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Former NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden has made no deal with Russia

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October 6, 2015

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Former NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden confirms he's made no deal with the Russian state security agency to acquire political asylum, the former NSA contractor revealed in a television version of a BBC interview.

Though failing to reveal anything new about surveillance, the program did provide some interesting insights into the very secret world of the NSA.

During a 30-minute episode of Panorama that aired yesterday, Snowden said that GCHQ had the capability to hack smartphones using the Smurf toolset as well as providing general background on the surveillance and Western state-sponsored hacking, as previously reported.

Snowden then firmly denied doing any deal with the FSB (the Russian state security agency) in exchange for asylum in Moscow.

“I burned my life to the ground to work against surveillance, why would I suddenly turn around, because I’m in a different geographical location, and say I’m all about surveillance? That’s what I’d like to do from now on,” he added candidedly.

He admitted that FSB officers had quizzed him while he was stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport but denied handing him over intelligence. “Everything I had is in the hands of journalists,” Snowden said.

The program 'Edward Snowden: Spies and the Law' has featured the first Snowden interview on British TV, and was designed to inform the debate on upcoming plans to modernise Britain’s surveillance laws under the Investigatory Powers Act.

The general subject matter is well known to the general public. The program does, however, provide some new perspectives into the exiled Snowden.

The former NSA contractor has been charged in his absence with offences against the U.S. Espionage Act. Snowden said he would be prepared to do a plea-bargain with the U.S. authorities. “I’ve volunteered to go to prison many times,” he said. “What I won’t do is serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.”

“So far, they’ve said they’ve won’t torture me, which is a start, but we haven’t got much further than that," he added.

Former NSA chief Michael Hayden has expressed the opinion that Snowden would die in Moscow. Snowden said his one regret was not coming forward earlier.

“The longer you wait with programs like this, the more deeply entrenched they become,” Snowden told reporter Peter Taylor.

“I have paid a very high price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made,” he added.

Panorama only featured a few excerpts from a much longer Snowden interview, more background on which was covered during BBC Radio4’s flagship Today show on Tuesday morning.

Reporter Peter Taylor related how the interview was set up via encrypted apps through intermediaries. Taylor described Snowden as a driven and self-contained individual.

Asking how he was supporting himself financially, Snowden said he went into exile with cash (”I made an extraordinary amount of money for someone of my qualifications before I left”) but didn’t say how much because “it would probably violate some customs’ declaration”.

As a self-professed champion of freedom and civil liberties, Snowden was asked, how did he square accepting the hospitality of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a country with a very poor record on press freedoms and human rights?

Snowden didn’t really answer that except to respond pragmatically that he’d applied for asylum in twenty-one different countries and that none had got back to him before he decided to choose Russia.

“The best thing about being a marked man is that you don’t have to think about tomorrow. You live for today,” Snowden concluded.

Source: The BBC.

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