WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that the Obama administration charging NSA leaker and requesting his arrest is a move to “intimidate any country” that may wish to protect Edward Snowden.
“The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any
country that might be considering standing up for his
rights,” reads a post on Wikileaks webpage on behalf of
Assange after his address from the Ecuadorian embassy in London
was canceled due to security concerns.
“Tell your governments to step forward,” he added.
Assange stressed that Edward Snowden, who continues to leak
classified information on the NSA’s surveillance program, is the
eighth leaker “to be charged with espionage” during US
President Barack Obama’s terms in office.
“It is getting to the point where the mark of international
distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace
Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of
Justice,” he said.
US federal prosecutors have charged Snowden with espionage, theft, and
conversion of government property, and asked Hong Kong to detain
him ahead of a move to extradite him. The former CIA contractor
fled to Hong Kong before disclosing the NSA’s PRISM surveillance
Snowden has reportedly requested asylum in Iceland earlier this week via
WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson. The Icelandic
government has confirmed that it received Snowden’s appeal, but
no decision has yet been made.
As a US citizen, Snowden is free to enter Iceland without a visa
and can immediately apply for asylum. However, the US may move to
arrest him before Icelandic immigration authorities decide his
case. The asylum process could ultimately take more than a year,
“The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be
intensified,” Assange wrote in his speech.
Assange also said earlier this week that he has been “in touch
with Mr. Snowden's legal team,” and that they are working on
“the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland."