Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden explains his disclosure of clandestine American surveillance programs in a newly released segment of a video recorded last month.
Britain's Guardian newspaper released the video Tuesday of a June 6 interview conducted in Hong Kong, where Snowden fled last month. Later he flew to Russia, where he has been in the transit zone of a Moscow airport while trying to find a country to grant him asylum.
Snowden says he knew the United States would accuse him of espionage in alerting the country's enemies of the surveillance. But he said the United States is also at fault for monitoring the phone records of its citizens and keeping track of Internet connections with possible terrorists.
"They are going to say I have aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems, but that argument can be made against anybody who reveals information that points out mass surveillance systems, because, fundamentally, they apply equally to ourselves as they do to our enemies."
Snowden said he does not "want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded."
He said he released details of the surveillance being conducted by the clandestine National Security Agency because he felt government officials were not reining in the extent of the spying.
"I have watched and waited and tried to do my job in the most policy-driven way I could, which is wait and allow other people, you know, wait for our leadership, our figures, to sort of correct the excesses of government if we go too far but as I've watched I have seen that is not occurring. In fact, we are compounding the excesses of prior governments and making it worse and more invasive and nobody is really standing to stop it.''
The United States is seeking Snowden's extradition on espionage charges, but Russia has refused, while urging him to depart for another country.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his country has received Snowden's official asylum request, as has Nicaragua. Mr. Maduro said Snowden will have to decide if and when he wants to fly to Venezuela. But Snowden's exit from Moscow is complicated because the U.S. revoked his passport.
The NSA says the information it has collected helped foil terrorist attacks.