Julian Assange Really Wants In on this Edward Snowden Story

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange attends a press conference in central London, on July 14, 2011. Assange discussed Wikileaks' relationship with Visa Europe and Mastercard Europe during the press conference. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: BEN STANSALL/2011 AFP

As advocates for government transparency, the parallels between NSA leaker Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks are obvious. The ideological similarities — and potential for branding alliances — have not been lost on Julian Assange, who gave a quick I told you so when Snowden first came forward, and continued today to stress his connection with the hottest new international outlaw in the world. "I feel a great deal of personal sympathy with Mr. Snowden," Assange told reporters from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's been holed up for a year, much to the detriment of WikiLeaks' actual leaking and his personal profile. The Snowden saga is an easy way back into the conversation.

"We are in touch with Mr Snowden's legal team and have been, are involved, in the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland," said Assange, echoing the news yesterday from WikiLeaks spokesman and journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson that an "informal" request for asylum had been made. "Our people in Iceland have been in contact with his legal team."

That Assange would want his foundering organization attached to Snowden's rise is not surprising from what we know of his knack for self-promotion. But according to the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, who has worked closely with Snowden through the ongoing leaks, Assange may be overstating the relationship. "I'm not aware that WikiLeaks has any substantive involvement at all with Snowden, though I know they’ve previously offered to help," he told BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray. "I know [Snowden] admires WikiLeaks' past work, but I don't know of any involvement he's ever had with them, on asylum or anything else."