Edward Snowden says he has achieved what he set out to do by revealing details of secret US government worldwide electronic surveillance.
In an interview with the Washington Post, the euronews Person of the Year said “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
His comments came in the first extensive face-to-face interview Snowden has granted since arriving in Russia in June and being given temporary asylum there.
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he told the Washington Post. The newspaper said it spoke to Snowden over two days of nearly unbroken conversation in Moscow, “fueled by burgers, pasta, ice
cream and Russian pastry.”
In the interview, Snowden denied he was trying to bring down the NSA. “I am working to improve the NSA,” he said. “I am still working for the National Security Agency right now. They are the only ones who don’t realise it.”
Last week, a White House-appointed panel proposed curbs on some key NSA surveillance operations, recommending limits on a programme to collect records of billions of telephone calls, and
new tests before Washington spies on foreign leaders.
The panel’s proposals were made in the wake of Snowden’s revelations. President Barack Obama later tried to strike a middle ground, saying some checks were needed on the NSA’s surveillance, but “we can’t unilaterally disarm.”
Snowden said he was an ascetic and lived off ramen noodles and chips. He has visitors and many of them bring books, but they pile up, unread.
He denied he had loyalties to Russia or China.
“I have no relationship with the Russian government,” he said. “I have not entered into any agreements with them. If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public.”