Guardian hosts Q&A with Edward Snowden - Tucson News Now

NSA leaker: 'This country is worth dying for'

Self-proclaimed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden participated in an online Q & A Monday with "The Guardian." Self-proclaimed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden participated in an online Q & A Monday with "The Guardian."
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(RNN) – Edward Snowden gave a clear warning to the U.S. government Monday: Neither his incarceration or death would prevent the release of information he gathered on "unconstitutional acts."

"Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped," he said.

Snowden, the source of leaks on PRISM and other American surveillance programs, gave answers for nearly two hours in a live online chat with The Guardian Monday. Questions ranged from his mindset before and after his act of defiance to whether he was a Chinese spy.

He gave his thoughts on the responses from Google, Facebook, Apple and others that were allegedly targeted by PRISM.

Slides released through Guardian and The Washington Post portrayed the NSA as having direct access to the technology giants' servers – emails, chats, photos and every other byte of information on billions of people.

Companies involved denied they allowed "direct access" to the federal government.

"Their denials went through several revisions as it became more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies," Snowden said. "As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we're finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception."

Snowden, who worked for the CIA and NSA before joining private firm Booz Allen Hamilton, said being called a Chinese spy was a "predictable smear" he expected to happen. He claimed it was done in order to distract people from misconduct by the federal government.

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

He wrote at length when responding to most of the questions. One exception came when a person asked what he would say to others who could shine a light on how intelligence operation may infringe civil liberties.

"This country is worth dying for," Snowden said.

When asked why he had not come forward with the information before, Snowden replied he had "faith" Barack Obama would end many of the programs. He had believed Obama's campaign promises and election would lead to the problem getting fixed.

"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," he said.

Snowden fled the country for Hong Kong prior to the information release to avoid being jailed. He chose to reveal his identity days after the first related story broke June 5 on how Verizon phone records were being collected.

He was reportedly staying at a hotel but has since moved to a secret location within Hong Kong.

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