Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers, says he supports Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and called the suspected leaker of the most recent damaging documents a “hero” and a “patriot.”
“I admire Bradley Manning,” Ellsberg said at a press conference Thursday of the 22-year-old military analyst suspected of being a source to Assange. “He’s a hero of mine.”
He elaborated: “I see Bradley Manning as a patriot.”
That’s a clear break from many Americans — including prominent politicians — who have described both Manning and Assange as enemies of the United States.
Ellsberg said both Manning and Assange are performing a valuable service to the United States and bristled at the charge that they are terrorists. “Neither of them are more terrorists than I am, and I’m not,” he said.
He also argued that Assange is a journalist, playing the same role for Manning that the New York Times did for him during the Pentagon Papers.
Ellsberg was flanked by members of GetUp, a leftwing Australian advocacy organization, similar to Move-on.org in the United States, that launched newspaper advertisements in both the New York Times and the Washington Times on Thursday proclaiming that, “Wikileaks are not terrorists.”
They group calls for the fair treatment of Assange and condemn calls for assassination of the group’s leader. The organization says it raised $300,000 to run the ads.
GetUp has also addressed a petition to both President Obama and attorney general Eric Holder demanding that any charges brought against Wikileaks or its staff be heard “in a just and fair court of law.”
Brett Solomon, a spokesman for GetUp, sarcastically said during the news conference that he thought America stood for freedom of expression.
“If something has changed let us know,” he said mockingly.
Ellsberg and the group on Thursday also joined anti-War protesters in Lafayette Square in Washington to protest in front of the White House.