For WikiLeaks, conspiracy theories come with the territory. In this world, an internet outage turns into an assassination attempt and an email leak of a high-level political player morphs into a coordinated search for hidden code-words about paedophilia and human trafficking.
Yes, both happened. Now, less than 24 hours after WikiLeaks released files allegedly outlining hacking tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a new rumour is swirling in the air: that the agency was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last year.
It is an assertion devoid of any evidence spreading like wildfire on social media. "That awkward moment when Obama-Clinton lies are exposed & the 'Russian hacking' operation turns out to have been the CIA all along," states one tweet that has been circulated nearly 1,000 times.
Of course, according to multiple cybersecurity firms – and the US government – the DNC hack showed clear evidence of being the work of hackers with close ties to the Kremlin. However, attribution remains difficult and, in the space between facts, lives speculation.
In the CIA leak, dubbed 'Vault 7', one section detailed a branch of the agency that is reportedly dedicated to managing a 'substantial' trove of malware that is developed in foreign states. In its analysis, WikiLeaks makes sure to note this includes the Russian Federation.
The branch is called Umbrage, and is said to collect keyloggers, website capture malware and other cyberattack tools. "The CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution [to] the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from," one key section said.
This throwaway line was pounced on by both alt-right figureheads and conspiracy websites, including Alex Jones' InfoWars, a website managed by disgraced journalist Milo Yiannopoulos and the news branch of the Russian government, Sputnik International.
Each teased the same conclusion: the CIA hacked the DNC and planted the malware to implicate Russia. "Did the CIA deliberately mimic Russian hacking protocols?" stated Yiannopoulos's headline, which contained scant content behind the clickbait.
After discussing the CIA hacking tool leak and possible conspiracy, titled 'CIA Catalogues Hack Techniques Used by Other States Including Russia, Sputnik added: "The revelations come after a recent report on alleged Russian meddling in November's US presidential election."
InfoWars, in typical fashion, went full conspiracy, saying the "revelation yields a 'through the looking glass' possibility that the Obama administration obtained FISA permission to conduct electronic surveillance on Russians" to plant evidence on Trump.
And it is not the only conspiracy to thrive in the wake of the leak, with another revolving around the 2013 death of Michael Hastings, a Rolling Stone national security journalist who was killed after a Mercedes C250 Coupe he was driving burst into flames and crashed into a palm tree. Conspiracy theories have long-surrounded Hastings' death.
In its analysis, WikiLeaks only fuelled speculation by saying the CIA was researching "vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks." It wrote: "The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations."
The source of the leak remains unknown at the time of writing. The CIA, meanwhile, has declined to comment on the disclosures. In what will no doubt be yet another headache for the agency, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has teased more leaks are coming soon.