Here are 140 things WikiLeaks doesn’t want journalists to say about Julian Assange

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WikiLeaks detailed 140 ‘defamations’ reporters are advised to avoid publishing.

On Monday, transparency activist Emma Best published the full “confidential legal communication” sent by WikiLeaks to journalists the day prior, which warned them not to repeat any “inaccurate and defamatory claims” about the organization or its founder Julian Assange.

Existence of the 5,000-word email, which lists 140 “defamations” with citations, was first reported on Sunday by Reuters. The transparency organization had explicitly asked reporters not to publish the email sent to them.

As the story broke on Sunday, Best tweeted an appeal for a copy of the email, which she subsequently attained and published.

https://twitter.com/NatSecGeek/status/1082276685196742656

Although it is uncertain what provoked the email, WikiLeaks criticizes a “climate of falsehood” that it says has emerged since Assange had his internet access cut off by the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has resided in asylum since 2012, and which climaxed in the publication of a highly questionable story by the Guardian late November.

Among the 140 detailed “defamations,” which reporters are advised to avoid publishing, are assertions that Assange has ever been affiliated with an intelligence agency or that he has ever been affiliated with the Russian government.

Other “inaccuracies” flagged include observations about Assange being a hacker, unhygienic, that he smells, or has “tortured” animals. It even included a line decrying reporters from talking about how Julian Assange “lives under the stairs,” a reference to a Twitter bit that went viral. 

As researchers combed through the email, WikiLeaks quickly came under fire for misgendering whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

After Best’s leak of “version 1.2” of the defamation list, the organization responded on its official Twitter page by publishing a different version of the list, updated with several retractions and deletions.

The deletions included the removal of the listed “inaccuracy” that Assange “lives under the stairs” or in a basement. Manning’s misgendering, however, has not been amended.

The list also riled up #Resistance bros Ed and Brian Krassenstein, who immediately circulated the version of the list tweeted by WikiLeaks. The bros touted it as an “anonymous” leak of all 140 “defamations,” despite it being the reduced version endorsed publicly by the organization.

https://twitter.com/NatSecGeek/status/1082307707028287490

Read the defamation list in full here on Best’s website and compare it with WikiLeaks v1.3 here.

David Gilmour

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.