Could NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden be a Chinese spy? That’s what some Americans are beginning to wonder given his decision to flee to Hong Kong and feed the Chinese information about his clandestine activities during his time with the NSA and government contractors.
Snowden came out of hiding yesterday to reveal that he is still in Hong Kong and to remind the world that he has more information to share. He told the Southern China Morning Post that he does not intend to leaves Hong Kong because he thinks the legal system in the province will give him a fair trail once the United States introduce their charges against him. Snowden told the Chinese publication:
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
But many organizations are asking a different question about Snowden’s presence and cooperation with the Chinese: Could he be a spy?
That’s the question Bloomberg asked yesterday when they said that counterintelligence and criminal investigators were going to begin to examine whether or not Snowden may have had any previous contact with Chinese agents. Bloomberg quotes chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as saying:
We need to ask a lot more questions about his motives, his connections, where he ended up, why he is there, how he is sustaining himself while he is there and is the Chinese government fully cooperating.
Other news agencies are asking whether Snowden’s reveal of American cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage on Chinese targets is a sign that Snowden has “Defected” to China on ideological grounds just as some American communists defected to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
The United States continues to evaluate how much damage Snowden’s leaks have done to homeland security and intelligence operations in order to determine what crimes he is charged with. His continuing cooperation with the Chinese government as well as his direct transfer of confidential information to a foreign often hostile nation will most likely earn him the title of spy by the U.S. government and the media even if he was not before.