Snowden: Government can't cover up leaks by 'jailing or murdering me'

June 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM
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HONG KONG, June 17 (UPI) -- Edward Snowden, in hiding after leaking U.S. surveillance systems, said the federal government can't hide from what he's disclosed by "jailing or murdering me."

"All I can say right now is the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me," Snowden said Monday during an online question-and-answer session moderated by the British publication The Guardian, which broke the story about the National Security Agency monitoring cellphone and Internet activity. "Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."

He said he made the revelations from a Hong Kong hotel -- from which he has checked out -- because "the U.S. government, just as they did with other whistle-blowers, 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," the former NSA contract employee said from an undisclosed location. U.S. officials said his whereabouts remain unknown.

Meanwhile, Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, told Fox News he hoped and prayed his son doesn't do anything considered treasonous.

"I hope, I pray and I ask that you will not release any secrets that could constitute treason," Snowden told Fox News, in a comment directed to his son. "I sense that you're under much stress [from] what I've read recently, and [ask] that you not succumb to that stress ... and make a bad decision."

The father said he was sure there were some who want his son to "cross that line and do something that constitutes treason, or they would like to see him disappear."

But the elder Snowden told Fox he was certain "that the moment he landed [in the United States] that there would be a line of attorneys waiting to defend him."

After The Guardian and The Washington Post reported on the massive NSA monitoring of phone and Internet records, Snowden was revealed as the source.

In his online Q&A, Edward Snowden said he only "pointed out" the NSA hacked civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, universities and private businesses, and did not reveal military operations against "legitimate military targets."

"These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target," Snowden said. "Congress hasn't declared war on the countries ... but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people."

"And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we're not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own police?" Snowden asked. "No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the 'consent of the governed' is meaningless."

He said leaving the United State was an "incredible risk."

"I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained," he said. "Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current U.S. administration."

He said he waited to leak the information because of Barack Obama's promise during his presidential campaigns.

"Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in [the] Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba, military prison], where men still sit without charge," Snowden said.

Responding to the question about speculation whether he has or would provide classified U.S. information to China or other governments in exchange for asylum, Snowden said, "This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the U.S. media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving [Hong Kong or mainland China] and is intended to distract from the issue of U.S. government misconduct."

"Ask yourself: If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing?" Snowden noted. "I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

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