A US intelligence report on Russian hacking concluded that Russian military intelligence relayed material to WikiLeaks and other websites that published emails hacked from Democratic Party organisations.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange insisted earlier this week that the hacked material his site published was not provided by the Russian government or a state party.
WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The emails showed DNC officials seeming to favour Clinton over her Democratic primary challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders. They also contained excerpts of Clinton’s controversial speeches to the financial firm Goldman Sachs and showed campaign officials speaking candidly about the election.
“We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report stated.
The report said the GRU “relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.” The Kremlin is thought to have chosen WikiLeaks “because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity,” according to the report.
Assange has often stated that all of the leaked material WikiLeaks published is authentic, and the report concluded that emails WikiLeaks posted from Podesta and the DNC don’t appear to contain any forgeries.
The report also noted that the Russian state-sponsored news agency RT “has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.”
“RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media,” the report noted.
“Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become ‘the only Russian media company’ to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to ‘new leaks of secret information.’ RT routinely gives Assange sympathetic coverage and provides him a platform to denounce the United States.”
As for how Assange could insist the hacked material WikiLeaks published wasn’t provided by the Russian government, a US official familiar with the full version of the US intelligence report told Reuters that the material followed a “circuitous route” from the GRU to WikiLeaks in order to obscure the origins of the material.
A declassified version of the US intelligence report was released Friday. It concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the US presidential election with the aim of hurting Clinton’s chance of winning.
President-elect Donald Trump has refused to pin blame on Russia for the Democratic Party hacks, repeatedly casting doubt on the intelligence community’s assessments.
The Obama administration, however, has strongly condemned the hacks and increased sanctions on Russia in response.
Assange, in turn, accused the Obama administration of trying to undermine the incoming Trump administration.
“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange told Fox News earlier this week. “They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.”
The US intelligence report did not assess “the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”
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