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Wikileaks publishes list of 97 'false and defamatory' claims for journalists to avoid in reporting on founder Julian Assange

Wikileaks has emailed journalists with a list of around 100 “false and defamatory” statements about its founder/publisher Julian Assange after claiming efforts to defame him had “reached a new nadir”.

It said the number of “false and defamatory” claims made against Assange had “accelerated” since his internet access at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has lived for more than six years, was cut off last year.

This rise was “perhaps because of an incorrect view that Mr Assange, due to his grave personal circumstances, can no longer defend his reputation”, it said in the email sent out to journalists.

Before listing 97 “false and defamatory” claims about Assange and Wikileaks itself, the email concluded: “The purpose of this list is to aid the honest and accurate and to put the dishonest and inaccurate on notice.”

It is believed that the list originally contained 140 claims, but the version published by Wikileaks today had some sections taken out.

The email was originally marked as “not for publication” but was later made public by Wikileaks after being leaked.

The email claimed “defamation efforts have reached a new nadir” with what it described as a recent front page “fabrication” by the Guardian.

The newspaper reported on 27 November last year that Assange (pictured) had met former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort three times in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Wikileaks launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds after threatening legal action over the story. Manafort has also denied the story, calling it “totally false and deliberately libellous”.

The claim that Assange ever met or communicated with Manafort featured on Wikileaks’ so-called “defamation list”, circulated yesterday, but the Guardian has stood by its story, saying it relied on a number of sources.

In a statement released in November, the newspaper said: “We put these allegations to both Paul Manafort and Julian Assange’s representatives prior to publication. Neither responded to deny the visits taking place.

“We have since updated the story to reflect their denials.”

The Wikileaks email said: “It is clear that there is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in otherwise ‘reputable’ media outlets.

“In several instances these fabrications appear to have the intent of creating political cover for his censorship, isolation, expulsion, arrest, extradition and imprisonment.

“Mr Assange’s isolation, ongoing proceedings and pending extradition also increase the legal and ethical burden on journalists, publishers and others to get their facts straight.”

Wikileaks claimed journalists and publishers have a “clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list of defamations to ensure they do not spread and have not spread falsehoods about Wikileaks or Julian Assange”.

Wikileaks has also just published emails between Guardian readers’ editor Paul Chadwick and former London counsel for Ecuador Fidel Narvaez, who requested a public apology following an article which claimed Russian diplomats had held talks with people close to Assange in 2017 to decide whether they could help him leave the UK.

He wrote: “The reference to me: ‘ …Fidel Narváez, a close confidante of Assange who until recently served as Ecuador’s London consul, served as a point of contact with Moscow,’ is a defamatory untruth and must be proved or retracted with a public apology, in recognition of harm caused me through associating me with Russian plots.”

Chadwick responded that he was “satisfied that the journalists have good grounds to be confident about their sources”.

He added: “Clear and important public interests are implicated in the Assange case. Ongoing reporting about the case serves those public interests.

“Facts about this matter have emerged in an incremental way over several years. More are likely to continue to emerge, and slowly to build a more complete picture.

“The coverage would be reduced by any amendment to the article that was not justified by clear evidence of inaccuracy. I am not aware of evidence of inaccuracy, though I acknowledge your denial.”

Here are some verbatim examples of the claims listed by Wikileaks:

  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or Wikileaks has ever colluded with or conspired with, or compromised the integrity of its journalism for, any political campaign or State…
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is “anti-American” or “anti-U.S.” [in fact, he has an abiding love for the United States…]
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever worked for, or has ever been employed by “Russia Today”, “RT” or the Russian government.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Wikileaks does not have a perfect record of accurately verifying its publications.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has been accused by any person of raping them [in fact, both so-called Swedish “complainants”, who were falsely reported to have made such an accusation, denied that they had been raped…
  • It is false and defamatory to deny that Wikileaks is a media organization [in fact, Wikileaks has won many media awards, is registered as a media organization, has been repeatedly found to be a “media organization” by the UK courts, and employs top journalists who (including Julian Assange) are members of their respective media unions…
  • It is false and defamatory to deny that Julian Assange is an award-winning editor, journalist, publisher, author and documentary maker who has won the highest journalism award in his country, among many others.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Wikileaks is a “group”, that it has “members” or that Julian Assange is a “member” of Wikileaks [in fact, Wikileaks is a publication and a publishing organization; it has a highly accomplished salaried staff, not members; it is not al-Qaeda].
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is “far right”.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a racist.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a paedophile.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a rapist.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a murderer.
  • It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

See the full “defamation list” here.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls/Files 

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