Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that India should “stand up for human rights” and provide political asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has exposed the secret US surveillance programs that snooped on internet and phone details from countries including India.
In an exclusive interview to a leading news daily, Assange also lamented on never hearing back from India on his request seeking asylum here.
"I was disappointed and saddened that India, known for upholding human rights, never got back despite several requests by me for asylum. Indians are also great supporters of WikiLeaks. I therefore contacted the foreign office through the Indian high commissioner. I wrote to them but they never responded," Assange said in the interview to a newspaper.
Assange, who is himself holed up in Ecuadorean embassy since June last year, said that if “a small nation like Ecuador could have the guts to provide him asylum, India which has considerable global standing with a billion-plus population should not be afraid of standing up for human rights and giving Snowden asylum”, the newspaper report added.
Assange who is all praises for NSA leaker Snowden, has earlier called him a hero saying, “Edward Snowden is a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious events of the decade, which was the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state,” the Australian told Sky News, adding, “What other countries need to do is line up to give support to him.”
Julian Assange has earlier advised Snowden to try to seek political asylum in Russia or South America.
Edward Snowden is a former CIA technical assistant who leaked information on the US government`s monitoring of internet use and phone records, is believed to be holed up in Hong Kong.
The NSA leaker spilled the secret about two NSA programmes that target suspicious foreign messages — potentially including phone numbers, email, images, video and other online communications transmitted through US providers.
One of the NSA programs gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records to search for possible links to known terrorist targets abroad. The other allows the government to tap into nine U.S. Internet companies and gather all communications to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.