Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old NSA whistle-blower who fled to Hong Kong, says he fears for his family, according to an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, the first he has given since he became the face of America's spying scandals Sunday.
The Post teased the interview with a preview Wednesday, saying Snowden reveals “more explosive details on the U.S. surveillance targets,” as well as what he plans on doing in the immediate future.
The interview addresses speculation that he will seek political asylum, with some guessing he will end up in Russia, Iceland or the Philippines.
“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden told the Hong Kong newspaper. “My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system."
Snowden also says he has no intention of leaving Hong Kong. “I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he said, adding that he will remain in Hong Kong until he is “asked to leave.”
Hong Kong’s government has yet to comment on Snowden’s decision to flee U.S. authorities to their jurisdiction. Law Yuk-kai, head of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, told the Post that Snowden’s interpretation of the city may not be the reality that he encounters. “Snowden’s positive view of Hong Kong no longer matches the reality,” Law said.
Snowden also says he fears for his family and friends in the U.S. After the media tracked down Lindsay Mills, his live-in girlfriend in Hawaii until May, his family will likely become the next target of media attention.
He also rejects labels being placed on him. “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American," he told the newspaper.
More of the pieces of the interview regarding his family and other details surveillance targets will likely be published by the South China Morning Post. The English-language Hong Kong newspaper is well regarded and operates independently from China’s central government and is not subject to the same censors as mainland publications.