EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Tells Brian Williams The U.S. Stranded Him In Russia

EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Tells Brian Williams the U.S. Stranded Him in Russia (NBC News, May 28, 2014):

Edward Snowden, in an exclusive interview with “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, blamed the State Department for stranding him in Russia, saying he “never intended” to wind up there.

“I personally am surprised that I ended up here,” Snowden said in the interview, an excerpt of which aired on TODAY on Wednesday morning.

Snowden’s comments about his new home came in an extended, wide-ranging interview with Williams, his first with a U.S. television network, airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

“The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia,” he said. “I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport.

“So when people ask why are you in Russia, I say, ‘Please ask the State Department.”

Secretary of State John Kerry hit back in a live interview on TODAY.

“For a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer, frankly,” Kerry said. “If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we’ll have him on a flight today.”

“He can come home but he’s a fugitive from justice which is why he is not being permitted to fly around the world,” Kerry added.

“The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia.”

In the sit-down, Snowden also fought back against critics who dismissed him as a low-level hacker — saying he was “trained as a spy” and offered technical expertise to high levels of government.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said.

He described himself as a technical expert who has worked for the United States at high levels, including as a lecturer in a counterintelligence academy for the Defense Intelligence Agency and undercover for the CIA and National Security Agency.

“But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert,” he said. “I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top.”

Last year, when Snowden left the country ahead of reports based on his leaks of NSA spying programs, administration officials played down his work history, using descriptions such as “systems administrator” to describe his role at the agency.

In June, President Barack Obama himself told reporters: “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

Snowden told Williams that those terms were “misleading.”

In the Defense Intelligence Agency job, Snowden said, he “developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.”

“So when they say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading,” he said.

3 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Tells Brian Williams The U.S. Stranded Him In Russia

  1. He needs to be careful or he will end up in US hands, and they will destroy him. He is probably pretty isolated in Russia, and the loneliness is getting to him.
    He should have decided where he was going to live, moved there and got established before speaking out. He did it backwards.
    He had better be careful, Putin could toss him out, too. This is what happens to those who go against the corporate oligarchy……and Putin is part of it.
    Whatever his reasons, I thank Putin for giving him a place to stay.
    Snowden needs to work quietly. If he was indeed trained as a spy, he needs to fall back on those abilities to get himself a place to live where he can safely communicate with others…….
    He did a heroic thing. He shook the mindless awake. Keeping them awake is something else, but I cannot say it too strongly……DON’T put yourself in way of US hands, they will torture and destroy you.
    Study Russian, and learn about the great country you are in…..it has a great history, and there is much you can learn there. Your days working in technology are over.

  2. I checked all the NBC time slots for this interview, it isn’t being broadcast on the west coast at all….I was going to record it to see what they did with Snowden. Evidently, it is too real, so they won’t allow it’s broadcast. World Music Awards are on instead.

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