Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET
Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance programs, said Monday that the U.S. government "immediately and predictably" destroyed any chance that he'd receive a fair trial by declaring him guilty of treason.
"The US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime," Snowden said in an online Q&A hosted by the Guardian, the British publication that published the information that Snowden leaked.
"That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it," he said in response to a question as to why he fled to Hong Kong after leaking information.
Snowden has yet to be charged with anything for leaking information revealing the NSA's bulk collection of U.S. phone records from Verizon, as well as the NSA's surveillance of internet content from foreigners outside of the U.S. (which may easily lead to the inadvertent collection of U.S. information). That, however, hasn't stopped several lawmakers from weighing in on the nature of Snowden's actions, with one senatorand both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and former Vice President Dick Cheney .
Snowden said Monday, "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American," slamming Cheney for the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping and for "deceitfully engineering" the Iraq war.
Snowden said he decided to leak the information after witnessing "a continuing litany of lies from senior officials to Congress - and therefore the American people." He specifically cited Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's March congressional testimony, in which Clapper said unequivocally that the NSA does not collect data on American communications., even though it's proven to be false and Clapper himself said he gave "the most truthful, or least untruthful manner" answer possible.
"Seeing someone in the position of James Clapper - the Director of National Intelligence - baldly lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy," Snowden said. "The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed."
Multiple government officials on Sunday said that Snowden has beento information collected by the government. Retired Gen. Michael Hayden said on NBC's Meet the Press, "He could not possibly have done the things he claimed he was able to do in terms of tapping communications."
Snowden, however, said in Monday's Q&A that he stands by his assertion that he could have wiretapped anyone. Snowden said that the restrictions against direct access to culled data "are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time."