Edward Snowden in an interview that aired on German television ARD on Jan 26th. Fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has claimed that US government officials “want to kill me” in an exclusive interview which German television says it conducted in Moscow.
“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower,” he told NDR interviewer Hubert Seipel, who said the interview took place last Thursday.
Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August, referred in the interview to a report by US website BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials.
The former NSA contractor is wanted by US authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world.
The interview was aired on German ARD television, of which NDR is a member, with a German-language voice-over late on Sunday, European time.
In an earlier snippet released online late on Saturday by the public broadcaster NDR, Snowden claimed that the NSA was involved in industrial espionage and did not limit its espionage to issues of US national security.
“If there is information at [German electronics and engineering giant] Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they’ll take it,” Snowden said.
NDR’s interviewer Seipel, in a pre-broadcast interview in German also published online by NDR, said Snowden’s sole “life insurance” was that he had entrusted journalists of the New York Times, Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian with the material.
At regular intervals, Seipel said, these media outlets triggered a series of “small thematic bombs.”
“The NSA is still trying to guess, how much material it involves. At the start there was talk of 200,000, then of 600,000 and now there are around 1.7 million documents,” Seipel said.
Snowden had “very carefully” selected documents that rather than focusing on individual persons, focused on the structure of the US secret services and alleged “violations,” Seipel said.
“He has shown what happens within this apparatus, also in connection with other services.”
“The accusation that he has endangered the lives of thousands of soldiers or secret service employees is in my view feeble-minded,” Seipel said, adding that Snowden had a “very strong” sense of justice.
“That [President Barack] Obama said he was not a patriot is for him, I think, quite difficult enough.”
The interviewer said Snowden was “very precise in what he says, but naturally was also very cautious” to avoid breaching the terms of his asylum in Russia.
Seipel said the NDR team conducted the exclusive interview using three cameras and a microphone after organizing the meeting using encrypted phone calls and several other “safeguard measures.”
On Thursday, in a question-and-answer session on the “Free Snowden” website, the fugitive ruled out returning to the United States, where he said there was no chance of a free trial.