MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) – Former US security contractor Edward Snowden has accomplished his mission of sparking debate by revealing classified United States government documents about the programs he worked on, he said in his first sit-down interview with journalists since arriving in Russia.
“Remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” Snowden told the Washington Post in the interview published on Tuesday.
Snowden released a cache of classified documents to journalists last summer that described US government Internet surveillance programs, including eavesdropping on American citizens.
The revelations have sparked domestic controversy and strained relations between the US and its allies, including Germany after it was revealed the National Security Agency had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for several years.
“I am not trying to bring down the NSA. I am working to improve the NSA,” Snowden said.
In the interview Snowden said that he has no loyalty to any government except the United States, and no formal agreement with the Russian government beyond his being granted temporary asylum.
Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that the Russian security services had not worked with Snowden, adding Snowden “made a noble but difficult choice for himself.”
Snowden, who first fled to Hong Kong in May and later to Moscow where he remained in Sheremetyevo Airport for over a month, was granted temporarily asylum in Russia in July and is now residing at an undisclosed location.
Snowden said that while he is free to leave his residence, he mostly chooses to stay inside eating a diet of chips and instant noodles and reading online. Last month his lawyer said he had started a web development job with a major Russian company.