POLITICS
06/30/2013 11:11 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2013

Julian Assange Blasts State Department Over Edward Snowden Treatment

Julian Assange blasted the U.S.' treatment of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday, speaking from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."

"The United States, by canceling his passport, has left him for the moment marooned in Russia. Is that really a great outcome by the State Department? Is that really what it wanted to do?" Assange asked.

"To take a passport from a young man in a difficult situation like that is a disgrace," he said. "He is a hero. He has told the people of the world and the United States that there is mass unlawful interception of their communications, far beyond anything that happened under Nixon."

In hiding at the Moscow airport, Snowden has gambled that WikiLeaks will be able to help him receive asylum somewhere -- possibly in Ecuador -- and avoid his indictment in the U.S. for allegedly violating the Espionage Act. But Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said he would not reveal any details about Snowden's future plans.

"The situation now with Edward Snowden is a very sensitive one. It's a matter of international diplomatic negotiations. So, there's little that I can productively say about what is happening directly," Assange said.

Assange added that Snowden might be able to receive asylum in "several" countries, and rejected the claims of Snowden's father that his son that WikiLeaks is manipulating him.

"Mr. Snowden's father as a parent, of course he is worried in this situation, every father would be worried in this situation," Assange said. "We have established contact with Mr. Snowden's father's lawyer to put some of his concerns to rest."

Assange called Snowden a "hero," but earlier this week Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that "people may die" as a result of his leaks, because terrorists will change their tactics to avoid being spied on.

"Well, look, we have heard this rhetoric," Assange said in response. "I myself was subject to precisely this rhetoric two, three years ago. And it all proved to be false."

Per Reuters, Assange explained of the information Snowden obtained that "there is no stopping the publishing process at this stage." He continued, "Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can't be pressured by any state to stop the publication process."

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