Skip to main content

WikiLeaks' Assange urges support for Snowden, slams Obama 'betrayal'

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Assange says President Obama has betrayed a generation, according to the text of a speech
  • "Edward Snowden's ordeal is just beginning," Assange says of the NSA leaker
  • Snowden is charged by federal prosecutors with espionage and theft of government property
  • "This isn't a phenomenon that is going away," says Assange of young, tech-savvy leakers

London (CNN) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged the world Saturday to "stand with" Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs, according to the text of a speech posted on Twitter.

As he appealed for a "brave country" to step forward and offer Snowden asylum, Assange also accused U.S. President Barack Obama of betraying a generation of "young, technically minded people."

Assange was scheduled to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Saturday, but the appearance was postponed at short notice "due to a security situation," WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

Wednesday marked a year since Assange sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted July 30 of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, and the counts against him included violations of the Espionage Act. He was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges but acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted July 30 of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, and the counts against him included violations of the Espionage Act. He was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges but acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Key WikiLeaks figures in Manning trial
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Key WikiLeaks figures in Manning trial Key WikiLeaks figures in Manning trial
Assange: Obama using double rhetoric

Assange has repeatedly said the allegations in Sweden are politically motivated and tied to the work of his website. Ecuador's government granted him asylum in August, but British authorities have said they will arrest him if he leaves the premises.

As a result of his decision to seek refuge in the embassy, "I have been able to work in relative safety from a U.S. espionage investigation," said Assange, according to the text of the speech.

"But today, Edward Snowden's ordeal is just beginning."

Assange to Snowden: 'Go to Latin America'

Assange's words came hours after Snowden was charged by U.S. federal prosecutors with espionage and theft of government property, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Virginia on Friday.

Snowden, 30, has admitted in interviews that he was the source behind the leak of classified documents about the NSA's surveillance programs. Those leaks were the basis of reports this month in Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post.

He is believed to be in hiding in Hong Kong. The United States has asked authorities there to detain the former National Security Agency contract analyst on a provisional arrest warrant, The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

Assange, in his published speech, said the espionage charge had come "like clockwork," making Snowden the eighth "leaker" to be charged with that count by the Obama administration.

"Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy," he said.

"Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale. Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated ... The U.S. government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off."

Also among the eight "leakers" is WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, Assange said. Manning is being court-martialed on charges he aided U.S. enemies by leaking documents he obtained as an Army intelligence analyst.

Prosecutors: Bradley Manning 'craved' notoriety

He named the others as Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz, Gottfrid Svartholm and Jacob Appelbaum.

Assange suggested Obama was the real "traitor" for his failure to live up to his promises of hope, change and transparency in government. And he warned that the U.S. government will lose the battle if it tries to take on the tech-savvy people now calling its actions into question.

"Edward Snowden is one of us. Bradley Manning is one of us. They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed. They are the generation that grew up on the Internet, and were shaped by it," he said.

"The U.S. government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.

"One day, they will run the CIA and the FBI. This isn't a phenomenon that is going away."

Assange added that charging Snowden "is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights" and appealed for efforts to find asylum for him to be intensified.

Guardian newspaper: UK security agency has spy program, shares data with NSA

CNN's Susannah Palk contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT