The NSA has been relentlessly hacking both Chinese officials and citizens for years, says Edward Snowden, the NSA-contractor turned whistleblower who has taken refuge in Hong Kong.
In another excerpt from his interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden claims that the U.S. has hacked computers in both Hong Kong and mainland China, and that the recently-revealed PRISM program was responsible for part of the hacking. The United States has consistently portrayed China as an aggressor in cyber-attacks and spying, with China maintaining the line that the U.S. was engaging in acts similar to what China was being accused of.
“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,” Snowden said in the interview, which was done in an undisclosed location. He showed unverified document to the paper, allegedly proving the spying operation.
The timing of Snowden's revelations about NSA spying coincided (possibly intentionally) with last week's meeting between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they discussed, primarily, cyber-espionage. The United States' massive spying operation on the Chinese, further confirmed by the revelations from Snowden, could not have helped strengthen America's position as the victim.
Snowden remains in Hong Kong in an unknown location. He still believes that the Hong Kong legal system will afford him some level of protection.
“All I can do is rely on my training and hope that world governments will refuse to be bullied by the United States into persecuting people seeking political refuge,” he said.
His leaks have already proven valuable to the Chinese, who might soon be asked to extradite Snowden back to the United States. They have not shown any enthusiasm about this prospect, and might not be ready to give up Snowden just yet, instead using him as leverage in political negotations with the United States.