World owes Snowden debt of gratitude

Updated: 2013-06-14 07:56

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

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US prosecutors have also targeted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now living in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, at the opening of Manning's trial, alleging that he directly encouraged and aided Manning's leaks of classified documents and conspired with Manning in the theft of classified information.

Supporters of Manning and Assange have launched a worldwide campaign to nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a petition to pardon Snowden on the White House website had already gathered 63,013 signatures by 7:40 am Thursday.

For the past few months, the US has been viciously accusing China and other nations of cyberespionage, yet Snowden's whistle-blowing has revealed that it is the US that has been engaging in a monstrous spying program on people all over the world.

And that's not all. A recent Reuters report showed that the US government has become the largest buyer in a burgeoning gray market where hackers and security firms sell tools for breaking into computers. It said the US intelligence and military agencies are using the tools to infiltrate computer networks overseas, leaving behind spy programs and cyberweapons that can disrupt data or damage systems.

The report claims that much of the offensive cyberwarfare is done by publicly traded US defense contractors, such as Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.

It may sound paranoid - like some in the US House Intelligence Committee - to brand those US firms who collaborate with the NSA as a possible national security threat, as they did to Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE. But it is so ironic when recalling Obama's many passionate speeches on freedom, civil liberties, the rights of the individual and government transparency.

Those speeches sound hollow now.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA. E-mail:

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