Edward Snowden: 'I'm famously paranoid'

Dylan Stableford
Yahoo! NewsAugust 13, 2013
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FILE - In this image provided by Human Rights Watch, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, center, attends a news conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left, Friday, July 12, 2013. The whole time Snowden has been seeking asylum, Harrison has been by his side. She has emerged as a central, if mysterious, figure in the saga that has taken Snowden across the world in an attempt to evade U.S. espionage charges. (AP Photo/Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina, File)

Edward Snowden says he knew he could trust Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker working for the Guardian newspaper, to shoot the interview unmasking him as the source of the National Security Agency leaks because she was "more suspicious of me than I was of her, and I’m famously paranoid."

Snowden's comments came during an encrypted interview conducted by The New York Times Magazine for an upcoming cover story on Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, the journalists who first broke the story on the NSA spy program.

"With that putting me at ease," Snowden continued, "it became easier to open up without fearing the invested trust would be mishandled, and I think it’s the only way she ever managed to get me on camera. I personally hate cameras and being recorded, but at some point in the working process, I realized I was unconsciously trusting her not to hang me even with my naturally unconsidered remarks. She’s good."

The former defense contractor, who was granted temporary asylum by Russia earlier this month, told the Times' Peter Maass he was surprised to learn "that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world. In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless."

Snowden was also asked if there was anything surprising about his initial meeting with Poitras and Greenwald in Hong Kong.

"I think they were annoyed that I was younger than they expected, and I was annoyed they had arrived too early, which complicated the initial verification," Snowden said. But, he added, "the weight of the situation actually made it easier to focus on what was in the public interest rather than our own. I think we all knew there was no going back once she turned that camera on, and the ultimate outcome would be decided by the world."