Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, still hanging out in a Russian airport and possibly departing for Venezuela soon, would really like to finally put this idea that he’s a spy for China and/or Russia to bed. He swears it’s not true, and that it’s all The New York Times’s fault.
In a new interview with his old pal Glenn Greenwald, Snowden makes the big definitive denial that he’s working in service of America’s cold war enemies. “I never gave any information to either government, and they never took anything from my laptops,” he told Greenwald. See, there was piles and piles of speculation that Snowden was cooperating with the Chinese during his brief stay in Hong Kong. But that’s not the case, according to the leaker, and Greenwald argues that all the spy speculation stems entirely from a single New York Times article.
On June 23, the Times reported that two spies believed China had “drained” Snowden’s laptops before allowing him to depart for Russia. “Two Western intelligence experts, who worked for major government spy agencies, said they believed that the Chinese government had managed to drain the contents of the four laptops that Mr. Snowden said he brought to Hong Kong, and that he said were with him during his stay at a Hong Kong hotel,” Jane Perlez and Keith Bradsher reported.
This was all phooey, according to Greenwald. “The NYT decided to publish this incendiary claim in a news article based purely on rank speculation from two anonymous sources,” Greenwald writes today. He does acknowledge that Snowden shouldn’t be taken at his word, necessarily, but that his denial is a lot stronger evidence to the contrary than the belief of two spies who are likely working against him. “Obviously, Snowden’s denial is not dispositive and shouldn’t be treated as such. But it is the only actual evidence on this question thus far,” Greenwald writes.