Edward Snowden

Snowden Makes Distinction Between Himself and Assange in Vanity Fair Interview


Credit: Wikileaks' Youtube channel/wikimedia

The May edition of Vanity Fair, available online to subscribers on Friday, includes "a 20,000-word narrative" on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Vanity Fair's website has a preview of some of the responses Snowden gave to the magazine for the article.

Among the more interesting responses Snowden gave to Vanity Fair's questions are those that relate to his politics and how he sees himself as different from Wikileak's Julian Assange.

From Vanity Fair:

On the crucial ways he differs from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: "We don't share identical politics. I am not anti-secrecy. I'm pro-accountability. I've made many statements indicating both the importance of secrecy and spying, and my support for the working-level people at the N.S.A. and other agencies. It's the senior officials you have to watch out for."

While both Snowden and Assange have been hailed as heroes by those who favor more transparency and more accountability, both have demonstrated different attitudes about the possible impact their leaked information could have. Snowden has said he is working with journalists who are using their discretion in deciding what parts of the leaked information should be published. Glenn Greenwald, who has reported on the Snowden leaks, pointed out last month that Snowden could have uploaded all of the documents online himself:

When Snowden furnished documents to the journalists with whom he chose to work (which, just by the way, expressly did not include the NYT), he made clear that he did not believe all of those materials should be published. Obviously, if he wanted all of those documents published, he could have and would have just uploaded them to the internet himself; he wouldn't have needed to work with journalists.

Assange does not have the same attitude towards discretion. When a reporter expressed concern about Wikileaks publishing documents from the State Department that included the names of Afghans who had cooperated with Americans Assange simply reportedly replied, "So, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it."

Although Snowden did make a distinction between himself and Assange when it comes to politics, he also told Vanity Fair he admires Wikileaks:

They run toward the risks everyone else runs away from. No other publisher in the world is prepared to commit to protecting sources—even other journalists' sources—the way WikiLeaks is.

Snowden, who donated hundreds of dollars to Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2012, also told Vanity Fair that he would describe his political thought as "moderate."

The preview of Vanity Fair's article ends with a description of how Snowden, who is currently in Russia, told a German politician that he would like to be granted asylum in Germany or "another democratic state." Snowden's temporary one-year asylum in Russia ends in June, although Russian lawmaker Alexy Pushkov, who is the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Duma, has said that Russia will extend asylum protections.