BERLIN — Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said in a new interview that the US agency is involved in industrial espionage.
In the interview, aired Sunday night on German public television broadcaster ARD, Snowden said that if the German engineering company Siemens had information that would benefit the United States — but the information had nothing to do with US national security needs — the National Security Agency would still use it.
It wasn’t clear what exactly Snowden accused the NSA of doing with such information. He said only that he did not want to reveal the details before journalists did.
Snowden also told ARD television that he was no longer in possession of any NSA documents, because he had passed them all on to a few select journalists and that he had no further influence on the release of the files.
He also said US government representatives wanted to kill him, according to a simultaneous German translation by the station.
Snowden referred to an article he had read on Buzzfeed in which US government representatives had told a reporter they wanted to kill him.
Snowden also chatted about his childhood and said he had always been fascinated by computers, and was one of those kids whose parents would tell him late at night to finally turn it off.
Hubert Seipel, the reporter who talked to Snowden, said he first met him in Moscow at the end of December and conducted the interview on Thursday.
Seipel described Snowden, 30, as “worried, but relaxed at the same time.”
He said Snowden was studying Russian, but that he couldn’t confirm any further details about where exactly he met Snowden or whether he is working for a Russian Internet company, as some news media have reported.
Snowden faces felony charges in the United States after revealing the NSA’s mass surveillance program.
He is living under temporary asylum in Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.
The revelations about US surveillance have damaged Washington’s relations with key allies, including Germany, following reports that the NSA monitored communications of European citizens — even listening in on the cellphone conversations of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel.