Famous leaker Edward Snowden denied the critics affirmations that he was just an analyst, saying in his interview taken in Moscow by NBC Nightly News that he “was trained as a spy”, also working overseas for United States government agencies in different covert missions.
“Well, it’s no secret that the U.S. tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people,” Snowden told Brian Williams, NBC news anchor, in the interview that aired on Tuesday.
“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine.”
Snowden says that, being a “technical expert,” he handles mostly high-level jobs.
“I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the U.S. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top.”
The undercover work he did overseas was for both the CIA and NSA, but also speaking at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy “where I developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.”
“So when they [critics] say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading,” Snowden added.
Snowden was charged last year for unauthorized communication of national defense information and classified intelligence. His revelations exposed massive surveillance programs ran by NSA, gathering personal information of every U.S. citizen. After the leaks, Snowden flew to Hong Kong with 1.7 million computerized documents and then established in Moscow.
NBC will be presenting the full interview on Wednesday night, but Tuesday the news got out that Snowden told German magazine Stern that he had been “personally involved with information stemming from Germany” and that he has documents attesting that the “constitutional rights of every citizen in Germany were infringed”.
Snowden said BND, the German equivalent of the NSA, had used the same methods as the U.S. that could be why many people from Berlin were not very happy to hear what he has to say.
A German committee agreed that they need to question Snowden in order to advance with the spying investigation. The main problem is the location in which the hearings should be performed, as Snowden could be arrested and extradited if he ever comes in an U.S.-allied country. Also, this would also ruin the also damaged relation between Berlin and Washington, but on the other hand Snowden’s German lawyer is opposing testifying from abroad because it can jeopardize his stay in Russia.