In an effort to protect the reputation of its founder, online publisher WikiLeaks — purporting to be a bastion of “radical transparency — issued an email to mainstream media networks on Sunday listing 140 “false and defamatory” statements about Julian Assange that should not be published, according to Reuters.
Among the assertions that WikiLeaks labeled “false” or “defamatory” were allegations that Assange had ever been an "agent or officer of any intelligence service” or has close ties to the Kremlin or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"There is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise 'reputable' media outlets," the email read, according to Reuters.
"Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange."
The email, carrying the subject line “Confidential legal communication. Not for publication,” also listed claims “that Assange has poor personal hygiene, has ever neglected an animal and that he bleaches his hair” as false and defamatory.
Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, recently rejected a deal between the U.K. and Ecuador that would have allowed for his release from the embassy on the grounds that he faces extradition to the United States if he leaves.
Assange’s lawyer said that the deal did not protect Assange from being extradited to the U.S., where he has been under investigation for WikiLeaks’ 2010 leaking of classified reports on the war in Afghanistan that were stolen by U.S. Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.