Julian Assange might have been responsible for Edward Snowden’s decision to take political refuge in Russia.
The WikiLeaks co-founder said that he had advised the NSA whistle-blower to choose Russia over Latin America, which was Snowden’s original choice for taking asylum. Assange asked Snowden to move to Russia “despite the negative PR consequences.”
“My assessment is that he had a significant risk of being kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders…kidnapped and possibly killed,” Assange said in an interview with The Times. He said that Snowden was “well aware” of the consequences of taking asylum in Russia.
The former NSA agent, facing a number of charges including theft of government property and espionage, went to Russia in 2013. He was given a Russian residence permit for three years in August 2014. If Snowden comes back to the United States, he may face up to 30 years of imprisonment, Russia Today reported.
Assange, on the other hand, fears using the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London due to “bomb threats and assassination threats from various people.” The 44-year-old Australian computer programmer believes that he may have to be at the embassy for four more years.
“There have been bomb threats and assassination threats from various people… I’m a public figure and a very controversial one, including in the United States,” Assange said in the interview, “As a result there have been quite a number of threats by unstable people.”
Assange, however, does not believe he will be killed by a U.S. drone attack unless he gets converted to Islam. He refuses to travel to Sweden to get interrogated in connection with a rape allegation even though he denies it. He fears that he may be extradited to the U.S. for releasing a significant number of classified U.S. intelligence data.