‘Exposed US spy programme for better world’
A former CIA employee working as a contractor at the US National Security Agency said he was the man who had leaked details of a top secret US surveillance programme, acting out of conscience to protect ‘basic liberties for people around the world.’
Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicising details of an NSA programme code named PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt his country was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.
The CIA declined to comment. Both the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper – to whom he gave the documents he had purloined – published Snowden’s identity on Sunday after he sought to be identified.
‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,’ he told the Guardian, which published a video interview with him on its website.
‘The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards,’ Snowdown said.
The Guardian published revelations last week that US security services had monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook.
Some legal experts were puzzled as to why Snowden fled to Hong Kong because it has an extradition treaty with the United States while mainland China does not.
That treaty provides that Hong Kong authorities could hold Snowden for 60 days while Washington prepares a formal extradition request.Snowden said in the video that ‘Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech.’
Douglas McNabb, a Houston lawyer who specialises in extradition, said: ‘Probable cause won’t be hard’ for the United States to cite. ‘This guy came out and said, ‘I did it.’
McNabb added: ‘His best defence would probably be that this is a political case instead of a criminal one.’ The treaty prohibits extradition for political cases.