CNN issued an apology after one of its paid commentators called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “a pedophile” during a live broadcast Wednesday morning.
Phil Mudd, a counterterrorism analyst for the network, slipped out the incorrect accusation while discussing Assange’s controversial anti-secrecy site on the network’s “New Day” show.
“I think there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — this guy is not credible,” Mudd said, referring to Assange.
Just hours after the segment aired, WikiLeaks threatened to sue CNN for defamation unless it issued an apology or aired a “one hour expose” on the supposed “plot” against Assange.
CNN quickly deleted a tweet with a clip of Mudd making the remark and later issued an apology.
“An analyst on our air earlier today asserted that Julian Assange was a pedophile, and regrets saying it,” the network said in a statement. “In fact, CNN has no evidence to support that assertion.”
Assange has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, where he’s been hiding from Swedish authorities who are trying to get him extradited for having allegedly sexually assaulted and raped two women in 2010. The 45-year-old WikiLeaks editor in chief has denied the accusations.
We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation:https://t.co/YLfyQ9ROCy
Unless within 48h they air a one hour expose of the plot.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 4, 2017
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) January 4, 2017
Assange has also been accused of colluding with the Russian government in releasing thousands of emails stolen from Democratic groups and individuals, causing frequent embarrassments for Hillary Clinton during the campaign season.
On Tuesday, Assange went on Fox News and denied the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government was his source for the massive email dump.