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Julian Assange says Russians have left Snowden alone

Aug. 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he is certain former U.S. national security consultant Edward Snowden has not been grilled by Russian intelligence.

Assange told Britain's Fairfax Media his organization has had someone with the fugitive Snowden every day for nearly two months and there have been no debriefings by Russian security agencies.

"Since Hong Kong we have had someone physically by his side the entire time," Assange said. "We have had someone with him for 54 days."

Snowden's jump from Hong Kong to Moscow, where he received temporary asylum, raised alarm in the United States that he was spilling secrets of the National Security Agency's sophisticated metadata surveillance programs to the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB.

Assange said WikiLeaks jumped into the Snowden situation out of an obligation he said the media in general had to support whistle-blowers by keeping their identities confidential, or publicly supporting them if they are unmasked.

"There is a moral obligation, and in order to maximize the amount of important information coming to the public, you have to make the source feel comfortable with that," Assange told Fairfax, which is owned by The Age.

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