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Iran Press TV

Source of NSA leaks casts off mask

Iran Press TV

Sun Jun 9, 2013 10:35PM GMT

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old system administrator and former undercover CIA employee, has revealed himself as the source behind the biggest intelligence leaks in the National Security Agency (NSA)'s history.

Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video interview recorded in Hong Kong where he is currently staying, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

The British newspaper said Snowden flew to Hong Kong on May 20 after copying the last set of documents he intended to disclose at the NSA's office in Hawaii.

The paper pointed out that it was revealing Snowden's identity at his own request.

In the interview, he denounced what he described as systematic surveillance of innocent US citizens, saying his ' sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.'

Snowden, who has contracted for the NSA and works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, said he was willing to sacrifice a comfortable life 'because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building.'

'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,' he added.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Saturday that the NSA had filed a criminal report with the US Justice Department over the leaks.

'I hope we're able to track down whoever's doing this, because it is extremely damaging to, and it affects the safety and security of this country,' said.

Clapper defended the electronic surveillance tool PRISM, which gathers electronic communications data from companies like Facebook and Google, and a government program designed to track every phone call made within or from the United States.

The former technical assistant for the CIA, Snowden said 'I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong.'

"Allowing the US government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest," Snowden said.

Asked whether he believed his disclosures would change anything, he said "I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten - and they're talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state."

Snowden said he intends to seek asylum outside the United States.

"I intend to ask for asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy," he said.

The Guardian revealed on June 6 that a top secret US court order allows the NSA to collect data on millions of Americans who are customers of the major US phone company, Verizon.

According to the order, Verizon should "on a daily basis" give the NSA data, including phone numbers, location, and duration of all phone calls in its systems, both in the US and between the US and other countries.

On the same day, The Washington Post also reported that the NSA had direct access to Internet servers, saying their source, a career intelligence officer, was horrified of the capabilities of the systems used by the top US spy agency.

Internet giants like Apple and Facebook, however, have denied claims that they opened their doors to US spy agencies.

The new revelation comes as the administration of US President Barack Obama has already come under fire for secretly obtaining the phone records of the Associated Press journalists as well as the emails and phone records of a Fox News Channel reporter.


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