WikiLeaks' Assange talks NSA, hints at more leaks (Update)

Mar 08, 2014 by Barbara Ortutay
Fugitive WikLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks via Skype at the South By SouthWest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Assange's appearance underscores the increasing attention that the technology industry is paying to issues of online privacy, security and surveillance. (AP Photo/Barbara Ortutay)

Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking over Skype from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, said his living situation is a bit like prison—with a more lenient visitor policy.

He also hinted that new leaks are coming from WikiLeaks, though he gave no specifics on what these might be.

Assange, who has been confined to the embassy since June 2012, discussed government surveillance, journalism and the situation in Ukraine on Saturday in a streaming-video interview beamed to an audience of 3,500 attendees of the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

Assange's hour-long remote appearance was spiked with technical glitches. As the audio cut out, he sometimes asked audience members to raise their hands if they could hear him. Benjamin Palmer, the co-founder of marketing firm The Barbarian Group who interviewed Assange, at one point resorted to texting his questions.

Looking well-groomed in a white shirt, scarf and a black blazer, Assange blasted President Barack Obama's administration, saying it was not taking fellow secrets leaker Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance activities seriously.

"We know what happens when the government is serious," he said. "Someone is fired, someone is forced to resign, someone is prosecuted, an investigation (is launched), a budget is cut. None of that has happened in the last eight months since the Edward Snowden revelations."

Fugitive WikLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks via Skype at the South By SouthWest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Assange's appearance underscores the increasing attention that the technology industry is paying to issues of online privacy, security and surveillance. (AP Photo/Barbara Ortutay)

Assange's appearance at this five-day conference—which will host Snowden in a similar remote interview Monday from Russia which granted him temporary asylum—signal the growing concern in the tech community around issues of online privacy, surveillance and security, even as Internet giants like Google and Facebook reap billions in advertising revenue from collecting information about their users.

"Now that the Internet has merged with human society and human society has merged with the Internet, the laws of the Internet become the laws of society," Assange said, adding that the NSA's "penetration of the Internet" has led to a "military occupation" of civilian space.

Assange has taken asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault charge, which he has said would be merely a first step in efforts to move him to the U.S. to face charges over publishing hundreds of thousands of secret government documents.

Asked if he was afraid, Assange said he is, like any normal person.

"Only a fool has no fear. Courage is seeing fear," he said, and proceeding anyway.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has reported extensively about Snowden and the NSA's surveillance efforts, also will appear at the festival Monday. Unlike Assange and Snowden, though, he'll be there in person.

Explore further: Snowden, Assange top bill at Texas tech gathering (Update)

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LariAnn
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2014
Enough with the teasing - if you have anything of any real import to leak, then leak it, or shut up. Most of the stuff leaked so far has been known to the "paranoid" community for a long time now. If all you have is more of the same, spare us and leak something of REAL import, like the fact that world governments know that there are extraterrestrials on Earth, and that the US has made deals with them that have compromised the safety and security of the people of Earth - now that is worthy of leaking. Otherwise, it is business as usual - ho hum zzzzzzzz .zzzzzz
alfie_null
not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
Assange's much publicized incarceration in the Ecuadoran embassy probably suits the U.S. government just fine. They should send him a note of appreciation every so often.
AlexCoe
not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
It's high time that people take this all very seriously.

If we as a nation don't pick our butts up out of our easy chairs and vote people into office that will maintain a nation that actually will uphold the Constitution we are all screwed.

This isn't a right or left issue this is a freedom issue that must be addressed and right soon or it wont matter any more.