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Snowden: ‘This Country Is Worth Dying For’

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In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (credit: The Guardian via Getty Images)

In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (credit: The Guardian via Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is shooting down rumors that he is a spy for the Chinese government.

Taking questions on The Guardian’s live chat, Snowden says he will not trade secrets with any country for asylum.

“This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk ‘RED CHINA!’ reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now,” Snowden responded.

He later responded to another question about what would he say to others who are in a position to leak classified information by saying that “this country is worth dying for.”

Snowden also railed against former Vice President Dick Cheney after he said the former defense contractor was a traitor.

“This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. …If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school,” Snowden said.

Snowden, 29, fled the U.S. for a Hong Kong hotel last month to go public with top secret documents gathered through his work in Hawaii as a contractor through Booz Allen Hamilton with the National Security Agency, where he worked as a systems analyst. He revealed startlingly voracious spy programs that sweep up millions of Americans’ telephone records, emails and Internet data in the hunt for terrorists.

One program collects hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records. The second – known as PRISM — gathers audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas, and probably some Americans in the process, who use major providers such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.

With the United States considering criminal charges against him, Snowden told the South China Morning Post he hoped to stay in the autonomous region of China because and he has faith in “the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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