Assange says Britain blocks Snowden to avoid 'Assange re-run'
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that Britain has apparently barred US surveillance leaker Edward Snowden from entering the country because it does not want "another Assange" on its hands.
Snowden is hiding in Hong Kong and the United States has launched a criminal investigation after the former CIA technical assistant blew the lid on the National Security Agency's vast electronic surveillance operation.
Britain's Home Office has refused to comment on a report by the Associated Press agency that it has asked airlines not to allow Snowden to fly to Britain.
Assange is approaching the one-year anniversary of his taking refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, which he did to extradition to Sweden where prosecutors want to question him over allegations of rape.
"The British government refused entry to this country to Edward Snowden preventively. Why? Presumably because it doesn't want to end up with another Assange," the Australian told AFP and other agencies in an interview at the embassy.
"Snowden is a hero, his revelations are important to nearly everybody in the world.
"The British government should be offering Snowden asylum, not excluding him. The rule of law has gone astray in the UK -- this is another example.
Assange added: "The UK doesn't want to say no to the US in any circumstances -- not in my case and not in the case of Edward Snowden."
Assange and WikiLeaks insist that Britain's real aim in seeking to deport him to Sweden is to send him to the United States.
Bradley Manning, a US soldier accused of passing a trove of intelligence material to WikiLeaks, is currently on trial in the US accused of "aiding the enemy", chiefly Al-Qaeda.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday that Snowden was responsible for "extremely damaging" leaks and Washington was confident it will bring him to justice.
Malaysia Airlines said British authorities had asked it not to allow Snowden to board flights to the United Kingdom.
© 2013 AFP