Dear Editor -
Some powerful and unscrupulous people are highly motivated to discredit Assange, in any way that they can. He has been exposing the inhumane and illegal tactics of the American military, targeting medics and journalists. He has led us to connect some of our most trusted leaders with sexual exploitation of children. He has helped to expose American practices of broad-net domestic surveillance, in defiance of the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution. Most important to the powerful and corrupt American leadership is to discredit Assange in the minds of those Democrats and liberals who care most about the practices he has brought to light.
The charge that Assange has been in cahoots with the Trump Administration seems unlikely on its face. Trump's politics of secrecy, xenophobia, and bigotry have little in common with Assange's mission of open government and universal rights of individuals. Even Exhibit A -- the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign -- suggest that Bernie Sanders, not Donald Trump, should have prevailed if the 2016 presidential campaign had been conducted according to its own rules.
Against this backdrop, when the Guardian publishes unsourced charges that Assange colluded in Trump's victory in a political campaign that everyone agrees was tainted from top to bottom -- it raises questions about the legitimacy of the sources quoted by the article's authors, and the nature of the evidence that they provided to substantiate their claim. The Guardian owes its readers an accounting of how these sources were vetted, on what basis they were granted anonymity, and whether the sources might have profited personally from the communication they provided. Were these sources identified and sought by Harding and Collyns, or did they approach Harding and Collyns of their own accord?
Assange has told us that the leaked emails did not come from Russia or "any state actor", and he has all but stated outright that the source was a young computer tech for the DNC named Seth Rich. Rich's mysterious death was convenient for Clinton and for those who promote the Russia narrative. Furthermore, the version in which Rich was the source of the leaks is supported by physical evidence that the files were copied on-site from the DNC computer server, and not transmitted over the internet. In contrast, the "Russian version" originated with an unsupported "opinion report" from the FBI and has been repeated so many times by the full spectrum of American media that many people assume there is evidence behind it.
The gravest danger of the Guardian's article is that it could help lead to the imprisonment of Assange after prosecution in a secret American military tribunal. The behavior which American powers seek to criminalize is exactly the publication of leaked, unsourced political intelligence -- the same journalistic process in which the authors of this Guardian article engaged. The difference is in motivation: Assange sought to expose and thereby to end the murderous use of military power and the corrupt use of political power, while the Guardian's behavior sought to de-legitimize Assange's program, and thereby to protect corrupt American power.
- Josh Mitteldorf