Austin: 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 yesterday 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."
Assange`s appearance at this five-day conference which will host Snowden in a similar remote interview tomorrow 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.