WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday blasted the United States for finding Army Private First Class Bradley Manning guilty of leaking thousands of diplomatic cables.

In an interview with Vice, Assange said he was "not surprised" by the verdict and that "we succeeded" by overcoming the more serious charges, which carried a potential death sentence.

"That's the first time a U.S. military whistleblower, who is an alleged journalist source, has been convicted for espionage," Assange explained. "Here we have a case where as far as the government is concerned, there's been no victims, no one has come to harm, no evidence was produced of that, there was no claim of that. The only claim was that he was a whistleblower giving information to the public via a media organization. It cannot be the case that when a journalist source gives information to the media for noble reasons that they are charged with espionage."

"It is an attempt to set a precedent to shift how journalism is done in the United States, to make the security services un-criticizable in practice," he added. "This is an example of the collapse of the rule of law in the United States. And why does it do that? Why does the United States destroy its reputation like that? Why is it engaged in such self-flagellation to do that? Because the desire for authority is much higher than the desire for morality."

Watch this video from Vice, uploaded Aug. 1, 2013.