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A snippet of Snowden

January 26, 2014

German public broadcaster ARD will air a half-hour interview with NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden on Sunday. The first snippet, aired late Saturday, accuses the NSA of conducting industrial espionage.

Images of Snowden on several identical posters, taken during a July 2013 German demonstration against NSA espionage.
Image: picture alliance/ZUMA Press

The first extract of Edward Snowden's first television interview since laying a string of NSA practices bare last summer were broadcast on ARD on Saturday night, ahead of Sunday's full-length interview conducted by ARD's regional NDR partner.

"I don't want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists but what I will say is there is no question that the US is engaged in economic spying," Snowden told veteran NDR journalist Hubert Seipel. "If there is information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it."

Snowden said that he no longer possessed the NSA data he has helped make public in recent months, saying he had entrusted the material to selected journalists. He also told the public broadcaster that he was no longer playing any part in decisions on what information should be published.

The 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, currently in Russia after being granted temporary asylum, spoke in secret with Seipel in Moscow earlier this week. His first televised interview since turning whistleblower will be broadcast in full at 11 p.m. local time (2200 UTC) on Sunday, with extracts serving as the focal point of discussion in the popular, prime-time panel-based talk show "Günther Jauch" before that.

A tough audience

Germany has been among the more vocal international critics of NSA practices, not least since reports in October that Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone was among the prominent numbers to be tapped. As a non-Anglophone country, Germany is not part of the "five eyes" intelligence alliance incorporating NSA-equivalent agencies in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Allegations of economic espionage had already surfaced in the German press as part of the Snowden-related scandal, including reports of a special listening posts for this purpose at the US and British embassies in Berlin.

US President Barack Obama issued a lengthy address on NSA reforms earlier in January, pledging that the US would cease phone monitoring of their allies' political leaders. He later made a rare appearance on German television, telling public broadcaster ZDF: "As long as I'm president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this." Obama will leave office in 2016.

Snowden also went public in an Internet question-and-answer session on the "Free Snowden" website on Thursday, when he said he currently had no intention of returning to the US, saying he doubted his chances of a fair trial. Several reports, most recently in the Washington Post, have said that an amnesty deal was conceivable for the fugitive whistleblower, a claim that US Attorney General Eric Holder refuted on Friday.

msh/jm (AFP, dpa)