Definitively saying he is not a Russian spy, Edward Snowden said he was forced into remaining in Russia by the US, who canceled his passport. In an NBC News interview with Brian Williams, Snowden said he demanded that journalists exposing National Security Agency spying on US citizens show the content of articles to US authorities to ensure that they did not endanger US intelligence assets.

Edward Snowden NBC News

John Kerry says “man up” from his comfortable lifestyle

When considering Snowden’s reason for staying in Russia, US Secretary of State John Kerry did not dispute facts that the US canceled Snowden’s passport but rather stuck to generalities. “For a supposedly smart guy that is a pretty dumb answer,” said a tanned Kerry, who is known to enjoy vacations on the shores of Massachusetts. Kerry had called for Snowden to “man up” and face justice in the US. Snowden gave up a six figure job living on the shores Hawaii and a relationship with his attractive girlfriend to provide reporters information about what has been termed illegal NSA spying.  After presenting concerns through the chain of command at NSA that were ignored, Snowden said he had no choice but to blow the whistle to the press.

“I think it’s important to remember that people don’t set their lives on fire,” Snowden said. “They don’t walk away from their extraordinarily, extraordinarily comfortable lives … for no reason.”  Snowden said that turning himself over the US authorities and having them punish him publicly would send a chilling message to future whistleblowers.

When asked if he had remote access to the NSA documents he stole and provided to reporters, Snowden chucked, as if to say any computer connected to the internet is insecure, said he no longer had any access to NSA documents.

“Terrorist threat” used to justify programs that don’t work

Snowden claims the U.S. government is using the terrorist threat “to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we shouldn’t give up.”  To highlight the depths to which the NSA can peer into someone’s digital life, he said the NSA “can actually watch people’s Internet communications, watch their Internet correspondence, watch their thoughts as they type.”  Such government surveillance of US citizens not only hasn’t worked but is an “extraordinary intrusion … into the way you think.”

Snowden not low level analyst, worked overseas as CIA undercover operative

Rebuffing claims that he was a low level analyst, Snowden says he was an overseas undercover operative for the CIA and claims to have been trained by the NSA. It was from this position that Snowden made the decision to provide documents to the press in a secure fashion.

“The reality is, the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. The Constitution of the United States had been violated on a massive scale,” Snowden told Williams. “Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn’t be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary.”

After the interview, which was billed as a method to determine if Snowden was a traitor or patriot, a poll from NBC showed 61% considered him a patriot and 39% considered him a traitor.