While answering questions on Reddit Monday about the Oscar-winning film documenting his historic leak, Edward Snowden fielded a question he’s come to routinely expect — and gave a surprising answer we haven’t heard yet.
“Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov has described your daily life as circumscribed by Russian state security services, which he said control the circumstances of your life there,” Vox’s Max Fisher asked Snowden on Reddit. “Is this accurate? What are your interactions with Russian state security like? With Russian government representatives generally?” (RELATED: Snowden, Greenwald And Poitras Answer Questions On Reddit To Promote ‘Citizenfour’)
While Fisher claims his question wasn’t meant “to impugn Snowden,” the whistleblower cut straight to the heart of similar questions he’s fielded in the past.
“The answer is ‘of course not,'” Snowden wrote. “You’ll notice in all of these articles, the assertions ultimately come down to speculation and suspicion. None of them claim to have any actual proof, they’re just so damned sure I’m a Russian spy that it must be true.”
Snowden said he understood the allegations based on his long employment history in U.S. intelligence, but submitted that a full accounting of his actions “in aggregate” don’t logically conclude at spy.
Were he a Russian spy, traveling to Hong Kong first makes no sense, according to the whistleblower, who added that leaking the stolen intelligence to journalists makes even less sense, as its intelligence value to a foreign government after publication “would be immediately compromised.”
“If I were a spy for the Russians, why the hell was I trapped in any airport for a month? I would have gotten a parade and a medal instead,” Snowden said.
“The reality is I spent so long in that damn airport because I wouldn’t play ball and nobody knew what to do with me. I refused to cooperate with Russian intelligence in any way (see my testimony to EU Parliament on this one if you’re interested), and that hasn’t changed.”
Snowden has previously said the only reason he never left Moscow is because the U.S. charged him with espionage and canceled his passport while he was in transit to South America, and that after handing over his cache of stolen classified documents to journalists, kept no copies himself in anticipation of such a situation.
“At this point, I think the reason I get away with it is because of my public profile,” Snowden wrote. “What can they really do to me? If I show up with broken fingers, everybody will know what happened.”
While National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers dismissed the notion that Snowden could be a spy shortly after taking over the job from now-retired Gen. Keith Alexander, others in Congress and the Department of Defense aren’t yet convinced. (RELATED: DOD Investigating Whether Snowden Could Have Been Flipped By Russia)