• 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
Derailment disrupts Lausanne-Yverdon trains
Photo: RTSInfo/Screenshot

Derailment disrupts Lausanne-Yverdon trains

Passenger rail traffic will remain disrupted for several days on the Lausanne-Yverdon route in the canton of Vaud following the derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous goods at the weekend, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said on Sunday. READ  

Bern sends aid team to Nepal earthquake zone
Swiss aid team head to Nepal from Zurich. Photo: Rega

Bern sends aid team to Nepal earthquake zone

The Swiss government on Sunday sent a team of experts to Nepal to evaluate humanitarian needs there a day after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake killed at least 2,500 people and injured thousands more, while destroying buildings and triggering deadly avalanches. READ  

Swiss business team seeks Iran trade deals
World leaders met in Lausanne this month to map out Iran nuclear deal. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss business team seeks Iran trade deals

A Swiss business delegation travelled to Iran over the weekend for the first such visit in ten years in a bid to expand trade ties, the federal department of finance says. READ  

Foreigner head count nears two million
Photo: Christian Cueni

Foreigner head count nears two million

Immigration continues to boost the Swiss population, which grew to 8,236,600 at the end of 2014, an increase of 96,000 persons (up 1.2 percent) from a year earlier, according to new provisional figures released by the federal statistics office. READ  

UN mulls sending staff back to Yemen

The death toll from fighting in Yemen since late March has topped 1,000, the United Nations said in Geneva on Thursday, saying it wanted to quickly send international staff back to the country. READ  

Zermatt bans Saint Bernard dog photos
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Zermatt bans Saint Bernard dog photos

The municipality of Zermatt decided on Thursday to ban the taking of tourist photos with Saint Bernard dogs in the mountain resort town in the canton of Valais, according to media reports. READ  

Salt aims to shake up Swiss mobile market

Salt aims to shake up Swiss mobile market

A Swiss Orange has turned into Salt — but this is no magician's trick. READ  

Swiss top 2015 world 'happiness index'
Photo: Credit Suisse

Swiss top 2015 world 'happiness index'

Apparently, this goes beyond the great taste of Swiss chocolate. Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled by the United Nations in New York on Thursday. READ  

Austrian climber dies in fall from Matterhorn
Photo: Valais cantonal police

Austrian climber dies in fall from Matterhorn

A 33-year-old Austrian climber died on Thursday when he fell 600 metres down the side of the Matterhorn after ascending the iconic 4,478-metre mountain in the canton of Valais with a colleague. READ  

Novartis profits and sales slip in first quarter
Photo: AFP

Novartis profits and sales slip in first quarter

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis on Thursday said its first quarter income had fallen but maintained it would still meet its targets for this year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Swiss hotel management schools serve up 'world best' recipe
National
French president Hollande basks in good vibes from first Swiss visit
National
Segways win approval for operation on Swiss bicycle lanes
National
Joan Baez and Sting in lineup for this summer's Paléo music festival
National
Second CERN club skier dies from avalanche in Valais Alps
Sport
Lausanne and IOC celebrate a century of Olympism
National
Bern waters down criteria for beer that can be labelled ‘Swiss’
National
VIDEO: Swiss television satire clip ridicules Americans on ski slopes
National
Internet giant Google named most attractive employer in Switzerland
National
Immigration remains top election issue for Swiss voters: opinion poll
National
Environmental bureau ranks Zurich first among Europe's 'sootfree cities'
National
Zurich crane-climbing stunt by teenager flags 'roofer' concerns
Features
Mobility takes off as young urban Swiss catch the car-sharing bug
Education
THE ranks EPFL among seven 'fastest rising young universities'
Features
Six steps for expats to get along better with the Swiss
Business & Money
Ethical Coffee Company aims to beat Nespresso in home market
National
Use of temporary staffing continues to rise in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Need help with permits and registration in Switzerland?
National
Swiss foreign affairs minister touted as candidate for top UN job
National
One of Switzerland's most celebrated artists dies in Lucerne at 106
Business & Money
Swiss luxury brand Tag Heuer announces plans for smartwatch
National
Valais lights up 13 mountain peaks for 200th anniversary
Business & Money
Switzerland to avoid recession this year: Credit Suisse forecast
Business & Money
Europe's tallest hotel pitched for Swiss mountain village
National
Exlusive interview: surviving Swiss cousin remembers Anne Frank
National
New Credit Suisse chief executive 'offers hope for Africans'
Features
Top tips to help you find an apartment in Switzerland
Business & Money
American expat to make way for African as Credit Suisse CEO
National
Rising Swiss gender pay gap above European Union average
National
Political deal reached to enact Swiss holiday home restrictions
National
Optimism drives this year's Geneva International Motor show
National
Robust Swiss economy beats forecasts for 2014: government
Sport
Federer scores upset win against Djokovic for seventh Dubai title
National
Swiss train in collision near Zurich ignored stop signal: SBB
Technology
Switzerland best in world for per capita European patent filings
Education
New EPFL building to showcase art and science 'under one roof'
National
Same-sex marriage supported by most Swiss: opinion polls
National
New study finds Switzerland is world's best place to retire
National
Army official calls for Swiss women to undergo military training
National
New Swiss health campaign combats smoking as 'norm' for too many
Culture
Abba star Frida records song about first ascent of the Matterhorn
National
Swiss federal government unveils EU immigration quotas bill
Business & Money
HSBC Swiss private bank revelations 'tip of iceberg': whistleblower
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
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

4,636
jobs available