WikiLeaks' Assange: 'A 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta' emails
4 January, 2017
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview that a teenager could have hacked into Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's computer and retrieved damaging email messages that the website published during last year's election campaign.
"We published several ... emails which show Podesta responding to a phishing email," Assange said during the first part of the interview, which aired on "Hannity" Tuesday night. "Podesta gave out that his password was the word ‘password’. His own staff said this email that you’ve received, this is totally legitimate. So, this is something ... a 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta that way."
Assange also claimed that Clinton herself made "almost no attempt" to keep her private emails safe from potentially hostile states during her tenure as secretary of state.
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"Now, was she trying to keep them secure from Republicans? Probably," Assange said. "But in terms of [nation-] states, almost no attempt."
Hannity interviewed Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. The Australia native has been holed up there for five years battling extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which Assange denies.
WikiLeaks published more than 50,000 emails detailing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee (DNC) official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.
WikiLeaks founder speaks out in an exclusive 'Hannity' interview
Assange has repeatedly denied claims by the Obama administration that Russia was behind the cyberattacks that exposed the DNC and Podesta emails. Assange also has repeatedly insisted that WikiLeaks' source for the emails was not the Russian government or any "state party," and said the outgoing administration was attempting to "delegitimize" President-Elect Donald Trump by making those claims.
In the first part of the interview, Assange criticized a Dec. 29 joint analysis of the cyberattacks by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. After the report was released, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds.
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"On the top [of the report], there is a disclaimer, saying … there is no guarantee that any of this information is accurate," Assange told Hannity. "There’s nothing in that report that says that any information was given to us. Nothing."
Assange also criticized the mainstream media for what he called the "ethical corruption" displayed in the Podesta emails.
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"The editor of the New York Times ... has come out and said that he would do the same thing as WikiLeaks, [that] if they had obtained that information, they would have published it," Assange said. "Now, unfortunately, I don’t believe that is true."
Assange added that he doubted that partisan sympathy explained the cozy relationship between Podesta and reporters covering the Clinton campaign.
"It’s more like, ‘You rub my back, I’ll rub yours. I’ll give you information, you’ll come to my – I’ll invite you to my child’s christening or my next big party.’"
Assange said that the website would not have hesitated to publish embarrassing information about Trump if they had received it.
"There’s no sources coming out through other journalists … and saying, 'We gave WikiLeaks all this information about Donald Trump or … Vladimir Putin and you know what? They didn’t publish it.' No one has come out and said that," Assange said. "If they did, that would hurt our reputation for trust for our sources."
The WikiLeaks founder also warned Democrats that criticizing the website for publishing the emails was a "stupid maneuver."
"It’s the same reason why they lost the election, which is instead of focusing on substance, they focused on other things [like] this attempt to say how outrageous it is that the American public received true information before an election," Assange said. "The public doesn’t buy that. They want as much true information as possible."
In an extended interview with Sean Hannity, Julian Assange reveals that the source of his information of the Democrats was not Russia nor any state actor.
In an extensive interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Julian Assange said unequivocally that the Wikileaks source for the DNC email leaks was not Russia nor a state actor. In keeping with the Wikileaks tradition of never disclosing a specific source, Assange refused to elaborate further. Others, however, including former British diplomat Craig Murray, have said that the source was someone in the United States with easy access to the leaked information.
Many have suspected that the source is Seth Rich, a former DNC worker who was murdered in mysterious circumstances in July of 2016.
When asked why Obama has used the ‘Russian hacker’ narrative to justify the expulsion of Russian diplomats, their families and other embassy and councilor workers like chefs, Assange said that Obama is ‘playing games’ and ‘acting like a lawyer instead of being honest’. The implication here is that Obama himself doesn’t believe the lies but is simply stretching the narrative to the safest possible brink of credulity.
Assange also denied having ever spoken to President Putin, President-elect Trump nor Roger Stone, the outspoken former Trump assistant and flamboyant Donald Trump supporter.
Interestingly, the interview contained rare moments of personal contrition from Assange and Hannity, two men not known for backing down. Sean Hannity admitted that in 2010 he accused Wikileaks of putting American lives in danger by exposing US war crimes in Iraq (Hannity didn’t use the term war crimes, but that is in fact what Wikileaks exposed).
Hannity went on to state that his erstwhile dislike of Wikileaks had transformed into a deep sense of respect. He said in an un-characteristically trembling voice that Wikileaks performed an important service to American democracy by first of all, demonstrating how weak America’s cyber-security is and moreover, by exposing that corruption in parts of the American political system is far more severe than even an arch-conservative (in the past something of a neocon) like Hannity could have previously imagined.
Assange responded to a question about whether Wikileaks has ever endangered lives by stating the three things about Wikileaks which Assange is most proud of. First of all, Assange stated that he was proud Wikileaks never had to publish a retraction or apology. Second, he was proud never to have revealed a source and finally that not a single Wikileaks publication has been linked to the physical harm of any person.
Assange for his part, who prior to the election, crudely compared the choice between Hillary and The Donald between that of ‘syphilis and gonorrhea’, now seems to be willing to give Trump a chance. He certainly must be embarrassed about his false prediction that Trump would never be allowed to win.
This interview demonstrates how much has changed in American and global political discourse since Trump’s victory. Conservatives like Sean Hannity have gone from critics of Wikileaks to admirers and renegade freedom fighting journalists like Julian Assange have gone from dismissing Trump as a mere lesser of two evils, to someone who may just challenge the very establishment that Assange has challenged for so long.
Hannity furthermore seems to have become less of a neocon and more of a traditional conservative. It is a welcome change, to say the least.
To paraphrase recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, ‘you don’t need a Russian hacker to know which way the wind blows’.