Julian Assange says that he was in “indirect” contact with ex-CIA staffer Edward Snowden, who leaked details of US top-secret Internet snooping programs, and that the whistleblower stood for the same goals as the WikiLeaks organization.
“What [Snowden] has revealed is what I have been speaking about for years, that the [US] National Security Agency and its allies have been involved in a mass interception program of Google, Facebook, the various telecommunications data…,” Assange stated in an interview with Australian news program Lateline on ABC.
Snowden, 29, is behind one of the biggest leaks in US political history. He revealed to The Guardian top-secret documents including those about the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive spy tool, the PRISM. It gives US intelligence agencies access to data servers maintained by some of the country’s biggest Internet companies – and therefore an ability to spy on Americans’ emails, video chats, search history, and so on.
Assange – who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK and is running for a seat in the Australian senate later this year – approved of Snowden’s actions calling him “a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious events of the decade, which is the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state”.
He added that the WikiLeaks political party shares a similar stance on warrantless spying, seeing it as “unacceptable.”
“We run the danger here of the West more broadly drifting into a state where there are two systems. There's one law for the average person and there's another law if you're inside the national intelligence complex,” he said. “You can intercept whoever you want, you're completely unaccountable for your actions, there's no judicial review.”
Assange believes that neither Australians, nor Americans find such an approach acceptable.
“Snowden clearly didn't find that acceptable and he was even someone in the system,” he observed.
Assange also admitted that he had an “indirect communication” with Snowden’s people. However, he refused to disclose any further details.
“Let's look at the case and let's look at what he's revealed,” Assange said.
Last week, commenting on the NSA scandal, the WikiLeaks founder slammed the US government spying scheme as a “calamitous collapse in the rule of law.”
The disclosure of the two massive secret US surveillance programs – the PRISM and also a program under which a division of telecommunications provider Verizon was ordered to hand over records to the NSA – caused huge public uproar. American intelligence confirmed that they collect the private messages of millions of Internet users, but insist that the mass surveillance only targeted “non-US persons outside the US”.
President Barack Obama said last Friday that the NSA program is justified as it allows agents to identify “leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism” and noted that one “can’t have 100 per cent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy.”
However, American tech giants – Google and FaceBook – continued to deny that they knew about the PRISM program.