Julian Assange, founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, said his legal advisers have talked with lawyers for Edward Snowden to help arrange asylum in Iceland for the American contractor who leaked information on U.S. electronic surveillance methods to newspapers.
“We have been in touch with Mr. Snowden’s legal team,” Assange said on a telephone conference call with reporters today. “Our people in Iceland have been in contact with his legal team and the Icelandic government” and are “in the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland.”
Asked if he had spoken directly with Snowden, 29, who fled to Hong Kong before revealing he was the source of the leaked reports, Assange declined to specify details. Snowden has said he hoped to make his way to Iceland.
WikiLeaks is an anti-secrecy organization that publishes government documents on its website. Assange, an Australian national, has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past year. Assange had exhausted options in U.K. courts to avert extradition to Sweden, where he faces questions on allegations of rape and sexual molestation, which he denies.
Assange was joined on the conference call by Daniel Ellsberg, the former Pentagon analyst who provided the Pentagon Papers, a secret study of the U.S. war in Vietnam, to the New York Times in 1971; Thomas Drake, a former analyst at the National Security Agency who disclosed what he called waste, fraud and abuse at the intelligence agency; and James Goodale, author of “Fighting for the Press” and a former New York Times lawyer.
All of them supported Snowden, who worked for the NSA as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH), which fired him after his role in leaking secrets was disclosed.
“The fact is we acted in the same spirit and I feel great affinity with each of them,” Ellsberg said, referring to Snowden, Drake, Assange and Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who’s on trial for providing a trove of classified State Department documents to WikiLeaks. Each of the leakers “performed a very great service,” Ellsberg said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at email@example.com