The New York Times on the attack: Assange and WikiLeaks benefit Putin. Moscow is adept at using them, even if they have no direct links to the Kremlin’s intelligence services.
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks work in Russia’s favor, even though it is most likely they have no direct ties to Vladimir Putin’s secret services. So claims The New York Times in a lengthy feature published Aug. 31 on the newspaper’s website and Sept. 1 on the paper's front page.
The title and subheading of the article, written by Jo Becker, Steven Erlanger and Eric Schmitt, sum it up perfectly: “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets: American officials say Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But the agendas of WikiLeaks and the Kremlin have often dovetailed.”
In brief, without committing to whether it be by “conviction, convenience or coincidence,” The New York Times claims that close analysis of WikiLeaks activity over the past four years, during Assange’s enforced exile in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, has shown that the documents published by WikiLeaks and various statements from Assange himself have often benefited Russia at the expense of the West.
In essence, while probably having no direct links to Russian intelligence services, Assange is most likely being used by them — especially for propaganda and ideology purposes. Assange often rhetorically rails against the “imperial” policies of the United States, accusing it of declaring itself the defender of democracy and human rights and then, according to the WikiLeaks boss, using the armed forces and intelligence services to overpower weaker countries and “push” them into behaving in accordance with the empire’s interests. Assange has summarized this worldview in his latest book, “The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to U.S. Empire.”
It is unfortunate, says The New York Times, that Assange’s reasoning is completely devoid of any critical sense with regard to Vladimir Putin’s Russia – a place where any dissent at all is quashed through systematic acts of intimidation, spying and the spread of defamatory information, with journalists and those in opposition sometimes paying with their life. A Russia, we would add, that is striving to shake off the humiliations endured as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union and jostling to become a major power, occupying territory of neighboring countries as shown by the annexing of Crimea — and as shown by the campaign in Syria, where rather than attacking the Islamic State, in recent months it has propped up Assad’s government, bombarding the opposition and many civilians.
Assange’s behavior verges on the unwittingly comical when he is found denouncing the Americans' attempt to censor him in an interview for Russia Today — an English language TV and web program that is the perfect example of a media tool completely serving Putin’s propaganda machine.
It will be remembered that among WikiLeaks’ most recent disclosures was the revelation of Democratic National Committee email messages, in which could be read information on how the party was favoring Hillary Clinton to the detriment of her rival, Bernie Sanders. Revelations that were promptly utilized by Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate whom Vladimir Putin would like to see installed in the White House in November.
WikiLeaks has naturally responded to The New York Times’ accusations, trying to dismiss the claims. In particular, WikiLeaks is emphasizing how it has published more than 650,000 documents on Russia and Putin, most of which were critical of the way they operate.
WikiLeaks — it says — has publicly denounced cases of corruption in Russia, repeatedly defended Pussy Riot and published more than 2 million documents on Assad and Syria. And finally, it is untrue that WikiLeaks and Assange have not publicly criticized the abuses by Assad and the Russian forces involved in the war in Syria.