WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he was sure that the Russian government was not the source of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman John Podesta.
But Assange's own website seems to disprove his assertion.
See more on Julian Assange:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds a banner outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he marks three years since Assange claimed asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2015. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange clocks up three years inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London today, after claiming that Swedish prosecutors cancelled a landmark meeting in his case earlier this week. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds banners outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he marks three years since Assange claimed asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2015. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange clocks up three years inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London today, after claiming that Swedish prosecutors cancelled a landmark meeting in his case earlier this week.
AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Julian Assange, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks speaks via video link during a press conference on the occasion of the ten year anniversary celebration of WikiLeaks in Berlin, Germany, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears on screen via video link during his participation as a guest panelist in an International Seminar on the 60th anniversary of the college of Journalists of Chile in Santiago, Chile, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
File photo dated 05/02/16 of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who will publish more confidential documents on the US Central Intelligence Agency once a "key attack code" has been disarmed, he has revealed.
File photo dated 5/2/2016 of Julian Assange who has defended the release of emails by WikiLeaks about US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been living for more than three years after the country granted him political asylum.
BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 4: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the secrecy-spilling group in Berlin, Germany on October 4, 2016.
(Photo by Maurizio Gambarini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet presents in Quito, Ecuador, on June 23, 2016 the Ecuador 's book " When Google found Wikileaks". Julian Assange made his appearance to the world in 2010 with the publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of secret documents revealing conspiracies , corruption, crimes , lies, and incriminate several governments and particularly the United States as the main actor illegalities. (Photo by Rafael Rodrï¿½uez/ACGPHOTO/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy where he continues to seek asylum following an extradition request from Sweden in 2012, on February 5, 2016 in London, England. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has insisted that Mr Assange's detention should be brought to an end. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: A panel of WikiLeaks representitives and press look on as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at a press conference at the Frontline Club via video link from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 5 February 2016 in London, England. Mr Assange's speech comes a day after it was announced that the UN panel ruled he was being unlawfully detained at the Ecuadorian Embassy. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Australian founder of whistleblowing website, 'WikiLeaks', Julian Assange speaks to media after giving a press conference in London on July 26, 2010. The founder of a website which published tens of thousands of leaked military files about the war in Afghanistan said Monday they showed that the 'course of the war needs to change'. In all, some 92,000 documents dating back to 2004 were released by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks to the New York Times, Britain's Guardian newspaper, and Germany's Der Spiegel news weekly. Assange also used a press conference in London to dismiss the White House's furious reaction to the disclosures. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Wikileaks founder Julian Assange poses during a portrait shoot on May 21, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Chew/Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
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"We can say, we have said, repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party," Assange said, in response to Hannity asking whether he could tell the American people "1,000 percent" that the emails did not come from Russia.
On its face, Assange's claim that the emails were not from a state party could check out. For example, a criminal organization in possession of the documents (that were, theoretically, given to them by a state) could still leak that information to WikiLeaks, which would give Assange plausible deniability.
But WikiLeaks prides itself on anonymity for its sources. How does Assange even know anything about the source of the emails, let alone be absolutely certain they did not come from Russia?
It's an interesting question, considering what it says on WikiLeaks' own about page:
"Like other media outlets conducting investigative journalism, we accept (but do not solicit) anonymous sources of information. Unlike other outlets, we provide a high security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies. This provides maximum protection to our sources."
WikiLeaks' anonymous drop box can only be accessed through the encrypted Tor browser, which hides a user's IP address. This is what it looks like:
Carl Court/Getty Images
The interface claims that it encrypts the files that are uploaded immediately. Further, WikiLeaks' "About" page says that "we can not provide details about the security of our media organization or its anonymous drop box for sources because to do so would help those who would like to compromise the security of our organisation and its sources."
"What we can say is that we operate a number of servers across multiple international jurisdictions and we we do not keep logs. Hence these logs can not be seized. Anonymization occurs early in the WikiLeaks network, long before information passes to our web servers. Without specialized global internet traffic analysis, multiple parts of our organisation must conspire with each other to strip submitters of their anonymity."
In other words, the site's anonymous drop box keeps no record of who submits documents, does not offer or require any identifying information, and there is no single WikiLeaks employee with the power to unmask an anonymous source.
At least, that's what WikiLeaks claims.
There are other avenues through which the emails could have made their way to WikiLeaks; an insider could have brought it to their offices, for example, or mailed it. But documents brought in person or mailed by an insider don't really line up with how the hack was carried out — a large-scale phishing campaign against nearly 2,000 accounts, most of which were Western military and government officials, journalists critical of Russia, and businesses with Russian ties.
And why would anyone with such a rich cache of electronic documents decide to mail them, or out themselves in person — in lieu of just using WikiLeaks "high-security anonymous drop box" to protect their documents and themselves, while transferring the files in mere minutes?
The US intelligence community has its own sources and methods to conclude that the most likely culprit is Russia, and it plans to release a report of its findings next week. But Assange has nothing of the sort. He just has an anonymous drop box.
Or, that drop box may not be anonymous after all.
Genuine question: @wikileaks is engineered for mutual anonymity. Even if source IDs himself, how could WL know he isn’t laundering RU docs?