Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, defended the site’s decision to publish internal emails from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Tuesday.
In a statement, Assange said that U.S. citizens are “better informed” thanks to the site’s work and that “our organization defends the public’s right to be informed.”
“That is why, irrespective of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the real victor is the U.S. public, which is better informed as a result of our efforts,” he said.
Releasing the documents is “perfectly harmonious” with the First Amendment, adding that they “publish material given to us if it is of political, diplomatic, historical, or ethical importance and which has not been published elsewhere.”
The site published emails relating to the Democratic National Convention and the Clinton Foundation because it would have been “unconscionable” to withhold those documents from the public.
The website has never received any material related to Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump, or from the campaigns of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, said Assange.
“We cannot publish what we do not have,” Assange said. “To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favor one of the candidates above the public’s right to know.”
WikiLeaks has published thousands of emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, in 35 separate batches. The emails have exposed transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches, concerns from her staff about her private email server, and discussion about conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, according to the Washington Examiner.
Assange rejected claims that Russia was behind the website’s acquisition of the leaked emails and that some emails had been doctored.
The site’s critics “seek to inhibit public understanding perhaps because it is embarrassing to them,” he said.
If WikiLeaks reacted to every criticism of the site’s authenticity, “we would have to divert resources from our primary work,” Assange added, and stressed the site’s continuing commitment to informing the public.
“WikiLeaks remains committed to publishing information that informs the public, even if many, especially those in power, would prefer not to see it,” he said.
The journalist resides in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has sought asylum from rape charges in Sweden. He says the allegations are politically motivated, according to the Examiner.