Home / General / Wikileaks refused to publish massive hack of Russian government intel during 2016 US presidential campaign

Wikileaks refused to publish massive hack of Russian government intel during 2016 US presidential campaign


In the summer of 2016, as WikiLeaks was publishing documents from Democratic operatives allegedly obtained by Kremlin-directed hackers, Julian Assange turned down a large cache of documents related to the Russian government, according to chat messages and a source who provided the records.

WikiLeaks declined to publish a wide-ranging trove of documents — at least 68 gigabytes of data — that came from inside the Russian Interior Ministry, according to partial chat logs reviewed by Foreign Policy.

The logs, which were provided to FP, only included WikiLeaks’s side of the conversation.

“As far as we recall these are already public,” WikiLeaks wrote at the time.

“WikiLeaks rejects all submissions that it cannot verify. WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere or which are likely to be considered insignificant. WikiLeaks has never rejected a submission due to its country of origin,” the organization wrote in a Twitter direct message when contacted by FP about the Russian cache.

(The account is widely believed to be operated solely by Assange, the group’s founder, but in a Twitter message to FP, the organization said it is maintained by “staff.”)

In 2014, the BBC and other news outlets reported on the cache, which revealed details about Russian military and intelligence involvement in Ukraine. However, the information from that hack was less than half the data that later became available in 2016, when Assange turned it down.

“We had several leaks sent to Wikileaks, including the Russian hack. It would have exposed Russian activities and shown WikiLeaks was not controlled by Russian security services,” the source who provided the messages wrote to FP. “Many Wikileaks staff and volunteers or their families suffered at the hands of Russian corruption and cruelty, we were sure Wikileaks would release it. Assange gave excuse after excuse.”

The Russian cache was eventually quietly published online elsewhere, to almost no attention or scrutiny.

In the months leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of potentially damaging emails about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign, information the U.S. intelligence community believes was hacked as part of a Kremlin-directed campaign. Assange’s role in publishing the leaks sparked allegations that he was advancing a Russian-backed agenda.

Back in 2010, Assange vowed to publish documents on any institution that resisted oversight.

With notably rare exceptions, apparently.

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  • Judas Peckerwood

    Julian Assange is lying scum — who knew?!!!

  • Murc

    Assange perpetually enrages me.

    We need an organization like Wikileaks now more than ever, and apparently the first-mover in that particular space was a vile little fascist, or at the very least one of those “anything that hurts Amerikkka is good” types who I thought were a conservative lie until I started meeting them face to face.

    Fuck that guy. Self-respecting hacktivists should desert his thing and make a new thing.

    • DallanInvictus

      The self-respecting hacktivists did desert his thing, as I understand it. Unfortunately he’s still riding the Truth To Power cachet from Wikileaks’ earlier releases and the fans don’t realise that most of the band is gone.

      • Thom

        Like The Who?

        • Bluesmank

          Well, way back when, Ruff Boys was kind of a dead giveaway, branding-ly speaking.

        • Leigh Grossman

          I remember attending a Who concert in Philly after they reunited – the only big stadium concert I’ve ever walked out on. All I could think of was “I wish they died before they got old.” I’m told they improved as the tour went on, but it was a painful reminder that most breakups happen for good reasons (even if they’re not the ones people think they’re breaking up over) and you really can’t go back.

          • wjts

            I love The Who. And while I would have loved to see The Who in concert in 1967 (or even 1977), my desire to see “The Who” in concert in 2017 is nil.

            • Leigh Grossman

              This was in the late 1980s, so there was a reasonable expectation that they would still sound like The Who. Townshend was doing terrific solo stuff at the time.

          • Marlowe

            The Who is my favorite band of all time and Who’s Next is rock’s greatest album. (I bought it when it was released in early 1971 and confess I thought the cover was just the coolest. Forgive me, I was a high school senior.) I have mixed emotions on whether Pete and Roger should just hang it up, but if they still enjoy performing (or need the money that bad) who am I to say that they shouldn’t? But I have no mixed emotions on this: they should bill themselves as Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Without Moon and Ox, they ain’t The Who.

            • wjts

              Not to drag this thread even further into irrelevancy, but Who’s Next isn’t even the greatest Who album.

              • Erik Loomis


                • wjts

                  Right! The Who Sell Out, A Quick One, and (arguably) Quadrophenia are better. Who’s Next is still pretty good, though.

                • Hypersphericalcow

                  Personally, Quadrophenia is at the top of their discography for me. Although I might put Who’s Next second (I prefer their hard-rock albums to the mod stuff).

