Secrets outlet WikiLeaks was on the defensive Tuesday after a British publication claimed that founder Julian Assange had complained of a “Jewish conspiracy” to smear his organization.
That claim, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop recalled, came directly from a phone call with Assange himself — and the allegation’s level of specifity was seemingly enough to trigger a lengthy response from the site.
In the latest issue of British current affairs magazine Private Eye, editor Ian Hislop details a Feb. 16 call from the WikiLeaks founder. Assange had phoned to complain about a report in the previous month’s magazine that claimed that a WikiLeaks associate in Russia, Israel Shamir, was a Holocaust denier.
He allegedly called the report “crap,” but admitted that he had not read it.
“The piece was an obvious attempt to deprive him and his organization of Jewish support and donations, he said angrily, and he knew perfectly well who had written it,” Hislop recalled.
Assange went on to say that the British newspaper The Guardian was orchestrating a conspiracy against his organization. He specifically called out “journalist David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger and John Kampfner… all of whom ‘are Jewish.'”
Hislop claimed he then explained to Assange that Rusbridger was, in fact, not Jewish.
“When I doubted that the Jewish conspiracy would stand up to the facts, Assange suddenly conceded the point,” Hislop added.
“Forget the Jewish thing,” Assange reportedly said.
In a statement issued via Twitter Tuesday, WikiLeaks denied Hislop’s claims.
“Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase,” he said. “In particular, ‘Jewish conspiracy’ is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting. Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, perhaps not surprisingly, to justify one smear with another in the same direction.”
“That he has a reputation for this, and is famed to have received more libel suits in the UK than any other journalist as a result, does not mean that it is right.”
“Because WikiLeaks has some Jewish staff and enjoys wide spread Jewish support, its staff have frequently been smeared by its opponents, political or competitive, as being agents of the Mossad or of George Soros. These smears are completely false,” the statement added.