Edward Snowden said that he enlisted in the Army and then worked for the government because he "believed in the nobility of our intentions" but over time decided to reveal details of U.S. secret surveillance programs because he was disheartened by the "excesses" of the government.
In an interview conducted by the Guardian three days before the former National Security Agency analyst's bombshell disclosures were made public, Snowden recounts an arc of disillusionment as he learned more about how the U.S. conducts its surveillance.
"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded," Snowden said. "And that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build and it's not something I'm willing to live under."
The 30-year-old Snowden came to Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on June 23 and was believed to be headed for Cuba. But he did not board that flight and has not been seen publicly since. The U.S. has revoked his passport and Snowden has been weighing asylum offers in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
On Tuesday, Snowden's legal limbo took a twist when an influential Russian lawmaker tweeted that Snowden had accepted Venezuela's offer of political asylum. However, Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia's parliament, deleted the posting a few minutes later.
In the Guardian interview, Snowden said that while he did not trust the U.S. government, he still held his home country close to his heart.
"America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing," he said. "But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."
In the Guardian interview, Snowden also discussed Prism, an NSA program in which companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple provide the agency with "direct access" to everything from data storage to birthday wishes. The program, Snowden said, illustrates "how the U.S. government co-ops U.S. corporate power to its own ends."
Meanwhile, the German magazine Der Spiegel on Monday released excerpts of an interview it conducted with Snowden in May. In the interview, Snowden said that the NSA and Israel co-wrote Stuxnet - the sophisticated computer worm that sabotaged Iran's nuclear program.
The Stuxnet worm, aimed at the centrifuges in Iran's Natanz plant, transformed the cybersecurity field because it was the first known computer attack specifically designed to cause physical damage. As "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft reported last year, Stuxnet was incredibly complicated and sophisticated, beyond the cutting edge.