Edward Snowden remains a highly divisive figure in the American political and social landscape following his decision to leak thousands of highly classified documents to the international press in June of 2013.
Some argue that Snowden's actions exposed the dangerous levels of overreach the United States government—a government that Snowden demonstrated is spying on its own citizens—has engaged in following the September 11th attacks.
Others feel that the violations committed by Snowden are treasonous and that he has caused far more harm than good. Some also fear Snowden's leak might even reveal detailed plans to respond to authentic terrorist threats.
Following his actions, Snowden remains a fugitive from the American justice system.
He is in exile in Russia (for now) to avoid returning to the United States to face charges that could land him behind bars for decades.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 28, 2014
Snowden chose to speak out in an exclusive interview with Brian Williams for the program NBC Nightly News. It marked his first American interview.
The exiled fugitive took special precautions for the sit-down.
Because he is living in a secret location, Snowden chose to meet Williams and NBC crew at the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski located in central Moscow.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) May 29, 2014
During the five hour interview process, Snowden offered up explanations for his actions.
In Snowden's mind, revealing the extent to which the NSA is "overreaching" was an act that allows him "to sleep at night". Snowden considers himself a patriot rather than a "coward", as was the accusation leveled by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Said Snowden, "Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law. And the key there is in terms of civil disobedience."
— VICE News (@vicenews) May 29, 2014
While there are those who demand that he turn himself in and face the consequences of his actions, Snowden does not think a lengthy jail sentence would set any kind of example for future whistle blowers.
"I'm [not] going to give myself a parade," Snowden said. "But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell [and] serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening... and think they need to say something about it."
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 29, 2014
Apparently there are ongoing talks between Snowden and American officials to negotiate what it would take for him to return the United States.
This interview is the closest thing to a "case" he has been able to plead with the American public regarding what he did.
A major reason Snowden remains abroad is because he feels that he would not be granted a fair trial in American courts.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 29, 2014
The full interview can be seen in the video below.
Image via YouTube