Tuesday 21 November 2017

I am not a spy for Chinese, insists defiant whistleblower

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden

Philip Sherwell New York and Malcolm Moore Beijing

Edward Snowden, the US intelligence whistleblower, has declared that the US government will not be able to cover up his revelations about its vast data-collection programme "by jailing or murdering me".

In a defiant question and answer session on 'The Guardian' website, Mr Snowden said: "Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."

Earlier this month, Mr Snowden, a 29-year-old former subcontractor working for the US National Security Agency, fled to Hong Kong with a cache of documents that expose the scale of America's cyber-spying programmes. He was responding to a question about whether the documents he removed would still exist if something happened to him.

Mr Snowden described as a "predictable smear" the suggestion he had supplied – or would do so – intelligence to China in exchange for asylum after taking refuge in Hong Kong.

"If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing?" he wrote, initially without directly denying the point. "I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

Pressed later for a direct answer on whether he has secretly given classified information to the Chinese government, he said: "No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government."

China has denied allegations that Mr Snowden is a spy, but in an indication of how it might approach his case, the 'Global Times' state newspaper published an editorial in both its English and Chinese editions calling on Beijing not to return him to the US.

It said that it would be a "face-losing" outcome for Hong Kong and the Chinese central government if Mr Snowden was extradited and that his "whistle-blowing is in the global public interest".

In the US, Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, suggested that Mr Snowden may be a Chinese spy, adding that the choice of Hong Kong as an asylum destination "raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this".

Mr Snowden continued to insist that the NSA had great scope to access communications both at home and abroad. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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