Snowden: I’m not a spy — for Russia or anybody else

Edward Snowden in a new interview disputes assertions by members of Congress that he is a spy for Russia or any other foreign government.

"This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd," Snowden told The New Yorker in a rare interview published Tuesday night.

Snowden added that he "clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government."

Snowden was referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers's (R-Mich.) insinuation Sunday that Snowden earned his asylum in Russia by sharing information. Rogers said sarcastically that it was  “a gee-whiz luck event that [Snowden] ended up in Moscow under the handling of the [Federal Security Service].”

Rogers wasn't the only one making such a suggestion Sunday. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) suggested Snowden was "cultivated by a foreign power" but didn't point specifically to Russia. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also left open the possibility.

"It won’t stick," Snowden told The New Yorker. "Because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.”

Snowden also attacked the media for reporting on baseless allegations, noting that there is no public evidence that he has worked with foreign governments.

“The media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account," Snowden said.

This isn't the first time Snowden has denied that he has worked with a foreign government -- be it Russia or China. Snowden first popped up in Hong Kong, and an anonymously sourced New York Times report in June said intelligence sources believed the Chinese government had "drained" the contents of his laptops.

"I never gave any information to either government, and they never took anything from my laptops," he told the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald back then.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · January 21