Snowden claims NSA is involved in ‘industrial espionage’

In his first television interview, US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed that his former employer engaged in espionage on an industrial scale.

Speaking to German public broadcaster ARD, Snowden alleged that the NSA collected any intelligence that it was able to, regardless of its national security value.

"If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said, according to ARD.

The former NSA contract worker also revealed that he believed there were "significant threats" to his life.

"I'm still alive and don't lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do," said Snowden. "There are significant threats but I sleep very well."

The six-hour interview was filmed in the Moscow hotel suite Snowden has been staying in since seeking asylum in Russia towards the end of last year.

At an online Q&A event last week, Snowden alleged that there was "no chance" he would have a fair trial in the US due to failings in the current law.

However, in the interview with ARD Snowden went one step further by claiming that there were US officials that wanted him dead.

"These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower," Snowden said.

The NSA spying scandal that has been ongoing since Snowden's revelations last June about the agency's practices has received significant attention in Germany.

In October it was revealed that the NSA had monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"What I can say is that we know that Angela Merkel was monitored by the NSA," said Snowden. "But the question is how logical is it that she's the only one who was monitored, how likely is it that she was the German person the NSA was watching?

"I'd say that it's not very likely that anyone who was watching the German government was only watching Merkel and not her advisers nor other government officials nor ministers, heads of industries or even local government officials."