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On German TV, former NSA contractor Snowden says he's not losing sleep

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By Reuters
Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

BERLIN — Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV on Sunday about reports that U.S. government officials want to assassinate him for leaking documents about the NSA's collection of telephone records and emails.

In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden's first television interview, he said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden told ARD that he believes there are “significant threats” to his life but that he knows he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA's activities.

“I'm still alive and don't lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,” Snowden said at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

He referred to a report on an American website that he said quoted anonymous officials as saying his life was in danger.

“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,” Snowden said.

Questions about the American government's spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated in June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

He was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States.

The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

Reports that the NSA monitored Merkel's mobile phone have added to the anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a “no-spy” agreement with the United States, a country it considers to be among its closest allies.

Snowden said the NSA is active in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its national security value. He said the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security, and he cited German engineering firm Siemens as a target.

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