HONG KONG -- NSA leaker Edward Snowden says he took his job with the
National Security Agency for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence on
Washington's cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
who was in Hong Kong before fleeing to Moscow this weekend, told the
newspaper that he sought a position as an analyst with the consulting
firm Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the NSA's
secret surveillance program ahead of planned leaks to the media.
position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of
machines all over the world the NSA hacked," he told the Post in a June
12 interview that was published Monday. "That is why I accepted that
position about three months ago."
In his interview with the Post,
Snowden divulged information that he claimed showed hacking by the NSA
into computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.
"I did not release
them earlier because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of
documents without regard to their content," he said. "I have to screen
everything before releasing it to journalists."
Asked by the Post
if he specifically went to Booz Allen Hamilton as computer systems
administrator to gather evidence of surveillance, he replied: "Correct
His intention was to collect information about the NSA
hacking into "the whole world" and "not specifically Hong Kong and
The documents he divulged to the Post were obtained during his tenure at Booz Allen Hamilton in April, he said.
He also signalled his intention to leak more of those documents at a later date.
I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it
available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment,
independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of U.S.
network operations against their people should be published."
Snowden' current whereabouts are a mystery after he failed to show up for a Moscow-Cuba flight to Cuba on Monday.
founder Julian Assange, who is assisting Snowden's run from U.S.
authorities, told reporters Monday that Snowden is "healthy and safe" in
an undisclosed location awaiting word on his request for asylum by
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that it is the administration's assumption "that he is in Russia."
also said that officials in China and Hong Kong were notified in plenty
of time to block Snowden's departure from Hong Kong. He said the White
House sees the Snowden incident as a setback to building mutual trust
Although Assange himself is holed up in the Ecuador
embassy in Britain to avoid extradition to Sweden, he spoke to reporters
Monday to offer the latest on the twists and turns of the 30-year-old
analyst who has been charged in U.S. federal court with espionage after
acknowledging that he was the source of materials detailing surveillance
programs by the U.S. National Security Agency.
an NSA program that collected telephone records for millions of
Americans and a separate operation that targeted the Internet
communications of non-citizens abroad who were suspected of terrorist
He initially fled to Hong Kong, then flew to Russia on Sunday in an apparent roundabout trip to Ecuador.
The Russian news site RT reported
that Aeroflot had earlier confirmed that two seats had been booked in
Snowden's name for Monday's flight to Cuba. But an Aeroflot
representative who wouldn't give her name told The Associated Press that
Snowden was not on flight SU150 to Havana. AP reporters on the flight
also didn't see him.
"Snowden has gone through registration, but
did not physically board the plane and has remained in the transit
zone," RIA Novosti quoted a source at Sheremetyevo airport as saying.
would not be specific on Snowden's location, but said he is "unlikely
to return'' to the U.S., at least under the current administration.
are aware of where Mr. Snowden is," Assange told reporters. "He is in a
safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats from
the U.S. administration ... we cannot reveal what country he is in at
Assange declined to say whether he has spoken
personally with the former defense analyst. At the same time, he said
Snowden has "expressed no regret in his decision to reveal this
important information to the public.''
Assange also said that
Russian officials did not have advance notice of Snowden's arrival in
Moscow and claimed that Snowden had not been debriefed by Russian
Assange, also the subject a U.S. investigation
into the disclosure of secret American diplomatic cables, said the
charges against Snowden are "an attempt to intimidate any country to
stand up for his rights to tell the truth.''
Russia is under increasing pressure from the United States to block Snowden from further travel.
whose U.S. passport has been revoked, fled Hong Kong apparently to
avoid a U.S. extradition request and to get asylum eventually in
Ecuador. In June 2012. Ecuador gave refuge at its embassy in London to
Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning in connection with a
sexual assault investigation.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo
Patino has confirmed that Snowden had requested asylum in his country,
and pledged that his request would be considered in the shortest time
possible, according to televised remarks carried by the Latin-American
RIA Novosti reported at about 2 a.m. Monday
morning that Ecuador's Ambassador to Russia, Patricio Alberto Chavez
Zavala, was seen leaving Sheremetyevo's transit zone, with several
people getting into his car.
