Leaker vows details on NSA access to tech servers

12:54 PM, Jun 17, 2013   |    comments
Edward Snowden, 29.
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Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, answering questions in a live blog on his revelations about the top-secret agency, said Monday that he will release more details on the NSA's "direct access" to the servers of tech companies.

"Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped," Snowden wrote, according to The Guardian, which held the live blog on its website.

He said the U.S. government "is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me."

Snowden, who took immediate refuge in Hong Kong, also denied any plans to give information to China in exchange for asylum.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor who fled the U.S. after revealing top-secret details on the government's collection of Americans' phone and Internet records, has said he "does not expect to see home again."

He did not elaborate on when he would reveal more information, but said, "the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on -- it's all the same."

SIGINT refers to "Signals Intelligence," or the collected communciations data.

He said the restrictions to getting such data is "policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time."

In response to a question as to why he fled to Hong Kong enclave, Snowden said, the U.S. government "immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home..."

He said the U.S. government openly declared him guilty of treason and claimed his actions were "an unforgivable crime."

"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 wrote.

He also suggested that it was easier to go to Hong Kong rather than risk being interdicted on the way to Iceland, which also appeared to be a likely haven.

Snowden was dismissive of charges that he has or will exchange U.S. information to China in exchange for asylum.

He called the charge a "predictable smear" from a U.S. media with a "knee-jerk'RED CHINA!' reaction" to anything involving Hong Kong or or China.

" Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now," he said.

Snowden also insisted that he did not 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. "These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target."

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Snowden said he did not release the documents during the prior administration because Barack 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."

"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." Snowden wrote.

Snowden also said that Google, Facebook and other tech companies had been "misleading" in their denials of a giant government surveillance program called PRISM.

"They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation," he said. "If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?"

The British newspaper had asked readers to post their questions to Snowden and recommend their favorites.

The blog was monitored by reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA story two weeks ago based on Snowden leaks.

Underscoring Snowden's delicate situation in taking on the NSA, the newspaper included what it called "an important caveat":

"(The) live chat is subject to Snowden's security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient."

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