WikiLeaks threatens to sue CNN after unsubstantiated ‘paedophile’ slur is repeated on air

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 10:40pm

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Wednesday threatened to sue CNN over unsubstantiated allegations that its founder is a paedophile, an accusation that a former CIA deputy director repeated on air.

“We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation,” WikiLeaks said in a tweet, unless the Atlanta-based network airs within 48 hours “a one-hour expose of the plot”.

Former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Mudd, appearing on CNN’s New Day program, called WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange “a paedophile who lives in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.”

Within hours, CNN’s New Day Twitter account carried a statement saying that Mudd regretted the remark and that the network “has no evidence to support that assertion.”

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“Assange is currently wanted for extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations there, and no evidence suggests that the women involved were minors. We regret the error,” the statement said.

Mudd did not immediately respond to written messages.

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London’s Knightsbridge district in 2012 and has remained there since. He offered a statement to Swedish prosecutors in November about the alleged incident but has refused to leave the embassy, fearful that British or Swedish authorities would hand him off to US prosecutors to stand trial on espionage charges.