Snowden says international reaction to his US spy revelations justifies his actionsSunday 03 November 2013 16.27
Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has said calls for more oversight of government intelligence agencies show he was justified in revealing the methods and targets of the US secret service.
His leaks about alleged mass scanning of emails to the tapping of world leaders' phones have infuriated US allies and placed Washington on the defensive.
In "A Manifesto for the Truth" published in German news magazine Der Spiegel today, Mr Snowden said debate about mass surveillance showed his revelations were helping to bring about change.
"Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public. Those who speak the truth are not committing a crime," he said.
"Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested," the 30-year-old ex-CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor wrote.
Mr Snowden is in Russia where he has been given temporary asylum for at least a year.
In an open letter to Germany last week, Mr Snowden said he was counting on international support to stop Washington's 'persecution' of him.
His revelations about the reach and methods of the NSA, including the monitoring of vast volumes of internet traffic and phone records, have angered US allies from Germany to Brazil.
Admirers have called Mr Snowden a human rights champion.
Others say he is a traitor for stealing information from the NSA after vowing to respect its secrecy policies and then fleeing first to Hong Kong and then to Russia with classified US data.
Meanwhile Russian media is reporting that Mr Snowden has declined a job offer from Russia's top social networking site VKontakte (In Touch), quoting one of the company's founders Pavel Durov as saying over the weekend.
A Russian lawyer with close links to the authorities who is assisting Mr Snowden, Anatoly Kucherena, had said this week the American would start work in November for a "large Russian(web)site" that he refused to name for security reasons.
In his manifesto published today, Mr Snowden said mass surveillance was a global problem that needed global solutions and added that secret services' "criminal surveillance programmes" jeopardised individual privacy, freedom of opinion and open societies.
The existence of spying technology should not determine politics, he said: "We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit surveillance programmes and protect human rights".
Mr Snowden said society could only understand and keep a check on these problems via an open, ruthless and informed debate.
He said some governments that felt exposed by the revelations had at first launched a "persecution campaign" to repress debate by intimidating journalists and threatening them with prosecution.
"At that time the public was not in a position to judge the usefulness of these revelations. People trusted that their governments would make the right decisions," he said.
"Today we know that was a mistake and that such behaviour does not serve the public interest," he said.