The National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will take intelligence regardless of its value to national security, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has told a German television network, the Guardian reports.
Snowden also told the German public broadcasting network he no longer had possession of any documents or information on NSA activities and had turned everything over to select journalists. He said he did not have any control over the publication of the information.
Questions about US government spying on civilians and foreign officials arose last June, when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email to media outlets.
Reports that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone have added to anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a “no-spy” agreement with the US, a country it considers to be among its closest allies.
Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks.
Snowden faces criminal charges after fleeing to Hong Kong and then Russia, where he was granted at least a year's asylum. He was charged with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national security information and giving classified intelligence data to an unauthorised person.