Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of colluding with a Russian intelligence operation to disrupt the 2016 US election and damage her candidacy for President.
In an interview with Australia’s ABC Four Corner show aired on Monday, Clinton called Assange a “tool of Russian intelligence”.
“Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator… WikiLeaks is unfortunately now practically a fully owned subsidiary of Russian intelligence,” she said.
Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, hit back at Clinton, tweeting that she was “not a credible person”.
Tweeting a link to the Four Corners interview, Assange said there was “something wrong” with Clinton.
“It is not just her constant lying… Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen,” he said.
Clinton said the operation against her was directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think that their intention, coming from the very top with Putin, was to hurt me and to help (US President Donald) Trump,” she said.
In January, the US intelligence community concluded Putin ordered the influence campaign to discredit Clinton and had a “clear preference” for her opponent, the report said.
“Our intelligence community and other observers of Russia and Putin have said he held a grudge against me because, as Secretary of State, I stood up against some of his actions, his authoritarianism,” Clinton said.
“But it’s much bigger than that. He wants to destabilise democracy, he wants to undermine America, he wants to go after the Atlantic alliance and we consider Australia an extension of that.”
WikiLeaks received thousands of hacked emails from accounts connected to the Democratic campaign, allegedly stolen by Russian operatives.
The site released the emails over a four-month period in the lead-up to the election in 2016. Assange denied the emails came from the Russian government or any other “state parties”.
Clinton contended the combination of WikiLeaks and the Russian operation contributed to her loss in a tight race.
“There was a concerted operation between WikiLeaks and Russia and most likely people in the US to … weaponise that information, to make up stories, outlandish, often terrible stories… which were used to denigrate me, my campaign… and to help Trump,” she said.
Clinton said WikiLeaks’ actions were motivated by Assange’s personal dislike of her.
“I had a lot of history with him because I was Secretary of State when WikiLeaks published a lot of very sensitive information from our State Department and our Defence Department.”
Clinton also lashed out at Trump saying that his Twitter account represents a “clear and present danger” to world security. She said the Trump’s presidency “certainly is” a risk not just to the US but also to “the rest of the world, including Australia”.
Clinton also warned that Vladimir Putin still poses a significant threat to Washington, the media reported.
“Keep an eye on him, because he’s not done,” Clinton told CNN in an interview on Sunday.
She said Putin had gotten some of what he wanted in President Donald Trump, but that Russia was not getting as much as it otherwise could out of the US, due to the nation’s system of checks and balances.
Clinton said she believed a grudge against her had motivated Putin, but that the Russian leader was also conducting a broader, ideological battle with Washington.
“I think that Putin’s campaign against us is much more about American democracy… He wants an America that is divided from within,” the former presidential hopeful told CNN.
Russia has repeatedly denied that it attempted to meddle in the election. (IANS)