Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who recently stirred up a global storm after leaking top-secret US surveillance programs, has said he intended to stay in Hong Kong and fight any extradition bid.
Speaking for the first time since his identity was disclosed on Sunday, Snowden said he had faith in the Chinese city’s rule of law.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said in an interview run by English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post.
“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” SCMP quoted him as saying. He also vowed to offer “more explosive details on US surveillance targets.”
Snowden said he believed the National Security Agency had “61,000 hacking operations globally,” with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and China, just days after a summit meeting between US President Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that gives us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” Snowden revealed.
Some US lawmakers said Snowden committed a “giant” violation of law for leaking the secrets. “He’s a traitor,” said John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are.”
The US Department of Justice is preparing charges against Snowden, and given Hong Kong’s extradition treaty with the US there is a high chance he will be sent back to the US, according to lawyers, reports Financial Times.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement expressed support for Snowden and said they would “protect” him.
“We are calling on the Hong Kong government to defend freedom of speech,” Tom Grundy, the movement’s spokesman, told AFP.