National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said he "never intended" to end up in Russia and blames the State Department for stranding him there, according to an exclusive interview with "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
"I personally am surprised that I ended up here," Mr. Snowden told Mr. Williams, NBC reported. An excerpt of the interview was shown on Wednesday morning's "Today" show.
"The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia," he said in the interview. "I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America, and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport. So when people ask why are you in Russia, I say, 'Please ask the State Department.' "
Secretary of State John Kerry responded on the "Today" show.
"For a supposedly smart guy, that's a pretty dumb answer, frankly," Mr. Kerry said on the morning show. "If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we'll have him on a flight today."
Mr. Kerry added: "He can come home, but he's a fugitive from justice, which is why he is not being permitted to fly around the world."
Mr. Snowden also claims he was trained as a spy and even got a false name so he could develop sources and methods for eliciting sensitive information for America's spying programs.
Mr. Snowden, who leaked sensitive documents to news outlets last year and fled to Moscow, said although spying agencies get more information "out of computers nowadays than they do out of people," he told NBC News he did live undercover overseas.
"When they say I'm a low-level systems administrator, that I don't know what I'm talking about, I'd say it's somewhat misleading," Mr. Snowden said in the exclusive interview set to air Wednesday night.
Mr. Snowden has been living in hiding since his ground-breaking revelations about the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records and interception of certain online communications from foreigners.
He said attempts by the White House and Washington officials to paint him as a low-level hacker are an attempt to distract people "from the totality of my experience."
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