Edward Snowden is of the view that people around the world live in the "golden age of surveillance". Speaking at the CeBit tech conference in Hanover, Germany, via a live video feed, the NSA whistle-blower discussed global security and politics, US President Donald Trump, WikiLeaks and "spy" microwaves.
Snowden said that while US intelligence agencies may have found some evidence to indicate Russia's alleged attempt to influence the 2016 US presidential election, the FBI is yet to provide any "real evidence" that could link Russian president Vladimir Putin and Kremlin intelligence to the cyberattacks that allegedly plagued the election.
"Russian influence in the election needs to be investigated and if they are found to have been, they need to be held accountable to the law," Snowden said according to Russian state media Sputnik. "We haven't seen any real evidence unfortunately out of the FBI from it, they say they have it but they haven't revealed it. We have gotten some out of private vendors, and it's reasonably convincing... But the consensus... is that this is a plausible case."
He added, "So now we can start to have a conversation about, is this appropriate? How do we deal with this? Where is the line between traditional espionage and interfering with elections? How we start to police these things? This is a conversation we cannot have without facts that everyone agrees on, without evidence that is well established and uncontroversial."
Snowden on zero-days and "spy" microwaves
Snowden pointed out that the latest developments in technology are empowering a new league of "internet predator class" to develop more destructive zero-day exploits. "Very soon we are about to see a level of proliferation that results in a real crisis," he said.
The 33-year-old also took a dig at Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway's recent comments about potential surveillance conducted by microwaves that could be turned into cameras. He deemed the idea of microwave manufacturers adding cameras to their products as "crazy".
"They do not need microwaves," Snowden said.
Although the former CIA employee allegedly lauded WikiLeaks' recent disclosures and said they "a genuine public service", he claimed to have no contact with the whistleblowing site or founder Julian Assange. However, he acknowledged that WikiLeaks had helped him leave Hong Kong, after which he made his way to Moscow in 2013, where Russian authorities granted him asylum.
He said, "I don't talk to Julian Assange, I don't talk to WikiLeaks, I have no relationship with them."
Snowden on Trump and surveillance
"Right now we are living in the golden age of surveillance. This is not a claim from me, this is from the NSA's own classified top secret slides, and they are right. The UN is affirming in this judgment that this is right and government recognize this, not matter how many times they say it's getting harder for us to investigate things, we are losing track of people, it has never been easier than it is today," Snowden said.
When asked if he believed the Trump administration would reform the NSA, he responded, "Let's be real. Donald Trump has never represented himself as a friend of civil liberties."
He also commented on Germany's decision on not inviting him to give his testimony on the NSA's surveillance on the country. He said that the German government may be "simply moving on, to avoid the topic, because sometimes the truth is uncomfortable".
He continued, "I'm proud of the choices I made," and added that while he "lost a lot", his decisions and actions allowed new growth in his life, which he described as "profoundly empowering".