Julian Assange has responded to CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s Thursday slam of his award-winning media outlet WikiLeaks as a “hostile non-state intelligence service” by suggesting that perhaps the foreign espionage agency should concentrate on China, North Korea or extremist militants instead of threatening the First Amendment.

“Director Pompeo’s statement sought not only to threaten Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks, but to definitively subvert the First Amendment and fundamental notions that are intrinsic to American democracy,” WikiLeaks said in a tweeted statement with founder Julian Assange’s name at the bottom. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting free speech and the press; it is not only a fight for the publisher.”

Pompeo, who had cited WikiLeaks documents during the campaign as “proof” that the Democratic National Committee favored pre-selected candidates, made a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Thursday that criticized the organization at length.

Pompeo said the intelligence community determined that Russian military intelligence used WikiLeaks to release data of U.S. victims obtained through cyber operations against the DNC and that Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet,” the Russian government-funded RT television network, “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks.

The DNC hack in 2016 exposed thousands of emails of top Democratic Party and campaign officials, possibly contributing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss in the presidential race. Pompeo also said the CIA finds the “celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling.”

Pompeo made the comments — significant because President Trump has praised WikiLeaks for its DNC revelations and has been slow to criticize the Russian government — at his first major public appearance since taking the helm at the CIA. The House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


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