The WikiLeaks founder called President Obama’s announcement of plans to review the government’s sweeping spying program a “victory of sorts” for fugitive NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Assange appears not to assume the president intends to rein in unconstitutional surveillance to an extent that he or other privacy and liberty advocates demand. Rather, he sees the concession as a sign that the administration feels more accountable to the public than it previously did.
“Today, the President of the United States validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower by announcing plans to reform America’s global surveillance program,” Assange said in a statement Saturday, referring to Obama’s announcement a day earlier.
“As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur. Well reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude.”
Snowden was recently granted asylum in Russia after two months of uncertainty as he fled authorities pursuing him for leaking classified documents describing the NSA’s domestic and international phone and Internet wiretapping activities. Assange remains trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has been for more than a year, fearing extradition to the United States for publishing classified U.S. documents.
Assange rejected Obama’s assertion that the announced intent of reform was planned before Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance.
“The simple fact is that without Snowden’s disclosures, no one would know about the programmes and no reforms could take place,” he said.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Assange accused the US government of “stunning” hypocrisy in its treatment of Snowden while it gave asylum to thousands of dissidents, whistleblowers and political refugees from countries like Russia and Venezuela.
The Obama administration has vigorously pursued Snowden to bring him back to the US to face espionage charges for leaking details of US surveillance programmes to the media.
… Assange charged that the Obama administration had prosecuted “twice as many” whistleblowers as all other US administrations combined, in spite of the president’s 2008 campaign pledge to champion transparency and those who fought for it.
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