WikiLeaks' Assange signals release of documents before US election

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Britain on February 5, 2016.

BERLIN – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Tuesday the organisation would publish around one million documents related to the US election and three governments, but denied the release was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.

He said the documents would be released before the end of the year, starting with an initial batch in the coming week.

He criticised Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, for demonising the group's work after a spate of releases related to the Democratic National Committee before the Democratic convention this summer.

Assange said her campaign had falsely suggested that accessing WikiLeaks data would make users vulnerable to malicious software. But he denied the release of documents related to the US election was specifically geared to damage Clinton, saying he had been misquoted.

Assange also signalled changes in the way WikiLeaks is organised and funded, saying the group would soon open itself to membership. He said the group was looking to expand its work beyond the 100 media outlets it works with.

Assange, 45, spoke via a video link at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the group's founding. He remains in the Ecuador embassy in London where he sought refuge in 2012 to avoid possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he committed rape in 2010.

Assange denies the allegations and says he fears extradition to the US, where a criminal investigation into the activities of WikiLeaks is under way.

He told a packed news conference at a Berlin theatre the group's work would continue, even if he had to resign in the future, and he appealed to supporters to fund the group's work. He added several new books were forthcoming.

Assange said Britain's vote to leave the EU could complicate his case by limiting his ability to appeal to the European Court of Justice.

Asked how he felt after four years in the embassy, he said "pale" and joked he would be a good candidate for medical study since he was otherwise healthy but had not seen the sun in over four years.