Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said on ABC'S "This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Sunday that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden who leaked secret documents to the Guardian newspaper is “a hero” and that “there is no stopping the publishing process” of the NSA documents that Snowden took with him when he left Hawaii.
Assange said, “Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can't be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.”
Assange’s organization has provided legal and logistical advice to Snowden who is believed to be still in Moscow.
Snowden “has told the people of the world and the United States that there is mass unlawful interception of their communications, far beyond anything that happened under Nixon,” Assange said in an interview by ABC at the embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has taken refuge from attempts to deport him to the United States.
Assange added that President Barack Obama “can't just turn around like (President Richard) Nixon did and said, it's OK, if the president does it, if the president authorizes it,” then the government’s surveillance program is legal.
Assange also argued that, “No one signed up for this (NSA surveillance program), Obama does not have a mandate for that. No one has a mandate for that.”
Snowden “has acted in a manner to draw attention to a very serious problem in the United States where without the will of Congress, without the will of the American population, we now have a state within a state, we have the transnational surveillance apparatus,” the Wikileaks founder said.
Edward Snowden's future now seems out of his hands as the self-proclaimed whistle-blower remains in a Moscow airport without a valid American passport. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.
By canceling Snowden’s passport, the Obama administration “has left him for the moment marooned in Russia. Is that really a great outcome by the State Department?”
But Assange gave no information the former NSA contractor’s current whereabouts or travel plans. “Our legal people have been in contact with Mr. Snowden. I can't say anything about the present situation.”
Assange also lashed out at Vice President Joe Biden for calling President Rafael Correa of Ecuador “trying to pressure him. That's not acceptable.”
Meanwhile on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a former member of the House Intelligence committee, said Snowden is no hero. “Anybody thought he was a hero to begin with, now that he's threatening in any event to share information with Russia and China, if he fact he has any information, I think that should disabuse anybody of the notion-- that he is a hero,” Pelosi said.
“I've been involved in the intelligence side of the federal government for a long time. We all know that we have to have a balance between security to protect the American people and liberty,” she said.
When asked how important she thinks it is that the United States government track Snowden down and put him on trial, Pelosi replied, “I think it's pretty good that he's stuck in the Moscow Airport. That's okay with me. He can stay there, that's fine.”
She added, “We have to know what is it that he has. And I don't know that he has that much substance, I don't know. He may know something about the (NSA surveillance) machinery. I don't know that he knows that much about the content.”
This story was originally published on Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:50 AM EDT