Julian Assange’s claims that UK press interests are out to smear his whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks via a Jewish-led conspiracy against him have in their turn been leaked in an ironic twist of fate which could seriously damage his reputation.
Ian Heslop, editor of the satirical British current affairs bi-weekly Private Eye, has published an article about a phone conversation he had with Assange on 16 February in which Assange complained about an article concerning the Russian antisemitic holocaust-denier and WikiLeaks collaborator Israel Shamir.
The Guardian reports Hislop's article, saying that during the conversation Assange declared that Private Eye should be ashamed for taking part in what he called an international conspiracy to smear WikiLeaks, claiming that the campaign was aimed at depriving him of funding and support from Jewish sources. Hislop also asserts that the journalist Assange claimed had written the article had not in fact done so.
Assange apparently went on to say that Private Eye was "part of a conspiracy led by The Guardian which included journalist David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger and John Kampfner from Index on Censorship – all of whom 'are Jewish." After being informed that Rushbridger is not Jewish Assange replied that he was "sort of Jewish" because he is related to Leigh, who is. He then asked Hislop to "forget the Jewish thing."
After Hislop published details of the conversation, which is available in the print version only, Assange denied that he had said that, claiming that to say that he had alleged a "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."
I phoned Private Eye today and was not surprisingly told that their phone lines have been busy ever since the story was published. The magazine stands by its story and expresses surprise that Assange would have the effrontery to challenge Hislop's version of their conversation, adding that other staff members were present during it and had heard it.
All this of course is, for now, a question of he-said she-said. But so are Assange's "honey-trap" declarations concerning what went on between him and the two women who have accused him of sexual assault in Sweden.
Julian Assange's latest media foray has put himself in the same unenviable position as those two women, except that he is accused of declaring that a Jewish conspiracy has been mounted against him by the press.
And, like those two women, he cannot prove that he didn't, but the damage has already been done.
Oh the irony.
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