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22 Jun, 2013 15:21

Assange slams Snowden charges ‘intimidation of sympathizing countries’

Assange slams Snowden charges ‘intimidation of sympathizing countries’

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that the Obama administration charging NSA leaker and requesting his arrest is a move to “intimidate any country” that may wish to protect Edward Snowden.

“The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights,” reads a post on Wikileaks webpage on behalf of Assange after his address from the Ecuadorian embassy in London was canceled due to security concerns.

“Tell your governments to step forward,” he added.

Assange stressed that Edward Snowden, who continues to leak classified information on the NSA’s surveillance program, is the eighth leaker “to be charged with espionage” during US President Barack Obama’s terms in office.

“It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice,” he said.

US federal prosecutors have charged Snowden with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property, and asked Hong Kong to detain him ahead of a move to extradite him. The former CIA contractor fled to Hong Kong before disclosing the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program.

Snowden has reportedly requested asylum in Iceland earlier this week via WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson. The Icelandic government has confirmed that it received Snowden’s appeal, but no decision has yet been made.

As a US citizen, Snowden is free to enter Iceland without a visa and can immediately apply for asylum. However, the US may move to arrest him before Icelandic immigration authorities decide his case. The asylum process could ultimately take more than a year, Reuters reports.

“The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified,” Assange wrote in his speech.

Assange also said earlier this week that he has been “in touch with Mr. Snowden's legal team,” and that they are working on “the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland."