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NSA Scandal

Snowden warns about surveillance in 'Christmas Message'

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has warned of the loss of the private sphere in the so-called 'Alternative Christmas Message.' It was his first major media appearance since claiming asylum in Russia.

Christmas adress by Edward Snowden

In the two-minute message broadcast on British television on Christmas Day, Snowden emphasized the importance of privacy for personal development and called for an end to mass surveillance.

"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all," Snowden said.

"They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that's a problem, because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be," he added

"Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying."

He signed off the broadcast by wishing Britons a "Merry Christmas."

The "Alternative Christmas Message" has been broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 television since 1993, and is intended as a counterpart to the yearly address to the nation delivered by Queen Elizabeth II. Previous speakers have been the then President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2008, and the popular cartoon characters Marge and Lisa Simpson in 2004.

Worldwide scandal

Snowden, who once worked for the US' National Security Agency (NSA), triggered widespread outrage throughout the world earlier this year when he leaked information on huge US surveillance programs targeting electronic media. He arrived in Russia in June, where he has been granted a year's asylum.

The US has revoked his passport and demanded he be sent home to face charges for stealing secrets.

But last week a White House-appointed panel proposed curbing some NSA surveillance operations.

'Mission accomplished'

In his first in-depth interview since claiming asylum, the 30-year-old Snowden told the Washington Post on Tuesday that he had "already won."

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he said, adding that he had wanted "to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."

tj/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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