CNN Kinda Sorta Implies That Julian Assange Was a Russian Agent

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CNN has a big story today about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his seven years spent living in the Ecuadorian embassy. Apparently the Ecuadorians became suspicious of Assange fairly quickly and kept him under regular surveillance. The CNN reporters got hold of a report that Ecuador commissioned from UC Global, a private Spanish security company, and notes over and over in its story that Assange interacted frequently with Russian agents.

But I think we’ve known that for a long time. The question is whether or not Assange knew they were Russians. The CNN piece has exactly one sentence about that:

After the election, the private security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s allegiances. That report, which included open-source information, concluded there was “no doubt that there is evidence” that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

Well, sure, there’s no doubt that “there is evidence,” but how strong is the evidence? What is it based on? Is UC Global’s analysis trustworthy? I would be entirely unsurprised if Assange knew who he was dealing with all along, but there’s nothing much here to demonstrate that. At the very least, I’d like to see some of the context around those six words. This is a mighty big accusation to hang on a mighty small excerpt.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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