Edward Snowden Tells NBC's Brian Williams: 'I'd Like to Go Home'
In the latest excerpt from Brian Williams' exclusive interview with Edward Snowden released tonight on "NBC Nightly News," the former NSA contractor accused of espionage and now living in exile in Russia said: "If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home." Snowden also addresses the question of amnesty or clemency, as well as the prospect of his temporary asylum in Russia running out.
A transcript of the early excerpt is below and embeddable video will be available online at NBCNews.com, along with additional reporting by NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd and by NBC News justice correspondent Pete WIlliams.
Brian Williams' extended, wide-ranging interview with Snowden, the first with a U.S. television network, airs tonight at 10pm/9 Central on NBC.
The conversation will continue on NBCNews.com immediately following the Primetime broadcast: beginning at 11pm ET, Williams will host a live, one-hour webcast featuring discussion and analysis with NBC News correspondents and former government officials as well as additional not-yet-seen material from his interview with Snowden.
TRANSCRIPT: BRIAN WILLIAMS INTERVIEWS EDWARD SNOWDEN courtesy of NBC News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS [INTRO]: Good evening. Already, members of the Obama Administration have launched a frontal attack on Edward Snowden -- based so far on portions of the interview we have released prior to tonight's hour-long broadcast in prime time.
Snowden is accused of espionage for stealing secrets from the government.. many of which revealed the extent of government surveillance on all of us. Many regard him as a treasonist and traitor who should pay dearly for what he's done, and many fiercely believe he has done grave damage to the United States. Some of our viewers have let us know THEY are outraged that we have interviewed him.
Tonight, our viewers get to hear his first interview on American television, and it will include this new portion: Snowden's contention that the amount of domestic surveillance he witnessed while at the NSA gave him no choice but to blow the whistle because of what he saw and what a federal judge has labeled as Constitutional violations.
[ BEGIN TAPE ]
SNOWDEN: The reality is the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. You know, the Constitution of the United States has been violated on a massive scale. Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached - we wouldn't be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary. I think it's important to remember that people don't set their lives on fire, they don't say goodbye to their families - actually pack up without saying goodbye to their families - they don't walk away from their extraordinary - extraordinarily comfortable lives -- I mean, I made a lot of money for a guy with no high school diploma -- and burn down everything they love for no reason.
WILLIAMS: Are you looking for clemency or amnesty? Would you like to go home?
SNOWDEN: I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home. I mean, I've from day one said that I'm doing this to serve my country. Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. 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.
WILLIAMS: How anxious are you right now to make a deal to go back?
SNOWDEN: I think my priority is not about myself. It's about making sure that these programs are reformed and that the family that I left behind, the country that I left behind, can be helped by my actions. And I will do everything I can to continue to work in the most responsible way possible -- and to prioritize causing no harm while serving the public good.
WILLIAMS: Doesn't your asylum run out soon?
SNOWDEN: The temporary asylum runs out I believe August 1st.
WILLIAMS: Will you apply for an extension?
SNOWDEN: If the asylum looks like it's going to run out, then of course I would apply for an extension.
WILLIAMS: Do you see yourself as a patriot?
SNOWDEN: I do.