Edward Snowden Tells NBC's Brian Williams the U.S. Stranded Him in Russia
In a new excerpt from Brian Williams' exclusive interview with Edward Snowden released this morning on "TODAY," the former NSA contractor blamed the State Department for stranding him in Russia, saying he "never intended" to wind up there:
"I personally am surprised that I ended up here. The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in the Moscow Airport. So when people ask why are you in Russia, I say, 'Please ask the State Department.'"
Secretary of State John Kerry hit back in a live interview on "TODAY:"
"For a supposedly smart guy, that's a pretty dumb answer, frankly. Look, I'm not going to get into the who he was, what he was. Let me just say this: If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we'll have him on a flight today. We'd be delighted for him to come back. And he should come back and -- and that's what a patriot would do. A patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country. A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people.
But he's refused to do that to this date at least. The fact is that he can come home, but he's a fugitive from justice which is why he is not being permitted to fly around the world. It's that simple. And he knows it. ... Let him come back and make his case. If he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice. But to be hiding in Russia, an authoritarian country, and to have just admitted he was really trying to get to Cuba -- I mean, what does that tell you, really? I think he's confused, I think it's very sad -- but this is a man who has done great damage to his country, violated his oath which he took when he became an employee, and yes, in fact, stole an enormous amount of information and released it to the public to the detriment of his country."
More of Williams' exclusive conversation with Snowden will air tonight on "NBC Nightly News." The extended, wide-ranging interview, Snowden's first with a U.S. television network, airs tonight at 10pm/9 Central on NBC.