Julian Assange: Snowden Is ‘Healthy, Safe and in Good Spirits’

WikiLeaks claims Snowden as one of its own

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Chris Helgren / REUTERS

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waves from a window with Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino at Ecuador's embassy in central London on June 16, 2013

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told reporters in a 75-minute telephone conference call on Monday that Edward Snowden is “healthy and safe.” Assange also made clear he is relishing Snowden’s defiance of the U.S. “I have personal sympathy with Snowden, having gone through similar personal experiences,” he said.

But Assange had few new details to offer about Snowden’s dramatic voyage. He couldn’t say where Snowden is now, where he’s going or even whether Assange had spoken directly to the former NSA contractor. “As a result of the security situation, we cannot talk about commutation methods or time,” Assange said in the call with reporters. “If we lived in a better world we would be able to go into those details. Unfortunately, we live in a world, as illuminated by Mr. Snowden, where most communications are intercepted unlawfully.”

The call’s stated purpose was to highlight WikiLeaks’ help of Snowden, though Assange and his lawyers declined to say much on that topic. Assange did say WikiLeaks had helped facilitate Snowden’s Sunday departure from Hong Kong, and that Assange’s lawyers were applying their three years of experience on his own battle with angry governments to Snowden’s case.

Speaking from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has spent the past year fighting extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges, Assange also confirmed reports that Snowden has been given travel papers by Ecuador pending his asylum claim there — an important development given that Snowden’s U.S. passport has been revoked. WikiLeaks lawyers in the call said Snowden has also applied for asylum in other countries, which they declined to name.

Assange did tie Snowden’s case closely to that of Army private Bradley Manning, now on trial for leaking millions of pages of classified documents to WikiLeaks, in the episode that has made Assange an international celebrity. Assange said the U.S. government’s harsh treatment of Manning — who was held for months in solitary confinement — helps to explain why Snowden stepped forward in such a visible way. “In a situation where the U.S. government perceived wrongly or rightly that eliminating Mr. Snowden would eliminate the threat on its worldwide spying program, the kidnapping or incapacitation of Mr. Snowden must have been considered,” Assange said. “Pursuing Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning is not the way to fix the weaknesses of law and process in the U.S. The only way to fix these is to stop surveillance, to stop spying on people.”

Also on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Snowden a “traitor.” And he warned Russia and China that their apparent support for Snowden could imperil relations with the U.S. “There would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship” with both countries, Kerry said while traveling in New Delhi. “There is a surrender treaty with Hong Kong and, if there was adequate notice … It would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane as a result … With respect to Russia, likewise.”

It is ironic, Kerry said, that Snowden — a champion of transparency and critic of government surveillance — has sought help from politically repressive nations like China and Russia. “I wonder if Snowden chose China and Russia in his flight from justice because they’re such powerful bastions of Internet freedom,” Kerry said. “And I wonder if while in those countries he chose to raise the subject of Internet freedom that he says he champions.”

“I simply do not see the irony,” Assange countered when told of Kerry’s remarks. “Mr. Snowden has revealed information about mass unlawful spying, which has affected every single one of us,” Assange said. “The United States has issued a series of bellicose threats against him and against others attempting to support his rights. Any country seeking to assist him should be applauded in doing so.”

36 comments
daym
daym

Democracy Now! has been airing some great coverage lately on Edward Snowden and the NSA leak scandal. Here's a link to all of the recent segments, which include interviews with Glenn Greenwald (the Guardian journalist who broke the story), Julian Assange, and other key players in the case: http://www.democracynow.org/topics/nsa

MarkDonners
MarkDonners

Kerry is one of the biggest traitors, one instance of that is like Obama he ran as a "green" president "concerned about climate change" as false pretenses to get votes, and since Kerry  been committing crimes in the State Department, he's heavily promoted that Canadian tar sands pipeline..to route the dirtiest oil on earth through the US so they can sell it to China, in the process threatening people,  kicking countless Americans off their properties and threatening American lakes, streams and aquifers with permanent damage from uncontrolled corporate greed.

paulmd
paulmd


Please forgive this rather long essay. I feel it is important.

