Nightly News   |  June 12, 2013

‘Dozens of terrorist events’ foiled by surveillance, NSA says

As Edward Snowden appealed to Hong Kong through its English language newspaper, half a world away the National Security Agency strongly defended its surveillance programs. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> who released top secr secrets said he will fight extraditi extradition. andrea mitchell with the latest.

>> reporter: there are 7.2 million people in hong kong . the fbi believes edward snowden is one of them. from hiding, he leveled new charges today, telling "the south china morning post " that u.s. has been hacking china's computers for years. the paper says he claimed the u.s. is exerting bullying diplomatic pressure on hong kong to extradite him. but rule of law will protect him from the u.s. and he's in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family. ian williams in hong kong .

>> this is clearly a well targeted interview, an appeal to hong kong through its main english language newspaper, demonstrating not only he's still here, but he intends to stay and fight.

>> reporter: half a world away , the head of the national security agency strongly defended the surveillance program, claiming they disrupted far more plots than previously known.

>> it's dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent.

>> reporter: but he was hammered about snowden and the extent of nsa surveillance.

>> i am looking at the background to this individual who had access to highly classified information at such a young age.

>> i do have concerns about the process, senator. i have great concerns over that. the access he had.

>> mr. snowden claimed that due to his position at nsa, he could tap into virtually any american's phone calls or e-mails. true or false?

>> false. i know of no way to do that.

>> reporter: and in a essential media first for any senate hearing, committee chair barbara mckolsky denied she was cutting off questioning.

>> i want to respond to a tweet about me from rosie gray. there is no attempt to stifle any senator. rosie, hi. look forward to keeping in touch.

>> the nsa director did not give any details on the plots he claims were disrupted. but the u.s. and allies aren't as safe as they were before the leaks. the hong kong paper says i'm not a traitor nor hero, i'm an american.

>>> an update on what was the top story last night. a chief foreign correspondent richard engel remains in turkey, where the situation remains highly volatile. more demonstrations today. but none