As we head into Donald Trump's third week in charge of the Oval office, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly opened up about his views on the 2016 presidential election, WikiLeaks' role in Hillary Clinton's defeat, and the Trump administration.
Assange spoke to Santiago O'Donnell from the Buenos Aires-based newspaper Página/12, from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, reports the International Business Times.
Assange, in his interview, spoke about Trump: ""The fact that he is a misogynist and a racist we have all seen. He has exhibited such behaviour. How much of that was sincere and how much was it to ingratiate itself with the white Republican base I do not know."
Assange likened Barack Obama and his administration to a "wolf in sheepskin", adding that Trump and his administration, in comparison, are a "wolf in wolf's skin". He said: "It is easier to deal with a wolf that is not disguised."
When asked about Trump's immigration ban and plans to build a wall at the Mexican border, Assange responded: "The wall already exists. Where there is no constructed wall, there are natural boundaries, such as deserts or rivers."
Assange said Trump's wall has a "symbolic meaning" but is not practical. "But if Latin America perceives that the United States is rejecting the region, the consequence will be that Latin America will reject the United States," he added.
WikiLeaks' role in the US presidential election
Assange has previously reiterated that WikiLeaks' publication of the Clinton documents was not intended to favour Trump and that its source of the damning materials was not Russia. It is a stance that the whistleblower continues to maintain, despite numerous allegations.
He said: "We did not publish it to favour Trump. We publish it for our own reasons. Look at it from WikiLeaks' perspective. If we have access to important information to understand how the Clinton network operates in Washington and within the Democratic Party, it is because we have assured our sources that we will publish that information in the most appropriate manner and in the context in which it may have the greatest impact. We thought we were sacrificing. I did not think the establishment was going to let Trump win."
Assange also claimed that WikiLeaks would continue publishing material pertaining to the US government, regardless of which administration remains in power.
Assange indicated that WikiLeaks' publication during the election may have disrupted Clinton's "intricate network" in Washington.
He said: "The destruction or marginalisation of the Clinton network in Washington can be seen in the sharp fall of large donations to the Clinton Foundation and the closure of the Clinton Global Initiative. It was a network of influential traffic in which Hillary Clinton was the one that trafficked while Bill Clinton ruled in the White House."
When asked about his offer to give himself up to the US government, in exchange for Chelsea Manning's freedom, Assange indicated that he stood by his previous statement. He claimed that he would deliver on his offer if the US government respected his rights.
He claimed that he wanted to "start a dialogue with the Department of Justice" and that they would "continue negotiations" once Jeff Sessions takes office. He added it was now the US government's turn to make a move.
"We believe that they should close the case against WikiLeaks, which threatens the freedom of the press. As it is being prepared, the WikiLeaks trial would be in Alexandria, Virgina, where there is the largest concentration of CIA contractors nationwide and these would form the potential jurors. There are still things to talk about," he said.