This is truly the last chance to prevent George Orwell from becoming a Prophet.

The documents released by the Guardian and the Post reveal a pervasive and unconstitutional domestic spying program that allows the government to retain ALL encrypted communication, forever. It also allows the government to spy on attorney-client conversations, and more. It is much beyond the scope of what is allowable under the Constitution.

http://www.aclu.org/national-security-technology-and-liberty/how-nsas-surveillance-procedures-threaten-americans-privacy

Here's another thing: what the Brits are doing is even worse and they don't have a fourth amendment to protect their citizens. With Intelligence sharing agreements between US and UK there is virtually NO barrier at all to suspicionless snooping against anyone whatsoever. To quote Lt Gen Keith Alexander: "Why can't we collect all the signals, all the time? Sounds like a good summer homework project for Menwith!" Gen Alexander is the head of the NSA, and not a Brit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa

It is critically important that you read and understand every word. Moreover it is important to PUSH BACK. Write, lobby, tell your friends. This is best chance to make a difference. After this, hope diminishes. NOW, while there still is a first amendment.

You might like and trust the guy we have in office now. But ask yourself this: would you trust this procedure to be implemented by someone you despise? Good people will not always be in power, that is why we need good laws. I voted for Obama so he would stop the abuses of the Bush years, he hasn't done so yet, and time is running out.

Understand that Edwd Snowden is no traitor. He has given the people one last, best chance to stop an Orwellian Society. He may well go to jail on espionage, but a treason charge will never stick. The Constitutional definition of treason is so narrow: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort". It is impossible to charge him thus without declaring the American People the Enemy.

Even granting the NSA and the President good intentions, the potential for abuse by rogue agents is tremendous. Blackmail, extortion and stalking; it would also a really profitable position to be in for an insider trading scam. Or just some guy listening in on erotic phone calls.

There are practical concerns: looking for a needle in a haystack is not helped by adding more hay. 99.9999% is worthless cruft. They seek to collect everything, but how to understand? The act of sorting through the junk diminishes the ability to focus on the important.

The societies that focus heaviest on internal "security" are also the least free, North Korea, the old Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries, and China, and Iran, among others. These are not role models; and Nineteen-Eighty-Four is not a manual. As the grip tightens, internal anger heightens, dissidents and rebels become more common, which only tightens the grip. Until the eventual collapse of the State and Regime itself. That was the fate of so many regimes.  We are ourselves taking the road toward becoming that type of society. The very act of increasing security is making us less secure.

The best defense against terrorism isn't military, it's a just society. Open and fair trials, a free press, and honest dealings with our neighbors. The less secrecy, the less room for conspiracy theories to flourish. Another tactical error: using military means and terms like "enemy combatant" lets the terrorists see themselves as a legitimate fighting force and gives them moral justification for their crimes. if we treat them simply as criminals, and not soldiers, we diminish their moral and political edge.

We have been granted one last chance to step back from the brink. Revolutions are lot of trouble, and seldom turn out as the revolutionaries had planned.

paulmd
paulmd

The sooner he arrives in a peaceful democratic country, the better. I'm hoping for Iceland or Scandanavia, maybe Switzerland. 

 He arrived with Ecuadoran  Refugee Travel Documents, which is how come he can travel with no passport. My feeling is that he left the airport as soon as he arrived and is traveling overland. It's only 13 hours from Moscow to Helsinki.

If he stays in Russia, or a Rival country like Cuba or Ecuador, it's pretty bad for him, he'll be a perpetual pawn in their games. Right now, he's just moving too fast for any country to react. Which is probably for the best.

He's done more for civil liberties than anyone else in a decade, and doesn't really belong in jail. But I'd hate to see him defect to an undemocratic place. 


