Julian Assange gives guarded praise of Trump and blasts Clinton in interview

WikiLeaks founder said there are opportunities for the US to change under the Trump administration change for the worse and change for the better

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has offered guarded praise of Donald Trump, arguing the president-elect is not a DC insider and could mean an opportunity for positive as well as negative change in the US.

Assange described his feelings about the US election results in an interview as mixed before going on to sharply criticize Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and providing a more ambivalent assessment of Trumps ascent to the White House.

Hillary Clintons election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States, Assange told the Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

Donald Trump is not a DC insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities.

He added: They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilising the pre-existing central power network within DC. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better.

In the week leading up to the election, Assange used his whistleblowing website to publish a cascade of emails connected to the Democratic party and the Clinton campaign.

The releases were highly damaging to Clinton, and US intelligence officials now believe they were hacked by Russia and passed to WikiLeaks to boost Trumps bid for the White House. Assange has repeatedly declined to be drawn on the source of the hacked emails he published.

Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and associate of Trump, said in August that he had been in communication with Assange over an October surprise to foil Clinton. WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Clintons campaign chairman, John Podesta, in October.

It is impossible to know how much the email disclosures affected the outcome of the race, but there is little doubt the revelations harmed Clintons prospects during the crucial last weeks of the campaign.

Assange made the disclosures from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been hold up for more than four years, claiming asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors are investigating allegations of rape against him. Assange denies the accusations.

Some of the earliest and most high-profile WikiLeaks revelations, including those based on leaks by Chelsea Manning, occurred when Clinton was secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton and the network around her imprisoned one of our alleged sources for 35 years, Chelsea Manning, tortured her according to the United Nations, in order to implicate me personally, Assange claimed in the interview. He went on to accuse Clinton of being the chief proponent and architect of the military intervention in Libya, which he claimed had created instability in throughout the region and the refugee crisis in Europe.

Appearing to suggest the disclosures in the run-up to the election were a form of payback, he added: If someone and their network behave like that, then there are consequences. Internal and external opponents are generated. Now there is a separate question on what Donald Trump means.

Assange, who briefly hosted his own talkshow on the state-owned television network Russia Today, has long had a close relationship with the Putin regime. In his interview with la Repubblica, he said there was no need for WikiLeaks to undertake a whistleblowing role in Russia because of the open and competitive debate he claimed exists there.

In Russia, there are many vibrant publications, online blogs and Kremlin critics, such as [Alexey] Navalny, are part of that spectrum, he said. There are also newspapers like Novaya Gazeta, in which different parts of society in Moscow are permitted to critique each other and it is tolerated, generally, because it isnt a big TV channel that might have a mass popular effect, its audience is educated people in Moscow. So my interpretation is that in Russia there are competitors to WikiLeaks.

Dozens of journalists have been killed in Russia in the past two decades, and Freedom House considers the Russian press to be not free and notes: The main national news agenda is firmly controlled by the Kremlin. The government sets editorial policy at state-owned television stations, which dominate the media landscape and generate propagandistic content.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/24/julian-assange-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-interview