In direct opposition to his Russian bear counterparts, the coming winter has prompted award-winning secret leaker Edward Snowden out of hibernation.
Since emerging from hiding last week, Snowden has given interviews and attended a dinner in Moscow. While not yet a man about town, he seems to be moving freely without fear of repercussion or reprisal from rogue agents or secret government agencies.
In a recent New York Times piece, Snowden claims that he did not bring any classified documents with him to Russia, saying that before flying from Hong Kong to Moscow, he gave whatever classified materials were in his possession to the journalists that were with him.
“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” Snowden told the Times.
He further added that the NSA knew the Chinese did not have access to any documents because it would have caused a much greater stir than it did.
The NSA declined to comment on his assertion.
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He said his decision to rid himself of the documents while in transit was based purely on public interest, and that carrying the documents with him further to Moscow would have provided no value.
The interview conducted with Snowden online and through encrypted communication shed light onto Snowden’s motivation for leaking the documents in the first place. He justified his decision by saying that whatever harm the leaking of the documents caused in the short term would be far overshadowed by the good it brought in the long run.
“The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure,” he told a reporter for the Times. He further added, “It also represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”
Regarding his living conditions in Russia, Snowden declined to make any comments about how he was living or where. He only said that he was not under control of the Russian government and that he was free to move around.
Snowden has been granted asylum in Russia for a period of up to one year. His stay may be extended if he decides to reapply to stay there more permanently for a period beyond his initial 12 months.
Although he claims he did not consider disaffecting from the United States earlier this summer when he was in Hong Kong or Moscow, he moved forward with the decision to say in Moscow once he realized the extent of the charges that he would be facing at home.
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He said his decision to leak the information rather than taking it public was largely dependent upon his personal experiences at the NSA, which he described as being governed through “fear and a false image of patriotism.”
He further added that any efforts to change the system from the inside would have been for naught and that he would “have been discredited and ruined” for his actions.
(Update: Shit just got very real, and Donald Trump finally found a way to weasel into this story.)