Edward Snowden gives his first full interview to a major American television outlet tonight at 7:00 pm Pacific with NBC. Famed news anchor (and rap artist) Brian Williams will be asking the questions.
Snowden’s purloined documents have fed more than a year’s worth of bombshell stories about the NSA’s snooping on Americans and others. Fearing retribution from the U.S. government, he fled the country and took shelter, eventually, in Russia.
The interview took months of painstaking work to set up, according to NBC. It could amount to the biggest scoop for yet for Williams, the fresh-faced New Jersey native who has been a staple of the evening airwaves for almost two decades.
Snowden has plenty of explaining to do. VentureBeat broke two stories last week on the Snowden affair, which shed light on Snowden’s perhaps less-than-honorable intentions.
First, former KGB major general Oleg Kalugin dropped a bombshell that Snowden is now working for the KGB’s successor, the FSB. And that Snowden has likely handed over U.S. intelligence secrets about American operations against Russia to his new Russian handlers.
Then, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden called Snowden, 30, an aggressive “hunter” who methodically downloaded sensitive operational files in order, in his view, to weaken “America’s health.”
It is likely Snowden will spend the rest of his life in Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S. The former civilian NSA contractor is now a wanted man facing a massive prison sentence if he ever leaves Mother Russia and is apprehended.
So for now, marquee interviews with NBC and the occasional Skype appearance are the best we can hope for.
But will Williams ask the tough questions? Maybe. Here’s what we want to know — if NBC dares to ask Snowden these questions:
- Are you working for Russian intelligence and what kind of deal did you strike with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his operatives in order to stay there?
- Were you working with others to obtain the reported 1.7 million files from NSA or are you a lone wolf?
- Did you know that NSA Hawaii was about the last station in the agency’s global inventory lacking powerful monitoring software that could have prevented leaks like yours? In other words, did you deliberately seek out the NSA’s weakest link?
- You left your parents behind in the U.S. Many Americans have now branded them as traitors too. Did you realize the effect this would have on them before you showed up in Moscow?
- Where are you getting your spending money from — and what do you do all day?
Snowden’s data-shopping spree happened on the watch of NSA’s former director Keith Alexander, who recently retired. He politely declined to be interviewed for this article.