GCL1
GCL1

I think Snowden is secretly Jason Bourne. I bet he has some serious karate chops and a gazillion passports with money stashed in a secret numbered European safe deposit box. Maybe his girlfriend and he can meet up in Greece or India later.

kuei12
kuei12

And, while all of you are watching Snowden, Obama Sin Laden is now planting drones all throughout the United States.The american people are the enemy of the american government. When will you say enough is enough? Will you object once the NSA puts an agent in your bed room to see what you are doing? When is it enough for you stupid people?

Andrewski
Andrewski

I would have had more appreciation for his patriotism if he didn't run away. You knew what you were doing-- face the music and let people see how badly our government responds to such leaks. That's as important as the info itself.

fyweb
fyweb

He is in good hands.

TomMengel
TomMengel

In the name of Gomer Pyle: "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!!"  Birds of a feather really do flock together where ever DoJ can't extradite them.  Just think, now Snowden and Assange can sit around and tell each other big stories on how stupid the rest of the world is and how oh so very smart they are and how next to get 15 more minutes in the media spotlight.  Pathetic really. 

Fenton_Hardy
Fenton_Hardy

" 'As a result of the security situation, we cannot talk about commutation methods or time,' Assange said on the call with reporters. 'If we lived in a better world we would be able to go into those details.' "

That's ironic.

grape_crush
grape_crush

And I've just lost some respect for Assange. Snowden is no Manning; there's no real comparison between an espionage operation and an act of conscience.

"Edward Snowden secured a job with a US government contractor for one reason alone - to obtain evidence of Washington's cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post can reveal.

For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the US National Security Agency's secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.

"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," he told the Post on June 12. "That is why I accepted that position about three months ago."


ScallywagNYC
ScallywagNYC

Should anyone be surprised that Edward Snowden was a no show? Isn't that why he was able to get this far in the first place? So now the question is who is harboring him, why, what do they stand to gain and what will the US do and what does the US already know that it is not revealing and what does China, Ecuador, Russia, and Wikileaks gain to stand to have Snowden camped out in their corner?\

Could it be that Snowden is now being used as a decoy and bait switcher as others get involved ....?

Or would Snowden really best served to affect the change he seeks by simply returning to the US?

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2013/06/edward-snowden-might-be-playing-the-world-as-he-fails-to-show-up-on-his-plane-trip/

duduong
duduong

@paulmd 

You underestimate the power of the dark side. Sweden and Iceland do not dare to defy the empire.

Of course Snowden prefers a liberal democracy, not just for the appearance or life style, but also for safety. What if Ecuador elects a US crony in a few years? But I think he has no choice because no European nation has the backbone to do what is right.

SalvadorMorales
SalvadorMorales

@GCL1 No, please. She dies in Tangier!! Spoiler Alert. Crap I also thought about him being Bourne. I'll be looking for Russian news for a car chase or something like it. Probably he is already in the US and will call Kerry and say "Take some rest, You look tired" 

kuei12
kuei12

@Andrewski Your stupidity is amazing. He brings you the truth and you want to see him tortured. Ask Bradley Manning what happens when this corrupt government gets it's hands on you. Oh, wait, you probably don't even know who Bradley Manning is. LOL

KellyKearns
KellyKearns

@TomMengel You don't even care that the government is basically violating every single Amendment in the Bill of Rights?  Your biggest concern is how much you do not like these people and the media is reporting on them? 

kuei12
kuei12

@TomMengel ...Quoting Gomer Pyle pretty much sums up your own point against you. YES, they are smart and most of the people in the rest of the world are dumb.

duduong
duduong

@grape_crush

He worked in the CIA. He knew what was going on but had no proof. He decided to risk his life to get that proof for the American public. How is that a bad thing? How is that not an act of conscience?

The animal right activists do the same. They get jobs at the factory farms so that they can tape abuses to show the public. How is that a bad thing? How is that not an act of conscience?

Truth, courage and sacrifice are virtues to me. Respecting the government is not, particularly when the said government tramples on truth and persecutes the courageous.

