National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has claimed in an interview with a German television channel that US intelligence agencies are involved in industrial espionage, ria.ru reports.
Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, told public service broadcaster ARD in an interview aired late Sunday that the NSA spied on major German companies, even though the information obtained was unrelated to security needs.
He said in reference to German engineering company Siemens that the NSA secured data about the company that they considered beneficial to the national interest.
Referring to comments made by an unnamed Washington functionary to the Buzzfeed website in a report published earlier this month, Snowden reprised concerns that US officials were intent on killing him.
US attorney general Eric Holder has meanwhile signaled that Washington would be prepared to allow Snowden to return to the United States under negotiated terms.
Snowden’s interview, said to be the first from Russia, was recorded at a Moscow hotel on Thursday.
Snowden, 30, has been living in Russia since last summer after fleeing the US and has been granted asylum for at least one year. He faces espionage charges in the United States for leaking data about government surveillance practices.
Holder last year said in a letter to Russian authorities that Snowden would face neither physical maltreatment nor capital punishment upon return to his home country.
US officials were not immediately available to comment on Snowden's claims.