In his first interview with an American network since performing the largest security breach in U.S. history, Edward Snowden made no apologies for exposing the NSA's massive surveillance programs. (Via Flickr / ChrisGoldNY)
EDWARD SNOWDEN: "If we want to be free, we can't become subject to surveillance. We can't give away our privacy. ... There are some things worth dying for, and I think the country is one of them." (Via NBC)
Time and again during the hour-long exclusive on NBC, Snowden told Brian Williams he leaked top secret government documents for love of country and for U.S. citizens' rights. (Via NBC)
Snowden also said he had no choice but to break the law after seeing the extent of the surveillance program.
The U.S. charged Snowden with espionage last summer for leaking what the government has estimated at 1.7 million documents. He's now in Moscow on temporary asylum. (Via ITN)
When asked if he wants to return to the U.S., Snowden said there's no question. However, he also told Williams, “My priority is not about myself. It’s about making sure that these programs are reformed — and that the family that I left behind, the country that I left behind — can be helped by my actions.” (Via NBC)
One of the more notable papers to publish Snowden's leaks soon after he fled the U.S. — The Guardian noted the significance of this interview. Held in a Moscow hotel, NBC secretly negotiated with Snowden's associates for months.
"Snowden has regularly participated in interviews over the last year, although never on such a large stage, or on one as likely to bring his words – and his argument – into American living rooms." (Via The Guardian)
There's little argument as to the embarrassing political and diplomatic damage Snowden's leaks caused, but government officials have refused to elaborate on what operational damages they say all this had on national security. (Via The Guardian)
U.S. officials again blasted Snowden in the hours leading up to NBC's broadcast of the interview.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: "If this man is a patriot, he should stay in the United States and make his case. Patriots don't go to Russia. ... Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a traitor and he has betrayed his country." (Via MSNBC)
As to the public's view of Snowden, a Pew Research poll from January showed young Americans much more supportive of the leaks. Among adults ages 18-29, 57 percent said the leaks served the public interest compared to just 35 percent for those 65 and older.
During the interview, Snowden said if it appears his temporary asylum in Russia will expire later this summer, he plans to apply for an extension to stay.