Glenn Greenwald dishes on what it took to work with Edward Snowden

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Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who helped to blow the lid off secretive U.S. spying programs last year, said Thursday he was leery at first of Edward Snowden’s offer to speak about the programs over a secure line of cyber communication.

Not knowing much about the leaker, a government contractor, “I wasn’t sufficiently enticed to drop what I was doing and install these sophisticated encryption programs,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Although he subscribes to a type of “adversarial” or “crusading” type of journalism, Mr. Greenwald said he was able to work with Mr. Snowden, a former NSA and CIA contractor, after he established that the leaker was credible.

That decision led to one of the biggest news stories of 2013.

Mr. Greenwald said Mr. Snowden, who fled to Russia after leaking documents that explain the bulk collection of American phone records and more substantive records of foreigners’ communications online, made the decision in 2011 to “cross this line” and prepare to release classified information.

But Mr. Snowden did not release any documents with specific government secrets, the reporter noted.

“He could have,” Mr. Greenwald, who has written a book about the experience, told MSNBC, noting Mr. Snowden trusted journalists to vet his documents and disseminate information in the public’s interest.

Mr. Snowden’s revelations kicked off a rigorous debate over the extent of U.S. snooping, particularly on its own citizens, but he faces prosecution back home.

Asked if Mr. Snowden could step on American soil safety, Mr. Greenwald said: “It’s really hard to see how that could happen.”

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