Speaking on ‘The Intercepted’ podcast with Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange responded to Pompeo, who described the whistleblowing group as a “hostile non-state intelligence agency.”
Pompeo made the remarks last week at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event. He called Assange and his associates “demons” and said “he and his ilk make common cause with dictators.”
Assange responded in comprehensive fashion in the podcast, accusing Pompeo of attacking him “to get ahead of the publicity curve.”
“In fact, the reason Pompeo is launching this attack is because he understands we are exposing in this series all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA, so he’s trying to get ahead of the publicity curve and create a preemptive defense,” Assange said.
This is the second time in less than a week that Assange has taken aim at Pompeo over the WikiLeaks remarks. On April 14, the WikiLeaks founder tweeted: “Called a ‘non-state intelligence service’ today by the ‘state non-intelligence agency’ which produced Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet.”
The interview touched on a range of different topics including allegations that Assange had a personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton and aggressively targeted her during the 2016 US presidential election. He refuted the claims and revealed that he has never met Hillary Clinton but speculated that he would have liked her personality if he did.
“I think I’d probably like her in person,” he said “Most good politicians are quite charismatic in person. In some ways she’s a bit like me, She’s a bit wonkish and a bit awkward. So maybe we’d get along.”
Assange was also questioned on the details surrounding the publication of internal Democratic Party emails from the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta during the campaign. He reaffirmed the stance that he does not believe that WikiLeaks were given the documents by the Russian government and also said it would have published Republican National Committee emails if it had received them.
“Just imagine if WikiLeaks had obtained information that it knew was true about the Democratic party and corruption of the primary process, and it decided that it was not going to publish that information, but suppress it, it would be completely unconscionable,” he said. “We specialize in really big scoops. You can’t go, ‘Oh, we have this massive scoop about corruption in the DNC. Now we need to balance this with a massive scoop about corruption in the RNC.’ These things come along once every few years.”
St. Petersburg journalist dies in coma after beating by unidentified attackers
The 73-year old Andrushchenko passed away without coming out of a medically-induced coma after the suspected attack. The circumstances and suspects in the incident have not been revealed so far.
The journalist, who was the founder and a long-time editor of privately-owned Novy Peterburg newspaper, as well as a former city lawmaker and physicist with a higher doctorate degree, was found lying unconscious on the street on March 9 and transferred to the hospital in an ambulance.
According to Novy Peterburg chief editor Denis Usov, the incident took place after Andrushchenko allegedly received threats.
“[They] demanded he provide some documents. And then, he was found with his head banged near his house,” Usov said, as cited by RBK. He did not elaborate on what the documents were.
Usov added that they were told it was not clear if the journalist received the head injury as a result of the beating or from a fall. He speculated that the attack might have been connected to articles published in Novy Peterburg, some of which focused on the “theatrical fight against corruption,” as well as allegations of past mafia links relating to the city authorities.
Andrushchenko was heading to a business meeting when the incident happened, said Novy Peterburg director Alevtina Avgeeva, adding that an investigation into the attack has been launched by the St. Petersburg police.
Andrushchenko was known as a harsh critic of the Russian government, and in particular of the judicial and law enforcement system of St. Petersburg, accusing the latter of links to southern Russian criminal groups in the 1990s. In 2008, he made headlines after penning a letter addressed to a list of human rights organizations and world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, then US President Bush, Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former UK PM Gordon Brown, in which he publicly renounced Russian citizenship and accused Moscow of political repressions and encroachment on freedom of speech.
While technically Russian law does not permit the renunciation of citizenship when the individual does not have citizenship of another country or “guarantees that he will obtain it,” and it is unclear what legal steps Andrushchenko actually attempted in this regard, he was also in the middle of a legal case with charges of libel and incitement leveled against him.
In 2007, Andrushchenko was detained and charged with incitement to carry out extremist activity, insulting a representative of authority and libel against state prosecution officials after a series of controversial articles for his newspaper. Those included Andrushchenko writing an editorial for his publication for people to take part in a mass unauthorized opposition rally, which was eventually not published.
In June 2009, the court found Andrushchenko guilty of inciting social discord against prosecution officials and insulting them, for which he received a suspended sentence of one year and was ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 rubles ($350). Andrushchenko neither had to serve his jail nor pay the fine, as by the time the verdict arrived, the statute of limitations in his case had already expired.
Andrushchenko flatly denied all the charges against him and also included in the 2008 letter lengthy allegations of “torture” and mistreatment in detention by police, which he said had a severe effect on his health. He also claimed that a year prior to his arrest he unsuccessfully attempted to get police to detain a migrant worker who had allegedly beaten him with nunchucks and had attempted an arson attack on his flat, which led him to believe the attack was “organized” by the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Novy Peterburg newspaper, which was shut down by a separate court decision in 2007 after “signs of extremist materials” were found in its articles amid the legal proceedings in Andrushchenko’s case, resumed publication in 2009 after the ruling was appealed. While the paper had been known to be a highly controversial outlet in the journalistic community of St. Petersburg, the situation also sparked concerns and accusations of censorship.
‘I want to lead France, not Europe’: Le Pen demands removal of EU flag for TV interview
Political interviews in France often feature a combination of the national tricolor and the star-sprinkled blue-and-gold Flag of Europe – but not on Tuesday, when Le Pen visited the country’s TF1 channel.
“To agree to take part in this program, Madame Le Pen, you asked us to remove the European flag that should have been behind you,” said interviewer Gilles Bouleau by way of explanation.
“I want to be president of the French Republic, not of the European Commission, given that I believe the EU has done a lot of harm to our country, to our people, on an economic and social level, with the disappearance of borders,” replied Le Pen.
While Le Pen had on previous occasions appeared next to the EU flag, her attitude is not new. One of the 144 promises in her election manifesto is to remove the blue-and-gold flag from government buildings, as well as to ensure that a French flag is always present – a measure that has already been followed by FN-controlled local authorities.
The gesture sparked a debate online.
“Proud of our flag, symbol of unity, solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe. Let’s not hide it,” tweeted the office of the European Commission in France on Wednesday.
“You’ll see, we’ll soon stuff your oligarchic rag in the cupboard,” shot back Florian Philippot, the FN vice-president.
While the focus on flags in a country beset by economic stagnation and living in a state of emergency due to a threat of terrorism may seem petty, it is indicative of the wider issues that have dominated what appears to be an unusually tight four-way race to make it into the run-off.
Le Pen, who, according to polls conducted in the past week is likely to move onto the second round, has argued that France must quit the euro, and has advocated a referendum on EU membership, similar to the one that led to Brexit last year. She has also argued for stronger border control as a way of limiting the impact of what she has called “twin globalizations” of wage-suppressing economic migration and Islamic terrorism.