Snowden: No secret documents taken to Russia
18 October 2013, 10:41
Washington - US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden says he did
not take any secret documents with him to Russia when he fled to the country, ensuring
Moscow had no access to the files.
In an interview with The New York Times published on Thursday,
Snowden said he gave all the classified papers he had obtained to reporters he
met in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow, where he later secured asylum.
The former National Security Agency contractor did not take
the documents with him "because it wouldn't serve the public interest",
Snowden told the Times.
"What would be the unique value of personally carrying
another copy of the materials onward?"
Snowden also insisted he was able to protect the documents
from China's spy services because he was familiar with that country's
intelligence capabilities through his work as an NSA contractor.
In his job, he had targeted Chinese operations and taught a
course on Chinese cyber-counterintelligence.
"There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese
have received any documents," he said.
The interview took place last week over several days through
encrypted online communications.
US officials and critics of Snowden have expressed concern
that the documents in his possession could have fallen into the hands of
Russian, Chinese or other potentially hostile foreign intelligence agencies.
Snowden, however, insisted the National Security Agency knew
he had not co-operated with Russian or Chinese spies.
"NSA has not offered a single example of damage from
the leaks. They haven't said boo about it except 'we think,' 'maybe,' 'have to
assume' from anonymous and former officials," Snowden added.
"Not 'China is going dark.' Not 'the Chinese military
has shut us out.'"
Snowden also said he never considered defecting while in
Hong Kong or Russia, where he has been given asylum for one year.
Decision to leak documents
Snowden said his decision to leak secret documents evolved
gradually, and that his doubts about intelligence agencies dated back to his
time working for the CIA in Geneva.
He said he clashed with a senior manager when he tried to
warn the CIA about vulnerability in its personnel web applications.
The episode convinced him that trying to work through the
system would only lead to punishment.
The 30-year-old, who faces espionage charges over his
bombshell leaks, defended his disclosures as serving the country's interests by
sparking a public debate and informing the public about secret surveillance.
"So long as there's broad support amongst a people, it
can be argued there's a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and
morally wrong programme, as it was an informed and willing decision,"
"However, programmes that are implemented in secret,
out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that's a problem.
"It also represents a dangerous normalisation of
'governing in the dark,' where decisions with enormous public impact occur
without any public input."
The NSA was not immediately available to comment on