Speaking on the one-year anniversary of his flight to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that his group has a "common cause" with Edward Snowden and is in touch with the NSA leaker's lawyers to help him seek asylum in Iceland.
A year ago, Assange took to the embassy to avoid being extradited from the United Kingdom to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual assault. Sounding fatigued from a confinement during which he has reportedly suffered from a chronic lung condition, Assange nevertheless let loose a provocative series of rhetorical questions about Snowden and The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA story, on Wednesday.
"The revelations of Edward Snowden this week lead us to ask the question: Will Glenn Greenwald be granted asylum by Brazil this time next year?" Assange said during a conference call with reporters. "Will Edward Snowden be in the same position that Bradley Manning is in ... and is the United States the type of country from which journalists must seek asylum in relation to their work?"
"It is clear to me at this stage that Mr. Snowden is being very aggressively pursued by the U.S. security sector," he said. There is an open question, he added, as to whether both Snowden and Greenwald "will be in the same position that I am in a year's time."
Snowden himself has said that the treatment of Manning, the Army private first class who was held in solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine brig for eight months after he sent hundreds of thousands of sensitive files to WikiLeaks, led him to travel to Hong Kong. He has also defended WikiLeaks as a legitimate media organization.
Echoing the claims of a WikiLeaks spokesman, Assange said on Wednesday that his group is coordinating with Snowden's representatives on his attempt to gain refuge from U.S. prosecution in Iceland.
"We are in touch with Mr. Snowden's legal team ... and are in the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland," Assange asserted.
Snowden is in hiding in Hong Kong, but Greenwald told BuzzFeed Wednesday that he is unaware of "any substantive involvement" of WikiLeaks in Snowden's search for sanctum.
Assange has good reason to fear the United States: An ongoing U.S. grand jury investigation is looking into his organization's publishing of Manning's secrets. The Australian's name has thus far been referenced 22 times in Manning's trial.
"The initial part of the proceedings generally have shown an intense focus on the Bradley Manning-WikiLeaks interaction," Assange said. "The only reasonable interpretation of that is that it's an accompaniment into the broader (Department of Justice) investigation into WikiLeaks."
Assange announced yesterday that he will not leave the Ecuadorian Embassy even if Sweden drops its extradition request, fearing the U.K. still might extradite him to the U.S. for prosecution.
Ecuador is in ongoing discussions with the U.K. over the fate of Assange. The country's foreign minister said earlier this week that Ecuador remains "firmly committed" to protecting Assange. However, Ecuador also recently recalled its ambassador to the U.K., reportedly because she had failed to resolve the asylum row.
Asked by HuffPost whether he has concerns about the diplomatic shake-up, Assange responded that it was well-known that the ambassador's return to Ecuador had been in the works for months.
"No, I'm not worried at all," Assange said. "I'm of course worried about the state of journalism."