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  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 9:38pm
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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carmeledwin
So you trying to tell us that they have the right to hack into European systems, Japanese systems, Filipino systems, Thai systems etc? You must be joking!
They complain about China hacking into US systems, who are they to judge or complain when they are doing exactly the same thing, and very likely earlier than China.
sudouest
You should rethink what you have just said, or go to a "re-education camp". You can reverse your arguments, and it is still correctly put.
david.schneider.9638
I could care less if the NSA are watching me. They have always watched everyone. Who cares? What freedoms have I been denied by them doing this. None.
If he did not like what they were doing he did not have to take the large paychecks they issued him. Same for all government operators.
If I do not like my employer I quit. No matter what. If he does not like the US politics he could have quit. He took an oath. So he stands for nothing along with anyone in any agency who compromise freedoms or policy.
All large nations spy. No matter what they tell you. They all do it and can get your information in a flash. Who cares. That is what they do and they will continue to do it until people stop living in fear of each other's race or nationality of politics.
Is he a patriot? No.
Is he a hero? No
Is he helping the world by coming forward? Doubt it.
It just feeds stories like these for people to have an opinion to distract them from what the people really care about: Jobs and education and toilets that flush and do not back up.
He has watched too many Bourne Identity movies.He needs help.
The NSA and CIA and the KGB and the PLA all do this and if we have not believed they have done these things for years with the cooperations of the rich and powerful and we are very blind.
Who really cares. What do you have to hide?
The only thing I look at is keeping data on me and many people I know is a huge waste of money. Plain and simple.
Bubble Burster
In the United States, we are supposed to have a government that is limited with its parameters established by our Constitution. This notion that the federal government can monitor everyone’s phone data is a major departure from how Americans have traditionally viewed the role of government.
If this is acceptable practice, as the White House and many in both parties now say it is, then there are literally no constitutional protections that can be guaranteed anymore to citizens.
In the name of security, say our leaders, the Constitution has become negotiable.
This is what the White House is saying when it defends the National Security Agency’s gathering of Verizon’s client data en masse, or what President Obama calls a “modest encroachment” on our rights, as he assures us that “Nobody is listening to your phone calls.”
Anytime we give up our liberty—we lose.
Perhaps he can also assure us that nobody at the Internal Revenue Service is targeting political dissidents.
Perhaps he can assure us that nobody at the Justice Department is seizing reporters’ phone records.
more here:
****www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/12/sorry-mr-obama-constitution-is-not-negotiable/?intcmp=trending
This started in 2009. Obama took office in 2008. Yes, this is part of the "fundamental transformation" he promised. He is making the U.S.into something hideous. I am sorry to see that you are too ignorant and shallow to understand that.
tkruemmer
In the name of fighting terrorism a new McCartyism has broken out. The very institutions that are to protect our civil rights are ignoring these rights, at home and abroad. Prism mirrors the European Echelon, an equally violent violation of civil rights. Successful terrorists will probably not rely on the internet, rendering all these expensive and unlawful exercises useless.
bernard.wijeyasingha
Edward Snowden is a true American for standing up to the Federal Government which under this administration has made a mockery of the Constitution, the Gettysburg address where President Abraham Lincoln at the end of the speech stated "..a government for the people, by the people and to the people". This government has acted in a manner that is "a people for the government, by the government and to the government". We need more people like Mr. Snowden to out this governments covert activity against it's own constituents who voted most of them into power. Mr. Snowden sacrificed his own freedom for that of others and that is the true spirit of an American.
secrets
Edward Snowden is a hero. He was willing to give up everything to reveal the truth in America. It's a testament to how hypocritical the American government is. If Edward Snowden was really a traitor, or wanted to harm the U.S, he would just take down the NSA's network, reveal information about bases and their missions. Doing something like this proves that he is not against the government itself, but rather, the wrongdoings of the government.
Made in Thailand
Snowden is a COWARD and a TRAITOR to his country!! Hope he stays in Hong Kong and ends up eating squid burgers the rest of his life. I am an american that had a secret clearance once and though I didn't agree with everything I saw or heard, I kept my mouth shut like I promised when I signed on the dotted line. This so called "man" has no honor and should be treated like a fleeing traitor and any newspaper that exposes stolen govt secrets should be prosecuted too.
Bubble Burster
Are you also a fan of Hitler? I forget his name but one of his henchmen kept index cards of his political enemies and he was loved by Hitler. Yes, you'd make a good follower of Hitler. Yes, keep your mouth shut, be a COWARD. Fall for anything because YOU stand for NOTHING! Yes, you have NO HONOR. YOU proudly signed it away on the dotted line and PROUD of it. It's no wonder Snowden bothers you. Snowden is everything YOU ARE NOT. You have no character, honor or courage to stand up for what is right - Made in Thailand.
Bubble Burster
Are you also a fan of Hitler? I forget his name but one of his henchmen kept index cards of his political enemies and he was loved by Hitler. Yes, you'd make a good follower of Hitler. Yes, keep your mouth shut, be a COWARD. Fall for anything because YOU stand for NOTHING! Yes, you have NO HONOR. YOU proudly signed it away on the dotted line and PROUD of it. It's no wonder Snowden bothers you. Snowden is everything YOU ARE NOT. You have no character, honor or courage to stand up for what is right - Made in Thailand.

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