Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden remained unbowed in an interview published by the Washington Post on Monday, denying he had shifted political allegiances while reaffirming his argument that his series of revelations into U.S. surveillance earlier this year were for the greater good.
"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," Snowden told the Post. "I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."
Snowden, who has been living in Russia since gaining temporary asylum on Aug. 1, spoke to the Post for more than 14 hours. Before leaking the information to the press, he said, he expressed his concerns over the NSA's activities to supervisors at an agency regional base in Hawaii and in the organization's Technology Directorate. Snowden also said he discussed his qualms with the agency's data-gathering by giving colleagues what he called "the front-page test."
"I asked these people, 'What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?'" Snowden told the Post.
An NSA spokesperson questioned Snowden's accounts of events in a statement, saying to the Post, "After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden's contention that he brought these matters to anyone's attention." The agency also said it had no records of him recommending a two-person credential system for access to the kinds of files he subsequently released to the Post and the British newspaper The Guardian.
According to the Post, while the location of the files Snowden took is still unknown, he is "confident" he did not expose them to Chinese intelligence while staying in Hong Kong following the first few stories based on his revelations. Snowden also said he did not bring the files to Russia, and refuted characterizations of himself as "defector."
"There is no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States," Snowden told the Post. "I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them. If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public."
[Image via Agence France-Presse]