While the FBI and NSA have found no evidence that anyone helped Edward Snowden steal classified documents, on Sunday several U.S. officials suggested that he may be a foreign spy. “I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” said Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Meet the Press. “I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.” Now Snowden is denying those allegations, despite the obvious similarities between his story and that part in Skyfall where James Bond publicly reveals his identity, gets stuck in an airport for 40 days, and can’t manage to escape to a South American city filled with bikini-clad women. “This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd,” Snowden said, adding, “It won’t stick…. Because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.”
In an interview with The New Yorker “conducted by encrypted means from Moscow,” Snowden insisted that he acted alone, noting that it would be strange for a Russian operative to head to Hong Kong and be “stuck in the airport forever.” “Spies get treated better than that,” he said.
Snowden has previously been accused of being a Chinese spy, and said several months ago that there’s a “zero percent chance” that the classified documents he took from the NSA ended up in foreign hands. He told The New Yorker that he’s surprised by how journalists report unfounded “smears” by U.S. officials. “The media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account,” he said.
Snowden added that he knew what he was getting into when he became a whistle-blower. “It may sound trite,” he said, but if “I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it.” Though, Bloomberg reports he’s doing what he can to prevent that outcome. Alluding to the murderous fantasies intelligence officials shared with BuzzFeed last week, Snowden’s lawyer in Moscow, Anatoly Kucherena, said he’s asking the local government for protection. “Edward really believes his life and safety are at risk,” Kucherena said. “Since he’s a temporary refugee, he has the same rights and responsibilities as any Russian citizen.”