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.
“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.
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