NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks about his motivations for leaking top secret documents and what he expects the US government reaction to be.

Edward Snowden
Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo June 11, 2013. (Credit: Reuters)

The second part of a video interview with the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been released where he speaks to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras on 6 June in the Hong Kong hotel he was living since fleeing his home in Hawaii on 20 May.

When asked about his motivation for risking all that he has risked by leaking this information, Snowden said he could no longer sit back and wait for someone else to do something:

"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. That's not something I am willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build and it's not something I'm willing to live under.

"I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in a way they can."

"Aided our enemies"

Even days after the release of the PRISM and Verizon documents, Snowden was well aware of the likely reaction of his own government:

"I think the [US] government is going to launch an investigation, I think they are going to say I have committed grave crimes, [that] I have violated the espionage act, they are going to say I have aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems."

Snowden was also asked about his motives for entering the world of spying and whether he did so with the express intention of exposing the US government as he has done in the last month.

He claimed he joined the intelligence community when he was very young, joining the army soon after the invasion of Iraq back in 2003 and he says that at that time he "believed in the goodness of what we were doing, I believed in the nobility of our intentions to free oppressed people overseas."

True information

However over time Snowden says he became disillusioned as he was exposed to "true information" which had not been "propagandised in the media" which he says led him to see that the US government was misleading all people, not just the US people.

"America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing but the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends, to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of [the public]."

The interview took place in the Hong Kong hotel which Snowden was staying in since he fled Hawaii on 20 May. Snowden's current whereabouts are not clear. In late June he left Hong Kong "after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth," Snowden said in a statement issued through Wikileaks.


Snowden arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on 23 June and he is said by some to be living in the transit area of the airport, though there have been no confirmed sightings of him there since his arrival. There are also reports that he has left the airport and is staying in a temporary transit area somewhere in Moscow.

Snowden is currently seeking asylum from numerous countries around the world but most have denied his request or said he would need to be physically in their country in order to make an application.

Over the weekend, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua all offered Snowden asylum, however the US has already sent Venezuela an extradition request in advance of any potential move by Snowden.

Dated 3 July, the extradition request reads: "The United States seeks Snowden's provisional arrest should Snowden seek to travel to or transit through Venezuela. Snowden is a flight risk because of the substantial charges he is facing and his current and active attempts to remain a fugitive."

Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro has said that the request from the US has already been rejected.