Edward Snowden, speaking in his first interview with an American news organization last night, described himself as a "patriot" for trying to stop the violations of the Constitution he saw. "Whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say," he said. "That's a debate for the public and the government to decide. But if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home." More from Snowden's interview with NBC's Brian Williams, which aired in full last night:
- "People don't set their lives on fire, they don't say goodbye to their families ... they don't walk away from their extraordinarily comfortable lives ... and burn down everything they love for no reason," he said, though he says he's gained something. "I may have lost my ability to travel, but I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that."
- Meanwhile, John Kerry would love to welcome Snowden home. Reacting yesterday to excerpts from NBC's interview, Kerry said Snowden should "man up and come back to the US," the BBC reports. Kerry described Snowden as a "confused" man who had done "great damage" to his country, adding that if he "believes in America, he should trust the American system of justice," and if he wants to come back, "we'll have him on a flight today."
- Kerry shouldn't hold his breath, Reuters reports. Snowden says he doesn't want to "walk into a jail cell," because that would be a "bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution, and think they need to say something about it." He says he will apply for an extension when his year of asylum in Russia runs out in August.
- "Being a patriot doesn't mean prioritizing service to government above all else," Snowden explained. "Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the—the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don't have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies."
- Asked about his relationship with the Russian government, Snowden said he didn't have one and has never met Vladimir Putin, reports the Washington Post. "I'm not supported by the Russian government. I'm not taking money from the Russian government," he said. "I'm not a spy, which is the real question." He said the Russian government has no way of accessing any of the documents he stole—and he considers the country's crackdown on press freedoms "deeply unfair."