South Korean President Park Geun-hye makes a point during a joint press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 16. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said Friday classified South Korea information is being shared with a massive spy network that includes the United States. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Edward Snowden said the United States spies on ally South Korea as part of its massive surveillance network called "Five Eyes."
Speaking from Moscow via video, Snowden made the remarks after a screening of the 2014 documentary Citizen Four, which is to be released in Korea on Nov. 19. Snowden said South Korea is one of 38 countries under National Security Agency surveillance, a list that includes close U.S. partners France and Germany, South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Sinmun reported.
The former NSA contractor told reporters that Seoul and Washington already share a significant amount of classified military information to track North Korea movements, but added that he didn't see anything wrong with the sharing of information.
The problem, Snowden said Friday, is that the information becomes shared more widely than presumed. The United States' spying alliance with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, dubbed "Five Eyes," allows the U.S. government to take classified South Korea information and share it with a wider network.
In March, Snowden shared files with a New Zealand newspaper showing that the country's intelligence agency was spying on more than 20 Asia-Pacific nations on behalf of the United States. Snowden told South Korean reporters on Friday the system of surveillance is not effective in preventing or investigating terrorism, leaving governments and individuals vulnerable to exposure, South Korean outlet Newsis reported.
Snowden said he has been allowed to stay in Russia indefinitely, but added the situation can flip anytime, and that he could be used as a bargaining chip between governments.
On Thursday, the European Union voted to recommend the dropping of criminal charges against Snowden, and to protect him from U.S. extradition – meaning he could soon be allowed permanent residence in one of the EU nations.