Julian Assange has claimed that WikiLeaks is the victim of an international conspiracy and smear campaign led by "Jewish" journalists, according to report citing a phone conversion with the WikiLeaks founder. But WikiLeaks challenged the accuracy of the report via its Twitter account.
In the latest issue of Private Eye, the magazine's editor, Ian Hislop, reports that Assange recently phoned him to complain about a Private Eye article chronicling a WikLeaks worker in Russia who had a history of anti-Semitism. According to Hislop's report, entitled "A Curious Conversation With Mr. Assange," the WikiLeaks founder called the story "crap" and said that Private Eye should be ashamed of itself for joining the international conspiracy to smear WikiLeaks.
The piece, Assange allegedly said, was an effort to prevent Jewish support and donations for WikiLeaks. And he allegedly claimed that Private Eye was part of a conspiracy spearheaded by The Guardian that included reporter David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger, and Index on Censorship journalist John Kampfner. According to Private Eye, Assange said that all three "are Jewish."
When Hislop pointed out that Rusbridger is not Jewish, Assange allegedly replied that Rusbridger was "sort of Jewish" because David Leigh is his brother-in-law. And when Hislop continued to question the claims, Assage said "Forget the Jewish thing".
But Assange went on to explain why The Guardian journalists are out to get him, Hislop said.
Via its Twitter account, WikiLeaks responded to Hislop's story by saying: "Because WikiLeaks has some Jewish staff and enjoys wide spread Jewish support, its staff have frequently been smeared by its opponents, political or competitive, as being agents of the Mossad or of George Soros. These smears are completely false."
The response continues: "Smears against WikiLeaks cross the geopolitical spectrum. Ian Hislop, editor of the weekly satirical current affairs magazine Private Eye, recently wrote an article 'as much as he could remember', about an off the record conversation with Julian Assange who complained that a previous article, appearing in Private Eye, was based on falsehoods spread by opponents and calculated to undermine WikiLeaks strong Jewish support."
The post goes on to detail WikiLeaks' complaints against the The Guardian and its journalists.
According to the Twitter post, Assange said: "Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting. Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, perhaps not surprisingly, to justify one smear with another in the same direction.
"That he has a reputation for this, and is famed to have received more libel suits in the UK than any other journalist as a result, does not mean that it is right. WikiLeaks promotes the ideal of 'scientific journalism' - where the underlaying evidence of all articles is available to the reader precisely in order to avoid these type of distortions. We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support from pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world."
On Tuesday, it was officially announced that WikiLeaks is among the 241 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. The internet is also nominated. Last month, the Sydney Peace Foundation awarded its gold medal for peace with justice to Assange. In the fourteen-year history of the Foundation, only three others have received the prize: the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda. Assange received the medal for his "exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights".
Assange is currently facing a possible extradition from the UK to Sweden over allegations of sexual offences, and in the US, big name politicos have called for him to be charged under the 1917 US Espionage Act for leaking classified US government documents via his site. ®
Update: This story has been updated with information from the WikiLeaks Twitter account.