WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was among the passengers on board a Russian military Tu-154 transport plane that crashed into the Black Sea near Sochi early Sunday. The Kremlin has confirmed that there are no survivors.
Assange was the founder and spokesperson of government transparency organization, WikiLeaks. Active since 2006, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of thousands of secret documents from governments around the world, including the United States.
WikiLeaks is most notable for the June 2016 release of hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee, which led to the resignation of DNC chair Deborah Wasserman-Schultz, and the October 2016 release of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Critics allege that the release of these documents contributed to the unexpected loss of Clinton against Donald Trump on November 8th.
Elements within the US intelligence community have asserted that the Russian government was responsible for the hacks, although no evidence has been presented thus far. President Barack Obama has promised a timely and proportional response to Russian interference, without specifying the method.
The suspicious circumstances of the crash, coupled with Obama's ominous threat, lend credence to theories that this plane crash was an assassination of Assange in retribution for his contribution to the demise of Obama's political ally, Clinton.
Putin has declared Monday a national day of mourning in honor of Assange.