NSA Leaker Edward Snowden to Chinese Paper: I Only Accepted Job With Contractor to Gain Intelligence on Spy Programs

The former government contractor who leaked information about classified surveillance programs — and who is still on the run from U.S. authorities — recently revealed he took the position with the private company with the sole purpose of collecting information about the National Security Agency.

Edward Snowden, 29, told the South China Morning Post he accepted the job with Booz Allen Hamilton a few months ago to learn more about the NSA’s programs.

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A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong Sunday, June 23, 2013. The former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has been allowed to leave for a “third country” because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory’s government said Sunday. (Photo: AP/Vincent Yu)

“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden told the Post in an interview that took place on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

Furthermore, Snowden revealed he had been sitting on the information for a couple months before leaking it to journalists because he had to vet it all first.

“I did not release them earlier because I don’t want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content,” he said. “I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists.”

He also claimed to have more documents he plans to release later, according to the Post.

“If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published.”

Snowden, since his whistleblowing, was fired from Booz Allen and has been a fugitive. He first was hiding out in Hong Kong, but most recently is thought to be in Russia. He has applied for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland and possibly other countries, WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange said, according to the Associated Press.

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This photo made by a mobile phone, shows an empty seat at the Aeroflot Airbus A330 plane booked by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on a flight to Havana, Cuba, at Shermetyevo airport, Moscow, Monday, June 24, 2013. Snowden, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong, booked a seat for the flight to Cuba, but he was not seen on the plane. (AP/ Max Seddon)

President Barack Obama said the United States is following legal channels on how to bring Snowden back to the U.S. He said the administration is working with other countries to make sure “the rule of law is observed.”

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. was expecting the Russians “to look at the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”

“The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” he added. “And we think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem. And that is a point we are making to them very directly.”

Snowden has been charged with espionage and theft of government property.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

(H/T: Business Insider)