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article imageSnowden still sleeps well despite death threats — new interview

By Robert Myles     Jan 27, 2014 in World
Moscow - Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, last week gave an interview to German broadcaster ARD, broadcast on German television Sunday evening. In the interview, Snowden claims the NSA indulged in widespread industrial espionage.
In the same interview, Snowden, who, meantime, remains in Russia having been granted temporary asylum there, also touched on threats to his life and hinted that there may be other national leaders whose private conversations were monitored by the NSA. Snowden also reiterated his view that his disclosures have served the public good.
The revelation that the NSA had tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone has caused outrage in Germany, a country where memories of the repressive East German secret police, the Stasi, from the communist era, still strike a raw nerve. Last week, as Deutsche Welle reported, President Obama, interviewed by German station ZDF TV, acknowledged mistakes had been made in monitoring the German Chancellor’s communications and gave an assurance there would be no repeat.
Earlier Snowden disclosures also suggested the Presidents of Mexico and Brazil had had their communications accessed under the NSA’s surveillance programs.
Interviewed by German journalist Hubert Seipel, during the half-hour interview, recorded in a Moscow hotel room, 30-year-old Snowden spoke of the indiscriminate way the NSA gathered information, tantamount to industrial espionage. Snowden’s latest claim that the NSA was engaged in industrial spying, even on European allies, is likely to make it even more difficult for the US to rebuild trust with friendly states, coming on top of earlier disclosures concerning eavesdropping on leading political figures in other countries.
Snowden referred specifically to the giant German engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens, telling the interviewer, “If there is information at Siemens that they [the NSA] think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it."
On his own safety, Snowden said he feared some in the US establishment want him eliminated, but despite that, he manages to sleep well because he is convinced he acted in the public good.
He alluded to an article recently published on BuzzFeed. A current NSA analyst reportedly told the website, “In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself.”
That was a sentiment shared, apparently, by an unnamed Pentagon official whom BuzzFeed quoted as saying, “I would love to put a bullet in his head. I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”
In Sunday’s interview, Snowden disputed claims he was a traitor, posing the question, “Who did I betray?”
Snowden said he had acted individually to uncover the NSA’s gargantuan appetite for surveillance. Future revelations, he explained, were out of his control as he had passed all documents he once possessed to journalists. It was these journalists who would decide what further leaked material should be published in the public interest.
Dissecting the public interest argument, Snowden said it would be "increasingly clear that these revelations have caused no harm." He contended the public have a right to know what government is doing in their name, "and what the government is doing against the public."
He added, "If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public, to American journalists."
On the matter of asylum, the clock is ticking on the one year temporary asylum that Russian authorities granted Snowden last August. Snowden was asked whether he had applied for asylum in Europe. So long was the entire list of countries to which approaches had been made, said Snowden, that he could no longer recall the complete list. Germany, France and the UK, he said, were among the European countries that’d declined to help.
Although Snowden remains a fugitive from US justice, having previously been charged with a range of alleged offences including theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national security information and giving classified intelligence data to an unauthorised person, this week brought a ray of hope that a country other than Russia might consider an asylum request.
In Brazil, relations with the US soured following revelations last September that the NSA may have intercepted the personal communications of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef. So furious was the Brazilian government that Roussef cancelled a state visit to the US scheduled for October 2013. Brazil also backtracked on an intended purchase from Boeing of 36 F-18 fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force, a contract worth more than $4 billion. At the time, Brazilian officials told Reuters that Brazil couldn’t buy such strategic aircraft from a country it couldn’t trust.
This week, Brazilian members of campaigning organization Avaaz launched an online petition addressed to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and Minister of Justice, José Eduardo Cardozo. The petition calls for the Brazilian government to grant political asylum to Edward Snowden.
The petition went online Jan 26, with a target number of signatures of 1.25 million. As at the time of going to press — just over 24 hours since the petition was launched — the signature count had just shaded over 1,050,000.
Note: For licensing reasons, the online clip of Edward Snowden’s interview on German broadcaster ARD cannot be viewed outwith Germany, but ARD published a transcript of significant parts of the Snowden interview (in German) on their website.
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