LONDON, September 14. /TASS/. Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed mass surveillance technologies used by US special services, said in an interview with Guardian his plan almost failed near the end.
In the interview, timed to coincide with the release of his book titled Permanent Record, Snowden says he had secretly hoarded documents on an abandoned computer, and was moving it, when a supervisor saw him.
"So I got stopped in the hallway as I’m taking this old machine back and a supervisor says: ‘What are you doing with this machine?’ And I look at him frankly and I say: ‘Stealing secrets,’" Snowden was quoted as saying.
They both laughed and Snowden went ahead with his work, Guardian wrote.
According to Snowden "there are no James Bonds" working inside an intelligence agency in the 21st century. He said the NSA increasingly chose to use contractors rather than employ permanent staff.
He neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of a scene from Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, ‘Snowden,’ which shows him sneaking the documents out of the NSA by hiding an SD card, about the size of a small stamp, on a Rubik’s Cube.
"A Rubik’s Cube can be very useful and functions as a distraction device and also functions as a concealment device," he said.
In June 2013, Snowden leaked classified information to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, which revealed global surveillance programs run by US and British intelligence agencies. He explained the move by saying that he wanted to tell the world the truth because he believed such large-scale surveillance on innocent citizens was unacceptable and the public needed to know about it.
After leaking classified information, Snowden flew to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, arriving in Russia on June 23, 2013. He applied for political asylum to more than 20 countries while staying in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
On July 16, he applied for a temporary asylum in Russia, accepting Moscow’s condition to refrain from activities aimed against the US. On August 1, 2013, Snowden was granted a one-year temporary asylum. On August 1, 2014, he received a three-year residence permit, which was later extended until 2020. In July 2018, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the possibility of Snowden’s extradition to Washington in an interview with the RT TV channel.
The NSA and the Pentagon claim that Snowden stole about 1.7 mln classified documents concerning the activities of US intelligence services and US military operations. He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. He is facing up to ten years in prison on each charge.