Hillary Clinton on Monday accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of being a “tool of Russian intelligence”. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the former Democratic nominee said Assange worked with an intelligence operation to damage her candidacy for the president post, and disrupt the 2016 US election.

“Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator,” she was quoted as saying. Clinton said in the interview the operation against her was directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I think their intention, coming from the very top with Putin, was to hurt me and to help [US President Donald] Trump,” she said.

In January, the US intelligence community had said Russian President Putin tried to help Trump win the presidential elections. The report, prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to “undermine public faith” in democracy and disparage Clinton so voters see her as the poorer choice.

“Our intelligence community and other observers of Russia and Putin said he held a grudge against me because, as secretary of state, I stood up against some of his actions,” Clinton said on Monday. “But it’s much bigger than that. He wants to destabilise democracy, he wants to undermine America...”

Soon after Clinton’s comments, Assange hit back on Twitter. He accused her of lying and displaying a “cold creepiness”. “WikiLeaks has a pristine record for accuracy. HRC [Clinton] is not a credible person,” he said.

“There’s something wrong with Hillary Clinton. It is not just her constant lying. It is not just that she throws off menacing glares and seethes thwarted entitlement. Watch closely. Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen.”

WikiLeaks got several hacked emails from accounts connected to the Democratic campaign. The site released the emails over a four-month period in the run up to the election in 2016.