By: Annet Preethi Furtado
October 4 2023
X and Facebook posts claiming Julian Assange said that the objective of the Ukraine-Russia conflict was to channel funds from the U.S. and Europe. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)
Assange's 2011 comments on the US-Afghanistan war has been wrongly linked to the Ukraine-Russia war by swapping the term "Afghanistan" with "Ukraine."
What's the claim?
A statement attributed to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine is circulating on social media that makes it appear that Assange said that the conflict is driven by financial motives, aiming to launder money and prolong the war.
One X (formerly Twitter) user shared a video with the caption, claiming that Assange stated, "The goal is to use Ukraine to wash money out of the US and Europe through Ukraine and back into the hands of of a transnational elite (BlackRock). The goal is an endless war, not a successful war." This post has garnered over 2 million views and the archived link can be found here. However, in the video, Assange clearly says Afghanistan, not Ukraine - the words have been swapped in the caption.
Furthermore, other users have independently shared this purported quote attributed to Assange without the accompanying video. An archived version of one such post can be found here.
Screenshot of posts circulating online. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)
Assange made the statement in 2011 in the context of the US-Afghanistan war and did not mention Ukraine at all. The quote has been shared, replacing "Afghanistan" with "Ukraine."
What are the facts?
Assange has been held in London's Belmarsh prison since his arrest in April 2019. He has not made any recent public appearances or statements about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Furthermore, within the viral video itself, Assange can be distinctly heard saying "Afghanistan" instead of "Ukraine" when making the statement. In the video, he states, ''Because the goal is not to completely subjugate Afghanistan. The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax basis of the United States, out of the tax basis of European countries, through Afghanistan.''
A reverse image search of the viral video led us to a 2021 post on the official WikiLeaks X account containing the exact video. The post indicated that Assange had made this statement in 2011, well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
An extended version of the viral video on YouTube, uploaded in 2012, claims that it features Assange during an interview at the "Stop the War" event on October 8, 2011. In the video, Assange expressed concerns about the continuous war and its objectives. He discussed the inability of two superpowers, the U.S. and Europe, to subjugate Afghanistan despite their military strength. He also stressed the importance of the Stop the War Coalition in preventing the normalization of constant warfare in the West.
Furthermore, we were able to locate other images of Assange from this event on the stock image platform Alamy. One of the photographs, titled "Julian Assange attends a mass anti-war demonstration marking the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan war in Trafalgar Square, London," clearly shows him wearing the identical outfit as captured in the viral video.
This further supports that the video in question is over a decade old and has been shared with the false claim, incorrectly portraying it as his recent comments.
Visual comparison of the viral video and the Alamy stock photo (Right). (Source: X (L)/Alamy (R)/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)
Julian Assange's 2011 quote on the US-Afghanistan war has been incorrectly linked to the Ukraine-Russia conflict by substituting "Afghanistan" with "Ukraine." Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.