There is another Edward Snowden waiting to happen, according to Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who said that the confirmation of each surveillance parameters was extremely important for others to realise what was happening.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Assange acknowledged that Snowden would never receive a fair trial if he were to return to the USA, and there would be no possibility to conduct a meaningful defence.
He said: “That’s just a sad reflection of how the federal court system has evolved in relation to national security cases. They will make sure that the case is in Alexandria, Virginia. In fact, they already have. That’s where his grand jury is. It’s where the WikiLeaks grand jury is. It is the highest density of military intelligence contractors and government employees in all of the United States. That’s why it’s there, so they always get what they want.”
He also said that because of the knowledge Snowden has, he suspected that he imagined he would “basically be kept in incommunicado detention during the bail process, and the court case”.
He likened the experience Snowden was going through to his own exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, saying he could see the experience Edward Snowden was about to go through.
“I have been through a similar experience,” he said. “So we wanted to try and set a counterexample with Edward Snowden, that in fact you can blow the whistle, you can reveal this information to the public, which is of tremendous historical importance. It’s of importance to the ongoing development of civilization. Are we going to end up into a mass surveillance system with a very aggressive and strong military-industrial complex, or do we have an attempt to steer away from that?
“But if we could erect Edward Snowden as someone who blew the whistle and survived, and not even survived, but thrived and spoke about it and kept informing people of what was going on, then we wanted to do it, because that incentivised other sources coming forward.”
Asked what he felt to be the most significant revelation that has come out of the Snowden-leaked documents, Assange said what he thought was most surprising was not any one thing, but it was the incredible scale, the implementation of backdoors and the billions of interceptions that are occurring per day.
However he said that despite all of its surveillance and coercive powers, the NSA and the DOJ “are perfectly nasty, boring bureaucracies” who are inefficient and move slowly, and he knew this from dealings with the State Department and the Pentagon.