LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange parts the curtains as he starts to speak from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20, 2012 in London, England. Mr Assange has been living in the embassy since June 2012 in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
Moscow – The U.S. government is well-placed to blackmail "nearly every significant person in Latin America" because most of the region's electronic communications are routed through the United States, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday.
"Ninety-eight percent of Latin American telecommunications to the rest of the world - that means SMS, phone, email etc. - passes through the U.S.," Assange said in an interview with Russia's RT television.
U.S. intelligence agencies "can easily intercept these communications ... and therefore gain understanding of how Latin America is behaving, where it is moving, its economic transfers, the activities of its leaders and major players," he said.
"That permits the U.S. to predict in some ways the behavior of Latin American leaders and interests, and it also permits them to blackmail. Nearly every significant person in Latin America is blackmailable by the U.S.," the Australian journalist and transparency activist said.
Washington's quest to dominate the Internet and the international economy poses a threat to national sovereignty, Assange said.
He spoke with RT from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he sought refuge in June 2012 after losing a long battle in the British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct.
Assange, who denies the accusations, fears that once he is in Swedish custody, U.S. prosecutors will indict him for espionage and Washington will pressure Stockholm into handing him over.
Ecuador granted Assange political asylum more than two years ago, but Britain refuses to give him safe conduct to leave the embassy.
Documents provided by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that Washington spied on the current presidents of Brazil and Mexico and on Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.