Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, told Dailymail.com that he flew to Washington, D.C. for a clandestine hand-off with one of the email sources in September.
'Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,' said Murray in an interview with Dailymail.com on Tuesday. 'The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.'
His account contradicts directly the version of how thousands of Democratic emails were published before the election being advanced by U.S. intelligence.
His links to Wikileaks are well known and while his account is likely to be seen as both unprovable and possibly biased, it is also the first intervention by Wikileaks since reports surfaced last week that the CIA believed Russia hacked the Clinton emails to help hand the election to Donald Trump.
Murray's claims about the origins of the Clinton campaign emails comes as U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly confident that Russian hackers infiltrated both the Democratic National Committee and the email account of top Clinton aide John Podesta.
In Podesta's case, his account appeared to have been compromised through a basic 'phishing' scheme, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly told members of Congress during classified briefings that they believe Russians passed the documents on to Wikileaks as part of an influence operation to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump.
But Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistleblowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information.
'Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,' Murray said. 'The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.'
He said the leakers were motivated by 'disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.'
Murray said he retrieved the package from a source during a clandestine meeting in a wooded area near American University, in northwest D.C. He said the individual he met with was not the original person who obtained the information, but an intermediary.
Wikileaks published the DNC messages in July and the Podesta messages in October. The messages revealed efforts by some DNC officials to undermine the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was running against Hillary Clinton.
Others revealed that Clinton aides were concerned about potential conflicts and mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation.
Murray declined to say where the sources worked and how they had access to the information, to shield their identities.
He suggested that Podesta's emails might be 'of legitimate interest to the security services' in the U.S., due to his communications with Saudi Arabia lobbyists and foreign officials.
Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.
'I don't understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn't true,' he said. 'Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that.'
Murray was a vocal critic of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan while serving as ambassador between 2002 and 2004, a stance that pitted him against the UK Foreign Office.
He describes himself as a 'close associate' of Julian Assange and has spoken out in support of the Wikileaks founder who has faced rape allegations and is currently confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange has similarly disputed that charges that Wikileaks received the leaked emails from Russian sources.
'The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything,' Assange told John Pilger during an interview in November.
'Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That's false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.'
Reported by Daily Mail