Edward Snowden: ‘I am not anti-secrecy. I’m pro-accountability’

Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on mass surveillance at the European Council in Strasbourg, France.
(Frederick Florin / AFP/Getty Images)

If you’ve ever wanted to read a 20,000-word story about Edward Snowden, you’ll get your chance pretty soon.

The former National Security Agency contractor -- and currently world-famous intelligence leaker -- has been granting more and more interviews since he absconded with agency documents and sought asylum in Russia last year after sharing those documents with journalists.

Idolized and reviled by many, one of Snowden’s newest appearances in the spotlight will come in a long narrative story about his leak (and life thereafter) in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair set to hit newsstands in New York and Los Angeles this week.

On Tuesday, the magazine released portions of its forthcoming interview with Snowden, in which the 30-year-old computer professional talked about the controversy his leak has generated and the tactics he used to make off with top-secret U.S. documents.


On officials’ claims that Snowden didn’t file a complaint about the NSA through internal channels:

“The NSA at this point not only knows I raised complaints, but that there is evidence that I made my concerns known to the NSA’s lawyers, because I did some of it through e-mail. I directly challenge the NSA to deny that I contacted NSA oversight and compliance bodies directly via e-mail and that I specifically expressed concerns about their suspect interpretation of the law, and I welcome members of Congress to request a written answer to this question [from the NSA].”

On claims that Snowden made off with 1.7 million documents:

“Look at the language officials use in sworn testimony about these records: ‘could have,’ ‘may have,’ ‘potentially.’ They’re prevaricating. Every single one of those officials knows I don’t have 1.7 million files, but what are they going to say? What senior official is going to go in front of Congress and say, ‘We have no idea what he has, because the NSA’s auditing of systems holding hundreds of millions of Americans’ data is so negligent that any high-school dropout can walk out the door with it?’ ” (Snowden says he no longer has any documents or a “doomsday cache” to be released to the public if he gets killed.)

On WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange:

“We don’t share identical politics. I am not anti-secrecy. I’m pro-accountability. I’ve made many statements indicating both the importance of secrecy and spying, and my support for the working-level people at the N.S.A. and other agencies. It’s the senior officials you have to watch out for. ... They [WikiLeaks] run toward the risks everyone else runs away from. No other publisher in the world is prepared to commit to protecting sources—even other journalists’ sources — the way WikiLeaks is.”

You can read the Los Angeles Times’ previous coverage of Snowden here.