Julian Assange slams Obama ‘betrayal’
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has urged the world to ‘stand with’ Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programmes, according to the text of a speech posted on Twitter.
As he appealed for a ‘brave country’ to step forward and offer Snowden asylum, Assange also accused US President Barack Obama of betraying a generation of ‘young, technically minded people.’
Past Wednesday marked a year since Assange sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another.
Assange has repeatedly said the allegations in Sweden are politically motivated and tied to the work of his website. Ecuador’s government granted him asylum in August, but British authorities have said they will arrest him if he leaves the premises.
As a result of his decision to seek refuge in the embassy, ‘I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation,’ said Assange, according to the text of the speech.
‘But today, Edward Snowden’s ordeal is just beginning.’
Assange’s words came hours after Snowden was charged by US federal prosecutors with espionage and theft of government property, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Virginia.
Snowden has admitted in interviews that he was the source behind the leak of classified documents about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Those leaks were the basis of reports this month in Britain’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post.
Assange, in his published speech, said the espionage charge had come ‘like clockwork,’ making Snowden the eighth ‘leaker’ to be charged with that count by the Obama administration.
‘Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy,’ he said.
‘Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale. Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated ... The U.S. government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.’
Also among the eight ‘leakers’ is WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, Assange said. Manning is being court-martialed on charges he aided U.S. enemies by leaking documents he obtained as an Army intelligence analyst.