Are new revelations from the NSA data trove going to drop in the next few days? Speaking on a political talk show on German public broadcaster ARD on Thursday night, Glenn Greenwald said he expected stories to appear in the coming days that would be even "more explosive" in Germany than reports previously published about cooperation between the National Security Agency and German intelligence authorities.
Greenwald is the journalist who broke the original story about former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden's data trove, revealing how the intelligence agency taps tech giants' user data to facilitate its mass-scale surveillance. Since then, additional reporting on the documents by SPIEGEL has exposed how the American intelligence agency spies on both the European Union and a half-billion communications connections in Germany each month. The reports sparked a massive political debate in Germany over how much the German government knew about the spying -- an egregious violation of the country's privacy laws -- and whether it was actively cooperating with the Americans.
He told host Reinhold Beckmann that he and journalist Laura Poitras had obtained full sets of the documents during a trip to Hong Kong, with around 9,000 to 10,000 top secret documents in total. Greenwald said they had been in possession of the data for around seven weeks and had not had a chance to analyze all the material, noting that some of the documents were extremely complicated. "We're working on it," he said.
Greenwald Carries Data with Him
Asked by the host about his own security, Greenwald said he felt "threatened in the sense that there are very prominent American politicians and even American journalists who have called for my arrest, who have called me a criminal." He added, "There's a very robust CIA presence where I work, in Rio de Janeiro," and when you have very secret documents from the world's most powerful government, "you definitely think about your security." He told Beckmann he carries the data with him at all times, but also that other copies have been stored on the Internet.
Greenwald said he maintains regular contact with Snowden using encrypted chat technologies. Snowden, he said, "knew that the choice he was making" when he leaked the data "would submit him to serious risks and would make him the most wanted man in the world." Still, he said Snowden is convinced "it was the right choice." Snowden is currently in the transit area of Moscow's international airport awaiting a decision on his application for temporary asylum in Russia.
Describing German intelligence cooperation with the NSA, he said that Germany wasn't partnering at the same level as Britain, Australia, Canada or New Zealand, but that it was "sort of in the next tier where they exchange information all the time."