Hillary Clinton has ‘personal’ grudge against Assange says WikiLeaks insider
Hillary Clinton has a personal grudge against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will make his life even more difficult if she is elected US president, one of his closest collaborators said Thursday.
Jacob Appelbaum, the online security expert who helped expose that the US National Security Agency was listening to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, made the claims at the Cannes film festival as “Risk” — a documentary showing Assange’s life holed up inside Ecuadorian embassy in London — was premiered.
“I had a meeting with someone from the then Secretary of State Clinton’s office… a very senior person whose opening line was to remind me that he was a very powerful man,” Appelbaum, a key member of the WikiLeaks team, said.
“He let me know that Clinton did not like Julian and myself… So I think that if Hillary Clinton runs for president she will continue to assert her political will and bitterness about the exposure of diplomatic cables that documented crimes.”
The 2010 leak, which included some unflattering assessments by US embassy staff of leaders around the world, was an immense diplomatic headache for Clinton who then ran the State Department.
Appelbaum said a Clinton presidency was “a very scary prospect, especially if you realise the pressure that has been put on the United Kingdom, Sweden and on other countries (to deliver Assange to the US authorities), he said.
Assange has been living in Ecuador’s embassy in London for nearly four years to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces a rape allegation.
– Disguised –
“It’s a situation that will possibly get worse” if she is elected to the White House, Appelbaum told the audience after “Risk” was screened.
The film’s director Laura Poitras — who won an Oscar for “Citizenfour” about fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — had unprecedented access to Assange over five years, from the aftermath of the diplomatic cables release to the Sweden rape allegations.
She was even in a hotel room with him and his mother as he disguised himself as a red-haired biker — putting in contact lenses to change his eye colour — on the day in June 2012 when the British Supreme Court decided his extradition should go ahead.
A camera mounted on his helmet followed him through the city to the embassy, where has lived since, with police posted outside to arrest him should he leave.
US-born Appelbaum, himself the subject of a grand jury investigation in his homeland, described Assange as a “political prisoner who is being demonised in the press”.
– Lady Gaga visit –
The film also shows pop star Lady Gaga dropping in to break the monotony of Assange’s confinement “without sunlight”.
“This is your room?” the singer asks him at one point in horror. “It’s like you’re in college. Do you never feel like crying?”
“Who gives a damn how I feel,” Assange replies, saying men “lose that (ability to cry) in puberty though they still feel it inside.”
Appelbaum, who has lived in Berlin for the past three years, said the US authorities had tried to detain him several times.
“My friends, my family members and other people I know have been harassed and threatened and in some cases dragged in front of the grand jury and asked to become informants,” he said.
“I’ve had so many encounters with the US government, including in Europe, where they have tried to encourage me to step onto US embassy soil (so they could arrest him). No, I haven’t been home. I live in free Europe instead.”