Is Edward Snowden a Chinese agent? – Maura Moynihan

Maura Moynihan“The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: ‘It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.'” – Maura Moynihan

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?The Edward Snowden affair continues to reverberate since June 9, 2012, when the 30-year-old high school dropout exposed US cyber surveillance in an interview with The Guardian from Hong Kong.

Snowden has been stuck in Moscow for many weeks, and the media has dropped the thread of his links to China, since Snowden claimed that if he were a Chinese spy he’d “be petting phoenixes in Beijing.” However, there are many elements of this story that point to a Beijing connection.

Snowden chose Hong Kong as his first port of refuge, citing its “rule of law”, a puzzling contention since the former British colony has for 16 years been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Towards the end of Snowden’s videotaped interview with The Guardian, he praised the Chinese government, and the following day he released detailed information about US operations in Asia to the South China Morning Post. Snowden’s revelations succeeded in shifting the debate about cyber espionage onto the US, allowing China to play the victim and putting the Obama administration on the defensive. No wonder that Chinese government websites hail Snowden as a hero.

Many other disturbing questions have been raised, such as the dangers of privatising intelligence, which allowed a character like Snowden to get a security clearance and cart off top-secret information to Hong Kong in the first place. One theory is that Snowden was used as a “drop box” for agents higher up in the National Security Agency who fed him information — Snowden only worked at the security firm Booz Allen Hamilton for three months. What’s missing from media coverage in the West is that whatever the NSA is doing, the Chinese Communist Party does it bigger and better. US citizens can talk openly about NSA surveillance; in China, journalists and human rights activists can get thrown into jail for typing the words “Dalai Lama” or “Tiananmen Square Massacre” on a computer.

Chinese Communist Party Leaders 2012The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: “It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.”

Chinese hackersThe Chinese Communist Party has aggressively recruited US informants for decades, and has planted agents at every level of the US government and institutions of finance, technology and higher education. A cursory Internet search of Chinese espionage in the US yields enough material for the next James Bond franchise. The Chinese government deploys the “Thousand Grains of Sand Policy”, collecting human and cyber intelligence in every conceivable manner by encouraging every Chinese citizen who travels abroad in any capacity, from tourists to students, to gather information for the Motherland. A former senate aide in Washington told me, “Basically that’s how China got all of its high-tech weapons and industrial programs. And now they’ve got cyber spies hacking into our banks and intelligence and we don’t know how this is going to end.”

So why does the US Department of State give preferential treatment to Communist China over democratic India? In 2011, approximately 700,000 US visa applications were processed by US consular officials in India. China gets a lot more than that. On January 19, 2012, US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, said, “President Obama signed an executive order to significantly increase legitimate travel and tourism to the US, with the goal of increasing visa-processing capacity in China by up to 40 per cent in 2012. In 2011, we processed more than 1 million visa applications in China, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year, and already in the first few months of fiscal year 2012, we have processed 48 per cent more visas in China compared to the same period in 2011.”

Has the US state department decided to selectively ignore the questionnaire that every visitor to the US must fill out upon arrival, which includes the Cold War relic: “Have you ever been or are you now affiliated with the Communist Party?” Clearly, this has been waived for the innumerable Chinese communist officials who are granted wide access to everything American.

Shahrukh KhanShah Rukh Khan, India’s beloved movie star, has been detained and interrogated at US airports, not once but twice, most recently in 2010 when he flew to the US on a private plane with the Ambanis, on his way to Yale to receive the prestigious Chubb Fellowship. You don’t read about Indians stealing US military or industrial secrets. You don’t read about Indian cyber thieves penetrating US companies and universities. But China still gets more visas and more access.

The majority of top-level Chinese spies who have been prosecuted by the US’ department of justice entered the US on student or work visas, but Chinese communist officials are still granted all manner of access, with smiles. Chinese mainland money has bought both US real estate and opinion; Xinhua has a huge media tower in Times Square, and it recently opened a multi-million dollar complex in Washington, DC. Chinese money is visible in every think tank in Washington, which are packed with books and programs proclaiming that the 21st century belongs to China, not America.

We still don’t know who arranged for Edward Snowden to go to Hong Kong. But we do know that if your name is Khan, and you’re from India, you are treated with suspicion, even if you are the most famous person on the planet with a huge fan base in the US. One has to ask then, what is going on inside the state department? How can they not recognise Shah Rukh Khan? And how many Edward Snowdens are at work, alongside how many Chinese agents? – The Asian Age, 28 July 2013

» Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years.

2 Responses

    Snowden Gets Asylum In Russia For One Year, Leaves Airport For Safe House – Wikileaks – 1 August 2013

    Edward Snowden

    Snowden's application for asylum in Russia.

    US Constitution & Universal Declaration of Human Rights forbid mass surveillance – Edward Snowden – Wikileaks – 12 July 2013

    Edward Joseph Snowden delivered a statement to human rights organizations and individuals at Sheremetyevo airport at 5pm Moscow time, Friday 12th July. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. The human rights organizations included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and were given the opportunity afterwards to ask Mr Snowden questions. The Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US Government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law. This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr Snowden and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld. Seated to the left of Mr. Snowden was Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor in this matter from WikiLeaks and to Mr. Snowden’s right, a translator. – Wikileaks

    Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

    It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

    I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

    Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

    That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
    Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

    Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

    I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

    This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

    If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

    Thank you.


  2. Brilliant article. MM has turned the story around. But is it really possible that Snowden was consciously working for the Chinese in the US?


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