Edward Snowden said he sought and accepted a job as a US government contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton "for one reason alone" — to collect information about the US National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported Monday that Snowden admitted in an interview that he had planned to leak the information to the media.
"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," Snowden told the SCMP in a June 12 interview. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”
He said during the time he worked as a computer systems administrator for the US government he was collecting a "cache of classified document[s]," according to the paper.
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Snowden's current whereabouts remain unknown. He left Hong Kong on Sunday for Russia but failed to board his flight Monday from Moscow to Havana, Cuba on his way to Ecuador.
The White House said Monday it expected Russian authorities to be more cooperative than the Chinese and expel Snowden to face charges in the US.
Spokesman Jay Carney added that China's decision to let Snowden go has "unquestionably" damaged US-China relations.
In his interview with the SCMP before he left Hong Kong, Snowden claimed his intention was to collect information about hacking into “the whole world” and “not specifically Hong Kong and China:”
“I don’t want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content... I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists.”
Snowden has signaled that he intended to leak more documents at a later date.