Julian Assange canceled a dramatic London balcony address on Tuesday in favor of a video presentation in Berlin after WikiLeaks developed "specific information" regarding Assange's safety, the leaked emails clearinghouse tweeted on Monday afternoon.
Some believe the video announcement by the WikiLeaks founder could be an "October surprise" geared towards the U.S. presidential election. Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump have said they believe the announcement will be damaging to the candidacy of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Assange, 45, who has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years as officials in Sweden have sought him on criminal charges, is set to address supporters in Berlin via a video link at 3 a.m. ET.
“I don’t want to give it away,” Assange told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly in August, when he indicated he had a major scoop that could influence the race. “But it’s a variety of documents, from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting, some even entertaining.”
In a subsequent interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity last month, Assange said his next round of revelations was coming “reasonably soon.”
Assange has already played a key role in the presidential race, with the release of 20,000 internal emails that indicated the Democratic National Committee appeared to conspire to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. Those revelations surfaced in August, just before the party’s convention, proving embarrassing to Clinton’s campaign. They also led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Though no recent public revelations directly tie to Assange's security fears, various U.S. officials and pundits have made threatening statements directed at him in the past. WikiLeaks on Monday tweeted an alleged quote from a 2010 State Department meeting at which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked if Assange could be killed in a drone strike. That same year, former Democrat strategist Bob Beckel said on Fox News Channel that "a dead man can't leak stuff."
Assange also has hinted that deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich may have been a source for WikiLeaks. Rich, 27, was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back at a Washington, D.C., intersection in July. He died soon thereafter. Authorities believe Rich was the target of a botched robbery, but his death has inspired conspiracy theories.
WikiLeaks has published more than 10 million leaked emails, including sensitive information about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a cache of diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world.
African-American doctors are calling on President Barack Obama to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes, which government data show are heavily preferred among black smokers.
The African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, a nonprofit anti-smoking advocacy group, launched a public campaign this week asking Obama to direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove all so-called mentholated tobacco products from the marketplace.
A letter detailing the new request was delivered to the president last month, Dr. Phillip Gardiner, the council's co-chairman, said Wednesday.
"The punch line here about menthol is it allows the poisons in tobacco cigarettes to go down easier," Gardiner said in an interview with NBC Washington.
"Young African-Americans die disproportionately from tobacco-related disease compared to other people in the population," said Gardiner, who is policy and regulatory sciences program officer for the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program at the University of California-Berkeley.
Government and medical data back him up.
According to the American Lung Association, smoking-related illnesses are the single biggest preventable cause of death among African-Americans, killing about 45,000 a year. And "the key thing that African-Americans smoke is menthol cigarettes," Gardiner said.
The FDA's 2013 review found that menthol flavoring is associated with "increased smoking initiation" by younger people and greater addiction among all smokers. (The FDA banned fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes for the same reasons in 2009.)
They do so to such a degree, in fact, that nearly three-quarters of all black smokers ages 18 to 25 buy one specific brand — Newport menthols — according to the new research, which adds that Newport menthols are the cigarettes of choice for two-thirds of all African-American smokers ages 12 to 17.
Researchers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found similar trends in 2010, reporting that 83 percent of black adult smokers and 72 percent of underage black smokers prefer menthol-flavored brands.
In its letter to Obama, the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council called menthol tobacco addiction "an issue of social justice, one which we have been defenseless in adequately addressing to protect our people."
"What we are asking of you, President Obama, can be accomplished rapidly with the stroke of a pen," it said. "Your strong and decisive leadership can give our community a fighting chance against the number one killer of Black people, tobacco."
R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Newport, one of the most popular menthol brands, did not respond to an after-hours request for comment.