As­sange plea to Trump

Wik­iLeaks founder sought US pres­sure to land am­bas­sador­ship

Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD - Wash­ing­ton

WIK­ILEAKS reached out to Don­ald Trump’s camp af­ter he won the US Pres­i­dency to ask the bil­lion­aire to use his newly ac­quired in­flu­ence to sug­gest Ju­lian As­sange be ap­pointed as the Aus­tralian Am­bas­sador to the US.

The re­quest was part of a series of ex­changes be­tween Wik­iLeaks and Mr Trump’s son Don­ald Trump Jr dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and be­fore the in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The mes­sages have formed part of a con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion look­ing into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in last year’s US elec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to The At­lantic, af­ter months of ex­changes, the Wik­iLeaks Twit­ter ac­count sent an­other mis­sive to Mr Trump Jr on De­cem­ber 16, when his fa­ther was Pres­i­den­t­elect.

“Hi Don. Hope you’re do­ing well!” the mes­sage read.

“In re­la­tion to Mr As­sange: Obama/Clin­ton placed pres­sure on Swe­den, UK and Aus­tralia [his home coun­try] to il­lic­itly go af­ter Mr As­sange. It would be help­ful for your dad to sug­gest that Aus­tralia ap­point As­sange am­bas­sador to [Wash­ing­ton,] DC.”

Wik­iLeaks even sug­gested how Mr Trump might ap­proach the mat­ter.

“‘That’s a real smart tough guy and the most fa­mous aus­tralian [sic] you have!’ or some­thing sim­i­lar,” Wik­iLeaks wrote.

“They won’t do it, but it will send the right sig­nals to Aus­tralia, UK + Swe­den to start fol­low­ing the law and stop bend­ing it to in­gra­ti­ate them­selves with the Clin­tons.”

Wik­iLeaks did not re­spond to The At­lantic for com­ment.

When asked about the re­ports, a DFAT spokesman said: “Aus­tralian am­bas­sadors who rep­re­sent Aus­tralia over­seas are ap­pointed by the Aus­tralian Govern­ment.”

Mr As­sange founded Wik­iLeaks in 2006. The or­gan­i­sa­tion has been ac­cused of help­ing Rus­sia dis­sem­i­nate hacked in­for­ma­tion and data dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Hil­lary Clin­ton has de­scribed Wik­iLeaks as a “tool of Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence”.

Mr Trump Jr mostly ig­nored the mes­sages from the Wik­iLeaks ac­count. How­ever, he did cor­re­spond on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions in the con­tact that be­gan on Septem­ber 20, 2016.

Among the re­quests, Wik­iLeaks wanted him to leak his fa­ther’s tax re­turns.

“Hey Don. We have an un­usual idea,” Wik­iLeaks wrote on Oc­to­ber 21.

“Leak us one or more of your fa­ther’s tax re­turns,” they wrote. “If we pub­lish them it will dra­mat­i­cally im­prove the per­cep­tion of our im­par­tial­ity.”

Mr Trump Jr did not re­spond to that re­quest.

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