Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

Anthony Weiner's reign as the undisputed frontrunner in this year's New York City mayoral election lasted less than 24 hours. On Tuesday evening, a poll taken by Marist, the Wall Street Journal, and NBC New York showed Weiner leading his Democratic rivals for the first time, but Wednesday afternoon, a Quinnipiac poll was released that put the former congressman in a statistical dead heat with two of his other opponents, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Thanks to the irresistible tale of his comeback candidacy after the Twitter scandal that saw him resign from the House of Representatives in 2011, Weiner's brief stint in first place led to a slew of breathless headlines declaring him the "frontrunner." However, in spite of the hype surrounding Weiner, the conflicting poll numbers, and a crowded field that includes seven main candidates, operatives on multiple campaigns told TPM they believe the race is clearly shaping up as a three-way contest between Weiner, Quinn, and Thompson.

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A story published Wednesday on the technology news site Ars Technica claims that, in addition to posting in the site's forums years before he became famous for leaking internal National Security Agency documents, Edward Snowden was an active user of its chatrooms.

While in those online chats that took place years ago, Snowden reportedly discussed his political views and his disdain for people who revealed government secrets. In transcripts of Snowden's apparent chat conversations published by Ars Technica, a user who seems to be the future leaker said those who release classified information to the press "should be shot in the balls." The user also criticized Wikileaks, the organization that is currently helping Snowden seek asylum to avoid being punished by the U.S. government for his leaks.

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Though both of the candidates in Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate special election have criticized each other for taking money from outside groups, they have both been supported by millions of dollars from PACs and other outside groups. Based on data from Federal Election Commission filings and reported PAC activity, about 38 percent of the more than $12 million spent by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez in this race has come from outside groups.

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange declined to answer when asked if his organization began working with NSA leaker Edward Snowden before he left the United States for Hong Kong and went to the press with his documents detailing U.S. spying programs.

"I instructed the organization to assist Mr. Snowden. I cannot go into further details at this stage," Assange said.

Assange claimed Wikileaks helped Snowden with legal advice on his asylum requests as well as the costs of his travel and attorneys in Hong Kong. Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow Sunday. Assange also declined to discuss Snowden's current location but said Wikileaks is aware of his whereabouts. 

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said he does not see "irony" in NSA leaker Edward Snowden seeking asylum from countries that have been criticized for their treatment of their citizens.

"I simply do not see the irony. Mr. Snowden has revealed info about mass, unlawful spying which has affected every single one of us. The U.S. administration has issued a series of bellicose, unilateral threats against him and against others who are attempting to support his rights. That is a very serious situtation and any country that has assisted in upholding his rights must be applauded for doing so," said Assange. 

A reporter pressed and asked Assange whether those countries should be "applauded" for their treamtenet of their own citizens. 

"That's another matter in these cases. We do not criticize people for seeking refugee status in the U.S. despite its use of torture, drone strikes, ... executive kill lists and so on. No one is suggesting that countries like Ecuador are engaged in those types of abuses," Assange said.  

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In a conference call with reporters Monday morning Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said Wikileaks is aware of Snowden's location, but he declined to reveal it. 

"We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is. He is in a safe place and his spirits are high," Assange said. "Due to the bellicose threats coming from the U.S. administration, we cannot go into further detail at this time."

Assange was asked if he could say what country Snowden is currently in, but he declined. 

"Unfortunately, we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time," said Assange.

Snowden left Hong Kong on a flight for Moscow Sunday. The U.S. government believes Snowden is still in Russia. 


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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange declined Monday to say whether Wikileaks is attempting to obtain classified documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden because it is a "sourcing matter." Assange discussed the organization's relationship with Snowden during a conference call with reporters discussing Wikileaks' role in Snowden's attampts to seek asylum

"That is a sourcing matter so, as a matter of policy, I can't speak about it," Assange said. "In relation to publishing such material, of course, Wikileaks is in the business of publishing documents that have been suppressed by governments."

Assange was also asked whether technical problems at Wikileaks could prevent the organization from publishing any documents it might acquire from Snowden. He denied the organization has any technical problems that currently prevent it from publishing. 

"Wikileaks has no problem publishing material," said Assange.

Wikileaks is advising Snowden and said he is seeking asylum from Ecuador and, potentially, other countries. Snowden departed Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday. Assange said the organization is aware of his current whereabouts but declined to disclose them. 

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In a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said the organization was helping NSA leaker Edward Snowden with his attempt to get asylum in Ecuador. Assange also said Snowden may have requested asylum from unspecified "other countries."

"Mr. Snowden has submitted an asylum application to Ecuador and possibly to other countries," Assange said.

Assange said Snowden reached out to Wikileaks for help based on the organization's experience working with leakers and Assange's own attempt to seek asylum. 

Wikileaks' U.S. attorney Michael Ratner also spoke on the call and outlined the legal basis for Snowden's asylum request. 

"The refugee convention protects people who are being persecuted for political opinion. Whistleblowing activities come within that," said Ratner.

Ratner criticized the U.S. government for "trying to interfere with an application for asylum by a person who is a clear whistlebower." Both Assange and Ratner claimed the U.S. is trying to "bully" the other countries who have been involved in trying to facilitate Snowden's asylum requests.

Snowden initially went to Hong Kong after leaving the U.S. He left Hong Kong Sunday on a flight that landed in Moscow. 

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The Food Network will not renew the contract of celebrity chef Paula Deen, it announced Friday. The network's decision came after a firestorm that started Wednesday when a videotaped deposition Deen gave in May became public. In that deposition, Deen admitted to having used the N word and having told her staffers she wanted to plan a "very southern style wedding" for her brother with an all-black waitstaff.

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