Does the NSA spy on foreign corporations to give the US a competitive advantage? President Obama has denied it over and over, but a new interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden suggests there may be new evidence on the way. Asked by a German television station whether the US was spying on foreign companies like Siemens and Mercedes Benz, Snowden was coy. "I don't want to pre-empt the work of journalists," he said, "but there's no question the US is engaged in economic spying. If there's information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests (not the national security) of the United States, they'll go after that information."
China commonly engages in this kind of economically motivated hacking, with more than 700 companies, including Blackberry and Boston Scientific, reporting intrusions. While evidence shows the NSA has spied on Brazil's Petrobras oil company, the US government has never been conclusively linked to the surveillance or theft of trade secrets on an international stage. If true, the revelations would have a grave diplomatic impact, particularly the government attempts to regain the trust of allied nations.