National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden addressed speculation he has worked with Russian intelligence agencies during a lengthy Reddit question-and-answer session on Monday.
Snowden, who has been living in Moscow since 2013, categorically denied he cooperated with Russian state security.
“Good question, thanks for asking,” Snowden wrote. “The answer is ‘of course not.'”
The Redditor who asked Snowden about his relationship with Russian intelligence cited an article on his life in Moscow. That story, which was published in the New York Times in November 2013, described Russian journalist and security expert Andrei Soldatov as saying, “the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the Soviet-era intelligence service, clearly controlled the circumstances of Mr. Snowden’s life.”
Snowden argued any article theorizing he’s working with Russian intelligence is based on “suspicion” rather than fact.
“You’ll notice in all of these articles, the assertions ultimately come down to speculation and suspicion. None of them claim to have any actual proof, they’re just so damned sure I’m a russian [sic] spy that it must be true,” he wrote.
He went on to cite two pieces of evidence that he said proved his point — that he first traveled to Hong Kong when he left the US to leak his cache of documents in 2013 and that he spent over a month in a Moscow airport when he first arrived in Russia:
“When you look at in aggregate, what sense does that make? If I were a russian spy, why go to Hong Kong? It’s would have been an unacceptable risk. And further – why give any information to journalists at all, for that matter, much less so much and of such importance? Any intelligence value it would have to the russians would be immediately compromised.
If I were a spy for the russians, why the hell was I trapped in any airport for a month? I would have gotten a parade and a medal instead.
The reality is I spent so long in that damn airport because I wouldn’t play ball and nobody knew what to do with me. I refused to cooperate with Russian intelligence in any way.”
Snowden concluded by claiming he has been able to remain in Russia even though he doesn’t “play ball” because of his fame.
“At this point, I think the reason I get away with it is because of my public profile. What can they really do to me? If I show up with broken fingers, everybody will know what happened,” Snowden wrote.
You can read all of Snowden’s comments from the Reddit Q&A here.
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