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The National Security Agency may be able to eavesdrop on its own citizens, the whistleblower Edward Snowden told HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski.
Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia for the past three months, spoke to the TV host in an exclusive interview on Sunday in Moscow. “I can imagine a situation where a president or even a prime minister can order a program through the NSA to collect everything that is happening globally on the internet.” He added that the NSA could then analyze the information to detect threats across the world and send alerts to officials.
President Obama said on Thursday that the NSA “had not read my emails.” In October, the U.S. government granted Snowden temporary asylum, saying it was justified because he had violated “classified programs,” including the program that collects data on millions of Americans.
While the White House has not commented on whether Snowden’s leaks revealed the agency’s secrets or helped national security, The Guardian, which had first obtained the information, was able to say that the NSA had accessed its computers, too. The Guardian also told The Post that it was possible to search the files that Snowden had accessed with a special tool that the newspaper had developed.
Snowden told Minkovski that he could not divulge the specific NSA programs but he could describe “general programs” that exist. He acknowledged that the NSA had violated basic privacy rights by gathering billions of records without a warrant.
“There are things we do not want to know,” Snowden said. “We do not want all of our data collected. We do not want the data to be mined for intelligence purposes. It is wrong.”
“We have to ask ourselves if the public’s trust in us as an institution has been misplaced,” he added. “If we are doing all of the right things, but something is not being done, and people are saying, ‘Hey, isn’t this something to worry about?’ It is a scary thought.”
A spokesman for the NSA declined to comment to HuffPost on whether Snowden had disclosed classified information in the first place.
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