Edward Snowden has declared his mission “accomplished” just six months after he first leaked National Security Agency (NSA) secrets that triggered a re-evaluation of US surveillance policies.
I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realise it.
Snowden said he is satisfied because the public knows about the US government’s sweep of internet and phone records, according to a Washington Post article published on Tuesday.
Snowden’s interview with the US newspaper was his first in-person interview with the media since his arrival in Russia in June.
“I already won,” said Snowden. “As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated.”
“Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” Snowden added.
President Barack Obama said on Friday that he welcomes conversations about the NSA as he considers making changes to the agency in the wake of public outcry over privacy rights.
Obama said he would make a “pretty definitive statement” in January about an overhaul to the NSA.
A panel of legal and intelligence experts chosen by the White House has proposed 46 changes to reduce the agency’s power.
And a federal judge has called the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records “unconstitutional”.
Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Snowden and have charged him with espionage and theft of government property.
“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” said Snowden. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realise it.”
Post reporter, Barton Gellman, who initially received leaks from the former NSA contractor, interviewed Snowden in Moscow.
“He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation, fuelled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry,” Gellman said of Snowden.
Both the Post and the Guardian published the leaker’s first revelations in June.
Snowden’s revelations have outraged civil liberties advocates and US allies, who were shocked to discover the US government was monitoring their leaders’ phone calls and emails.
Brazil and members of the European Union are looking into how to better protect their data and US companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are considering how to block the government’s collection of data.
The NSA’s collection of communications data has grown dramatically since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York city.