Edward Snowden Denies
Contact with Chinese Government
June 17, 2013
The British newspaper The Guardian says a former U.S. intelligence
contractor who recently exposed some U.S. surveillance operations has
denied he had any contact with the Chinese government.
The newspaper said Edward Snowden made the comment Monday in a live
question and answer session with Internet users, hosted on The Guardian
website. Snowden has been hiding in the autonomous Chinese territory of
Hong Kong since leaking U.S. intelligence documents to several
newspapers earlier this month.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney denounced Snowden as a "traitor"
in a Sunday television interview, warning that the former National
Security Agency contractor could provide classified U.S. information to
In Monday's online interview, Snowden is quoted as calling Cheney's
assertion a "predictable smear" and saying that being labeled a
"traitor" by the former vice president "is the highest honor you can
give an American."
Snowden's comments could not be independently verified.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also denied that
Snowden has spied for China, calling the suggestion "complete nonsense."
In her Monday briefing, Hua urged U.S. authorities to pay attention to
international concerns about their surveillance operations and provide
what she called a "necessary explanation." It was the first comment by a
Chinese official on the NSA leaks.
In another part of the online interview, The Guardian quoted Snowden as
saying U.S. intelligence analysts have the ability to view the content
of U.S. citizen phone and e-mail communications without a warrant,
provided that they label such data collection as "incidental" to the
search for suspected terrorists.
Snowden also criticized other U.S. political figures including President
Barack Obama, senior members of Congress and Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper. He accused them of colluding to expand a
"suspicion-less surveillance" operation that he described as an abuse of
The former NSA contractor did not mention any specific cases of U.S.
intelligence operatives viewing private communications of Americans and
did not give any examples of alleged rights abuses by those operatives.
Some U.S. officials and lawmakers have accused Snowden of damaging
national security by tipping off U.S. enemies about previously-secret
surveillance programs and enabling them to change tactics. Snowden
rejected that charge, saying "I did not reveal any U.S. operations
against legitimate military targets."
Snowden fled to Hong Kong last month and has vowed to use its
British-rooted legal system to fight any attempt to extradite him to the
United States. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has said Snowden
is under criminal investigation but it has not filed any charges against
him or asked for his extradition.
an earlier report Monday, The Guardian said documents leaked by Snowden
show that Britain spied on diplomats attending the 2009 Group of 20
summit in London.
The newspaper said Britain's eavesdropping agency, the General
Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, hacked into the phones and
computers of Turkish and South African delegates at the summit. It said
the GCHQ also tricked some G-20 delegates into using Internet cafes that
it secretly modified to intercept diplomatic communications.
The Guardian published redacted versions of some of the documents, but
their authenticity could not be immediately confirmed. Their release
coincided with Britain hosting the first day of a Group of Eight
industrialized nations summit in Northern Ireland.