MOSCOW – Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sat down with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams last week for his first interview with a U.S. television network.
Williams' wide-ranging interview with 30-year-old Snowden lasted five hours at the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski directly across the Moscow River from Red Square and was months in the making. U.S. officials believe Snowden took as many as 1.7 million documents for the handful of months he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton at the NSA center in Hawaii in early 2013.
In May 2013 Snowden left his job at Booz Allen and flew to Hong Kong. He met with Guardian journalists June 1, and the paper published its first exclusive story June 5, which said the U.S. government forces phone companies to turn over phone records of Americans.
Snowden was charged with espionage and fled to Russia in June before the United States revoked his passport. He lived in the transit area of the airport in Moscow for more than one month before he was granted temporary asylum in Russia.
NBC News worked for months to get the interview with Snowden, which was conducted in secret.
The interview revealed Snowden's motive for leaking the documents: he wanted to be able to sleep at night. He said he feels he did the right thing, and is proud.
Snowden also revealed he misses his family, home, and the work he used to do. He wishes he could go home.
He says he believes he is a patriot, but that the word has been thrown around so much it is devalued. He saysbeing a patriot doesn't mean prioritizing service to government, it means knowing when to protect your country, your constitution and your countrymen from the violations and encroachments of adversaries.
Watch excerpts from the interview below this story.
In the video above, Ed Dodson, a veteran of both the Army and the Marine Corps, and Jamie Allman a conservative talk show host with News Talk 97.1 FM – both with sons who have or are serving in the military -- watched NBC's interview with Edwards Snowden with very different opinions of his actions. Newschannel Five's Casey Nolen captured their reaction to the Brian Williams special report.
What do you think? Is Edward Snowden is a patriot or a traitor? Weigh in via the quiz below: