American technical contractor and former CIA employee Edward Snowden (file photo)
Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee behind the biggest intelligence leaks in the history of the National Security Agency (NSA), has dismissed allegations that he is a traitor or a Chinese agent.
In an interview with Fox New, Former US Vice President Dick Cheney said that Snowden was a 'traitor' who may have had connection with China.
"I'm suspicious because he went to China. That's not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth," Cheney said, adding "It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this."
In an online question-and-answer session hosted by The Guardian
newspaper on Monday, Snowden called the speculation that he might give secrets to China in exchange for asylum "a predictable smear ... intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct."
"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," the 29-year-old former contractor for the NSA wrote.
"Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American," he added.
He also said that more leaks were on the way, declaring "Truth is coming and it cannot be stopped."
The whistleblower said that he led the US because he did not believe he had a chance of a fair trial at home.
"The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is 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," Snowden said.
Snowden reportedly flew to Hong Kong last month from Hawaii, where he worked for an NSA facility, carrying a trove of documents about top-secret telephone and Internet surveillance programs.
Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry dismissed allegation that Snowden might have spied for Beijing as "completely groundless."
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a regular press briefing on Monday, also urged the US to "pay attention to the international community's concerns and demands and give … the necessary explanation" of its surveillance activities.
On June 12, Snowden told the South China Morning Post
that the NSA had led more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including many in Hong Kong and mainland China.
On June 9, Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video recorded interview published by The Guardian
In the interview, he denounced what he described as systematic surveillance of innocent US citizens, saying his "sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."
Snowden, who works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, said he was willing to sacrifice a comfortable life because he cannot “in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
revealed on June 6 that a top secret US court order allows the NSA to collect data on millions of Americans who are customers of the major US phone company, Verizon.
According to the order, Verizon should “on a daily basis” give the NSA data, including phone numbers, location, and duration of all phone calls in its systems, both in the US and between the US and other countries.
On the same day, The Washington Post
also reported that the NSA had direct access to Internet servers, saying their source, a career intelligence officer, was horrified of the capabilities of the systems used by the top US spy agency.
Internet giants like Apple and Facebook, however, have denied claims that they opened their doors to US spy agencies.
The new revelation comes as the administration of US President Barack Obama has already come under fire for secretly obtaining the phone records of the Associated Press journalists as well as the emails and phone records of a Fox News Channel reporter.