Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

US spy programme 'destroys liberty'

A former technical worker at the CIA and America's National Security Agency revealed himself as the whistleblower behind leaks about secret US government surveillance programmes.

Edward Snowden, 29, an American IT administrator for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, revealed his identity at his own request, the Guardian said.

It emerged last week that the UK's eavesdropping agency GCHQ may have connections to the Prism system, which is said to give American agencies easy access to nine of the world's top internet companies, as well as phone records of millions of people.

Mr Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, told the newspaper he had no regrets about his actions, and said the unconstrained collection of data was destroying civil liberties.

He said: "I can't allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties. My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."

In a stark warning, he said that surveillance was not being properly constrained by policy, and would grow beyond control.

"The months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to get worse, until eventually there will be a time where policies will change - because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy." He added: "There will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it'll be turn-key tyranny."

Mr Snowden worked in an NSA office in Hawaii when he copied the last of the documents he planned to disclose, before telling supervisors that he needed to be away for a few weeks to receive treatment for epilepsy, he told the Guardian.

He left for Hong Kong on May 20 and has been there since. In an interview with the newspaper he said he was aware that he would was risking arrest and imprisonment, and that he "will be made to suffer for my actions", but added: "I've not intention of hiding, I've done nothing wrong. The greatest feat that I have regarding the outcome of these disclosures for America is that nothing will change."

Mr Snowden said he had raised his concerns at work, but went public after they were dismissed.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph