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US presidential election 2016: Julian Assange defends Hillary Clinton email leaks

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday defended the website's decision to publish emails from Hillary Clinton's election campaign team and denied a link with Russia, as Americans went to the polls.

The anti-secrecy website was behind the damaging leak of tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic Party and Clinton's campaign last month, in the final weeks of the race for the White House.

File image of Hillary Clinton. AP

File image of Hillary Clinton. AP

Assange said WikiLeaks had no desire to influence the election, only to make public the material it had. After earlier publishing Clinton's diplomatic cables and indexing her emails, "we are seen as domain experts on Clinton archives. So it is natural that Clinton sources come to us," Assange said in a statement.

"We cannot publish what we do not have. To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump's campaign," he said, referring to Clinton's Republican rival.

"The Clinton campaign, when they were not spreading obvious untruths, pointed to unnamed sources or to speculative and vague statements from the intelligence community to suggest a nefarious allegiance with Russia. The campaign was unable to invoke evidence about our publications — because none exists. Wikileaks remains committed to publishing information that informs the public, even if many, especially those in power, would prefer not to see it."

On 7 October, WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of emails hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta.

Clinton's team has not denied the authenticity of the messages but accused Russia of directing the hacking in an effort to tilt the election in favour of Trump.

The emails did contain any explosive revelations, but some put Clinton on the defensive.

Assange, a 45-year-old Australian former computer hacker, has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces longstanding allegations of rape. He fears he would subsequently be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange will be finally questioned over the rape allegations next week by an Ecuadoran prosecutor in the
embassy, Sweden's public prosecutor's office said.

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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2016 01:20 AM

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