Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor granted asylum in Russia, strongly denies he got any help in taking classified documents from the agency, saying he acted completely alone.
"This 'Russian spy' push is absurd," Snowden toldThe New Yorker in an interview published Tuesday, adding that he "clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government."
The 30-year-old former defense contractor, who fled first to Hong Kong and then to Russia last summer, has said he believes it was right to go public with information on NSA's surveillance and data-gathering networks in an effort to "correct this wrongdoing."
On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich, said on NBC's Meet the Press that he is looking into whether Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, helped Snowden steal and publish the government secrets.
"I don't think that's a coincidence ... I don't think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB," Rogers said.
In the interview with New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, Snowden said that if he were working with Russia, he would not have hopscotched his way to Moscow, where he first spent more than a month at Sheremetyevo International Airport.
"It won't stick. ... Because it's clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are," he said.
The magazine said a spokesperson for Rogers declined to comment when asked to elaborate on his reasons for alleging that Snowden "had help."
Snowden has said he turned over copies of the classified documents to journalists he trusts and no longer has them in his possession.
In the end, Snowden said that he "knew what he was getting into" when he became a whistle-blower. "At least the American public has a seat at the table now," he told the magazine. "It may sound trite," but if "I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it."