MOSCOW, Russia – Fugitive American whistleblower Edward Snowden Wednesday dismissed as “absurd” the allegations that he may have been working for Russian intelligence services while leaking documents related about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programmes.
The denial comes days after US lawmakers said they were investigating if Snowden, who lives on a temporary asylum in Russia, was actually working for Russia and revealing the government secrets.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Snowden said: “I clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”
“It won’t stick, because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are. This Russian spy push is absurd.”
The magazine said the interview was conducted via encrypted means, without elaborating.
The fugitive whistleblower lifted the lid on America’s sweeping secret surveillance programme under which the NSA is alleged to have listened to private telephonic conversations of world leaders, including US allies, and monitored their emails. This caused a major international uproar about privacy and the reach of the US government in the post-September 11, 2001 world.
Snowden also caused major diplomatic embarrassments to the US government after his leaks showed the America even spied on some of its trusted allies, including Brazil and some European countries.
US Representative Mike Rogers said on Sunday that he believed “there’s a reason he ended up in the hands – the loving arms – of an FSB agent in Moscow”. He was referring to the Russian intelligence agency that is a successor of the Soviet-era KGB
Snowden is presently at an undisclosed location in Russia where he has taken a temporary refuge after the US government issued a warrant against him. He faces espionage charges in America.
Snowden in the interview said had he been a Russian spy he won’t have spent 40 days trapped in Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow after he fled the US.
“Spies get treated better than that,” he said.
This is not a first time that Snowden has been accused of working for foreign agencies since his first disclosure last year. He was earlier accused of being a Chinese spy.
To this, he said: “If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly to Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a Phoenix by now. The media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account.”
Close on the heels of the New Yorker interview, Snowden’s lawyer addressed reporters in Moscow Wednesday and also denied the spy allegations.
“All these conversations about the FSB involvement in some special operation related to Edward and his deeds are utter nonsense and provocation. The US authorities were the ones to force him to do this,” lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.
He said Snowden “initially intended to fly to Latin America and did not plan to end up in Moscow.
“The US authorities, who deprived him of his US passport, to cause him to be banned from travel and forced him to seek asylum in Russia,” Kucherena said.