• Switzerland's news in English
 
Snowden trashes 'racist Swiss' on chat site
A banner defending Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP

Snowden trashes 'racist Swiss' on chat site

Published: 27 Jun 2013 22:07 GMT+02:00

Arstechnica.com revealed on Wednesday a string of comments that it alleged Snowden left on the website’s “Internet Relay Chat” once he arrived in Geneva in 2007, where he worked as a spy with diplomatic cover.

The remarks, made under an online username “TheTrueHOOHA”, are initially critical about how expensive Switzerland is, make references to how “racist” the Swiss are, but also refer to the mountain country as “pretty cool”.

Snowden, an IT systems expert, was 23 when he arrived in Switzerland as a CIA spy before he moved on to work for a private contractor hired by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Now reportedly at Moscow’s international airport, the 30-year-old is wanted by US law enforcement officials in connection with leaking NSA documents that reveal a massive global internet and telephone “data-mining” surveillance program.

Snowden is being regarded as a traitor to his country by American politicians and a hero by others for lifting the lid on allegedly invasive practices by US intelligence services.

He began secretly leaking the documents to The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspapers in early June before revealing himself as the whistleblower on June 9th.

The comments made by TheTrueHOOHA to Arstechnica suggest that Snowden was unfamiliar with Switzerland when he first arrived.

On the chat site he appears to be conversing with Americans in the US about Swiss life and how it contrasts with life back home.

“You guys wouldn’t believe how expensive shit is here,” he says in one entry.

“You can’t get tap water in restaurants . . . they make you buy it in bottles, glass bottles. 5 bucks a pop.”

He complains of hamburgers costing $15 that tasted like “greasy cardboard”.

“Jesus christ are the swiss rich,” he wrote, adding, with the use of an obscenity, that McDonald’s workers were paid more than he was.

“They make like $50,000 a year.”

Several months later Snowden apparently warmed to life in Geneva.

“It’s pretty cool,” he wrote, according to Arstechnica.com.

“The girls are gorgeous, too. Oh, and prostitution is legal.”

He said it’s “like living in a post card” but also “nightmarishly expensive and horrifically classist.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A GALLERY OF SOME OF SNOWDEN'S ALLEGED COMMENTS ABOUT THE SWISS.

The comment that has drawn most attention in the Swiss press, however, is one referring to the Swiss as racists.

“I have never EVER seen a people more racist than the swiss jesus god they look down on EVERYONE,” he wrote, according to Arstechnica.

“Even each other.”

The website says TheTrueHOOHA made nearly 800 posts to its forums, “including biographical information and photos that match Snowden.”

Reuters earlier this month reported that Snowden used the pseudonym for online postings.

The fugitive caused a stir in Switzerland when he revealed that the CIA got a banker drunk in Geneva in order to recruit him as an informant about tax evasion by Americans stashing money in Switzerland.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said on Thursday that American officials have provided only a “very diplomatic” response to questions from Bern about this allegation.

"They have answered that they have respected Swiss law and that they have never done anything of any sort that is problematic," Burkhalter was quoted as saying by the ATS news agency.
   

"We have decided to continue the discussions with the Americans about this pending question," he said.

For Washington, he said, “it is obvious that there wasn't a problem."

Click here to check the Arstechnica.com site, which also alleges that Snowden said in an online posting in 2009 that leakers "should be shot". 

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ex-UBS trader jailed in UK for Libor rigging
Former UBS trader Tom Hayes. Photo: Leon Neal/AFP

Ex-UBS trader jailed in UK for Libor rigging

A trader who worked for UBS and Citigroup on Monday became the first person to be convicted in Britain of rigging the Libor inter-bank lending rate. READ  

Huge blaze breaks out in Thurgau warehouse
Photo: TVO Online

Huge blaze breaks out in Thurgau warehouse

More than 100 firefighters tackled a fire at a storage depot in Horn, in the canton of Thurgau, on Monday morning. READ  

Swiss bishop slammed over anti-gay speech
The cathedral in Chur.

Swiss bishop slammed over anti-gay speech

Switzerland's gay and lesbian community has reacted angrily after the ultra-conservative Bishop of Chur quoted passages from the Bible which condemn homosexuals to death. READ  

Thiem wins Swiss Open for third career title
Dominic Thiem serving on his way to victory. Alain Grosclaude / AFP

Thiem wins Swiss Open for third career title

Austria's Dominic Thiem claimed his third career ATP title when downing top seed David Goffin 7-5, 6-2 in the Swiss Open final on Sunday. READ  

Lausanne gets 2020 Winter Youth Olympics
Lausanne in winter. Photo: OTV/L Ryser

Lausanne gets 2020 Winter Youth Olympics

The Swiss city of Lausanne will host the third Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Friday. READ  

Swiss Siberia ends July with below-zero night
The village of La Brevine is known as the Siberia of Switzerland. Photo: Caroline Bishop

Swiss Siberia ends July with below-zero night

The hot weather across Switzerland in July may have broken records, but in the early hours of July 31st one village lived up to its frosty reputation when the temperature fell below zero. READ  

New SwissPass could lead to job cuts: union
SwissPass launches on August 1st. Photo: SBB

New SwissPass could lead to job cuts: union

The new SwissPass railcard, which launches on August 1st, could put ticket office jobs in jeopardy says transport staff union SEV. READ  

Naked performers take to Swiss city’s streets
The festival will stage performances in public places around the city. Photo: W Winkler

Naked performers take to Swiss city’s streets

Visitors to Biel/Bienne may be in for a surprise on August 21st-22nd as the Swiss city hosts the world’s first naked performance festival in the city’s streets. READ  

Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal
Photo: AFP/Nicolas Maeterlinck

Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal

Private equity company PAI Partners announced Thursday it is selling Zurich-based airport ground handling and cargo company Swissport International to China's HNA Group for 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.8 billion, 2.54 billion euros). READ  

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls
Missing cats concerned 85 percent of calls. Photo: Dennis Jarvis

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls

Switzerland’s recent heatwave resulted in a record number of cats going walkabout in the months of June and July, according to Swiss animal call centre STMZ. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
National
Swiss army airlifts water to thirsty cows
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Army chief
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
Geneva's revolutionary marketing education
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
National
New survey ranks Zurich Europe's priciest city for expatriates
National
Quarter of residents in Switzerland 'have multiple homes'
Features
Veggie lovers and 'flexitarians' challenge Swiss meat-eating habits
National
Forest officials struggle to save Switzerland's dying ash trees
Education
Historian finds ancient Egyptian papyrus texts in Basel uni library
National
Seven large Swiss employers back 'flexible work' charter
National
Basel police rescue of ducks forces closure of A2 motorway
National
Mother and daughter die as rain storms lash central Switzerland
Sport
'Stan the man' Wawrinka: French Open triumph 'completely crazy'
Culture
Expat's Zurich 'then and now' video shows how little the city has changed
National
Phoney Geneva police officers rob tourists and UN staff
Sport
Blatter's abrupt resignation seen as a 'stunning capitulation'
Features
Cleanup crews head to ski resorts to keep Swiss mountains tidy
Culture
Interlaken museum showcases works by Picasso using Caran d'Ache pencils
National
Low interest rates give tenants right to seek rent reductions in Switzerland
Sport
Switzerland's Blatter fends off critics to win fifth term as Fifa president
National
Agricultural researchers discover why Swiss cheese has holes
Culture
Swiss filmmaker returns home to shoot 'gender-fluid' film in Ticino
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,338
jobs available