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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-25

In a live Q&A with readers of The Guardian’s website, Edward Snowden, the American who leaked details about US surveillance programmes, discussed the reasons for his disclosure, rumours of his ties to China, and his opinions of Obama and Cheney.

Edward Snowden, the American who leaked details about US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, said on Monday that he decided to disclose the information after observing “a continuing litany of lies” from senior members of the Obama administration and US elected officials.

Politicians “lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy”, Snowden stated in a live chat with online readers of British newspaper The Guardian. “The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed.”

“It was seeing a continuing litany of lies from senior officials to Congress….that compelled me to act,” he wrote.

Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed himself as the source of leaked information about the US government’s top secret phone and Internet surveillance programs last week from Hong Kong, denied having given classified information to China. “I have had no contact with the Chinese government,” he said. “I only work with journalists.”

Snowden also said that he did not expect to get a fair trial in the US. “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 wrote.

The revelations by Snowden have led to a criminal investigation, and US officials promised last week to hold Snowden accountable for leaking details of the surveillance to the Guardian and the Washington Post.

Snowden vs. Cheney

The resulting controversy has reignited a debate about the appropriate balance between privacy rights and national security, and Snowden has been called a traitor and a hero for his actions.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was the latest to call Snowden a traitor, a label Snowden says he welcomes, coming from George W. Bush’s once-right-hand-man.

“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him ... the better off we all are,” Snowden said.

He specified that he took care not to reveal any U.S. operations against military targets.

“I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals and private businesses because it is dangerous,” he wrote in the online Q&A, adding that part of what motivated him to leak the details was his disillusionment with Obama’s failure to live up to some of his 2008 campaign promises.

“Obama’s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly,” he said. “Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-17

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