Wikileaks journalist Sarah Harrison denies organisation set out to sabotage Hillary Clinton campaign

Sean Duffy

Published 15/11/2016 | 17:41

Hillary Clinton, inset Sarah Harrison
Hillary Clinton, inset Sarah Harrison

Wikileaks journalist Sarah Harrison has insisted the organisation did not set out to sabotage the campaign of Hillary Clinton in the recent US election.

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Speaking at Dublin Info Sec 2016, Ms Harrison said that Wikileaks was merely releasing the material it had received anonymously, and that the group had not favoured either candidate.

Wikileaks has come in for widespread criticism following Hillary Clinton's shock defeat to Donald Trump in the US election earlier this month. 

In a robust one-to-one interview with INM Group Business Editor Dearbhail McDonald, Ms Harrison denied  the timing of Wikileaks' releases were beneficial  to or "in-sync" with the campaign of Donald Trump.

"Our goal for all of our work and for our publications is to inform the public and to allow them to access source documents not through any media gatekeepers. While we have worked with mainstream media to contexualise, we have and always will continue to publish the original source documents. It was our goal to inform the electorate. We only published what we actually received."

Emails published by Wikileaks in the weeks before the election became the subject of an FBI investigation just days before polling day, which is thought to have done critical damage to Ms Clinton's chances.

"In this particular context,  it is reported that the releases had the biggest impact on the decline on Hillary Clinton's campaign. We released the emails  and the American voters made their choice."

Ms Harrison said that while Wikileaks was not intent on ruining Ms Clinton's run for the presidency, founder Julian Assange had tweeted about specific aspects of the campaign, " We didn't take an editorial decision to support a particular candidate unlike other major news outlets."

"We always publicise our leaks, so we did send out a number of tweets that could be construed as anti-Clinton, but 90pc of the time they were just copy and paste from headlines from the mainstream media."

"We are set up with an anonymous submissions system. We don't want to know where our sources are coming from and we don't want to know, to protect them and to protect them and ourselves. "

Ms Harrison  also claimed that Wikileaks had no ethical questions to answer on the timing of the releases during the campaign, saying the publications were in line with the group's stated aim of informing the public.

"We didn't take a clear side unlike other media organisations. It didn't affect our publishing," she said.

Ms Harrison defended Wikileaks' track record on media ethics and claimed that the group was not responsible for the actions of individual hackers.

She said it was not Wikileaks responsibility to identify ulterior motives for the hacking and release of particular information, even if that information's dissemination had the capacity to influence the result of a major election. 

"The potential for harm in what is released has been spun in a way that has made it look like there has been wrongdoing on our part," she said.

Ms Harrison went on to criticise mainstream media outlets such as The Guardian and the New York Times for their handling of the 2010 Wikileaks cables.

"The Guardian were using unencrypted emails to talk about the cables with the New York Times. The New York Times had used particularly skewed reporting the Iraq war logs and they weren't reporting the hardest hitting headlines about what was contained in the documents."

She denied that this amounted to Wikileaks editorialising, despite the fact that the group had cut ties with major news outlets when Assange became unhappy with the thrust of the reportage.