NSA leaker Edward Snowden: I want to come home to U.S.

Photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden in June 2013 in Hong Kong AP Photo/The Guardian

WASHINGTON -- National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says he would like to go home.

The former NSA contract systems analyst is living in Russia on a temporary grant of asylum after leaking a massive volume of NSA documents to the media.

In an interview with anchorman Brian Williams, of NBC News, Snowden said he had taken action in the belief that he was serving his country in exposing the surveillance programs of the NSA.

"I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home," Snowden said in a segment of the interview broadcast Wednesday night. "Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for the public and the government to decide. But, if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home."

Kerry's comments came before NBC aired that portion of the Snowden interview.

In the interview, Snowden claimed he worked undercover and overseas for the CIA and the NSA. He said he had a much larger role in U.S. intelligence than the government has acknowledged.

"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas," he said.

National security adviser Susan Rice said in a CNN interview that Snowden never worked undercover.

Snowen told Williams he chose to remain in Russia because he feared an unfair trial back home, and because the U.S. decided to "revoke my passport."

But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in an interview with "CBS This Morning," dismissed those comments.

"The bottom line is this man has betrayed his country, sitting in Russia where he has taken refuge," Kerry said. "You know, he should man up and come back to the United States."

Kerry argued that he should make his case openly and freely in the U.S. criminal justice system.

"Instead he's sitting there taking pot shots at his country, violating the oath that he took," Kerry said.

Snowden, as well as his family and friends, have argued he could not get a fair trial in the U.S. because of all the public denunciations by members of Congress, but even that the Justice Department has acted publicly under a presumption of guilt. As an example, they cite the letter Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to Russian officials seeking Snowden's extradition, in which Holder promised the former analyst wouldn't be executed.

Kerry added Wednesday to the Obama administration's intense criticism of Snowden, saying he had "hurt operational security."

"He has told terrorists what they can now do to (avoid) detection," Kerry said. "I find it sad and disgraceful."

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.