Snowden criticizes indictment of Assange over unspecified documents

Washington: Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden on Saturday voiced his concern over the indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the basis of unspecified documents. He has been charged in the United States after unsealed court documents inadvertently revealed his name.

Sputnik reported that the former NSA contractor is himself facing capital punishment in the US for leaking classified information on numerous US secret surveillance programmes. He has been granted a political asylum in Russia, at present.

The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him. The information was contained in a court filing in an unrelated case. The charges are unclear since they were not revealed.

Sources confirmed Snowden’s concern that the US Justice Department’s alleged plans to prosecute Assange may turn out to be a dangerous precedent for stifling press freedom.

Sputnik quoted Snowden, having said in a statement, “Whether you like Assange or hate him, the theories used in a potential Espionage Act prosecution would threaten countless reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post, and the many other news outlets that report on government secrets all the time. While everyone will have to wait and see what the charges detail, it’s quite possible core First Amendment principles will be at stake in this case.”

Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information on numerous US secret surveillance programs in 2013, faces espionage charges in the US and may face life imprisonment or even capital punishment if he is ever tried on the US soil. The political asylum he received from Russia later that year is expected to expire in 2020 unless extended.