Edward Snowden was in a “safe place” and in “high spirits”, Julian Assange said on Monday and accused the U.S. administration of attempting to “bully” Russia and other countries which were trying to help the whistleblower.
He said he was “aware” of Mr. Snowden’s location but could not go into details because of “the bellicose threats coming from the U.S. administration”.’
All he could say was that both Mr. Snowden and WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison, who had travelled with him from Hong Kong, were “healthy and safe” and in contact with their legal team.
“We are aware of where Edward Snowden is. He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the U.S. administration we cannot go into further detail at this time. Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time,” WikiLeaks chief said in a “telephone news press call” with American journalists, from Ecuadorean embassy in London.
He claimed that there was no communication between Mr. Snowden and Russian authorities prior to his departure from Hong Kong on Sunday. Asked whether he meant to say that Mr. Snowden landed up in Moscow without any advance notice, Mr. Assange retorted: “I said what I said.”
He described as “false” reports that Mr. Snowden was “interviewed” by the Chinese authorities before he was allowed to leave Hong Kong. He revealed that WikiLeaks paid for Mr Snowden’s travel costs and lodgings since he left Hong Kong, but he paid his own hotel bills in Hong Kong.
Mr. Snowden may have applied for asylum in other countries apart from Ecuador, he said while Wikileaks press spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he had approached the Icelandic government with a formal request on Mr. Snowden’s behalf.
Asked whether Mr. Snowden regretted disclosing his identity, Mr Assange said, “No, he has not”.
Was he acting in “vengeance” against America by helping Mr. Snowden?
“I have personal sympathy with Mr. Snowden … but the Wikileaks organisation more broadly exists to defend the political right of whistleblowers to bring information to the public,” he said.
He accused the Obama administration of “flagrant violation” of international law by violating individual privacy on such a massive scale.