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NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Speaks Exclusively to South China Morning Post

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Speaks Exclusively to South China Morning Post

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked details about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program to the press, gave an exclusive interview Wednesday to the South China Morning Post.

Through a series of articles that have been staggered throughout the day, Snowden tells the outlet that he intends to stay in Hong Kong and let them decide his fate.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.

Snowden says he has committed no crimes in Hong Kong and has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s legal] system”.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said.

Snowden claims that the US is bullying Hong Kong to hand him over.

“I heard today from a reliable source that the United States government is trying to bully the Hong Kong government into extraditing me before the local government can learn of this [the US National Security Agency hacking people in Hong Kong]. The US government will do anything to prevent me from getting this into the public eye, which is why they are pushing so hard for extradition.”

He also told the outlet that he has not contacted his family or his girlfriend.  Snowden abandoned his live-in girlfriend of several years without giving her any notion of his intentions, leaving her behind to fend off frenzied media and feds on her own.  He also gave no notice to his family.

“I have not spoken to any of my family,” he said.  But, he added: “I am worried about the pressure they are feeling from the FBI.”

Activists in Hong Kong have rallied around Snowden since he arrived, with a march planned for Saturday.

Earlier, in the interview in which he revealed his identity to the world, Snowden explained that he had sought refuge in Hong Kong because it “has a strong tradition of free speech” and “a long tradition of protesting in the streets.”

Local activists plan to take to the streets on Saturday in support of Snowden. Groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and international human rights groups will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the US consulate on Garden Road, starting at 3pm.

The march is being organised by In-media, a website supporting freelance journalists.

“We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, while the revelations about the NSA surveillance program are undoubtedly concerning, questions are mounting amidst the fast-paced media coverage as readers try to digest all the information and separate facts from fiction.

Previous coverage at Legal Insurrection:

Five Clarifications We Can’t Ask of Edward Snowden

Former NSA Employee Leaked Surveillance Details Prior to Snowden

Edward Snowden Unveiled as Source Behind the NSA Leaks


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“I am here to reveal criminality” “United States government is trying to bully” “I am worried about the pressure they are feeling from the FBI.”

I detect something very Chinese in these quotes. These are not normal Americanisms. Is there a translation involved here?

    Paul in reply to Valerie. | June 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    If it were a Chinese Translation problem, we’d be hearing of the “harmonious auspicious manner in which HK protects the rights of dissidents”, and the “discord which the US has created in Sino-American relations” with these allegations.

    Bite the wax tadpole, after all. English speakers have just as much trouble translating into Chinese.

    Snowden could have made his revelations to a sympathetic Senator like Rand Paul and looked a lot better than he does now. Doing this and then running was a very bad idea. Snowden is a criminal in my mind and at a minimum a show boater with very bad judgment.

      Sanddog in reply to EBL. | June 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      If what he reported is true… as far as all Americans having their data warehoused, I really don’t care about Snowden’s motives. With all the shrieking and scrambling coming out of DC, I’d wager he hit pretty damned close to home. That’s the big story, Snowden’s just a footnote.

        Agreed, and it is not mutually exclusive that Snowden is a criminal and what the NSA did was absolutely wrong.

          Sanddog in reply to EBL. | June 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

          Part of the problem with saying… go to your supervisor, call your representative is that if your Rep isn’t cleared to know about the program, you’re still violating the law. You obviously can’t follow channels through the business you work for because they’re going to inform the NSA and I’m not exaggerating to say at that point, your safety and liberty are at extreme risk. If your Rep questions the NSA, they’re going to say you’re a nutty crank who can’t be trusted. The NSA is now going to be eyeballing your representative and your name isn’t going to stay secret for long.

          If I had evidence of gross constitutional violations by a secret US agency, I’d go to the media as well. What I wouldn’t do is fly to Hong Kong.

casualobserver | June 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

The South China Morning Post is either inundated with traffic or somehow blocked or suffering from reduced access. From this site and from Drudge I have received timeout server errors 4 times today, so far, without landing on a page.

I also would suggest one possibility for Snowden remaining in Hong Kong is that he is otherwise locked in – meaning traveling to any other country that has suggested it might be lenient (like Iceland) is too risky or impossible. So, it would make sense that he would allow some further anti-American intelligence statements to a Chinese newspaper. He’s looking for as many ‘friends’ in political positions as he can get.

trust but verify. then re-verify. then re-re-verify.
examine the data he gives but don’t just blindly accept what he says.
time will tell on his motives or desires.

What if the IRS was indeed gathering membership lists in order to form data profiles & map networks of all political opposition? A rogue government, far beyond the control of a senator, etc.

I have serious suspicions regarding Snowden. I also understand that if you have what he claims you really want to be somewhere where you have the best chance of surviving the ordeal.

If Snowden stayed in the US, he would be arrested and summarily convicted — he disclosed secret documents and he admitted it. The Verizon order he disclosed is remarkable in the breadth of the info collected and the secrecy injunctions imposed. Verizon can tell NO ONE about the order. So our Justice is not only blind, it’s deaf and dumb too.

The purpose of the Hong Kong gambit is now materializing. The western press is free to operate there, so his access to (and employment with) media outlets will not likely be curtailed. I suspect that Snowden has the right to demand an extradition hearing and have appeal rights too; one can only imagine the unending inquires by Hong Kong officials for witnesses and documents concerning the nature of this crime, and into the extent to which the US seeks to keep its surveilance of Chinese persons a secret. I doubt the US will appear for any such hearing, and I doubt Snowden will be extradited.

People keep wondering how a GED flunky could get access to so much secret material — but now we’re seeing that this guy is no flunky.

The more that this guy opens his mouth, the more he resembles Assange and company.

He needs to be collected and rendered back here ASAP.

I have a healthy respect for whistle blowers in general but when the motive is politics, that respect is negated…

    Sanddog in reply to GrumpyOne. | June 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    So it’s okay for these programs to keep operating in secret if the leaker has political motives?


      Estragon in reply to Sanddog. | June 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      The two things are not linked. You can change the programs, tighten the oversight, reform the whole process – and still hang the traitor.

        GrumpyOne in reply to Estragon. | June 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm

        Exactly. Process improvement covers a range of operations and is continuous.

        An organization is only as good as its perceived integrity…

BannedbytheGuardian | June 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm

HK uses English & Welsh law framework. Thus the precedent of Assange being unable to beat a simple return to Sweden order means Snowden has little chance of beating an extradition request by America.

Assange’s defence was that he would be transported to the Us because Sweden has an extradition agreement. Assange had the very best lawyers & the costs were in the millions of pounds.

As for a history of freedom etc – wtf – Britain forced China to hand HK over & most most most reluctantly let China regain their property.

Ironically the rule of law won out. Cue the High Commissioners sad sad face .

As a novel this could be ‘The SanPan ‘ of the 21st century.

The point being made by sober conservatives who have managed to take a breath or two is that Greenwald is not a reputable source and we know nothing about Snowden. Believing his claims – of which several have already been debunked – is not something a prudent person would do.

Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech?? And a long tradition of demonstrating? He has faith in their rule of law?? Wow, he really IS a high school dropout, isn’t he!

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to carolmcl. | June 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Actually the laws were / are quite good. China might have detested getting beaten & dumped & opiumed but they quite admired The British Empire. They like to do business in nations that have British based laws.

    They like order.