(LONDON) — Using the British newspaper The Guardian as a mouthpiece, contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden responded Monday to allegations made by U.S. political figures, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, that he is a traitor for uncovering surveillance programs operated by the National Security Agency.
Snowden, who has taken refuge in Hong Kong, answered online questions posed by The Guardian, writing, “Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American.”
Cheney, who was interviewed on Fox News Sunday, also suggested that the 29-year-old former Maryland resident may be spying for the Chinese, an accusation Snowden said he found laughable.
Snowden told The Guardian, “If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.”
He said that any assertion that he was conducting espionage for China is a “smear” tactic, meant to distract the public’s attention away from what Snowden asserts are the illegal activities of the U.S. government in collecting the phone records of virtually all Americans.
As far as what might ultimately happen to him, Snowden mused, “All I can say right now is the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”
He added that he’s also opposed to collecting data about non-Americans as well, writing, “Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95 percent of the world instead of 100 percent.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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