MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) – National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has denied allegations he was collaborating with Russian intelligence services when he exposed details of US surveillance programs by disclosing thousands of classified documents, the New Yorker reported Wednesday.
“It won’t stick … because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are,” Snowden told the New Yorker magazine from Moscow.
Snowden, who is wanted by US authorities and has been in Russia since June, was responding to allegations recently made by US Congressional leaders that he was possibly working for the Russian government at the time of his flight from the United States.
Snowden said the claims were baseless, noting that spies are better treated than being left to live in a Moscow airport for more than a month while in legal limbo.
“It’s not the smears that mystify me. It’s that outlets report statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation,” he said.
The New York Times reported Sunday that a senior FBI official told the newspaper the agency still believes Snowden acted alone.
Commenting on the widespread reporting on the statements, Snowden added “the media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account.”
Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, dismissed the accusations made by the chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee as baseless and said they were intended to besmirch Russia.
“[Mike] Rogers presented no evidence. His words are intended to discredit Russia,” he said.
Snowden’s lawyer said on Tuesday that the former contractor was planning to ask Russian law enforcement for protection after having received death threats, including from a US intelligence officer.
He said that currently Snowden is protected by private security guards.
Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum in August and he said in an interview last month that he is now residing in a Moscow suburb.
Updates with Kucherena’s statement