Tonight at 10 p.m. EST, was former-NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden’s first American mainstream media interview. Snowden has been in Russia since June, 2013, and has been living in Moscow on temporary asylum. For the time being, Snowden, interested in the reforms the leaks of invasive NSA programs may spawn, refuses to return to the United States for fear he will be held indefinitely and without being able to make his case like whistleblowers have been in the past.
Brian Williams ventured to Moscow last week to interview Snowden. Here are the biggest revelations and the most important moments stemming from the interview:
1. Edward Snowden Has Never Been in Contact with the Russian Government
The question on everyone’s mind during Edward Snowden’s 11 months in Russia, has Edward Snowden been beaten or paid into helping Russia to understand U.S. intelligence. Edward Snowden confirmed for the American public that he has never been contacted by the Russian government or any subsidiaries of it.
Snowden confirmed what was reported almost a year ago, that he destroyed his copies of the downloaded NSA documents before traveling to Moscow. Snowden likened his situation to a cartoon, if I was a Tweedy Bird with all of these documents, Snowden said in the interview, and Russia was Sylvester the cat, then wouldn’t it be dangerous for me in Russia?
2. Edward Snowden Has Worked Oversees, Sometimes Under a False Name, For the NSA and CIA
Edward Snowden confirmed that he did not spend his entire career as a systems analyst, or as Obama suggested, a “hacker.” Snowden told Brian Williams tonight that at times he worked overseas, for both the NSA and the CIA, working under a false name and under the pretense of working jobs that he was not working.
The Snowden believes the government will either deny this or use parts of career to overshadow the rest.
3. Snowden Said Government’s Can Have Full Control of Your Cell Phone
Using Brian William’s phone Googling the Rangers score an example, Edward Snowden showed exactly what the NSA can learn from that one seeming innocuous task. Snowden claimed the government can learn your patterns of life, learn your gps location, and even see what phones are around you when you Google. That way, the NSA could learn immoral but not illegal things about a person, like whether or not they spend evenings with people who are not their spouses.
4. Edward Snowden Attempted to Go Through Legal Channels
One of the biggest critiques of Snowden is that he did not try to make these reforms or raise these points by going through legal and encouraged methods. Snowden has claimed in the past that in fact, he did try to go through legal channels by emailing both the general counsel for the NSA and privacy and compliance advisors.
Brian Williams was able to confirm, on air, that his sources found proof that Snowden did send at a least one email attempting to raise this conversation with the proper authorities. NBC also now has a Freedom of Information Act request now filed with the NSA to try to uncover any other requests Edward Snowden made for reform.
5. Edward Snowden Wants to Come Home
Brian Williams and NBC disvcovered that Edward Snowden’s lawyer have been in contact with lawyers representing the United States government. Snowden is worried however, that if he came home now, he would not have access to the fair and open debate and trial he so readily wants. Under the Espionage act, the laws under which Snowden would be prosecuted, he would not receive the right to an open trial.