WASHINGTON (AP) - The man who leaked details about top-secret U.S. government surveillance programs is defending his actions.
In what The Guardian newspaper said was an online chat with him, Edward Snowden attacked U.S. officials for calling him a traitor. He says he didn't reveal any U.S. operations against what he calls legitimate military targets.
Snowden said being labeled a traitor by former Vice President Dick Cheney is "the highest honor you can give an American."
He said the government had "destroyed any possibility of a fair trial" for him, and indicated he won't be returning to the U.S. voluntarily.
Snowden was asked at one point whether he had fled to Hong Kong because he was spying for China. He wrote, "If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing?" He said he could be "living in a palace" by now.
Snowden dismissed the U.S. government's claim that the surveillance programs had helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks. He said the real question is how many attacks were prevented solely by information that came from this surveillance, but couldn't have been gathered any other way.
He added, "Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism," but that Americans have "been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it."