Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who was granted an asylum in Russia, has said he is a critic of Moscow’s policies and believes that he is trapped in Russia because the US had cancelled his passport.
"I have been a longtime critic of the Russian government," Snowden said in an interview with Joe Rogan Experience audio and video podcast available on YouTube, TASS reports.
"I’ve criticized the Russian president by name, I’ve criticized Russian surveillance law…Look, it does not make my life easier, to be trapped in a country that I did not choose, and people don’t remember this, I was actually on route to Latin America when the US government cancelled my passport which trapped me in Russia," Snowden said.
"It’s difficult to be basically engaged in civil opposition to policies of the US government, at the same time as the Russian government," Snowden noted. "It’s a hard thing, you know, it’s not a happy thing, but I feel like it’s a necessary thing," he stressed.
In 2013, Snowden leaked information on the methods of electronic surveillance by US intelligence services, including illegally wiretapping foreign leaders’ conversations. Fleeing from prosecution, Snowden sent requests for asylum to some countries, including Russia. On August 1, 2014, he received a Russian residence permit valid for three years, which was later extended for another three years.
In the United States, Snowden has been charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act. He may face up to 10 years behind bars on each counts. The US authorities have repeatedly stated that they considered Snowden a ‘traitor’ and were not going to pardon him since he had caused ‘grave’ damage to ‘national security’ interests.