Edward Snowden, the man who has, at least for now, shaken the democratic government of the Obama administration, claimed in a recent interview to a Hong Kong newspaper that the United States has been hacking ‘for years’ into Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China.
The whistleblower is an ex-CIA agent fled to Hong Kong in order to escape the Feds grasp after revealing probably the most sensitive set of information that has put a big question mark on the face of the U.S. government. The exposé of top secret National Security Agency’s (global) surveillance programs and tools has established long-time speculations and claims regarding U.S. espionage efforts.
Snowden’s latest interview with South China Morning Post has confirmed the fact that U.S. has been hacking into Hong Kong (China) for a very long time now. According to the documents he leaked, NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. He believed ‘there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.’
The recent claims lend credence to the claim made in an earlier report that a highly secretive unit of the National Security Agency (NSA) successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years. It’s allegedly known as the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO.
If all these reports, interviews and unverified documents turn out to be true, then it would cause even more political embarrassment for the U.S. government who has long accused China of being a perpetrator of hacking.
Edward Snowden also mentioned his ‘fears’ during the interview. He said that he would never feel safe again because what he has done required great risk.
The whistleblower apparently has a lot of support, not just in China, but also in his own country. ‘Roughly one in three Americans say the former security contractor who leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance activity is a patriot and should not be prosecuted,’ according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll which was released yesterday. In Hong Kong, eleven organizations have planned a rally on Saturday to protest against Snowden’s extradition. It seems the man has less to fear since people mostly are admiring him for his ‘risk.’
It’s the U.S. government, on the other hand, who is losing credibility in this case. Since reports of its hacking into Chinese computers have piled up, it’s time a response came from the administration. Because it just has to.