MOSCOW (AP) — Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden says surveillance programs used by the United States to tap into phone and Internet connections around the world are making people less safe.
In short video clips posted by the WikiLeaks website on Friday, Snowden said the NSA mass surveillance he revealed before fleeing to Russia "puts us at risk of coming into conflict with our own government."
Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the U.S. over the leak, described the techniques as "dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything even when it's not needed."
"They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships and to associate freely," Snowden said.
The videos are the first of Snowden speaking since July 12, when he was shown at a Moscow airport pleading with Russian authorities to grant him asylum, which they did on Aug. 1.
That decision has strained the relations between the U.S. and Russia. President Barack Obama called off a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at a summit hosted by Russia in September.
Snowden said the U.S. government was "unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera, but they'll stop at nothing to persecute someone who told them the truth."
In a note accompanying the videos, WikiLeaks said Snowden spoke on Wednesday in Moscow as he accepted the Sam Adams Award, given annually by a group of retired U.S. national security officers and named for a CIA analyst during the Vietnam War who accused the U.S. military of deliberately underestimating the enemy's strength for political purposes.
Four former U.S. government officials who were at the ceremony told The Associated Press on Thursday that Snowden is adjusting to life in Russia and said they saw no evidence that he was under the control of local security services. They refused to say where they met with Snowden or where he is living.