Snowden: I Was a Spy, Had a Fake Name

NSA leaker's sit-down with Brian Williams was months in the making

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 28, 2014 12:00 AM CDT | Updated May 28, 2014 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Edward Snowden wants the world to know he was more than the "low-level systems administrator" US authorities have described him as—he was a trained spy and technical expert. In an interview with NBC News' Brian Williams, the National Security Agency leaker says he was a spy "in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas—pretending to work in a job that I'm not—and even being assigned a name that was not mine." He says he has worked for the CIA as well as the NSA, and as a lecturer at a counterintelligence academy for the Defense Intelligence Agency and for the CIA as well as the NSA.

"I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert," Snowden explained. "I don't work with people. I don't recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that at all levels from—from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top." The full interview, Snowden's first with an American news organization, airs tonight at 10pm EST. It took place in a Moscow hotel after months of negotiations and plenty of cloak-and-dagger maneuvers, the New York Times finds. "What's going to be most interesting is to see if it moves the conversation or changes any minds," says Williams, adding that no money changed hands. "I think his total compensation was half a chicken sandwich from the room service cart," he says.

Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks during a presentation ceremony for the Sam Adams Award in Moscow last fall.
Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks during a presentation ceremony for the Sam Adams Award in Moscow last fall.   (AP Photo)
In this 2013 file photo, former NSA analyst Edward Snowden on a boat on the Moscow River with the Christ the Savior Cathedral in the background.
In this 2013 file photo, former NSA analyst Edward Snowden on a boat on the Moscow River with the Christ the Savior Cathedral in the background.   (AP Photo/LifeNews via Rossia 24 TV channel)
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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. - Edward Snowden

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