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Julian Assange: Snowden 'in a Safe Place, His Spirits Are High'

Jun. 24, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS   |   Comments
BRITAIN-ECUADOR-US-SWEDEN-DIPLOMACY-WIKILEAKS-ASSA
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, seen speaking to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week, said he was aware of Edward Snowden's location but would not reveal any specifics. (Anthony Devlin/AFP via Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — Classified document leaker Edward Snowden, last believed to be in Moscow following a flight from Hong Kong, is currently safe and will eventually make his way to Ecuador, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told reporters on a conference call Monday morning.

Assange, defending Snowden’s actions and using the opportunity to trumpet WikiLeaks’ past efforts to disclose details about US activities against terrorism, said his organization knows Snowden’s location but would not disclose it. WikiLeaks is paying for Snowden’s travel.

“Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on the 23rd of June bound for Ecuador via a safe path through Russia and other states,” Assange said. “He is in a safe place, his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration, we cannot go into further detail at this time.”

Assange would not reveal how Snowden left Hong Kong.

“In relation to the travel out of Hong Kong, that is a fascinating story that I’m sure will one day be told, but today is not the day,” he said.

Snowden was scheduled to be on a flight from Moscow to Cuba, the AP reported, but he did not appear to board the aircraft when it left for Havana. He is traveling with Sarah Harrison, a representative of WikiLeaks who has been assisting Snowden in his travels.

Assange made a point of criticizing the US government’s statements about Snowden and couching his disclosures in the same frame as those by Bradley Manning, who released thousands of documents to WikiLeaks that detailed US operations.

By reaching out to WikiLeaks, Snowden has given the organization a platform to once again raise its objections to US conflicts in the Middle East and government secrecy.

Asked whether it was wise for Snowden to join forces with WikiLeaks, Assange pointed to WikiLeaks’ past experience with classified disclosures.

“WikiLeaks has over six years of experience at dealing with threats of publishing and to whistleblowers; specifically, we have three years of experience of dealing with precisely analogous situation to what Mr. Snowden found himself in,” he said.

Despite reports to the contrary, Assange said that Snowden is not being debriefed by Russian intelligence agencies, and that he is not aware of any debriefing with Chinese intelligence authorities.

Snowden sought out the WikiLeaks team for legal assistance in finding asylum, and the organization has explored options in Iceland and Ecuador, WikiLeaks officials said.

Assange himself was granted asylum by Ecuador and is still housed in the country’s Embassy in the UK as British authorities have refused to grant safe passage for Assange to leave the country.

“I have personal sympathy for Mr. Snowden having lived through a very similar experience,” he said.

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