Sarah Palin on Thursday expressed her appreciation for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, notwithstanding his website releasing the Republican politician’s personal emails nearly a decade earlier during her failed campaign for vice president.
The former Alaska governor praised Mr. Assange during an interview with One America News, a right-leaning cable network, reversing course after harshly condemning WikiLeaks over its past publications.
“We do have a little bit of history,” Mrs. Palin said with respect to the WikiLeaks chief. “He leaked or published somehow my private emails, and I was so ticked off at him and I thought he was just such a foe — until I started figuring out where he was headed.”
Mr. Assange, Mrs. Palin added, “is trying to provide people with information so that we can make better decisions for our own lives, for our communities, for our country [and] for the world.”
“I’ve been able to really appreciate him more,” Mrs. Palin continued. “I appreciate that he’s all about freedom. He wants people to have information. And that’s power. We need that.”
WikiLeaks subsequently shared video of the interview through its Twitter account in a tweet that said it applauded Mrs. Palin’s “[i]mpressive stand” given its past publication of her personal emails.
Mrs. Palin hasn’t always been a fan of WikiLeaks, however, and she repeatedly condemned the transparency organization in the past over its publication of sensitive data ranging from her personal emails in 2008, to classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
When WikiLeaks publisher the contents of Mrs. Palin’s hacked Yahoo email account, for example, the manager of her vice presidential campaign called the release “a shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law.” Two years later, meanwhile, Mrs. Palin herself labeled Mr. Assange “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” in response to WikiLeaks’ publication of State and Defense Department documents.
“Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?” Mrs. Palin asked in 2010.
She adjusted her stance more recently, however, and apologized to Mr. Assange after his website published documents in 2016 stolen from the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
“This important information that finally opened people’s eyes to Democrat candidates and operatives would not have been exposed were it not for Julian Assange,” Mrs. Palin said in 2017.
The Department of Justice first confirmed the existence of an investigation into Mr. Assange in 2010, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that arresting the WikiLeaks chief is a “priority.”
Mr. Assange, 46, entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012, was granted asylum that summer and has resided inside ever since. He previously said he fears he’ll be arrested if he exits the building and extradited to the U.S. to be charged in connection with WikiLeaks.
David Kernell, a hacker accused of breaching Mrs. Palin’s email account, was ultimately convicted in federal court and received a 366-day prison sentence in 2010. He died earlier this year from complications related to progressive multiple sclerosis at the age of 30.