Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, said Monday that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is “healthy and safe.” But Assange would not reveal Snowden’s whereabouts, amid confusion and question Monday morning about his plans to seek asylum.
“We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is. He is in a safe place. His spirits are high,” Assange said in a conference call with reporters this morning. “Due to the bellicose fritz coming from the U.S. administration at this time, we cannot … reveal what country he’s in at this time.”
Assange said that WikiLeaks has assisted Snowden in completing asylum applications. He confirmed that Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador — which is reviewing his request — and “possibly other countries.” When pressed further for specifics, Assange mentioned Iceland as one country from which Snowden has requested asylum. He said he wasn’t sure about others.
Assange confirmed that WikiLeaks has paid for Snowden’s travel from Hong Kong and legal counsel, but said Snowden paid for his own lodging in Hong Kong.
During the call, Assange and other WikiLeaks members vigorously defended Snowden as a “whistleblower” and blasted the Obama administration as a “bellicose” trying to block his safe passage by “bullying Russia and other countries.”
Snowden left Hong Kong early on Sunday and is reportedly in Russia. He was a no-show, however, for a flight from Moscow to Cuba.
When pressed on details about Snowden’s exit from Hong Kong, Assange said only: “That is a fascinating story that I’m sure will one day be told. Today is not the day.”
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