WikiLeaks has revealed that founder Julian Assange received a letter From the Senate Select Committee on intelligence, requesting a closed interview with him as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The organization posted the letter to its Twitter account August 8, saying its legal team was considering the offer.
Assange claimed political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 and has been a virtual prisoner there since that time. WikiLeaks, which claims to campaign against government secrecy, has published many thousands of classified government documents online. American law enforcement officials have pursued Assange for years, although it is not known if U.S. authorities have officially filed any charges against him.
The Australian national has been concerned that he will be extradited to the United States. The letter from the Senate committee, signed by chairman Richard Burr and vice chairman Mark Warner, was apparently hand-delivered to the Ecuadorian embassy and offers to conduct the interview “at a mutually agreeable time and location.”
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks published emails stolen or leaked from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Though it has been widely claimed that Russian agents stole these emails by hacking into Clinton campaign staff email accounts and a DNC server, no evidence of this has ever been publicly released. The DNC refused to turn the supposedly hacked server over to the FBI for forensic examination. Assange himself has denied that Russia was his source for the emails. In a 2016 interview with the Russian RT news outlet, he described the allegations of Russian hacking as “neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything.”
Implications of Assange Testimony
Nobody connected to the Intelligence Committee has commented on the letter. It appears that the only possible way to interview Assange would be in person at the London embassy since the WikiLeaks founder has been deprived of all means of external communication and is only permitted visits from his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, according to an ABC report.
It would seem unlikely that Assange would be willing to reveal the source of the Clinton and DNC emails published by WikiLeaks and so suspicion will remain on the Russians, who may or may not be the real culprits. Only if lawyers for WikiLeaks were able to strike an immunity deal with the U.S. government might Assange reveal the true source – assuming his denials of Russian involvement are true.
One way or the other, such an outcome seems incredibly unlikely. The implications of what Assange could reveal are enormous and, for some, highly dangerous, from a legal perspective. There are, quite simply, too many politicians and political operatives – particularly in the Democratic Party and the intelligence community – who would find themselves with a lot of explaining to do, should WikiLeaks produce verifiable evidence that they obtained the leaked emails from a source other than Russian hackers.