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21 January, 2018

WikiLeaks under attack

The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) was set to break ties with WikiLeaks amidst concerns among the foundation’s board, which includes such well-known figures as Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, John Cusack and Glenn Greenwald, among others. The news was confirmed less than a month later when the nonprofit’s board officially voted to stop accepting U.S. donations for WikiLeaks, which had been blacklisted for years by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal after publishing leaked U.S. government documents provided by Chelsea Manning. WikiLeaks took to Twitter to suggest that something more nefarious was behind the board’s decision to cut ties. Once the news became public, WikiLeaks and its associated accounts linked the FPF’s decision to the fact that many of its members now work for organizations financed by eBay billionaire and PayPal co-founder Pierre Omidyar. In addition, the FPF itself has received large sums of money from Omidyar and his various businesses and foundations. Pierre Omidyar, prior to the founding of The Intercept, was known not for any commitment to journalism or free speech but rather for his connections to the U.S. government and his role in the financial blockade of WikiLeaks that began in 2010. Sibel Edmonds, FBI whistleblower and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, told MintPress News that the FPF has a reputation for being a “very, very partisan organization and populated with ideologues.” She further asserted that the “number one reason” for the FPF’s decision was directly related to Wikileaks’ releases in 2016, namely the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails.

Part 2 - Voting WikiLeaks off the investigative island

Though Timm’s explanation seemed benign enough, WikiLeaks took to Twitter to suggest that something more nefarious was behind the board’s decision to cut ties. Once the news became public, WikiLeaks and its associated accounts linked the FPF’s decision to the fact that many of its members now work for organizations financed by eBay billionaire and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar. In addition, the FPF itself has received large sums of money from Omidyar and his various businesses and foundations.

WikiLeaks, in recent tweets, has suggested that Omidyar’s influence was responsible not only for the FPF’s decision but also for the unusual attacks that some FPF members have launched against WikiLeaks, particularly Assange, in recent months. The most outspoken of these members has been FPF director Micah Lee, who is employed by the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept.

In February of last year, Lee called Assange a “rapist, liar & ally to fascists” in a tweet — despite the fact that Assange was never charged with rape, his alleged accusers have also claimed that Assange had not sexually assaulted them, and there is abundant evidence suggesting that the rape investigation was a means of ensnaring Assange to ensure his extradition to the United States. Based on Lee’s other tweets, the “ally to fascists” charge ostensibly refers to Lee’s belief that Wikileaks’ publications of emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was done explicitly, with Assange’s blessing, to aid the Trump campaign.

Lee has also claimed that Assange is a “Putin fanboy” who doesn’t care “about government transparency if the government in question is Russia,” even though WikiLeaks has published information damaging to the Russian government while Putin was president. Lee also intimated that Assange may have a direct relationship to the Kremlin, an outlandish claim for which there is no basis.

Lee, in other tweets, has also perpetuated the “Russiagate” conspiracy in attempts to link Assange to Trump to Putin.

This same conspiracy theory, which has produced no concrete evidence to support its claims after more than a year, was initiated by top government officials such as the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director Michael Morell, among others.

Other members of FPF as well as some other Intercept writers have echoed these claims as well, attacking Assange for allegedly siding with Trump over Clinton in the 2016 election even though Assange never declared support for Trump. Ironically, many of these same journalists have themselves proven to be very partisan in their writings and on social media, undermining the claim of Lee and others that the FPF is “non-partisan.”

Sibel Edmonds, FBI whistleblower and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, told MintPress News that the FPF has a reputation for being a “very, very partisan organization and populated with ideologues.” She further asserted that the “number one reason” for the FPF’s decision was directly related to Wikileaks’ releases in 2016, namely the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails.

Edmonds added: “Assange violated their criteria and this is basically their pay-back. All of the individuals [on the FPF] are known to be ideologues, are into this game of divide and conquer. Their role is to represent the left and Julian Assange challenged this. Before the election, many of the members of this organization supported Assange. It’s important to ask why this changed over night.

Despite the slander and demonstrably false claims, other FPF members who have historically defended WikiLeaks and Assange were silent regarding Lee’s accusations, including Glenn Greenwald, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. Though FPF members have denied that Omidyar’s influence has had a role in these attacks, as well as in the board’s decision to cut ties with WikiLeaks, a closer examination of Omidyar and his ties to the U.S. political establishment — as well as his apparent influence on some of the FPF’s most prominent members — gives credibility to WikiLeaks’ concerns.

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