Assange called the publication's account "completely false."
Assange is reported to have phoned the magazine's editor, Ian Hislop, on Feb. 16 to complain about an earlier article on WikiLeaks associate Israel Shamir. The article questioned why Assange and his anti-secrecy organization were working with the Russian journalist, who has published a string of anti-Semitic pieces and is a known Holocaust denier.
"He said that I and Private Eye should be ashamed of ourselves for joining in the international conspiracy to smear WikiLeaks," Hislop writes in the current edition of Private Eye. "The piece was an obvious attempt to deprive him and his organization of Jewish support and donations, [Assange] said angrily, and he knew perfectly well who had written it. He then named a [journalist] who had nothing to do with it."
This anti-Assange conspiracy, Hislop writes, included Guardian "journalist David Leigh, [Guardian] editor Alan Rusbridger and [freedom of expression activist] John Kampfner from Index on Censorship." According to Hislop, Assange said all three "are Jewish."
Hislop reports that he pointed out that Rusbridger was "not actually Jewish, but Assange insisted that he was 'sort of Jewish' because he was related to David Leigh (they are brothers-in-law)." The WikiLeaks founder then apparently conceded the flaws in his thinking and said, "Forget the Jewish thing."
He did, however, continue to claim that there was a conspiracy based on the friendship of Rusbridger, Leigh and Kampfner, according to Hislop.
Assange has been a fierce critic of The Guardian since December, when the newspaper published leaked police papers detailing allegations of sexual assault brought against him by two Swedish women. A London court ruled last week that Assange, who has denied any wrongdoing, must be extradited to Sweden to face questioning on those accusations.
Assange has rejected the Private Eye editor's account of the phone conversation.
"Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase," he said in a statement. "In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting."
The statement added that WikiLeaks treasured its "strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support from Pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world."
In a separate press release, WikiLeaks denied any formal links with Israel Shamir, saying he "has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name, and we have no plan that he do so."
The anti-secrecy site added that Shamir was merely one of "hundreds of journalists" who had looked through the cables and used them for his own reporting.
However, British journalist James Ball, who worked with WikiLeaks in the run-up to the release of the U.S. embassy cables, posted a message Wednesday on Twitter alleging that WikiLeaks' statement on Shamir was "categorically untrue." In separate messages, Ball said that Shamir "invoiced [WikiLeaks] for payment after being told he could," was granted "authorized access to thousands of cables" and had "close contact" with Assange.
Some of WikiLeaks opponents have claimed that the organization itself is part of a global conspiracy. The Anti-Defamation League recently stated that following the publication of the U.S. embassy papers in November, anti-Semitic outlets claimed that WikiLeaks was in fact an Israeli front organization. They alleged that the diplomatic cables showed America, Iran and Arab nations in a poor light, while damaging cables about Israel were supposedly hushed up. In fact, dozens of documents from the U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been published by WikiLeaks.