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The former contractor who leaked documents about America’s digital surveillance operations showed that the US intelligence community has turned into the “United Stasi of America.” In an op-ed article on The Guardian website, Daniel Ellsberg wrote that the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s spying on Americans and the citizens of other countries on the Internet reminds people of Stasi, East Germany’s repressive intelligence and secret police. Edward Snowden’s leaking of top secret documents about the extensive surveillance of all the Internet communication by Americans and the citizens of other countries provides a chance to roll back what is tantamount to “an executive coup against the US constitution,” the analyst said. Ellsberg is a former US military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, which revealed how the US public had been misled about the Vietnam war. “In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended,” he said. Snowden, a former CIA technical worker, showed that America’s advanced intelligence gathering capability could at any time be used against Americans, Ellsberg said, adding that the Stasi, known for its effective and harsh methods, could hardly have dreamed of such surveillance powers. “This wholesale invasion of Americans' and foreign citizens' privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we're trying to protect,” Ellsberg concluded. Snowden, currently employed by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, fled to Hong Kong after leaking to The Guardian the “horrifying” extent of the US surveillance. He revealed that the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a program known as Prism. The scheme, a joint NSA-FBI initiative, gives the agencies access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US internet firms. China, which has sovereignty over Hong Kong, can block Snowden’s possible extradition to the US if it thinks the action would affect its national defense or foreign policy issues. MA/AS