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[March 09, 2014]
Assange speaks out over controversial security agency [Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)]
(Big News Network (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has spoken to an audience of the South By Southwest Interactive forum in the US state of Texas.
Assange, speaking over a televised link from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been confined since June 2012, said people would need to come together to ensure the rolling back of the power of the National Security Agency and other surveillance agencies.
Interviewed by Benjamin Palmer of the marketing agency the Barbarian Group, Assange discussed issues including government surveillance, online democracy and the future of the Internet.
He also spoke about his life in the Ecuadorian Embassy, which he described as "a bit like prison." Explaining himself, he said while prison is far worse on many levels, he still felt hemmed in by the dozen police officers always stationed outside the embassy to make sure he doesn't abscond.
Asked for his views on how governments should handle revelations about surveillance by the National Security Agency in the United States, he said: "We have to do something about it. All of us have to do something about it. How can individuals do something about it? Well, we've got no choice." He described the NSA as "a rogue agency" that had grown in an almost unfettered way to become an organization with power to "surveil everyone on the planet," leading to a transfer of power away from the people.
He said documents that had been provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden had let everyone see that the Internet had become a tool that had been co-opted to assist in "the most aggressive form of state surveillance ever seen." Asked whether the Internet was a danger due to the NSA revelations, he said penetration of the Internet by the NSA and other spy organizations had turned it into "a military occupation of our civilian space." He described it as a very serious matter.
He claimed that any president who might try to dismantle the powers of the NSA would only be attacked "with lots of dirt." He said: "The National Security Agency has dirt on everyone." NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald are also scheduled to appear interview sessions.
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