Edward Snowden says the NSA's secrets are safe from spies in Russia, as he left all copies of the classified documents he leaked with journalists back in Hong Kong, reports The New York Times. Snowden chose to leave the files behind him because bringing them into Russia "wouldn’t serve the public interest," he tells the Times. "What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?" Snowden also says that his knowledge of China's surveillance agencies — which he gained while working as an NSA contractor — allowed him to avoid losing the information to spies during his time in Hong Kong.
"There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents."
"There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents," Snowden tells the Times.
Though either Snowden or the Times didn't specify who the journalists in possession of the files are, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — who have worked together to break most stories on the leaked documents — are reportedly the only two with a complete set.
In his interview with the Times, Snowden also sought to explain the derogatory report the CIA is said to have left on his record back in 2009. The remark was reportedly given to Snowden by an unjust superior who he had gotten into a "petty email spat" with, after Snowden reported a security vulnerability that the agency was ignoring. The incident reportedly convinced him that he wouldn't be able to work within the system to promote change. "The system does not work," he tells the Times. "You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it."
Snowden reportedly feels that he helped the United States' national security by prompting a debate about its practices. "So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision," Snowden tells the Times. "However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem."