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Iran Press TV

I will fight extradition to US, whistleblower Edward Snowden says

Iran Press TV

Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:21AM GMT

Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee behind the biggest intelligence leaks in the history of the National Security Agency (NSA), says he would fight any attempt by the United States to have him extradited from Hong Kong.

Speaking out for the first time since revealing his identity as the source of information about the NSA's secret surveillance programs, Snowden told the South China Morning Post that he plans to stay in Hong Kong until he is 'asked to leave.'

He told the daily that he was not in Hong Kong to 'hide from justice," but "to reveal criminality,' noting that he 'would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts," because he has "faith in Hong Kong's rule of law.'

The former NSA contractor also accused the US of 'bullying' the Hong Kong government to return him to the US.

'I do not currently feel safe due to the pressure the US government is applying to Hong Kong, but I feel that Hong Kong itself has a strong civil tradition that whistleblowers should not fear,' Snowden said.

'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 added.

Snowden told the Post that the NSA had led more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including many in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Snowden stated he is neither a hero nor a traitor for leaking the information, saying "I'm an American.'

Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the US. Legal experts, however, said that he could remain in Hong Kong for years if he fights extradition attempts in court.

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.

On June 9, Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video recorded interview published by The Guardian.

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 works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, said he was willing to sacrifice a comfortable life because he cannot "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,' Snowden added.

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

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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