In an interview to be published this week, Snowden said the NSA has close working ties with Germany's foreign intelligence agency and similar agencies of other countries, and that NSA staff are "in bed together with the Germans," the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
The NSA's "Foreign Affairs Directorate" creates partnerships with other nations in a way that those countries' officials can "insulate their political leaders from the backlash" should it be revealed "how grievously they're violating global privacy," Snowden said.
Telecommunications companies partner with the NSA to target people on the basis of their Facebook or email content, Snowden said.
American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras conducted the interview aided by encrypted emails shortly before Snowden became known internationally for his whistle-blowing.
Cooperation between the NSA and Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, is greater than previously known. The NSA provides "analysis tools" for the BND's signals monitoring foreign data streams traveling through Germany. BND head Gerhard Schindler admitted to the partnership while meeting with the German Parliament's control committee for intelligence issues, Der Spiegel reported.