CNN has all but apologised to Julian Assange after Phil Mudd, a paid analyst, called the WikiLeaks founder a paedophile on live TV. The cable news network’s statement came after WikiLeaks threatened to sue unless an apology was given or an exposé on a plot against Assange aired.
CNN’s counterterrorism analyst made the reckless on-air statement on Wednesday while discussing the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. Mudd boldly declared that “there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a paedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.”
Mudd was referring to Assange, who is wanted for alleged sexual assault charges in Sweden – but not for anything related to paedophilia. As a result, CNN was forced to effectively apologise for the segment and conceded that “CNN has no evidence to support that assertion.”
The statement was released hours after WikiLeaks responded to the comment via Twitter in a now deleted tweet, saying, “We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation,” and “Unless within 48h they air a one hour expose of the plot.”
CNN’s statement was posted to their New Day Twitter account.
We’ve deleted a tweet that included a video clip from New Day earlier this morning. Here’s our statement: pic.twitter.com/qJqTtzy69T
— New Day (@NewDay) 4 January 2017
“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,” it read.
Mudd has not responded to questions at this time.
The only known accusations of paedophilia against Assange stem from a strange dating website that claims to be a former UN Global Compact member based in Houston, but which has since been delisted by the UN. The website made claims in October that Assange had sent pornographic material to an 8-year-old Canadian girl living in the Bahamas.
However, there was no report of the crime by the family and Stephen Dean, assistant commissioner of the Royal Bahama Police Force, told McClatchy DC, “We got a phone call of someone giving us some information. But we never had a face-to-face. It could have been a hoax.”