Toronto, April 12: American whistleblower-in-exile Edward Snowden has called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest a "dark moment for press freedom."
Snowden, who currently resides in Russia after fleeing the U.S. for fear of prosecution after he leaked reams of classified documents to expose the US government’s illegal surveillance network, has spoken out against Ecuador’s decision to revoke their asylum to Assange. Snowden wrote on Twitter, “Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of – like it or not – award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books”.
He added that the decision was an "extraordinary and very likely unprecedented revocation of what at least the United Nations considers a legitimate grant of asylum."
WATCH: Moment Julian Assange is CARRIED out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. pic.twitter.com/OEeqmoksGr
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) April 11, 2019
Julian Assange was arrested by the UK Metropolitan police based on an extradition warrant issued against him by the US government. He faces federal conspiracy charges in the U.S. related to his organisation’s leaking and publication of a huge tranche of classified US government secrets. He was also facing rape charges in Sweden but those were later dropped. Assange, who is originally from Australia, had claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012. Read: Julian Assange ‘Repeatedly Violated’ Asylum Agreement: Ecuador President Lenin Moreno
Snowden also responded to those cheering Assange’s arrest by saying, “Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom" and “I don't have to agree with every part of a man's journalism to believe he shouldn't be arrested for it".
Assange has also received statements of support from other sources. Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said the UK government should not follow up on the extradition request made by the U.S. as it would "set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistle-blowers, and other journalistic sources that the U.S. may wish to pursue in the future".
Actress Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame, who has visited the Ecuadorean embassy to support Assange, said the arrest was a "vile injustice".