Julian Assange had just pulled off one of the biggest scoops in journalistic history, splaying the innards of American diplomacy across the web. But technology firms were cutting ties to his website, WikiLeaks, cable news pundits were calling for his head, and a Swedish sex-crime case was threatening to put him behind bars. Caught in a vise, the Aussie wrote to the Russian Consulate in London. "I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa," said the letter, recently obtained by the AP. The Nov. 30, 2010, missive is part of a trove of tens of thousands of WikiLeaks emails, chat logs, financial records, secretly recorded footage, and other documents leaked to the AP, possibly the biggest leak from the site yet. The files provide both an intimate look at the organization and an early hint of Assange's budding relationship with Moscow.
The ex-hacker's links to the Kremlin would become increasingly salient before the 2016 US presidential election, when the FBI says Russia's military intelligence agency directly supplied WikiLeaks with stolen emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and other Dem figures. Representatives for Assange, who's been barred from internet access at his refuge inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, didn't return repeated messages seeking details about the visa bid. Kristinn Hrafnsson, a sometime-rep for the group, declined to comment, calling the AP's story "rather uninteresting." The Russian Embassy in London said it didn't discuss the personal details of visa applicants. The AP has confirmed the authenticity of many of the documents by running them by five former WikiLeaks associates or by verifying non-public details such as bank accounts, telephone numbers, or airline tickets. Click for much more on the visa tale.
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