- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2019

WikiLeaks claimed vindication following the release Thursday of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

“WikiLeaks has always been confident that this investigation would vindicate our groundbreaking publishing of the 2016 materials which it has,” Wikileaks said on Twitter.

Released roughly two hours earlier, Mr. Mueller’s redacted report summarized the special counsel’s 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, including the publication by WikiLeaks during the race of documents damaging to the campaign of then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Hackers acting on behalf of Russian military intelligence hacked the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman to obtain emails later put online by WikiLeaks, the special counsel determined.

“Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy,” Attorney General William P. Barr said during a press conference addressing the report.

WikiLeaks claimed vindication a week to the day since Julian Assange, the website’s co-founder and publisher, was booted after seven years from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and arrested at the request of U.S. authorities.

The Department of Justice has since unsealed a criminal complaint charging Mr. Assange, a 47-year-old Australian native, with conspiring to commit computer hacking years earlier. He is accused of attempting in 2010 to help former Army analyst Chelsea Manning bypass a password that safeguarded Department of Defense data.

Manning, 31, was convicted of related crimes in 2013 and served seven years of a 35-year sentence. She was found in contempt last month after refusing to testify about WikiLeaks in front of federal prosecutors and has been back behind bars since March 8.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied Moscow was responsible for the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks, and Mr. Assange has insisted his source was not a state actor.

Mr. Mueller’s investigation uncovered several connections between WikiLeaks and President Trump’s election campaign, but Mr. Barr said that none of them constituted illegal conduct on the latter’s behalf.

Rick Gates, a former aide to the Trump campaign convicted of crimes as a result of the special counsel’s probe, told Mr. Mueller’s office that “by the late summer of 2016, the Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications strategy, a communications campaign and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks,” according to the report.

“The investigation also established that the Trump Campaign displayed interest in the WikiLeaks releases and that …,” reads another portion of the report that is otherwise unreadable due to redactions.

“We disapprove of the large redactions which permit conspiracy theories to abound,” WikiLeaks tweeted. “Full transparency please.”

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