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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/17/13

Assange: "I Am A Big Admirer Of Ron Paul"

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.  (Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett) 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange praised United States Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and his father, Dr. Ron Paul, during an interview Friday in which he said the family has been among the biggest supporters his whistleblowing group has in Congress.

Speaking from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Assange said during a live-streamed question-and-answer session that he is "a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the US Congress on a number of issues."

The Paul family, added Assange, have been "the strongest supporters of the fight against the US attack on WikiLeaks and on me."

Sen. Paul, a devout libertarian and a rumored candidate among the Republican Party's likely picks for presidential nominees for the 2016 election, has represented Kentucky in the Democrat-controlled Senate since early 2011. His father, a longtime congressman with strong libertarian leanings himself, served as a Republican member of the US House of Representatives on behalf of Texas until his retirement in January of this year.

"The Republican Party in so far as how it has coupled together with the war industry is not a conservative party at all and the Libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice in the US Congress," said Assange.

Speaking of the rift between the majority of Republican lawmakers and the libertarians more closely aligned in ethos of the Pauls, Assange said, "It will be the driver that shifts the United States around." 

"It's not going to come from the Democrats, it's not going to come from Ralph Nader, it's not going to come from the co-opted parts of the Republican Party," Assange said. "The only hope as far as electoral politics... presently, is the libertarian section of the Republican Party."

Before Rep. Paul retired from Congress, he campaigned unsuccessfully in the 2012 US presidential contest. During that race to the White House, Rep. Paul spoke in support of WikiLeaks and their most well-known source, Army Private Bradley Manning, even though the soldier's admitted actions had led other members of the GOP to call for the prosecution of both Assange and his source.

"I'd have him protected under the whistleblowers act," Rep. Paul said at a campaign stop in San Antonio, Texas last April.

"I imagine people ought to think it through, but from what I can do see from my viewpoint, is that his motivation had nothing to do with helping the enemy," he said. "You know that if anybody had ever suffered a consequence because of the release of those thousands and thousands of pages, we would have heard about it by now."

Prosecutors in the court-martial of Private first class Manning said his leaks to Assange's website violated the Espionage Act and also equated to aiding the enemy. Last month, Col. Denise Lind acquitted Manning of aiding the enemy, and is expected to sentence the soldier in the coming days for the 20 counts he was found guilty of.

And although Sen. Paul hasn't been as outspoken about his support of Pfc. Manning or WikiLeaks as his father, he's recently thrown his weight behind endorsing Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker who has also been charged with espionage for sharing secret documents with the media.

"Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy," Sen. Paul said earlier this month.

Sen. Paul has also advocated strongly against the military industrial complex and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in America's wars overseas. 

Pfc. Manning was convicted last month of leaking a trove of field reports from the Afghan and Iraq wars to WikiLeaks in which the truth behind the lengthy military operations were for the first time ever published with accuracy previously unseen. Meanwhile, Assange has been at the Ecuadorian Embassy for over a year awaiting safe passage to South America. He has been granted asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about rape allegations, where he fears he will then be shipped to the US to be tried for facilitating Manning's leaks.

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