Former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden is rejecting suggestions he is a Russian spy, saying he acted alone in leaking details about the American government's clandestine surveillance programs.
Snowden told the New Yorker magazine in an interview conducted by encrypted means from Moscow that "this Russian spy push is absurd." The 30-year-old Snowden stressed that he had "no assistance from anyone, much less a government."
In recent days, some U.S. lawmakers have suggested, without offering direct evidence, that Snowden had help from a foreign government. The U.S. says Snowden took 1.7 million documents from a National Security Agency outpost on the Pacific island state of Hawaii before fleeing to asylum in Russia.
One lawmaker who oversees U.S. intelligence operations, congressman Mike Rogers, said it is no coincidence that Snowden is living in Russia.
"I believe there's a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence.''
In rejecting the suggestion, Snowden noted that he first traveled to Hong Kong and was held in a Moscow airport for 40 days, with the intention of leaving for Latin America before the U.S. revoked his passport.
He told the magazine, "Spies get treated better than that."