Edward Snowden says he is a patriot - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Edward Snowden says he is a patriot

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BOSTON (WHDH) - He is one of the most wanted men in the world. One year after leaking classified secrets from the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden remains a polarizing figure. He says he has no regrets. In fact, he even considers himself a patriot. However, the government says he is a traitor.

NBC's Brian Williams sat down with the former National Security Agency contractor for an  exclusive one-on-one interview that aired Wednesday. It was Snowden's first interview with an American television network since he leaked hundreds of government secrets to the world. The pair met at an undisclosed hotel in Moscow, Russia to talk about what he did and why he did it. The interview was highly anticipated by people in the government and the intelligence community.

Snowden believes he did the right thing by blowing the whistle on the NSA.

"Had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn't be in a position where whistle-blowers were necessary," Snowden said.

He says he saw how a computer program allowed the NSA to misuse its power.

"People at the NSA -- analysts -- can actually watch people's internet communications. They can watch them draft correspondence and actually watch their thoughts form as they type," Snowden said.

He says he tried to go through the proper channels to report what he knew.

"I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities. The response was, more or less, in bureaucratic language, 'you should stop asking questions."

He felt he had to blow the whistle.

"There have been times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes, to do the right thing, you have to break a law," Snowden said.

He says, so far, none of the documents that have been released have caused any real harm to national security. However, Snowden doesn't deny stealing military secrets. He also says he did what he did to serve his country.

Snowden is wanted for treason here in the United States. He says he would like to come home if he ever gets the opportunity.

Secretary of State John Kerry is again urging Snowden to come back to the United States to face the charges.
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