Defiant Snowden vows more leaks

Defiant Snowden vows more leaks

Defiant Snowden vows more leaks

Kong. Snowden attended the live chat on The Guardian’s website. AP photo

Former CIA officer Edward Snowden issued a defiant rebuke to his critics in Washington on June 17 and warned more leaks were on the way, declaring: “Truth is coming and it cannot be stopped.”

The 29-year-old former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) dismissed allegations he was a traitor or a Chinese agent, and insisted he had exposed a dangerous U.S. global surveillance network that threatened the privacy of millions. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration claimed that the programs exposed by Snowden’s leaks were vital to protecting U.S. citizens from terrorism, but the revelations have triggered an embarrassing global debate. Snowden, who fled last month to Hong Kong carrying with him a cache of secret documents, is unrepentant, and has vowed to expose more details about how U.S. agents spy on private emails.

“More details on how direct NSA’s accesses are coming,” he said, in an online interview hosted by The Guardian daily, repeating his allegation that U.S. federal agents have access to private users’ Web traffic.

Obama defended top secret spying programs as legal, and called them transparent. “It is transparent,” he said in an interview June 17, the Associated Press reported. A senior administration official said the president had asked the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to determine what more information about the two programs could be made public, to help better explain them. The NSA also said it plans to reveal details about terror plots it says were thwarted by surveillance, part of an effort to assuage concern about secret snooping.

Back door access

The degree to which U.S. agencies have direct access to private communications stored on servers operated by private Internet giants has proved to be one of the more controversial aspects of the revelations. Firms like Google and Facebook say they provide information only when presented with a court order, and deny that they have effectively given the NSA “back door” access directly to their data banks. But Snowden repeated his claim that almost any intelligence analyst with access to the NSA signals intelligence database could target almost anyone’s emails or phone metadata and that warrants were rarely audited. “They can enter and get results for anything they want,” he said.

“Phone number, e-mail, user ID, cell phone handset ID (IMEI) and so on. It’s all the same. The restrictions against this are policy-based, not technically-based, and can change at any time,” he said according to Agence France-Presse. “They excuse this as ‘incidental’ collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications,” he added. The young technician has been attacked in Washington for fleeing to Hong Kong instead of voicing his concerns about the scope of the program through official channels.

Şimşek wait for ministry

But he insisted that he would not have got a fair hearing at home. “All I can say right now is the U.S. is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me,” he said. Some in Washington have suggested Snowden chose Hong Kong because he was working with U.S. rival China, but he dismissed this as laughable. “If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said yesterday that he would take his time before taking any initiative concerning claims that the U.K. eavesdropped on him, noting that Foreign Ministry officials are currently working on the issue. “I will act according to their advice upon our ministry officials’ work,” Şimşek said, when asked whether he planned to file a personal complaint.

The British government eavesdropped on Şimşek and his delegation during the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in London in 2009, The Guardian reported on June 17. In a swift reaction, Turkey has asked for a “satisfying” explanation from Britain.