Snowden Says He’s Empty-Handed in Russia

The former government contractor says there's 'zero percent chance' that Russians or Chinese have access to surveillance documents he leaked to reporters in June

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Glenn Greenwald / Laura Poitras / The Guardian / Reuters

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, in his hotel room in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said he entered Russia without any secret NSA files, according to a new interview in the New York Times.

The 30-year-old whistleblower who leaked classified documents on the U.S.’s surveillance of phone and online communications in June said he handed over all documents to journalists who he met in Hong Kong before fleeing to Russia and kept no copies for himself “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest” to do so.

“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he told the Times in an interview that took place over several days last week through encrypted online communication.

Snowden said he was able to secure the stolen files from Chinese spies because he knows the limitations of Chinese intelligence operations. While serving as a NSA contractor, he targeted Chinese intelligence and taught a course on Chinese cyber counterintelligence. 

He also addressed a recent report that claimed his personnel evaluation while at the Geneva C.I.A. station included a comment on suspicions of Snowden attempting to break into unauthorized files, contending that the comment was punishment for his attempt to warn the C.I.A. about computer security vulnerability.

Snowden declined to discuss his living arrangements in Russia, where he’s allowed to remain for one year, except to say that he was no longer under Russian authorities’ control and was free to move about inside the country.

[The New York Times]