Friday, June 14, 2013

Snowden claims US hacking China

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Beijing tight-lipped on Snowden

Officials in Beijing distance themselves from NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who is reportedly seeking refuge in Hong Kong.

Edward Snowden, the self-confessed leaker of secret surveillance documents, claims the US has mounted massive hacking operations against hundreds of Chinese targets since 2009.

The former contractor, whose work at the National Security Agency gave him access to highly classified US intelligence, made the claims in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said he showed it ''unverified documents'' describing an extensive US campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and China.

''We hack network backbones - like huge internet routers, basically - that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,'' he told the newspaper.

According to Mr Snowden, the NSA has engaged in more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including hundreds aimed at Chinese targets. Among the targets were universities, businesses and public officials.


The interview was the first time Mr Snowden has surfaced publicly since he acknowledged in interviews on Sunday he was responsible for disclosing classified documents outlining extensive surveillance efforts in the United States.

Senior American officials have accused China of hacking into US military and business computers. Mr Snowden's claims of extensive US hacking of Chinese computers echoes assertions made repeatedly by senior Chinese government officials that they are victims of similar cyber-intrusions.

Mr Snowden's claims could not be verified, and US officials did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

Mr Snowden's comments, however, did not address the US complaint that US trade and commercial data hacked by the Chinese military routinely ends up in the hands of Chinese businesses.

In the interview with the Morning Post posted online, Mr Snowden said he stood by his decision to seek asylum in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city, after leaking documents about a high-level US surveillance program.

''People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstood my intentions,'' he said in the interview. ''I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.

''I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong's rule of law.''

By speaking with Hong Kong's oldest English-language newspaper, Mr Snowden seemed to be directly addressing the city. And by disclosing that he possesses documents he says describe US hacking against China, he appeared to be trying to win support from the Chinese government.

Mr Snowden told the Hong Kong newspaper he was describing what he says were US cyber attacks on Chinese targets to illustrate ''the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries''.

Some in Hong Kong are responding to his campaign. A rally is being organised on Saturday to support the 29-year-old former government contractor.

Washington Post, Fairfax
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