Snowden tells NBC he didn't intend to land in Russia - WNCN: News, Weather

Snowden tells NBC he didn't intend to land in Russia

Posted: Updated:

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 NBC’s TODAY show 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. NBC will air a special report Wednesday at 10 p.m.

"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.

"We'd be delighted for him to come back. He should come back. That's what a patriot would do. A patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country. A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people," Kerry added.

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

Asked whether he had changed his mind about the nature of Snowden's actions, Kerry said Snowden "stole" information and did "great damage" to the United States.

"The fact is if he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice," Kerry said.

"But to be hiding in Russia, an authoritarian country, and to have just admitted he was really just trying to get to Cuba — what does that tell you?" he added. "I think he's confused. I think it's very sad."

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.

  • U.S.More>>

  • Man passes stopped school bus after huffing keyboard cleaner

    Man passes stopped school bus after huffing keyboard cleaner

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:14:12 GMT
    Police say Adam Perlowich had five empty aerosol cans in his car after he passed a stopped school bus.Police say Adam Perlowich had five empty aerosol cans in his car after he passed a stopped school bus.
    Police in South Carolina say a man sped past a stopped school bus Wednesday morning after he was seen huffing from several aerosol cans.
    Police in South Carolina say a man sped past a stopped school bus Wednesday morning after he was seen huffing from several aerosol cans.
  • Ferguson slowly starting to make comeback

    Ferguson slowly starting to make comeback

    Saturday, August 30 2014 3:40 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:40:37 GMT
    The unmistakable signs of healing are beginning to dot Ferguson, even the small area of this St. Louis-area suburb that was the center of attention for three weeks. 
    The unmistakable signs of healing are beginning to dot Ferguson, even the small area of this St. Louis-area suburb that was the center of attention for three weeks. But those in the community know they've got a long...
  • Thousands to attend Dragon Con Labor Day weekend

    Thousands to attend Dragon Con Labor Day weekend

    Saturday, August 30 2014 1:49 PM EDT2014-08-30 17:49:41 GMT
    People wear costumes for Dragon Con in Atlanta. (Source:CNN)People wear costumes for Dragon Con in Atlanta. (Source:CNN)
    More than 60,000 people are expected to attend "Dragon Con" in Atlanta this long Labor Day weekend. 
    More than 60,000 people are expected to attend "Dragon Con" in Atlanta this long Labor Day weekend. 
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.