Snowden claims NSA hacking computers in Asia

(CBS News) Edward Snowden has said he leaked details of secret American surveillance programs. Now he's making new claims that the National Security Agency is hacking computers in Asia.

Snowden claims that for years, the NSA has tapped into computers in Hong Kong and mainland China, targeting everyone from public officials to students. His explosive -- and still unsubstantiated -- claims appeared in a new interview with the South China Morning Post.

NSA leaker could face long wait with asylum request

Snowden told the paper, "We hack network backbones like huge Internet routers, basically that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers."

So far, authorities in Beijing have not commented. But following U.S. allegations of Chinese government hackers targeting America, the front page of the China Daily calls Snowden's revelations a "test of ties" between the U.S. and China, and features an editorial cartoon suggesting no one is safe from American surveillance.

Snowden says he wants to remain in Hong Kong as long as he is welcome. Snowden says he now fears for his safety, as well as his family's. While Snowden continues to hide out in Hong Kong, he said, "I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality."

In Hong Kong Thursday, a small group of protesters marched to the U.S. Consulate, shouting, "We support Edward Snowden."

Snowden is vowing to fight any attempt by the U.S. to extradite him and says he's put his faith in Hong Kong's legal system.

Lawyer Simon Young help lead an earlier fight to standardize Hong Kong's asylum process. CBS News' Seth Doane asked Young, "Why would Edward Snowden pick Hong Kong, of all places, to come?"

Young said, "We have a relationship with the mainland whereby our autonomy is protected by the constitution. We have an independent judiciary, and most interestingly, we have a fairly robust system of asylum law."

Snowden says he stands behind what he's done, and added, "I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American."

Legal experts in Hong Kong tell CBS News that Snowden has to be very careful about what type of information he divulges while in Hong Kong, so as to be careful not to break local laws. Meanwhile, popular support appears to be growing, with a protest planned for Saturday.

Watch Seth Doane's report in the player above.

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