Edward Snowden has rejected allegations that he disclosed dozens of spy programs and techniques used by the National Security Agency while cooperating with the Russian government.
Last Sunday, GOP Congressman Mike Rogers told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believed the former NSA contractor is a “thief, who we believe had some help,” later suggesting that Russia — who granted Snowden asylum after he fled to Hong Kong last June — played a role in the disclosure of the spy agency programs.
In a rare interview with Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, Snowden rejected that allegation, saying he acted alone and calling any suggestion otherwise as “absurd.”
“It’s clearly false,” Snowden said, “and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.”
The New York Times reported over the weekend that FBI officials, who are investigating the leak, believe Snowden acted alone.
Snowden was identified as the whistleblower who leaked thousands of classified documents to reporters and security experts following a June report by The Guardian newspaper that disclosed a program in which NSA agents obtained and stored the phone records of millions of Americans.
The so-called bulk telephone metadata collection program has since been praised by politicians and intelligence officials as a key tool used to thwart terrorist attacks, though a presidential review board found in December that the program played no significant role in the prevention of terrorism.
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the collection of phone records would continue, but that the government would begin looking at methods that would take custody of the records out of the hands of the NSA.
The New Yorker: Edward Snowden denies receiving help from Russia