Statement Released to the Media today by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder:
Today the President of the United States validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower by announcing plans to reform America’s global surveillance program. But rather than thank Edward Snowden, the President laughably attempted to criticize him while claiming that there was a plan all along, “before Edward Snowden.” The simple fact is that without Snowden’s disclosures, no one would know about the programs and no reforms could take place. As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently once stated, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Luckily for the citizens of the world, Edward Snowden is one of those “people of good conscience” who did not “remain silent”, just as Pfc Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg refused to remain silent.
Ironically, the Department of Justice is betraying two key principles that President Obama championed when he ran for office transparency and protection for whistleblowers. During his 2008 campaign, the President supported Whistleblowers, claiming their “acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.” Yet his administration has prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers than all other administrations combined
Moreover, the US government’s hypocrisy over Snowden’s right to seek asylum has been stunning. America offers asylum to dissidents, whistleblowers and political refugees without regard to other governments opposition all the time. For example, the US has accepted 3,103 of their own asylees, 1,222 from Russia and 1,762 from Venezuela – http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2011/ois_yb_2011.pdf.
Today was a victory of sorts for Edward Snowden and his many supporters. As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur. Well reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude.