Links tweeted recently by Wikileaks have undermined the ‘Russian hacking’ narrative. The documents show Guccifer2.0 pivoting away from earlier claims that he was the source of the DNC leaks, in attempt to pre-emptively smear murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich’s reputation by associating him with ‘Russian hackers’ just after Julian Assange had implied that Seth Rich was Wikileaks’ source. These developments suggest the Russian hacking narrative is deeply flawed, while implying Seth Rich was Wikileaks’ whistleblower he probably had nothing to do with  Guccifer2.0, who was portraying himself as a middleman only to smear Rich’s reputation.

The intelligence community and media have widely reported “Russian hackers” were responsible for the DNC leak, pushing claims that Russia attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. Wikileaks’ tweet linking Adam Carter’s documents as well as messages between Guccifer2.0 and actress Robin Young show Guccifer2.0 contradicting this narrative. Guccifer2.0 previously claimed to be the source of the DNC email; however his communications with Young state that Seth Rich was his source, associating Rich with Russian hackers and stating Rich was “assassinated.”

This appears to have been part of an attempt to counter fallout from increasing speculation in August 2016 that Rich was murdered for leaking the DNC emails to Wikileaks, according to Adam Carter.  Guccifer2.0 was then a setup, first claiming to have hacked the DNC and then pretending that Seth Rich used him as a middle man. This turn-around from his initial standpoint suggests Rich was likely the whistleblower for Wikileaks but that Guccifer2.0 was not a go between, with Guccifer2.0’s claims instead discrediting Rich if Wikileaks confirmed he was their source.

Seth Rich was killed in July 2016, in what police have called a robbery attempt. Rich’s wallet, watch, and cash were found with him, however, weakening the assertion that he died during a robbery. The Daily News reported that “D.C. police have found little information to explain his death. At this time, there are no suspects, no motive and no witnesses in Rich’s murder.”
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Seth Rich was murdered just under a month after Wikileaks editor Julian Assange announced leaks would be published regarding the DNC.  Although Wikileaks has remained officially silent in regards to all of its sources, they offered a $20,000 reward for information regarding Seth Rich’s murder in August. Statements made by Julian Assange in the same month increased speculation suggesting Rich was the Wikileaks source.

In August 2016, Assange stated that whistle-blowers go to significant efforts to get Wikileaks material and often very significant risks, and that a “27-year-old,” who worked for the DNC was shot in the back a few weeks prior for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.

tweeted by Wikileaks yesterday suggest personal messages between actress Robin Young and Guciffer2.0 were part of a complex “deception campaign” designed to protect the DNC while diverting blame towards Russia, after having first characterizing Guccifer2.0 as the hacker responsible for them. Guccifer utterly contradicted his first stance in his messages to Robin Young, attempting to associate Seth Rich with Russian hackers. This appears to have been a pre-emptive measure against the murdered DNC staffer’s reputation in case he was confirmed to have been Wikileaks’ source.

Guccifer called Rich his “whistleblower,” referring to Rich’s murder as an “assassination,” after mentioning Russian hackers. Adam Carter, publisher of the documents in relation to the incident stated: “By 25th of August 2016, It was already thought by many that Seth was the leaker. – What the DMs do show… is that Guccifer 2.0 (an entity that had already purposefully generated narratives linking itself to Russian hackers) was trying to attribute itself to Seth Rich.” The fact that Guccifer2.0 would pivot to an attempt to discredit Rich after his death indicates the likelihood that Seth Rich was the Wikileaks source.

The article states: “Guccifer 2.0 was under the impression it had successfully attributed itself to Russian hackers …  So, by attributing itself to Seth, it was preemptively discrediting Seth (tying him to a supposed “Russian hacker”) before there was a chance for anyone to discover or disclose him as being a source of DNC emails.”

Wikileaks tweeted links to statements which established that Julian Assange has stated numerous times that the emails were leaked, rather than hacked, in persistent contradiction with Guccifer2.0’s claims, and that there is still nothing independently verifying Guccifer2.0’s assertions. They further noted that Guccifer2.0 created a false ‘Russian fingerprint’ via decisions including the use of a Russian VPN. This false trail was then used to attribute the leaks to Russia, characterized as a hack by an outside entity rather than a leak. The documents explain:

“Guccifer2.0 covered himself and the files in the digital equivalent of “Made In Russia” labels while claiming to be a Romanian.” The documents state: “Nothing showing he [Guccifer2.0] was Wikileaks source. Nothing showing he actually hacked into the DNC beyond the fact he had acquired some DNC/DCCC documents. (In fact, there was a fair bit to contradict his claims there thanks to ThreatConnect discrediting his breach claims, showing he was unduly trying to be attributed to the malware discoveries!)”

Adam Carter also stated:”Data found deeper in files now also demonstrates there was a misdirection effort, that, in its larger scope – seems to have been intended to discredit leaks by having leaks blamed on Russian hackers.” The allegations indicate Guccifer2.0 intentionally misrepresented himself and the DNC leaks as Russian in order to discredit Wikileaks’ release of the emails, and to help create a narrative which implied Russian interference with the election. One of Carter’s tweets states:

Statements by Wikileaks and Carter also contradict conclusions made by U.S. intelligence agencies who relied solely on studies conducted by security firm CrowdstrikeDisobedient Media has previously reported that Crowdstrike has falsified evidence of “Russian hacking” and has ties to George Soros through the Atlantic Council. The press has widely reported the FBI was ‘not allowed’ to view the hacked Servers, solely relying on Crowdstrike’s assessment. Wired reported: “DNC told Buzzfeed on Wednesday that neither the FBI nor any other intelligence agency ever did an independent assessment of the organization’s breached servers. Instead, they alleged, the FBI relied exclusively on information from private digital forensics company Crowdstrike.” An intelligence official also reportedly told Buzzfeed: “Crowdstrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate.” 

Reports tweeted by Wikileaks allege Guccifer2.0 was intentionally characterizing themselves as Russian using multiple methods, including a Russian VPN. If true, Crowdstrike’s conclusion that the DNC was hacked by Russia in an attempt to influence the U.S. Presidential election were fundamentally incorrect. The widely reported Russian hacking narrative would appear to have been part of a dangerous disinformation campaign attributing the work of an American whistleblower to a foreign state.  The Adam Carter report noted that Guccifer2.0 may have been working for Clinton based on the consistent negative outcomes that resulted from his actions, the discrepancy between his stated and actual intent and the near-zero impact his leaks had on the Clinton camp.

The revelations continue to undermine general claims of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and show further evidence of Democratic attempts to reinforce such a narrative as they prepare their approach to the 2018 midterm elections.