Snowden: U.S. has been hacking China for years

The whistle-blower told South China Morning Post that U.S. claims not to target civilian infrastructure are lies

By Natasha Lennard

Published June 13, 2013 1:16PM (EDT)

Experts last week commented on the hypocrisy of President Obama's reproach of Chinese Presient Xi Jin Ping over Chinese cyber-attacks against the U.S. As NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden confirmed to the South China Morning Post this week, the U.S. has been hacking China and Hong Kong for years. Currently hiding out in Hong Kong, Snowden expects fierce retribution from the U.S. for leaking top secret documents revealing the NSA's sprawling spy dragnet. Via the SCMP:

Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said.

One of the targets in the SAR [Special Administrative Region], according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.

“Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer. Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight.”

Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.

“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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China Edward Snowden Hacking Hong Kong Nsa Surveillance Whistle-blower