Edward Snowden, ex-NSA contractor and the whistleblower about NSA’s massive surveillance dragnets, says the US government can remotely control a targeted cellphone.
In an exclusive interview with Brian Williams of NBC News, who interviewed him in Moscow last week, Snowden spoke about some of the revelations made last year and the reason he chose to do so.
Snowden is staying under political asylum in Moscow, Russia since July 2013.
He said technology along with massive funding can allow any intelligence service to remotelycontrol a target cellphone.
“The NSA, the Russian intelligence service, the Chinese intelligence service, any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding and a real technological research team can own that phone… as soon as you turn it on, it can be theirs. They can turn it into a microphone, they can take pictures from it, they can take data off of it.”
He added that the technology can be used to turn the phone and apps on as well as access Google history remotely.
As well, the data from cell phone can be used by intelligence services to build up a person’s profile, establish his/her pattern of life, and track activities. He also warned how the data collected could be used in a wrong way.
‘These activities can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, and used to harm you as an individual, even without the government having any intent to do you wrong. The problem is that the capabilities themselves are unregulated, uncontrolled, and dangerous,” said Snowden.
He explained how government analysts use electronic tools to gain an insight into people’s thought process.
“As you write a message, you know, an analyst at the NSA or any other service out there that’s using this kind of attack against people can actually see you write sentences and then backspace over your mistakes and then change the words and then kind of pause and — and — and think about what you wanted to say and then change it. And it’s this extraordinary intrusion not just into your communications, your finished messages but your actual drafting process, into the way you think.”
When asked about the reason for the disclosures he made, he said he is able to sleep comfortably at night.
“I may have lost my ability to travel, but I’ve gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I’ve done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I’m comfortable with that,” said Snowden.
He added that he is a patriotic American citizen standing against violations of the Constitution.
Snowden walked away with 1.7 million documents on thumb drives that he later released to journalists Glen Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The documents contained information about the US intelligence’s global reach, snooping details of various hostile and friendly countries, accessing internal user data of Yahoo and Google without their knowledge.
He argued against the exploitation of 9/11 terror threat by the US government.
“I take the threat of s — terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it’s really disingenuous for — for the government to invoke — and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the — the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up.”
Read here the full interview of Edward Snowden.