WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hits Rappler

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hits Rappler
This file photo taken on January 15, 2018 shows employees of online portal Rappler working at the company's editorial office in Manila. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's move to ban critical news website Rappler from covering the presidential palace is a threat to press freedom, rights and media groups said on February 21, 2018.
Ted Aljibe / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticized news website Rappler over an article it released regarding his supposed links to Russian propaganda that allegedly infiltrated the Philippines.

Calling it the “stupidest” article he has ever read, Assange questioned the basis of the story, noting that his ties to the supposed Russian involvement in propaganda in the Philippines were established using only a single tweet.

“This article in Rappler is literally the stupidest I have ever read. The evidence of a Russian plot is that I tweeted a link to Rappler,” he wrote on Twitter.

He was referring to the article released by Rappler on Monday, titled “Bots, Assange, an alliance: Has Russian propaganda infiltrated the Philippines?”

In the article, the news outfit used a tweet by Assange as an example of “questionable tweets that raised concern about possible Russian presence in the Philippine online space.”

On Oct. 12, 2017, Assange re-tweeted a Rappler post denying President Duterte’s claim that it is owned by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States. He wrote a caption, “Is Rappler right?”

Rappler claimed that Assange’s tweet succeeded in casting doubts on its ownership.

Months later, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the certificate of incorporation of Rappler.

In the article, Rappler tied the WikiLeaks founder to the Russians, quoting an expert on digital forensics research of the “murky ties” between Assange and the Russian government.

The article explores the supposed presence of the Russian propaganda machine in the Philippine cyberspace.

Aside from Assange, Rappler noted that a Twitter account (@Ivan226622) allegedly used by Russia for propaganda tweeted exclusively about the Philippines.

Cited in the report were the improving relationship between the Philippine and Russian governments, as well as allegations against Moscow of meddling in various elections, including in the United States.

In his tweets, Assange, who is seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, questioned the validity of Rappler’s claim regarding the supposed propaganda account.

“Further, http://archive.org  shows that back in 2013, @Ivan226622 looked exactly the same and was still promoting the Inquirer,” he wrote, disputing the article’s claim that the recent tweets about the Philippines were questionable.

“Also note that ‘Ivan’ (also spelled Iban) is a common first name in Spanish influenced cultures such as the Philippines,” added Assange.

The account has since been removed on Twitter.



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