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Edward Snowden

30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian

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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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.
donniemcm
You just sound like a proud guy that was happy of the results of WW1 and WW2.
pat1425
If you are a U.S. citizen, you should value the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. Obviously, you don't.
criticalthinker1982
To everyone calling this guy some kind of traitor. Why is it ok for the govt to spy on you, but if I were to put cameras in your bedroom and tap your phone calls I would be put in prison, and everyone would hate me for invading your privacy. Why can govt goons in milti billion dollar building snoop? Why is that ok? If you really have "nothing to hide" as all the snowden haters say, then let me come over and sit in your house while you cook, clean, listen to all your calls, look at you in bed.. etc. Whats the difference?
Made in Thailand
they're not sitting in your livingroom. They are listening for key words like " ammonium nitrate, explosives, car bombs, etc. that terrorist use in conversations. We was told this was gonna happen after 9-11 when the patriot act came out so why the surprise?? It's intelligence used to stop terrorist. If you are a terrorist then worry, if not then why worry.
paradox314
Too much information concentrated in one secret place without controls and public checks is very dangerous. Germans trusted their government in 1935. Shall we just naively trust the US govt now? Why are they invading my privacy? I'm neither American nor am I living in the USA. Are they now a World government?
carmeledwin
Why should we trust the US Government when history shows us that they are hypocrites and cannot be trusted.
Bubble Burster
Obama is the hypocrite. When his lips move and sound emits, he's lying. Accept the opposite of what he says and you will know the truth. Notice this started in 2009. Obama first took office in 2008. Obama is NOT to be trusted. He is destroying the United States.
scootervanneuter
This isn't any big revelation. How should our country react to another that's stealing our military and civilian secrets?
This kid is a traitor, nothing less -
pseudotriton
Basically an eye for an eye. Goes to show that the US is really not above some of the "authoritarian regimes" it so loves to criticize.

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