MarkDonners
MarkDonners

@grape_crush Which makes Snowden even more of a hero. Gathering evidence to put down a frothing at the mouth, psychotic criminal government like the US is neither espionage nor "illegal". If you say that you'd also say that a german concentration camp guard who had gathered evidence on that is a "spy"

outsider
outsider

@grape_crush  

That is pretty messed up; if it was an attack of concious, then it would have been spontanious 

Though i still think the gov't is over reacting in charging him with spying. He didn't sell the info to anyone else. 

Yet. But this might push him to do it. 

race_to_the_bottom
race_to_the_bottom

@ScallywagNYC  

A. No one should be surprised he was a no show. All that publicity was obviously part of a ruse. You're on the lam and you tell eveyone, including the enemy, where you are going and when?

B. Who is harboring him. Duh. He is in Russia. Nobody in the Universe has more experience dealing with US intelligence than the Russians. They are involved behind the scenes. How could they not be.

C. Yes, Snowden should volunteer to return to the US so that his head could be chopped off.  Smart thinking.

Andrewski
Andrewski

@kuei12 @Andrewski I don't think it's stupidity-- I think what he did was admirable. But Ellsberg, who he purports to admire, didn't run. If you stand up against the government, you should stand up all the way. Calling attention to the corruption is equally as important, otherwise, what's the point? Running and avoiding the consequences of your calculated action only diminishes your resolve and makes you into an opportunist and an attention seeker. If he really had the conviction he alleges, he'd demonstrate it by showing the world just how corrupt a corrupt government with a vendetta can be. Maybe it'll happen anyway, but he still seems like quite the hypocrite to me.

race_to_the_bottom
race_to_the_bottom

@kuei12 @TomMengel  

I hate to call people stupid, but kuei12 is a typical 'merican idiot who is probably one of the supporters of the war against Iraq and other atrocities.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @MarkDonners@grape_crush Gathering evidence to put down a frothing at the mouth, psychotic criminal government like the US...

And it's over-the-top statements like the one you're making here that tell me to not take you seriously. 

Also, I call Godwin on this thread.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @race_to_the_bottom@grape_crush > That is actually a very good reason to get a job like that. 

a) I'm sure that all people engaging in acts of espionage have some 'very good reason' for doing so. But it's only justifiable when you agree with the motivation, right?

b) Who made Snowden and Greenwald arbiters of what the world needs to know?

KellyKearns
KellyKearns

@outsider2011 @grape_crush Well they have charged him and all previous whistleblowers during this Administration with spying, Snowden is the 8th they have charged, only 3 were charged in all time since the Espionage Act came to be in WWI, until Obama.

So a spy gives info to an enemy and all 8 government whistleblowers were called spies and they all turned over info to the American public.

To me, that looks like the American public is the enemy the government says they have given secrets to.

KellyKearns
KellyKearns

@Andrewski @kuei12Since the Espionage Act was used 3 times in its history until Obama took Office, I think there is reason to believe this government is not kind to whistleblowers.

Three times the Act was used before, all Administrations combined and now Obama has used it for the EIGHTH time and each time it has been on government whistleblowers.  A spy turns over secrets to a country's enemies and each of these 8 whistleblowers turned the information over to the American public.  Obama charged them all as spies, you know, people that give the enemy information..so does that make us the enemy of our government?

If we do not want whistleblowers to run, we must demand our government, that is supposed to work for us, stop prosecuting these whistleblowers as spies and that they be given the very same protection the government insist that whistleblowers for businesses, get.

race_to_the_bottom
race_to_the_bottom

@Andrewski @kuei12  

Well, you may not think the regime is  dangerous enough to require flight to safety, but Snowden obviously thinks so. So do millions of us here in the US. Our asessment is confirmed by the hysterical frothing at the mouth and the gnashing of teeth of people like Feinstein, Kerry, Boehner, et al running around shouting "TRAITOR, TRAITOR"

Does this sound like a good atmosphere for a fair trial?