Assange: NSA leaker could face same fate as Bradley Manning

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that the source who leaked details about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program could face the same fate as Bradley Manning, the Army private on trial for espionage and treason.

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“Bradley Manning is facing a capital offense,” Assange said on CBS’s "This Morning." “Prosecutors have said they will only ask for life imprisonment, but that is effectively a living death. 

"The big story at the moment is the national security agency leaks," he said. "Let’s ask ourselves whether the whistle-blower who has revealed those, and there’s more to come, is going, in three years time, to be in exactly the position that Bradley Manning is in today.”

Manning on Monday began court martial proceedings in which he faces 22 counts of aiding the enemy along with violations of the Espionage Act. The 25-year-old soldier has been in custody since 2010 for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified Pentagon and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday bemoaned a “culture of leaks” in the wake of The Guardian’s report on the NSA’s domestic seizure of phone records.

Many lawmakers knew of the practice, which had been going privately on since 2007, and defended it as a critical tool in the war on terror.

Feinstein said an investigation into the leak was likely. The Justice Department is already under fire for its aggressive surveillance of reporters in other leak investigations.