That’s what Julian Assange told The Times magazine in an exclusive interview splashed in the Daily Mail article below.
I told whistleblower Edward Snowden to escape to Russia or risk being kidnapped and killed, claims Wikileaks founder Assange
- Assange claims he advised Snowden to choose Russia over Latin America
– Snowden was apparently concerned over the PR implications of Moscow
– Wikileaks founder has been hiding in Ecuadorian embassy since 2012
– He now claims he can no longer use the balcony for fear of assassination
By Flora Drury For Mailonline
Published: 09:23 GMT, 29 August 2015 | Updated: 12:17 GMT, 29 August 2015
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has revealed how he told Edward Snowden to flee to Russia – saying otherwise he risked being ‘kidnapped or possibly killed’.
Assange claims he told former NSA contractor Snowden to choose the controversial destination after he leaked details of the U.S. government’s wide-ranging surveillance programme to the media in 2013.
Snowden had apparently mooted Latin America as a possibility, but Assange feared it left him vulnerable to being kidnapped by the CIA.
The Wikileaks founder, who has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy since June 2012, told Giles Whittel in The Times Magazine: ‘Snowden was well aware of the spin that would be put on it if he took asylum in Russia.
‘He preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk of being kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders.’
Questioned further, Assange added he feared Snowden could be ‘kidnapped or possibly killed’.
Snowden has been living in exile in Russia ever since the documents were revealed by The Guardian, who met the American in Hong Kong.
The newspaper claims he was en route to Latin America when the U.S. government revoked his passport, trapping him in Moscow.
Assange, meanwhile, was granted political asylum by the government of Ecuador under the 1951 Refugee Convention in 2012.
He believes he risks extradition to the U.S. from the UK and Sweden, where he is under investigation for his involvement with Wikileaks. He also faces extradition to Sweden for an investigation into an alleged rape.
Over a period of nearly five years, he has been detained without charge in prison, under house arrest and inside the embassy, with round-the-clock police guard thought to cost more than £11million.
Assange revealed to The Times he no longer likes to even go out on the balcony, saying there have been ‘bomb threats and assassination threats from various people’.
Swedish officials are set to meet their Ecuadorian counterparts on Monday to find a way for Swedish prosecutors to question the Australian over the allegation.
‘It is the first time that we are going to meet and we will discuss a general agreement for judicial cooperation between the two countries,’ Swedish justice ministry official Cecilia Riddselius said on Friday.