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WASHINGTON — Even as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden remains in apparent diplomatic limbo at a Moscow airport, the disclosures from classified documents he took will continue, the founder of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks said Sunday.
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Mr. Snowden made sure that the information he took about U.S. surveillance programs will be published regardless of what happens to him, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said.
“Look, there is no stopping the publishing process at this stage,” Mr. Assange said on the ABC News program This Week. “Great care has been taken to make sure that Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.”
He did not directly respond when asked if WikiLeaks was in possession of the files.
Last week, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published the classified information released by Mr. Snowden, said Mr. Snowden had made encrypted copies of his files and distributed them in case anything happened to him.
Mr. Greenwald told the Daily Beast that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted, and they do not have the passwords.”
But, he said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”
Mr. Snowden left his job as an NSA contractor in Hawaii last month and went to Hong Kong before Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post published articles based on top-secret documents he took from the government that detailed U.S. surveillance programs.
After hiding in Hong Kong he fled to Moscow, where he remains at the Sheremetyevo airport.
The U.S. government has charged him under the 1917 Espionage Act with theft and passing classified communications to an “unauthorized person.”
The fallout from these revelations widened over the weekend as the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the United States had eavesdropped on European Union offices in Washington, Brussels, and at the United Nations in New York.
European leaders reacted with fury.
Some officials said they expected such surveillance from enemies, not their closest economic partner. Top officials from several E.U. nations said that the reports would figure into the future of transatlantic trade talks that began in June. The trade talks would create the world’s largest free-trade zone.
European officials said Sunday that they suspected the target of U.S. intelligence interest was economic information, not military.
Still, “Partners do not spy on each other,” said European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding in Luxembourg. “We cannot negotiate over a big transatlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators.”
Other European leaders said they felt blind-sided.
“It is shocking that the United States take measures against their most important, their nearest allies, comparable to measures taken in the past by the KGB, by the secret service of the Soviet Union,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in Brussels.
“This is not the basis to build mutual trust, this is a contribution to build mutual mistrust,” he said, adding that he felt treated like an “enemy.”
In Washington, a statement from the national intelligence director’s office said U.S. officials would respond to their E.U. counterparts and through diplomatic channels with specific nations. “As a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” the statement said, providing no further details.
Mr. Assange has said Mr. Snowden, who has sought legal advice from WikiLeaks, has requested asylum in Ecuador. But Washington revoked his passport and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa declared invalid Mr. Snowden’s Ecuadorean travel document he used to travel to Russia from Hong Kong.
Mr. Correa told Reuters Sunday that Quito can’t consider asylum for Mr. Snowden until he reaches Ecuador or an Ecuadorean embassy.