On Sunday, Reuters reported that WikiLeaks, the vigilante “transparency” site, gave journalists a list of 140 “false and defamatory” claims about their founder, Julian Assange, that are not to be stated in news reports.
WikiLeaks reportedly made the demand in response to an article published in The Guardian that made claims about Assange, an Australian-born activist who has been accused of helping the Russian government sabotage the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and who has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to evade an international arrest warrant. The WikiLeaks email, which was marked “Confidential legal communication. Not for publication,” demanded that reporters not say, among other things, that Assange was ever “an agent or officer of any intelligence service,” that he has ties to Russia or Vladimir Putin, that he bleaches his hair, that he is a hacker, that he has neglected his pet cat, or that he has bad personal hygiene.
Social media quickly had a field day with the news, making fun of WikiLeaks’ demands:
Some things you aren’t supposed to say about Assange:
– mean to poor cat trapped in embassy with him
– is a front for Russian intelligence
– has helped others act as fronts for Russian intelligence
– believes he is a messianic figure
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) January 6, 2019
WikiLeaks tells reporters 140 things not to say about Julian Assange.
#1 Assange hates the nickname “Rapey”
#2 He’s a GRU assethttps://t.co/0OCVA9TnBp
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) January 7, 2019
If Julian Assange really has good personal hygiene or isn’t a Russian agent, would he have to get @wikileaks to hire a lawyer and demand journalists stop reporting on those issues, and demand confidentiality at his legal threat letters?
I don’t think so.https://t.co/aFxnYRfe00
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) January 7, 2019
Streisand effect now renamed https://t.co/FA9F2Slj22
— David Frum (@davidfrum) January 7, 2019
The 140 things Wikileaks has told journalists they can’t say about Julian Assange
(I hope @jk_rowling has seen this.)
— Leah McElrath 🏳️🌈 (@leahmcelrath) January 7, 2019