Edward Snowden no longer has a copy of the secret NSA files he leaked to a handful of journalists, according to a new interview with the whistleblower published in the New York Times on Thursday. Snowden, still living in Moscow, gave the Times's James Risen an outline of how he decided to become a whistleblower in the first place, and what's happened to those documents since then. The former NSA contractor faces three felony charges, including two under the Espionage Act, for his disclosures.
"What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?” Snowden said of his decision to distribute all of his documents to journalists, without retaining copies of the documents himself. That hand-off, which apparently happened in Hong Kong, would mean that Russian officials can't access the secret documents through Snowden. "There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he added, noting that he's familiar enough with Chinese intelligence from his work at the NSA to know how to counter their attacks. Snowden believes the NSA knows the documents were secure from the Chinese, too: his final target while working for the NSA was China. He had "access to every target, every active operation” against the Chinese through his work there, he argued.