Edward Snowden Claims to Have Worked for U.S. Government as Undercover Spy at CIA, John Kerry Calls Him ‘Pretty Dumb’

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 29, 2014 9:35 AM EST

Whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed that the U.S. government had trained him as a spy. He said that he had worked for the CIA and offered technical expertise to high level government officials. Snowden gave his first interview on a U.S. network, which was broadcast on TODAY on Wednesday, May 28.

REUTERS/NBC News/Handout via R
Former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden is seen during an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor and managing editor Brian Williams in Moscow in this undated handout photo released May 28, 2014.

In his interview with NBC, Snowden said that he was even given a different name at work. "I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas - pretending to work in a job that I'm not - and even being assigned a name that was not mine," he said. Snowden defended his role against the critics who had previously called him a low-level hacker. "But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert," Snowden said.

"I don't work with people. I don't recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that at all levels from - from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top," said Snowden. He also claimed that, besides working as a technical expert, he had also worked as an undercover agent for the CIA. He said that he had worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer in a counterintelligence academy.

Snowden accused the U.S. government of being responsible for his stay in Russia. He said that it was never his intention to end up in Russia. "I personally am surprised that I ended up here," he said, "The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport. So when people ask why are you in Russia, I say, 'Please ask the State Department.'"

Secretary of State John Kerry reacted to Snowden's comments and called them "pretty dumb." "For a supposedly smart guy, that's a pretty dumb answer, frankly. If Mr Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we'll have him on a flight today," Kerry said, "We'd be delighted for him to come back. He should come back. That's what a patriot would do. A patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country. A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people."

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(Photo: REUTERS/NBC News/Handout via R / )
Former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden is seen during an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor and managing editor Brian Williams in Moscow in this undated handout photo released May 28, 2014.
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