the Australian-born WikiLeaks publisher on the subject of potentially facilitating his safe exit from the embassy, his residence since 2012.

One tentative plan involved smuggling Mr. Assange out of the embassy in a diplomatic vehicle on Christmas Eve and transporting him to another country, possibly Russia, where he stood a lesser risk of being extradited to the U.S. and tried on charges related to his WikiLeaks website, The Guardian reported.

Another plan considered involved shipping Mr. Assange on a boat to Ecuador, the newspaper reported.

It is false that giving Julian Assange diplomatic status is news, WikiLeaks responded through its Twitter account Friday. It has been widely discussed for almost a year by Ecuador and the international bar and has nothing, whatsover [sic], to do with Russia.

Mr. Assange, 47, was granted asylum by Ecuador within weeks of seeking refuge in its London embassy more than six years ago, though an outstanding arrest warrant issued by U.K. authorities and the related risk of being extradited abroad have kept him from exiting ever since.

Ecuador naturalized Mr. Assange in late 2017, but a subsequent attempt to grant him diplomatic status days later was quickly quashed by U.K. authorities.

According to The Guardian, the aborted Christmas Eve escape plan involved utilizing the diplomatic protection Mr. Assange would have been granted had the request been accepted. Ecuador could have given Mr. Assange diplomatic documents, and he could have then been picked up from the embassy by Russians and taken away in diplomatic vehicle, the report said.

The plan was ultimately deemed too risky and aborted, the report said.

Reacting to the report through its Twitter account, the Russian embassy in London called the story another example of disinformation and fake news from the British media.

Mr. Assange sought refuge from Ecuador amid being sought for questioning by Swedish prosecutors investigating allegations of sexual assault. Sweden dropped the probe in 2017, but a U.K. judge subsequently ruled that Mr. Assange breached related bail conditions by entering the embassy and should be arrested upon exiting.

WikiLeaks has published throngs of classified U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence community documents during the past decade, including Democratic Party documents in 2016 allegedly sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers, according to U.S. federal intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Mr. Assange has not been charged publicly by U.S. prosecutors, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously called his arrest a priority.

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Russia plotted sneaking Julian Assange out of Ecuadorian …