Interfax reported that Snowden has
not been able to leave the airport because he does not have a Russian
visa. He was accompanied by WikiLeaks representative Sarah Harrison, a
British citizen who does have a Russian visa, according to Interfax.
the White House urged Russia to consider "all options available,"
according to National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
A Russian security source indicated on Monday that Moscow had no basis to extradite Snowden.
has not committed any unlawful act on Russian territory," RIA Novosti
quoted an unnamed security source as saying on Monday morning. "Russian
law enforcement has no order to detain him, so there is no basis to do
A Kremlin spokesperson said Monday that the Russian government had no advance knowledge that Snowden was traveling to Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told the Journal that Russia wouldn't intervene in the Snowden matter by holding him or returning him to the U.S. to face charges.
is not a question for us," Peskov told the newspaper. "We don't know
what his plans are and we were unaware he was coming here."
The South China Morning Post
meanwhile reported that Snowden had provided information to show that
the NSA had hacked into the Hong Kong system of Pacnet, which runs
undersea telecommunications cables around the Pacific, and into 63
computers and servers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China's
most elite schools.
"The NSA does all kinds of things like hack
Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS data," Snowden told
Snowden, who was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton
as an NSA systems analyst in Hawaii, fled to the Chinese territory of
Hong Kong last month with top-secret documents and court orders on
government surveillance operations.
Under Hong Kong's
mini-constitution, the city is allowed a high degree of autonomy from
mainland Chinese authorities until 2047. It also has its own legal and
financial system, a holdover from the British colonial rule that ended
Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong just hours after
Obama administration officials announced they filed a formal petition
with Chinese authorities seeking Snowden's arrest and return to the
A Russian lawmaker commented on Monday that the Snowden affair would have little effect on Russia-U.S. relations.
won't improve these relations, but it won't harm them," RIA Novosti
quoted Leonid Kalashnikov, first deputy head of the State Duma Foreign
Affairs Committee as saying. Kalashnikov added that Russia should give
Snowden citizenship and asylum. "Why should he fly to Ecuador? This
isn't about a political refugee, but about a humanitarian one."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said the U.S. government must exhaust all legal options to get Snowden back.
"Every one of those nations is hostile to the United States," Rogers, R-Mich., said on NBC's Meet the Press.
New Delhi, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the U.S. had
put several countries on notice that Snowden is wanted by the U.S. legal
system on on three felony counts.
He also took a jab at China and Russia, where Snowden fled to avoid arrest.
wonder if Mr. Snowden chose China and Russia as assistance in his
flight from justice because they are such powerful bastions of Internet
freedom," Kerry told reporters. "And I wonder if, while he was in either
of those countries, did he raise the questions of Internet freedom,
since that seems to be what he champions."
Ministry distanced itself from any role in Snowden's departure from Hong
Kong, saying Monday the territory had the right to make its own
In a routine briefing with reporters, the spokeswoman
said Beijing has "always respected" Hong Kong's ability to deal with
such matters through its legal system.
She also raised Beijing's
concerns about cybersecurity in light of Snowden's allegations, saying
that the Chinese government has brought the issue up directly with
"We are seriously concerned about the cyberattacks
that the relevant U.S. government agencies carried out on China as have
been recently reported," she said. "This demonstrates again that China
is a victim of cyberattacks."
Hong Kong lawmaker and lawyer Albert
Ho, whose firm had been representing Snowden in an effort to clarify
his legal situation with the government, said he suspects authorities in
Beijing were calling the shots.
Ho said an intermediary who
claimed to represent the government relayed a message to Snowden saying
he was free to leave and should do so.
Ho said he didn't know the
identity of the intermediary and wasn't sure whether the person was
acting on Hong Kong's or Beijing's behalf.
"The entire decision
was probably made in Beijing and Beijing decided to act on its best
interests," Ho told reporters. "However, Beijing would not want to be
seen on stage because it would affect Sino-U.S. relations. That's why
China has somebody acting in the background."
Johnson reported from Washington; Stanglin from McLean, Va.
Contributing: Anna Arutunyan in Moscow; Associated Press
Zach Coleman, Kevin Johnson and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY