WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange declined to publish thousands of Russian government documents in 2016, according to a report Thursday.
The organization, which brands itself specializing in "censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption," declined Russian government data that would have amounted to thousands of pages. That decision coincided with the rolling publication of documents stolen from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign, an operation that U.S. officials say the group conducted in coordination with Russian intelligence services.
"Assange gave excuse after excuse [for declining the documents]," a source told Foreign Policy.
WikiLeaks has been lauded for publishing troves of U.S. government information, ranging from diplomatic cables to apparent CIA cyber-weapons. Most dramatically, they published documents taken from the Democratic National Committee and the private email of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta throughout the fall election. That campaign caused even some previous supporters to regard the group in a sinister light.
"It's time to call out Wikileaks for what it really is: a non-state, hostile intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia," CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former Republican lawmaker tapped by President Trump to lead the agency, said in April.
WikiLeaks denied sheltering the Russian government. "WikiLeaks rejects all submissions that it cannot verify," the group told Foreign Policy. "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."
But the report says that "less than half" of the documents offered, totaling about 68 gigabytes of data, had been published when WikiLeaks refused them, buttressing Pompeo's case against the organization. "They do not care about the causes of the people they claim to represent," he said. "If they did, they would focus instead on autocratic regimes in this world that actually suppress free speech and dissent. Instead, they choose to exploit the legitimate secrets of democratic governments, which has — so far — proven to be a much safer approach than provoking a tyrant."