CNN has issued an apology and retraction after one of its analysts baselessly accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of being a pedophile.
The comment came last week when ex-CIA Deputy Director Phil Mudd said on CNN that “there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London” a clear reference to Assange, who has been living in the embassy for more than 4 years.
According to McClatchyDC, the accusation comes from a dating website known as toddandclare.com, which allegedly sprung a plot against Assange as he was public enemy number one with the 2016 Clinton campaign.
And they’ve done it at a time when WikiLeaks has become a routine target of Democratic politicians who portray Assange as a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his reported efforts to disrupt the U.S. election.
One part of toddandclare’s two-pronged campaign put a megaphone to unproven charges that Assange made contact with a young Canadian girl in the Bahamas through the internet with the intention of molesting her. The second part sought to entangle him in a plan to receive $1 million from the Russian government.
Due to this, Wikileaks made a threat via Twitter to sue CNN for the comment unless “within 48 hours they air a one hour expose of the plot.”
We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation:https://t.co/YLfyQ9ROCy
Unless within 48h they air a one hour expose of the plot.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 4, 2017
In reaction, CNN deleted the tweet containing the video, and posted an apology from the New Day Twitter account.
We’ve deleted a tweet that included a video clip from New Day earlier this morning. Here’s our statement: pic.twitter.com/qJqTtzy69T
— New Day (@NewDay) January 4, 2017
If they hoped this apology would appease Wikileaks, however, CNN was sadly mistaken. Coming back with a response, a Wikileaks secondary Twitter account called the Wikileaks Task force posted that CNN made the apology, but in retracting the allegation of pedophilia made “another two.”
CNN retracts Assange ‘paedophile’ defamation.
— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) January 4, 2017
The account also makes reference to the website, justice4assange.com, where questions about Assange’s dealings with the two Swedish women accusing him of sexual assault are answered, and asserts that the accusations weren’t even made by the two women.