China on Monday dismissed hints that former CIA employee-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden in hiding in Hong Kong was spying for Beijing and instead asked the US to explain to the world Snowden’s claim of wide-ranging internet surveillance by the US.
Quoting former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, the state media said that the US was hinting that Snowden was spying for China and that the claim was false.
Addressing the regular press briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said Monday that the claim was “completely ridiculous”.
“We believe the United States should pay attention to the international community's concerns and demands and give the international community the necessary explanation,” n Hua said.
The state media added that PRISM incident had stirred up quite the controversy in the United States after UK newspaper, The Guardian, and the US’s The Washington Post both reported on the existence of PRISM, a secret computer hacking program jointly sponsored by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
It said the programme was reportedly tapping into a handful of U.S.-based Internet companies’ servers, gathering data in an attempt to collect intelligence. Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google and Apple are among those accused of having participated in the project.
Snowden also told the Hong Kong-based the South China Morning Post, last week that the US had spied extensively on targets in China and Hong Kong.
Targets included the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the site of an exchange which handles nearly all the city's domestic web traffic, government officials, businesses and students.
The People's Liberation Army Daily, the primary mouthpiece of China’s People’s Liberation Army also hit out at the US for implying that spying on citizens from other countries was justified.
The newspaper said the PRISM monitoring program had probably been used to collect large amounts of data unrelated to anti-terrorism operations.
“US intelligence agencies are habitual offenders with regards to network monitoring and espionage,” the article, attributed to the PLA's Foreign Languages Institute, said.
Support has been pouring in for the 29-year-old Snowden in Hong Kong where he s known to be hiding.
Hundreds of people held a rally in Hong Kong in Snowden’s support on Saturday where demonstrators marched from Chater Garden to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, before continuing on to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government headquarters.
A commentary on the government portal China.org called him “a bright idealistic young man” who “almost single-handedly opened the lid on the US National Security Agency's PRISM program, a program which marks the bleakest moment yet in the history of the Internet due to its scope, exact country of origin and implications.”