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I'm not hiding, says secrets leaker

The former CIA agent who revealed himself as the source of top-secret leaks about US surveillance programmes has denied attempting to hide from justice in Hong Kong.

Edward Snowden dropped out of sight after checking out of a hotel on Monday. The South China Morning Post newspaper found and interviewed him and provided brief excerpts from on its website.

Mr Snowden, who has been both praised and condemned for releasing documents about US phone and Internet surveillance programmess, said he was "neither a traitor nor hero. I'm an American."

Asked about his choice of Hong Kong to leak the information, he said, "I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality."

He said he had several opportunities to flee from Hong Kong, but that he "would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong's rule of law."

"My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate," he said.

Mr Snowden, 29, arrived in Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20, just after taking leave from his National Security Agency contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which has since fired him. Questions remain about why he chose to go public in Hong Kong, a Chinese autonomous region that maintains a Western-style legal system and freedom of speech.

US authorities have yet to bring charges against him or file an extradition request with Hong Kong.

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