From Russia, with talking points: Edward Snowden speaks out - CBS46 News

From Russia, with talking points: Edward Snowden speaks out

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Edward Snowden has been called ‘a traitor’ by the U.S. State Department, but he calls himself a patriot. (Source: NBC/CNN) Edward Snowden has been called ‘a traitor’ by the U.S. State Department, but he calls himself a patriot. (Source: NBC/CNN)
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(NBC/CNN) - Low-level systems analyst or highly-trained spy?

Edward Snowden has been called the NSA leaker. He's been called "a traitor" by the U.S. State Department, but he calls himself a patriot.

The man who leaked classified information about U.S. surveillance programs told NBC the government has tried to downplay his role.

"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word," Snowden said. "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."

Snowden claims to have even worked as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy.

Snowden's interview with NBC Nightly News was the first with U.S. media since he leaked the classified documents almost a year ago.

The leak sparked a national debate about privacy, security and the surveillance programs used by the NSA and the CIA.

Talking in Moscow, Snowden stressed to Brian Williams that he isn't working with the Russian government because no longer has any material left to give them. He says he destroyed it.

"To make sure, for example, the Russians can't break my fingers and compromise information or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all," he said.

Snowden made a recent appearance on Russian state television - not for an interview, but to ask about mass surveillance during a question-and-answer session with President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. State Department disagrees strongly with Snowden's claims his actions make him a patriot.

"Rather than give television interviews, he ought to come home and have his day in court," said Susan Rice, U.S. National Security Adviser.

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