News / USA

Snowden Claims 'Significant Threats' to his Life

Edward Snowden is seen delivering his
Edward Snowden is seen delivering his "Alternative Christmas Message" on Britain's Channel 4. (Channel 4)
Reuters
Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV on Sunday about reports that U.S. government officials want to assassinate him for leaking secret documents about the NSA's collection of telephone records and emails.

In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden's first television interview, Snowden also said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden told ARD that he felt there are "significant threats'' to his life but he said that he nevertheless sleeps well because he believes he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA's activities.

"I'm still alive and don't lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,'' said Snowden at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

"There are significant threats but I sleep very well,'' he said before referring to a report on a U.S. website that he said quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying his life was in danger. "These people, and they are government officials, have said
 they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,'' Snowden said.

Questions about U.S. government spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated last June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

Reports the NSA monitored Merkel's mobile phone have added to the anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a 'no-spy' agreement with the United States, a country it considers to be among its closest allies.

"What I can say is that we know that Angela Merkel was monitored by the NSA,'' said Snowden, wearing a dark suit and loose-fitting white shirt. "But the question is how logical is it that she's the only one who was monitored, how likely is it that she was the German person the NSA was watching?

 ''I'd say that it's not very likely that anyone who was watching the German government was only watching Merkel and not her advisers nor other government officials nor ministers, heads of industries or even local government officials."

 Snowden said the NSA is active in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its national security value. He said the NSA doesn't limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm Siemens as a target.

 ''If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless, " Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia where he has claimed asylum.

Targets

Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks.

The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden.

The newspaper said the technology had been in use since at least 2008 and relied on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.

Frequent targets of the program, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.

Snowden faces criminal charges after fleeing to Hong Kong and then Russia, where he was granted at least a year's asylum.

 He was charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national security information and giving classified intelligence data to an unauthorized person.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs