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Snowden talks industrial espionage, death threats in German interview


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden claimed in a new interview that the US spy agency is involved in industrial espionage and that American officials want to have him killed, even if he says he is no longer in possession of NSA documents.


In the interview aired Sunday night on German public television broadcaster ARD, 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 cited German engineering firm Siemens as a target.

“If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US 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 the whistleblower has claimed asylum.

Snowden,30, told ARD television that he was no longer in possession of any NSA documents, because he had passed them all on to a few selected journalists and that he had no further influence on the release of the files.

He also said US government representatives wanted to kill him, according to a simultaneous German translation by the station, referring to an article he had read on Buzzfeed in which US government representatives had told a reporter that they wanted to kill him.

Snowden told ARD that he felt there are “significant threats” to his life but he said that he still feels 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 filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired only 40 minutes of the interview.

International scandal

Snowden faces felony charges in the US after revealing the NSA’s mass surveillance program. He is living under temporary asylum in Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the US.

The revelations about US surveillance programs have damaged Washington’s relations with key allies, following reports that the NSA had monitored communications of European citizens, even listening in on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.
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.

Snowden addressed this monitoring in the interview, alleging that that the Chancellor probably wasn’t the only German under surveillance.

“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?”

Russian limbo

Hubert Seipel, the reporter who talked to Snowden, said he first met him in Moscow at the end of December and conducted the interview on Thursday.

Seipel described Snowden as “worried, but relaxed at the same time.” He said Snowden was studying Russian, but that he couldn’t confirm any further details about whether or not Snowden is working for a Russian Internet company, as some media have previously reported.

Industrial espionage also reported by NYT

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 that could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks.

Frequent targets of the programme, code-named Quantum, included industrial targets and units of the Chinese military, according to the Times.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

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