The former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appeared Sunday night in his first extended television interview. Citing published statements by unnamed US intelligence and military operatives calling for his assassination, he warned that he faces "significant threats" to his life and that US "government officials want to kill me."
The interview, broadcast by the German television network ARD, was largely blacked out by the US media. The New York Times carried not a word of what Snowden said, while the cable and broadcast news programs treated the interview with near total silence.
The American media's reaction stood in stark contrast to that of both broadcast and print media in Germany, where the interview conducted with Snowden in Russia was treated as a major political event.
The interview itself was preceded by a segment dedicated to Snowden on Germany's most popular news talk show, with commentary delivered before a sizable live television audience. Those who spoke out in Snowden's defense received enthusiastic applause, while the defenders of Washington's spying operations, including a right-wing German journalist and a former US ambassador to Germany, were treated coolly or with outright derision.
Polls conducted in Germany have shown six out of 10 surveyed expressing admiration for Snowden, with only 14 percent regarding him as a criminal. The public is evenly divided over whether he should be granted asylum in Germany. Anger over NSA spying on German telephone and Internet communications -- including Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cell phone -- is widespread.