Julian Assange released a statement Tuesday pushing back on accusations that WikiLeaks is interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Our organization defends the public’s right to be informed,” Assange wrote in the statement published on WikiLeaks’ website. “This is why, irrespective of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election, the real victor is the US public which is better informed as a result of our work.”
He dismissed allegations that WikiLeaks has disproportionately focused on material related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and wrote that the organization has not received equivalent information about Donald Trump or third-party candidates which “fulfills our stated editorial criteria.”
Assange asserted that Wikileaks has no “personal desire” to influence the election results.
“Publishing is what we do,” he wrote. “To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favour one of the candidates above the public’s right to know.”
He touted WikiLeaks’ record of authenticating leaked documents and said that the organization’s ultimate mission is to inform the public.
“Wikileaks remains committed to publishing information that informs the public, even if many, especially those in power, would prefer not to see it,” Assange wrote. “WikiLeaks must publish. It must publish and be damned.”
The radical transparency organization’s actions over the past few months seem to undermine Assange’s defense, however. WikiLeaks has used its Twitter account to criticize Clinton for her “rewarding of corruption,” promote polls that apparently indicate the Democratic nominee is “entitled, uncool and unaware of it,” and offer a $20,000 bounty for information about the murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer. In September, the organization also tweeted and then deleted a poll asking users to speculate about Clinton’s health.
Assange himself wrote in February that a vote for Clinton is “a vote for endless, stupid war.” In a June interview, he called Clinton “a bit of a problem for freedom of the press.” And Trump ally Roger Stone claimed in a speech he delivered in August that he had “communicated with Assange” about an “October surprise” the WikiLeaks founder had promised to reveal about Clinton, which never materialized.
In October, the Ecuadoran embassy in London—where Assange has remained for four years to evade questioning about a rape allegation—cut off the WikiLeaks founder’s Internet access, citing “non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states.” It was unclear how Assange posted the Tuesday statement.