Edward Snowden has given his first ever interview with British media through BBC’s “Panorama.” The hero to some and traitor to the government revealed that he is still waiting to hear the U.S. government’s decision regarding his request for a plea-deal. He also revealed that just like the NSA, UK’s intelligence agency, the GCHQ, is taking over the people’s smartphone without their knowledge.
Snowden told the BBC that he had volunteered to go to prison many times with a request for a plea-order. The U.S. government had “so far said that they won’t torture me, which is a start, I think,” Snowden said. “But we have not gotten much further than that,” he added. He and his lawyers are still waiting for the U.S. government to “call us back,” he said.
“What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations,” he said. Asked if he is ready to face sentence, he said, “Of course.”
If Snowden returns to the U.S. without the government’s approval of a plea-deal, he will be tried under the Espionage Act. This means that there will be no jury and he will be facing a minimum jail sentence of 30 years or life sentence.
Panorama had asked former head of NSA Michael Hayden about Snowden’s fate. “He is going to die in Moscow. He is not coming home,” Hayden told the program.
Snowden also explained to Panorama the relationship between UK’s GCHQ and U.S.’s NSA: “GCHQ is to all intents and purposes a subsidiary of the NSA.”
“They [the NSA] provide technology, they provide tasking and direction as to what they [GCHQ] should go after,” he explained.
Snowden gave details about the Smurf Suite computer system both NSA and GCHQ have. Through this system, NSA and GCHQ had the power to hack into people’s smartphones without them knowing.
The Smurf Suite is comprised of apps: the Dreamy Smurf, the Nosey Smurf, the Tracking Smurf and the Paranoid Smurf. The Dreamy Smurf allows intelligence agency to turn the phones on and off. The Nosey Smurf is a microphone that can be turned on if government wants to listen to everything the owner is saying, even if the smartphone is off. The Tracker Smurf follows an individual with a greater precision than the typical triangulation of cellphone towers. The Paranoid Smurf cloaked all manifestations made by the government if something wrong happened to the phone and the user had it fixed.
Through the Smurf Suite intelligence agencies know “who you call, what you’ve texted, the things you’ve browsed, the list of your contacts, the places you’ve been, the wireless networks that your phone is associated with. And they can do much more. They can photograph you,” Snowden said.