                • Anna in PDX

                  I think I would say Quadrophenia and then Who’s Next and then the great live Who’s Last. I have never liked Tommy, partly because my son went through this phase where he played it over and over again in my apartment and about drove me nuts.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  “The Kids Are Alright”*- though it’s missing the great “So Sad About Us” from the Marquee Club, it has “Pictures of Lily” with John on French horn, the complete “A Quick One” from the Rolling Stones Circus tv show, the Smothers Brothers clip, “Roadrunner/My Generation Blues”, Keith’s botched lead on “Barbara Ann” and Pete leaping across the stage on “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Not to mention the boys driving Russell Harty nuts

                  * yes, the movie. At their best the Who were a visual and sonic experience

                • Hummus5989

                  Rec’d, but actually only agree on The Who Sell Out. Who’s Next is still their second best.

                • Unemployed_Northeastern

                  Tie between Tommy & the full version of Live at Leeds.

                • wjts

                  I’d put Who’s Next over Tommy. I’ve only got Live at Leeds on vinyl, which is good but not great.

                • Unemployed_Northeastern

                  I’d put it just below Tommy.

                  The remastered CD / download / whatever of Leeds sounds great and includes their complete live performance of Tommy that was cut from the vinyl because of length.

                  Live at the Isle of Wight is pretty good, too.

                • i wish they’d break the introduction/talking off from the songs, though. Pete talks for, IIRC, five minutes at the start of A Quick One….

                • CDT

                  I have seen each Who tour in the paste 15 or so years. They are still terrific. Pete has not lost a thing, although Roger’s voice is sometimes weak. Still worth seeing.

                • in the mid 80s, when i was in high school, i lived in a little town about halfway between NYC and Montreal. so, a lot of bands would set up in our minor league hockey rink to do rehearsals and gear checks before heading off to the big cities.

                  The Who did that for their first (IIRC) comeback tour. but i didn’t bother trying to get tickets because i didn’t know better.


                • Unemployed_Northeastern

                  They do that at Isle of Wight too.

                • SatanicPanic

                  I was going to say Live at Leeds is pretty great, but the one without much Tommy :/

                • Unemployed_Northeastern

                  The original release has no Tommy. The extended release has all of Tommy. But they put it on a separate disc so the concert is still out of sequence:-( Live at Isle of Wight is two discs with Tommy in the middle of it.

              • Marlowe

                Well, that’s inherently objective, isn’t it? To me it is (and I still listen to it regularly after after 46 years; the expanded edition on Tidal with all the Record Plant outtakes and live material is fantastic), to you it ain’t. YMMV, etc. etc. FWIW (and your’re right this is way off topic so I won’t reply again), while I really like the early albums, and especially many of the pre-Tommy singles, IMO (and that’s all it is) the gold standard is Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, and Tommy in that order. Oh, and Live at Leeds is the greatest live rock album, particularly the expanded editions available today (even though I’m not a huge fan of live Tommy, since they cut out some great material and while it’s fun to listen to, a lot of Tommy doesn’t work that well with just one guitar/bass/drums).

                • wjts

                  I like their earlier stuff better. And I’ll stump for Elvis Costello’s Live at the El Mocambo as Greatest Live Album Ever.

                • CDT

                  That’s right up there. Concertvault.com — the Bill Graham archives — has lots of great stuff well worth the price. I’d pick Otis Redding Live in Europe or Springsteen in Winterland ’78 myself.

              • SatanicPanic

                I’m in favor of whatever album the Who made before they started dressing like dads and writing rock operas.

                • Unemployed_Northeastern


                • SatanicPanic

                  That’s it, I am giving this site a bad Yelp review. The waiters were slow and I got a parking ticket while I was there. 1 star.

              • brad nailer

                What is? Just askin’.

                Edit: Never mind.

            • spencer_e9876

              Goddamn, but they had probably the best rhythm section in rock.

        • wjts

          He can’t explain. It’s a legal matter. Stop with the La-la-la-Lies. So Sad About Wikileaks. But can you see the real him?

          • rea

            Okay–as long a s you don”t get fooled again.

        • Marlowe

          Only 50% of The Who is gone. But they are the very, very rare band in which every member mattered so much that IMO they have not really been The Who since 1978. Thus while I saw Townshend, Daltrey, and Entwistle at MSG around ’79 or ’80. I consider that I never really saw The Who. (Sorry for the off topic post, but I just love The Who to death; Pete Townshend’s autobiography was one of the very few non-fiction books I’ve read in recent years.)

          Actually, this sounds more like a Jefferson Starship show I saw in the early ’80s in Manhattan (the Palladium I think, and I don’t remember why the fuck I was there) sans Slick, Kantner, or Balin.

          • Thom

            I never saw any configuration, sadly.

          • FoolishMortal

            Theseus’ Starship

          • Although I won’t get into the argument about whether he was rock’s best drummer, Moon was unique, and particularly in the early seventies his drums were as much if not more another melodic instrument than a rhythm instrument. So, Kenny Jones, et al, though competent, were not The Who drummers.

            • Marlowe

              IIRC, in his autobiography, Townshend claims (though I’m uncertain how trustworthy he is) he discovered–after years of playing with Moon–that instead of keeping time for the band as drummers generally do, Moon was following Townshend. While I suspect that Moon was far from the most technically proficient drummer in rock, for me he is the most fun to listen to, with the very different John Bonham a close second. But I better not let Ginger Baker (who is a great drummer of course, but not one of my personal favorites) hear know; I understand he’s taken his walking stick to people for less.

              • woodrowfan

                Keith Moon was wonderful on “Octopuses Garden”!!!


                • Atticus Dogsbody


      • jim, some guy in iowa

        which is kind of poignantly illustrated by the quote from the source “many of Wikileaks’ staff or volunteers suffered at t he hands of Russian corruption and cruelty, and we were sure Wikileaks would release the information”

        • so-in-so

          She got burned by The Intercept rather than Wikileaks, AND they still published what she leaked, but it is similar.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            yeah, I realized my mistaken reference to Reality Winner and (apparently) didn’t edit fast enough

    • Brian J.

      No, as Assange himself has proven. Any such hacktivists are clearly motivated by anti-American sentiment, not “speaking truth to power.”

    • Dalai_Rasta

      I highly recommend the following article about Assange and two other hacktivists by Marcus J. Ranum: https://freethoughtblogs.com/stderr/2017/01/14/fellow-travellers/

  • Mike in DC

    Imagine what might come out of Glenn Greenwald’s emails.

    • Dr. Waffle

      Probably just adoring messages he sends to himself.

      • wjts

        “Dear Intercept,

        “I never thought this would happen to me, but I met the world’s bravest, handsomest, most principled critic of neoliberal imperialism…
        [7500 words omitted]
        “…and when he finished explaining why Hillary Clinton was the greatest threat to life on Earth since the K/T meteorite, he looked out of the mirror and into my eyes and said, ‘I love you almost as much as I hate Hillary Clinton.’

        “Yours in freedom,

        “Glenn Greenwald.”

        “UPDATE: Several unprincipled critics, clinging to their tired tribalistic notions of attractiveness, have taken me to task on Twitter using the empty rhetoric of unthinking nationalism and the mordant cliches of globalism. I offer a point-by-point rebuttal of these vacuous slurs…”

        “UPDATE II: This piece has drawn considerable attention from the usual corners. A common criticism is that it is “narcissistic,” “self-indulugent”, and, in the words of one notable neo-McCarthyite, “creepy as hell”. These empty ad hominem arguments are prototypical examples of why so much that passes for commentary amongst the lickspittles of our courtier class is, in fact, nothing but naked self-justification for their complicity in the worst excesses of the neoliberal security state. Their so-called critiques collapse when subjected to even the most cursory scrutiny – to wit, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pond, not a mirror…”

        • Needs moer updates.

          • wjts


            • UpdateS!!

              A greenwald of updates!

              One update does not a greenwald make!!!

              • wjts

                Stay tuned.

              • A greenwald of updates!

              • wjts

                Happy now?

        • spencer_e9876

          Is “mordant” really a Greenwaldism though? I always associate it more with Somersby.

          • spencer_e9876

            “Usual corners,” however, is spot-on phrasing.

    • Hypersphericalcow

      When Snowden contacted Glenn, Glenn had to spend a couple weeks fucking around with PGP because he didn’t understand how encryption works. I would guess the odds of him getting punked by email pranksters at some point is pretty high.

  • Owlbear1

    Russian Stoolie said, “Nyet”?

    • so-in-so

      At least the leaker didn’t get burned like Ms. Winner.

  • ColBatGuano

    are likely to be considered insignificant.

    Unlike John Podesta’s risotto recipe for instance.

    • woodrowfan

      which was a secret code for child sacrifice at a restaurant or something.. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

  • AlexSaltzberg

    Obviously it’s because the information was obtained via a hack, and not a leak. Wikileaks would never publish material that wasn’t leaked… just look at the name!

    And because no one would ever be leaking pointless information, the fact that they have so many emails from the Clinton campaign just proves that it was hopelessly corrupt!

    • Bizarro Mike

      I think a metadata meta-analysis would show that what you say is absolutely true.

  • JDM

    Kids, I’m starting to wonder about Mr. Hands.

    • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

      The one with the horse?

  • Sly

    And Rohrabacher just visited Assange to see if he was open to a pardon in exchange for information about the hack of the DNC that could be used to exonerate… the Russian government. Because Rohrabacher knows who his paymasters are.

    • bassopotamus

      Can Trump pardon him in Sweden?

      • Richard E Olmstead

        Sweden recently dropped their extradition requests. Assange continues to hide out under the expectation that we will grab him and bring him to the US on charges. Doesn’t seem all that likely under this Admin, frankly.

        • David

          No, they’ll still grab him, because they desperately need to fill those seats Trump has left empty in his administration. Wonder…head of some sort of intelligence agency I’m sure.

    • so-in-so

      Remember when the GOP minority joked about “knowing” Rohrabacher was on Putin’s payroll? Good times!

  • Dr. Waffle

    Anti-establishment politics, as practiced by Assange and Greenwald, is far more pernicious than even the worst strains of “identity politics.”

    • dcavea

      Yeah, as a pretty “anti-establishment” person myself, I would have to agree. I mean, I actually do have any number of objections to what you might call the American establishment or American foreign policy. But if, like Greenwald, you start from the assumption that anyone opposed to it is worth supporting, you are going to wind up defending some pretty awful people.

      • dcavea

        And I would add that what I have said about the establishment here applies equally well to “pro-market” centrism/neoliberalism or whatever you want to call it. I agree that it is inadequate to our national needs, and sometimes deleterious. However, it is light-years better than fascism or the kind of authoritarianism represented by Trump and those around him. Heck, I would even say neo-conservatism of the Jennefer Rubin or Max Boot kind is preferable to Trumpism! It is rather disappointing that quite a few leftists apparently can’t see that.

  • shocking. i’m so shocked.

  • Sentient AI From The Future

    I haven’t dug into this very much, but I did hear a rumor that the “collateral murder” video that brought them so much fame way back when, was encrypted when they received it. Ive always wondered how it was that they were able to decrypt it, if that were the case, since it would likely have used something like triple DES. Not the sort of thing that most shoestring organizations, even ones as laden with old school cypherpunks as the early wikileaks was, could decrypt. Now, if they had the assistance of a nation-state, especially one with a history of competent and efficient spycraft, that would be another thing.

  • Hypersphericalcow

    From everything former Wikileaks members have said, Assange was not a very stable individual to begin with. And he’s now at least half-insane with cabin fever, because he’s spent the last four years locking himself in a closet. Anybody who gives him the time of day should be suspect.

    • Richard E Olmstead

      If you want to understand his behavior one need only tackle the long form:

      • Hypersphericalcow

        That is a fascinating article, thanks.

    • dcavea


      I mean, in addition to having the particular “anyone against America/the American establishment must be good” thing, he also seems to be a tremendously creepy person.

      As I said earlier, I don’t ordinarily root for right-wingers, but part of me was hoping that Lasso won in Ecuador just so Assange would be expelled.

  • Hummus5989

    Is there a term for being surprised and disgusted by someone’s behavior while simultaneously finding it completely in character and totally unsurprising? Because I’ve been having that feeling more and more lately and really would like a word for it.

  • Fortunado

    Does everyone confidently popping off their mouth about Wikileaks know that they’ve partnered with Russian papers in the past to publish Russian documents?

    This page is one of a handful of places I respect and check daily, but that picture is ugly.

    • Hummus5989

      When and on what?

      • Gwai Lo, MD

        I can’t find anything originating from Russia. Interestingly, in 2010 (the year of their reorganization) they had threatened Russia with a leak but, as far as I can tell, it was just US Diplomatic cables that further the narrative of the US as anti-Putin bully. When the Panama Papers, that actually had damaging goods on Russians, were published, WikiLeaks accused it of being a plot.

        Assange is definitely an agent of Russia in that he works toward their interest. The nature and motive of that relationship, I can’t say.

        I LIKE that WikiLeaks revealed difficult truths about our own government, but let’s not pretend it was done in the interest of the USA.

    • Gwai Lo, MD

      Before or after the 2010 restructuring?

    • Guest

      Shouldn’t you be chained up behind a wall in an old Italian crypt?

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