Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency contractor who became a fugitive after leaking US intelligence, has said he was right to disclose the American Government's use of surveillance programmes to spy on its own people, saying he was comfortable with what he had done.
In an interview with NBC News, he described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the constitution. And while he admitted that he was homesick after claiming asylum in Russia, he said he was confident he had done the right thing.
"I may have lost my ability to travel," Snowden said. "But I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that."
Speaking from Moscow, where he is living in exile while facing US felony charges, Snowden said he was trained as a spy after enlisting for US Army special operations during the Iraq war, but became disillusioned. He claimed that his actions were patriotic because he believed he was defending the constitution from the Government.
Asked if he considered himself a patriot, Snowden said: "I do. Patriot is a word that's thrown around so much that it can be devalued nowadays. But being a patriot doesn't mean prioritising service to government above all else.
"Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the violations of and encroachments of adversaries.
"And those adversaries don't have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and simple overreach, and things that should never have been tried, or that went wrong."
Snowden claimed he was not under the control of Russia's Government and had given no intelligence documents after nearly a year of asylum. "I have no relationship with the Russian Government at all. I'm not supported by the Russian Government. I'm not taking money from the Russian Government. I'm not a spy."