The State Department on Thursday rejected allegations – by Russian President Vladimir Putin or anyone else – that the U.S. government had a hand in the leak of the so-called Panama Papers, millions of documents revealing the offshore holdings of politicians, businesspeople, and celebrities.
“I would reject the premise or the assertion that we’re in any way involved in the actual leak of these documents,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner, referring to 11.5 million files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which claims the files were hacked, rather than leaked by an insider.
Several of Putin’s associates have been named in reports on the leaked documents, and on Thursday, Putin suggested his opponents were trying to weaken Russia from within by “spreading distrust for the ruling authorities.”
To back his insinuation that the U.S. was involved, Putin alluded to a tweet Wednesday from Wikileaks, which drew attention to the fact that one of the scores of media organizations involved in the Panama Papers investigation, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), gets funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
“We now know from WikiLeaks that officials and state agencies in the United States are behind all this,” Putin said during a media forum in St. Petersburg.