• Wed
  • Nov 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:52pm
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

Former CIA operative makes more explosive claims and says Washington is ‘bullying’ Hong Kong to extradite him

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 12:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:05am
 

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday emerged from hiding in Hong Kong and revealed to the South China Morning Post that he will stay in the city to fight likely attempts by his government to have him extradited for leaking state secrets.

In an exclusive interview carried out from a secret location in the city, the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst also made explosive claims that the US government had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland for years.

At Snowden’s request we cannot divulge details about how the interview was conducted.

A week since revelations that the US has been secretly collecting phone and online data of its citizens, he said he will stay in the city “until I am asked to leave”, adding: “I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the US government in the courts, because I have faith in HK’s rule of law.”

In a frank hour-long interview, the 29-year-old, who US authorities have confirmed is now the subject of a criminal case, said he was neither a hero nor a traitor and that:

  • US National Security Agency’s controversial Prism programme extends to people and institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China;
  • The US is exerting “bullying’’ diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong to extradite him;
  • Hong Kong’s rule of law will protect him from the US;
  • He is in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family.

Snowden has been in Hong Kong since May 20 when he fled his home in Hawaii to take refuge here, a move which has been questioned by many who believe the city cannot protect him.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice, I am here to reveal criminality,” he said.

Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said.

I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American

One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.

“Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer. Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight.”

Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.

“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”

Since the shocking revelations a week ago, Snowden has been vilified as a defector but also hailed by supporters such as WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

“I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American,” he said, adding that he was proud to be an American. “I believe in freedom of expression. I acted in good faith but it is only right that the public form its own opinion.”

Snowden said he had not contacted his family and feared for their safety as well as his own.

“I will never feel safe.

“Things are very difficult for me in all terms, but speaking truth to power is never without risk,” he said. “It has been difficult, but I have been glad to see the global public speak out against these sorts of systemic violations of privacy.

“All I can do is rely on my training and hope that world governments will refuse to be bullied by the United States into persecuting people seeking political refuge.”

Asked if he had been offered asylum by the Russian government, he said: “My only comment is that I am glad there are governments that refuse to be intimidated by great power”.

The interview comes on the same day NSA chief General Keith Alexander appeared before Congress to defend his agency over the leaks. It was his first appearance since the explosive revelations were made last week. Alexander’s prepared remarks did not specifically address revelations about the Prism program.

Snowden's revelations threaten to test new attempts to build US-Sino bridges after a weekend summit in California between the nations' presidents, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.

If true, Snowden's allegations lend credence to China's longstanding position that it is as much a victim of hacking as a perpetrator, after Obama pressed Xi to rein in cyber-espionage by the Chinese military.

Tens of thousands of Snowden’s supporters have signed a petition calling for his pardon in the United States while many have donated money to a fund to help him.

“I’m very grateful for the support of the public,” he said. “But I ask that they act in their interest – save their money for letters to the government that breaks the law and claims it noble.

“The reality is that I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European, or Asian.”

The US consulate in Hong Kong could not be contacted yesterday on a public holiday.

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hard times !
now our world hero,Mr.Snowden's old dad is calling him home to be tried ( a fair and open one who might land him in jail for over 100 years and be tortured inhumanely in jail ?) and it is learnt that according to a poll in the States, more than half respondents said that Snowden should be charged with committing criminal offences---leaking national secrets:the cybersurveillance of Americans in their homeland and elsewhere all over the world either by America itself or its agents--Britain,Australia,Canada and New Zealand as well.He will probably be charged with treason which might be executed too ! Or a Chinese spy as accused by Cheney ! Yet he is our benefactor whom we should never betray but instead have him highly protected until he can leave here safe and sound to a third country of his choice and build up his new life and find a new grilfriend maybe !
binghui_huangfu@yahoo.cn
Snowden, thank you so much for your courageous efforts toward a better world. Humanity is on your side.
So far the information, that you have exposed publicly, of methods for cyber attacks, using the internet hacking through the servers of organizations or individual computers, is only one of the methods being employed to attack our social structures.
There are other methods of cyber-hacking information. One is the electro-magnetic cyber attack directly onto person’s brainwaves via satellite signals. There are many victims of such attacks in all corners of the world and involving people at all levels of the society.
Such inhumane acts using cyber technology to monitor civilians have been covered up by the governments whom controlled the access of this information. We the civilians (many of the victims) have been kept in the dark. If you have the evidence of this form attack please shed some light on this issue.
Thanks. Thanks.
tony.ew.33
It's time for more people to think more open minded like Snowden. He take upon himself to behave like a Citizen Of The World to safeguard freedom for all. If we look back at the Bush era, No WMD in Iraq, it make sense we cannot trust the US government ever again. Big Brother USA is all over us and people must think for themselves instead of buying the government 'patriotic duty' nonsense while they go about abusing their powers and making all of us very uncomfortable with endless surveillance. The FBI is there, why extra layers of surveillance? This from a Free Democratic country USA or China or are they Siamese Twins with a different look?
Carparklee
Look forward to seeing next Hollywood blockbuster: <Bourne Legacy 2: Program Prism>
Azleresident
I've said it before and I'll say it again, "if the US would keep their damn noses out of everybody else's business and take care of our own, the entire world would be better off!
"Defend the borders and deliver the mail", they no longer have the wherewithal to do either!
jim.bunion
Could it be that the NSA along wih the Majority in Congress do not uphold the Constitution.
jim.bunion
This country is gone. Just waiting for the carpet to be pulled.
hard times !
I am afraid now that this Snowden is being tracked down by the CIA and FBI or NSA as well plus Beijing's National Security Bureau guys and our Security Bureau men for his whereabouts.Wish him good luck since he might be forced to go back to the States either through a kidnapping or ...He is really in great danger.Our SAR administration has the obligation to guarantee since his identity is still a visitor to the territory.Right ?
Bubble Burster
If a government wants total control and has no regard for freedom and rights of people ... then they spy on them. Yes, Obama is at odds with freedom, capitalism, our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Freedom of Religion etc.. Pssst - it's the "fundamental transformation" he promised.
Bubble Burster
Next time you need a backup of files, just contact you NSA representative and they'll retrieve it for you! After all, YOU are paying their salaries to SPY on you and keep the CONTENT in storage. The same applies to phone conversations. If you are unsure of some details to a deal, just call your local NSA rep and he/she should be able to send you a transcript or a copy of the media they recorded it on. Isn't that nice! Thank Obama! This started in 2009 and he took office in 2008.

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