National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden told NBC’s Brian Williams Wednesday night that he has “no relationship” with the Russian government and has never met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I have no relationship with the Russian government,” Snowden said. “I’ve never met the Russian president. I’m not a spy, which is the real question.”
Snowden’s comments came as part of his hour-long interview with Williams, the first Snowden has given to an American television outlet in the aftermath of his stealing of hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
Williams questioned him on whether he had access to the documents, and whether Russia’s government could gain access to them.
“I took nothing to Russia, so I could give them nothing,” he said.
Snowden is believed to have “touched” around 1.7 million documents on NSA servers. He gave roughly 200,000 of them to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras after meeting them in Hong Kong in early June.
Russia granted asylum on Aug. 1, from which time Snowden has been in living an undisclosed location. Some observers have speculated Snowden has become a Russian intelligence asset, both potentially with physical documents and the classified information he has in his head.
It’s worth nothing that though Snowden claims he has “no relationship” with the Russian government, it was the Russian government that granted him indefinite asylum. One of his lawyers, Anatoly Kucherena, also has close ties with the Kremlin.
Snowden’s media blitz has already been countered by the U.S. government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, responding to Snowden’s claim the U.S. “stranded” him in Russia, said Snowden should “man up” and answer for his leaks.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.