London: Britain secretly obtained vast amounts of communications data from Pakistan to identify terrorists by hacking into routers in the country made by an American firm, according to US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden. Pic/AFP

In an interview to a news channel recently, he expressed his wish to go back to his home in the US. He has asked that he be allowed to return to the US and go to jail for leaking details of National Security Agency (NSA) programmes to intercept electronic communications data on a vast scale.

Snowden said he had “volunteered to go to prison many times” but had not received a formal plea-deal offer. Earlier this year, former US Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility. Snowden’s revelations about the NSA, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and other intelligence agencies set off an international debate about spies’ powers to monitor personal communications.

The former intelligence contractor said that GCHQ, British intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence, has been monitoring Pakistan’s communication data. To access the data, the GCHQ hacked routers made by Cisco. He also said that British spies can hack into phones remotely with a simple text message and make audio recordings or take photos without owners knowing.

FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano had said that Snowden was a traitor.

“The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray,” Snowden said. “I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.”