In an exclusive interview in Russia with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower who leaked information about U.S. surveillance activities, says he is “kind of encouraged” by the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin might return him to the U.S. to stand trial because that would show the world he’s not a spy and Russia “doesn’t own me.”
But he also acknowledged he isn’t eager to return home to face U.S. justice, saying such a prospect “would be a threat to my liberty and to my life.”
Speaking for 90 minutes in a Moscow hotel room, Snowden — calm and completely unrepentant — also took new swipes at top U.S. intelligence officials, claiming they have accused him of damaging national security only because they were “embarrassed” by his disclosures of classified National Security Agency documents and worried about their “reputations.”
Those comments drew an angry rebuke Sunday from the Obama administration’s former top counterterrorism official. “Snowden is delusional,” said Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, when read excerpts of the interview.
“It wasn’t so many years ago that people were saying, ‘This guy’s a Russian spy,’” said Snowden when asked by Couric how “nervous” he was about the possibility of losing his Russian sanctuary and being sent home to face criminal charges of theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act.