Washington: ‘Rogue intelligence technician Edward Snowden said on Monday that the US government would not be able to halt his revelations about its secret surveillance programs.
“All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped,” Snowden said in an online interview hosted by the Guardian newspaper.
Responding to questions posted by Guardian readers and reporters, the 29-year-old leaker said he had fled to Hong Kong before exposing the programs because he did not feel he would get a fair hearing in the United States.
“The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason,” he said.
“That’s not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it,” he said.
Some in Washington have suggested Snowden chose Hong Kong because he was working with US rival China, but he said he had picked his destination as somewhere the government could withstand US diplomatic pressure.
“Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored,” referring to his decision last month to leave his job at the National Security Agency’s base in Hawaii.
“There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained.”
Snowden was employed by a private contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, to help maintain the NSA’s secret computer networks in Hawaii, and left with what he says was large quantity of classified documents related to its surveillance programs.
In Hong Kong, he gave an interview to the Guardian and passed on evidence that the agency gathers telephone data from millions of US citizens and scoops up vast amounts of data on private Internet traffic around the world.
US authorities have condemned the leak and launched an investigation, but so far they have made no formal extradition request to the Hong Kong authorities.