Edward Snowden opened up Friday as to why the fugitive former U.S. government contractor has largely avoided speaking to media outlets in Russia since he started living there.
Mr. Snowden indicated in a public Twitter exchange that he is concerned about the consequences that could potentially result from receiving heightened coverage in the Russian press.
“Someone facing serious threats may not want their face all over newspapers and TV every day in the place they live,” Mr. Snowden answered in response to a related question posed by a Twitter user who claims to work for a Russian newspaper.
Mr. Snowden stated that he is not avoiding “Russian press,” but rather exercising “common-sense”
“I prefer privacy and liberty to celebrity and daily metro encounters,” Mr. Snowden tweeted. “Please respect that and leave me be.”
“I only want to retain the little space I have left,” Mr. Snowden added.
Mr. Snowden, 36, was charged by the Department of Justice in June 2013 in connection with disclosing classified government material to the media that he had accessed while working as a contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, including documents detailing the government’s vast surveillance operations domestically and abroad.
His passport was accordingly canceled by the U.S. State Department, which resulted in him being stranded at a Moscow airport amid attempting to travel from Hong Kong to Latin America. He was subsequently granted asylum by Russia and has lived in the country ever since.
Mr. Snowden has been critical of the Russian government and its policies since receiving asylum, and he recently said he would return to the U.S. if he thought he would receive a fair trial.
He has hardly tried lately to avoid media attention abroad, however. He has given myriad interviews to media outlets in the U.S. in recent months to promote “Permanent Record,” a memoir he released in mid-September, including a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast where he discussed his ongoing residency in Russia.
“It does not make my life easier to be trapped in a country that I did not choose,” Mr. Snowden said in the interview while appearing remotely from Moscow.
The Justice Department has charged Mr. Snowden with counts of espionage and theft of government property. He faces decades behind bars if he returns to the U.S. and convicted.