NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, an Analyst With a U.S. Defence Contractor, is Interviewed by The Guardian in His Hotel Room in Hong Kong
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong.REUTERS

Even as the U.S. government is pressuring Apple Inc. to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the passcode required to unlock the iPhone 5C belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has rubbished the FBI's claim that it needs Apple's help to unlock the device.

Edward Snowden, who exposed the U.S. government's mass surveillance programmes in 2013, has taken a dig at the FBI's claim that it needs Apple's help to unlock the said iPhone. According to The Next Web, he said at the Common Cause conference: "The FBI says Apple has the 'exclusive technical means' to unlock the phone, respectfully, that's bu*****t."

[Read: Apple vs. FBI: Bill Gates sides with US govt on hacking iPhone of San Bernardino shooter]

The former intelligence contractor also asked in a Twitter post why "global technological consensus is against the FBI," besides providing a link that leads to a piece written by Daniel Kahn Gillmor of the American Civil Liberties Union that explains how the intelligence agency can bypass auto-erase security feature by "backing up part of the phone (called the "Effaceable Storage") before attempting to guess the passcode".

Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook despite the order by a U.S. judge. The Cupertino giant was asked to help the FBI trace the movement of Farook and his wife on the day (Dec. 2, 2015) they shot 14 people dead.

"Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them [FBI]. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone," Cook said in a statement

[Read: Apple CEO Tim Cook opposes order to hack iPhone of San Bernardino shooter]

Interestingly, security experts are also of the opinion that the FBI doesn't need Apple's help to bypass "auto-erase" feature and recover passcode of the device. Cybersecurity expert John McAfee had earlier claimed that he could hack the iPhone in 'half an hour,' reported Business Insider

It may be recalled that thousands of internet and phone users were sent into a state of shock and anger after Snowden leaked secret documents of the country's surveillance programmes that included seizing vast amounts of telephone and web information of internet users around the world under the NSA programme known as PRISM. He said that he made the revelation in the public interest. Several politicians have called him a traitor, however, his supporters say he is a whistleblower.

[Read: Encrypt Act of 2016: US bill looks to stop ban on encrypted phones]

Major technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook, had confirmed that thousands of its users' data were compromised under the NSA programme.