Edward Snowden 'surprised' he ended up in Russia

NSA whistle-blower says he hoped to make his way to Latin America after leaking classified documents on US spying.

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Edward Snowden in Hong Kong last year. The Guardian

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has been called a hero by some and a traitor by others, said he didn't intend to make Russia his home when he hatched his plan to leak top-secret US surveillance documents.

Speaking to NBC News anchor Brian Williams in an interview to air on Wednesday night, Snowden said that he is "surprised" that he "ended up" in Russia, adding that he planned to go to Cuba and then to Latin America after he leaked classified documents.

Snowden has become a household name for leaking documents through the media on US spying abroad and in the United States. His actions shed light on a wide range US surveillance practices, including the bulk collection of American's phone record metadata, that have caused many to criticize the US government.

Snowden has proven to be a polarizing figure since he first started leaking heaps of classified information to the media in June 2013. After leaking the documents, he flew to Moscow, where he stayed in the airport until the country's president Vladimir Putin gave him safe haven. Snowden told Williams in the interview, which was teased on Wednesday morning, he would have left Russia and continued on to one of several Latin American countries that have offered him asylum if the US had not revoked his passport.

Speaking to NBC News about Snowden's comments, Secretary of State John Kerry said that his answer about not wanting to end up in Russia was "dumb," adding that if he'd really like to come back to the US, "we'll have him on a flight today."

The trouble for Snowden, however, is that he's considered a fugitive in the US. The US last year charged Snowden with espionage and has requested his extradition to the States -- a request Russia denied.

During the NBC interview, Snowden is expected to explain why he leaked the documents and discuss his role going forward. According to NBC, Snowden will also put a spotlight on his work for the government and his activities while employed.

The full Snowden interview airs on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

 

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