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Assange says Obama's NSA reform vindicates Snowden

Aug. 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

LONDON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama's plan to review the National Security Agency's surveillance programs vindicates whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Julian Assange says.

Assange, the head of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, released a statement Saturday, just a day after Obama drafted steps to reform intelligence gathering measures, CNN reported.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for over a year after losing appeals fighting extradition to Sweden for questioning in a sexual assault case.

"As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur," Assange said. "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."

Snowden fled the United States to China, then Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum.

Obama has said that Snowden's leaks give a false general impression that "we are somehow out there willy-nilly sucking information from everybody."

However, the president said that he is working with Congress to improve the telephone data surveillance program and improving transparency to provide as much information to the public as possible.

Other steps Obama said another step being taken to reform intelligence is the appointment of a high-level, independent group of outside experts to review surveillance technologies.

Meanwhile, Assange said such reforms would never have happened if Snowden hadn't leaked NSA information.

"The simple fact is that without Snowden's disclosures, no one would know about the programs and no reforms could take place," Assange said.

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