Juan Branco, a member of the WikiLeaks legal defense team, has defended the organisation’s decision to publish the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, arguing that if a traditional media outlet had published the same information it would have not resulted in the same outrage.
“I’m sure if the New York Times had had the same information, and had published the same information as WikiLeaks did on Hillary Clinton, it wouldn’t have got the same reaction and it wouldn’t have got the same attempts to censor it,” he said in a talk on Tuesday at Web Summit in Lisbon.
“WikiLeaks got huge pressure from the political sphere, from the traditional media, to reduce the scope and importance of the revelations, trying to censor WikiLeaks by cutting the Internet connection of Julian Assange, for example.”
Branco rejected suggestions that WikiLeaks had been biased towards Clinton by publishing the emails, saying that if equivalent information had been received about Trump, it too would have been published.
“[Wikileaks] does not perceive it as influencing one side or the other, it perceives it just as doing its job just as the New York Times, the Washington Post would do with the same information. If there were sources with information on Trump, WikiLeaks would have published them,” he said.
“It happens that they didn’t because, for example, Trump wasn’t in the government; Trump apparently doesn’t use email, and I don’t know, maybe he harasses his former employees to make sure there’s no leaks, we don’t know.
“The fact is nothing arrived to the WikiLeaks platform.”
He also argued against suggestions that WikiLeaks’ decision to publish the previous set of leaked Clinton emails, which were made available earlier this year, put lives at risk.
“There was no proof that any actual harm was done to anyone,” he said.
In addition, Branco questioned US government suggestions that the leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails were obtained by a hacker working for the Russian government.
“We’ve seen allegations that the Russian government, through a hacker, hacked the DNC and then found a way to transmit them to WikiLeaks, we haven’t seen any evidence of that,” he said.
“We’ve seen the committee of intelligence of the US making claims about that, especially the Clinton part making claims about it, but we haven’t seen any factual evidence that would prove it.”