Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified information more than five years ago, is commenting on the arrest of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who was detained in London on Thursday, April 11 on behalf of the United States after the Ecuadorian embassy revoked his political asylum status.
Assange has been charged with computer hacking related to WikiLeaks’ release of classified government information obtained from former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.
Snowden, who previously lived in Russia under political asylum before ultimately being charged with stealing U.S. government property and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, called Assange’s arrest a “dark day for freedom” while sharing video of the 47-year-old being dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy.
“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,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”
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. Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom. https://t.co/ys1AIdh2FP
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 11, 2019
Another person to speak out against Assange’s arrest is former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who accused current president Lenin Moreno of being corrupt and a traitor for allowing police inside of the country’s embassy.
“The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange,” Correa wrote. “Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget.”
The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange.
Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget. https://t.co/XhT51MA6c6
— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 11, 2019
Assange first sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden amid a sexual assault case. He remained in the embassy and had feared being extradited to the United States for WikiLeaks’ involvement in releasing secret information about government officials.
He is also accused of leaking personal information about President Moreno’s life and family, which led to their relationship souring before his arrest.