BERLIN — Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said in an interview broadcast Sunday that U.S. officials might take deadly revenge against him for disclosing American surveillance secrets.
Snowden told the German public TV broadcaster ARD that he had not faced any direct threats or intimidation since seeking asylum in Russia last summer. But he cited an article from the website Buzzfeed that quoted anonymous officials from the U.S. military and National Security Agency as saying they wished they could kill him.
“There are clear threats, but I'm not losing any sleep over them,” Snowden said, according to a German-language voice-over of the interview. An English-language transcript was not immediately available.
The 30-year-old also accused the U.S. government of spying on German companies, even if the information gathered would not serve national security needs. Snowden cited the engineering and electronics company Siemens as an example of firms that might be targeted.
Since last June, Snowden has released a massive trove of top-secret documents, which depict the U.S. government's surveillance of telephone records, email and private computers. He is facing U.S. charges of stealing and leaking classified information.
Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC recently that the U.S. government “would engage in conversation” about a deal for Snowden if the former contractor took responsibility for leaking secret government documents. But Holder ruled out clemency or amnesty.
Snowden's attorney, Jesselyn Radack, responded Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press” that it was “a little disheartening” that clemency or amnesty appeared to be off the table.
In the interview with German journalist Hubert Seipel, conducted Thursday night in Moscow and aired Sunday, Snowden said he would welcome talks with the United States “to put an end to this issue that will be satisfactory for all involved.”
He told the interviewer that he believed it would become more and more clear that his disclosures had not done any harm and were serving the public good. Snowden said he was not willing to face a U.S. court, however, saying that legal proceedings would turn into a “show trial.”
The whistleblower, who fled the United States last year, denied accusations that he had shared secret information with the Russian government in exchange for asylum or collaborated with China or any other government. He appeared to be referring to allegations by U.S. lawmakers that he was spying for Russia or another foreign government. Instead, Snowden said, he had been working alone and had provided the documents to journalists for them to make public.
The interview comes days after a rare appearance by President Barack Obama on German television, apparently aimed at calming a public alarmed by reports — based on Snowden's information — about the U.S. government's extensive surveillance of German citizens and government officials.
Germany's federal prosecutor has announced he is considering an investigation of the NSA's eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.