Julian Assange Stockholm August 2010 AP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2010. Photo by AP
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British magazine Private Eye reported in its latest edition that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed a Jewish conspiracy was attempting to discredit the organization. Assange denied the report, accusing Private Eye editor Ian Hislop of manufacturing comments attributed to him.

Private Eye published a report saying that one of Assange’s associates in Russia, Israel Shamir, was a Holocaust denier. In response, the magazine reported, the WikiLeaks founder claimed there was a campaign by Jewish journalists in Britain to discredit the organization.

"Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase,” Assange said in a statement released by WikiLeaks on March 1, apparently referring to a February 16 telephone conversation between the two. “In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting.”

“We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff,” Assange said in the statement, “just as we treasure the support from pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world."

WikiLeaks also posted comments on its Twitter feed rejecting the claim. The organization said that rather, it was the target of accusations of being part of a Jewish conspiracy.

“Because WikiLeaks has some Jewish staff and enjoys wide spread Jewish support, its staff have frequently been smeared by its opponents, political or competitive, as being agents of the Mossad or of George Soros. These smears are completely false.”

WikiLeaks has accused Private Eye of declining to publish a statement it provided to the magazine, in which it denies that Assange and Shamir had a close association.

“It is false that Shamir is 'an Assange intimate'. He interviewed Assange (on behalf of Russian media), as have many journalists,” WikiLeaks says in the statement it said was given to Private Eye. The magazine said Wednesday that it had requested a response from Assange on February 16, and that the statement had only arrived on March 1 - a day after the magazine went to print.

According to the New York Times, the Private Eye article quotes Assange as saying the Jewish conspiracy was headed by British newspaper The Guardian, and involved Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and journalist David Leigh.

The Times says that when Hislop pointed out that Rusbridger is not Jewish, Assange replied he was “sort of Jewish” as his sister is married to Leigh, who is Jewish. The Times quotes Private Eye as saying that Assange later asked Hislop to “forget the Jewish thing,” but maintained that there was a conspiracy against WikiLeaks based on the friendship between Rusbridger, Leigh and fellow British journalist John Kampfner.

According to a report by Yossi Melman in Haaretz on February 20, 2011, “Guardian reporters were astonished to find that Assange appointed Israel Shamir, a Russian-Israeli anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, as his representative in Moscow and transferred about 2,000 euros to Shamir's bank account in Latvia.”

WikiLeaks has accused The Guardian of breaking a confidentiality agreement between the two organizations. Specifically, WikiLeaks takes aim at David Leigh, saying in the March 1 statement that Leigh “deliberately, and secretly, broke an agreement signed by the Guardian's editor-in-chief stating that 1. the Guardian was not to publish WikiLeaks cables 2. the Guardian was to keep them confidential. 3. the Guardian was to not store them on an internet connected computer system.”