The South China Morning Post published another article early Thursday morning local time about its exclusive interview with Edward Snowden, the person responsible for leaking top-secret information about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs. The Post reported that Snowden said that the U.S. government "had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and [in China] for years."
Snowden spoke with the Post's Lana Lam from an undisclosed location. He said that the U.S. was "bullying" Hong Kong to extradite him and that he has been in constant fear for his safety. "I will never feel safe," he said. "Things are very difficult for me in all terms, but speaking truth to power is never without risk."
Lam also reported:
Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said ... Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
Snowden's claims came days after President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping gathered for an "informal" summit at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, where discussions over cybersecurity issues were central. According to NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Obama stayed at the Sunnylands retreat during the summit, but Xi stayed at a nearby Hyatt, "reportedly worrie[d] about eavesdropping, underscoring the toughest issue dividing the U.S. and China."
The Post published excerpts from its interview with Snowden on Wednesday afternoon local time. After revealing his identity through The Guardian on Sunday, Snowden checked out of Hong Kong's Mira Hotel on Monday and reportedly moved to a safe house.
The former NSA contractor discussed his decision to flee to Hong Kong, a region he said he admired for its commitment to free speech. He added that he planned to stay in Hong Kong until he was "asked to leave." He responded to Russia saying that it would consider offering him asylum if he requested. "My only comment is that I am glad there are governments that refuse to be intimidated by great power," he said.
Clarification: This post has been updated to describe Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region.