In Brian Williams Interview, Edward Snowden Says He's Never Met Putin, So Forget the Buddy Cop Film
America's two favorite former spies, Edward Snowden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have never met, Snowden said in an NBC interview with Brian Williams aired Wednesday night. In response to questions from Williams about his host country's inevitable grilling of the former U.S. government employee, Snowden said he wasn't involved with Russia.
I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I’ve never met the Russian president.
Snowden also drilled down on the meaning behind Williams' question, saying firmly that he is "not a spy" for the Russians and is not telling them U.S. government secrets — beyond, of course, the U.S. government secrets he's already revealed publicly. Snowden also clearly said he didn't enter Russia on purpose.
I personally am surprised that I ended up here. I never intended to end up in Russia.
Let's not forget, though, that both Snowden has at the very least chatted it up with Putin. Snowden talked to Putin via a live video link in mid-April, and Putin was quick to compare the two.
Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy. I used to be working for an intelligence service. We are going to talk one professional language.
Poor Putin. Apparently Snowden doesn't think that's enough to establish a relationship. Even worse, he called out Putin for his recent actions to limit bloggers' freedoms.
It’s really frustrating for someone who’s working so hard to expand the domain of our rights and our privacy to end up stuck in a place where those rights are being challenged in ways that I would consider deeply unfair.
In the interview with Williams, Snowden — who spoke diplomatically, clearly, and carefully to Williams throughout — also said he didn't bring any documents into Russia, so he wouldn't have been able to leak them into the hands of Russian intelligence. He scoffed at the idea that he'd bring such sensitive information into the country, suggesting he knew exactly how extensive Russia's intelligence system is. He also said he wasn't able to access them remotely.
Snowden also repeated on Wednesday that he didn't take from the NSA any documents that he thought would hurt anyone.
I didn’t want to take information that would basically be taken and thrown out in the press that would cause harm to indivudals, that would cause people to die.
Much of the NBC interview sounded like a direct plea for leniency from President Obama. Whether or not Obama will grant that remains to be seen.