June 23, 2013 Edward Snowden has just accounted for the
greatest leak of secrets in the history of U.S. intelligence. Edward Snowden is a coward.
He is a traitor and he has betrayed his country. The man who leaked details of a secret
telephone- and Internet-surveillance program in the USA, – – has disappeared in Hong Kong. If he wants to come home tomorrow
to face the music, he can do so. They should use every legal avenue we have
to bring him back to the United States. I want to get him caught
and brought back for trial. I don’t know how anybody can view
this person as anything other than a criminal. We have been telling him:
“Get out, get out, get out, get out.” You’re going along with
someone’s life literally in your hands. Either our plan had worked,
and we would get on that flight, – – or it wouldn’t. Snowden’s Great Escape Just three weeks earlier, Edward Snowden, a 29-year old
analyst for the National Security Agency in the USA – – was waiting for journalists
he thought he could trust. In his backpack he had nearly a million
top secret NSA documents. The journalists were traveling across the world
from New York to a hotel in Hong Kong – – for a secret meeting
whose outcome they couldn’t predict. Because I knew that
what was waiting there was vitally important. But because we didn’t know what really was going on, – – we thought there was even a chance, I mean, every step of the way kind of had all sorts of hazards. The question mark that hung over us was the fact
that we had no idea who the person was we were about to meet. So we were rushing into this huge unknown. The documents Snowden had with him were so sensitive
he could be in prison for decades for removing them. For all he knew, the U.S. authorities could have
intercepted the communications of the journalists – – and he was about to fall into a trap. SNOWDEN: I had crossed the Rubicon at that point, actually. I don’t think anybody can reach
such a clear turning point in their life – – without thinking alea iacta est to themselves.
You know, “The die is cast.” I had to expect that the most likely scenario
was that I would be led out in handcuffs. JOURNALIST: How would we know that we weren’t talking to some agent? Or somebody else? So, the quite ingenious method that he invented – – was to hold this Rubik’s cube, and that was the first thing I looked for. After getting top secret documents from Snowden,
the two Guardian journalists published their first stories. They did not name their source. Edward Snowden’s identity remained a secret. At the time I thought he was paranoid. Once we were in the room,
he piled pillows up against the door jamb. Up high along the sides
and along the bottom. So if there was somebody passing in the hallway,
just eavesdropping, – – it would make it more difficult for them. The stories began to appear and then there was a period
of time before he then self identifies. In that gap there – – it’s my understanding that NSA had a very good idea
who that was and what he had done. And then it’s a simple step from there to begin to use all the tools
available to the U.S. government as to where he might be. When he wanted to access his laptops,
he had a big, red hood – – that he would put
over his head and over his computer. When he put in his passwords he was scared that somebody might see through the window or maybe a hidden camera in the room. It’s the greatest loss of secrets in our nation’s history! That certainly was energizing the other parts of the U.S. government
to do everything they could to get him, – – and especially the materials back
before there was any more harm. How far was the U.S. willing to go based on
your professional experience in the intelligence community? For me it was a question of: Could the government feel
every copy of this material could be stopped – – at a single point? And if that point had presented itself,
I don’t know what they would have done. It was even possible
that they might try to kill me. He was incredibly edgy,
he was nervous. And I remember that the firealarm went off. And he wondered:
“Was this a tactic to get him out of his room?” Always hovering over everything we were doing, was the possibility
that at any given moment there could be a knock on the door – – that would put an end to our interaction. The time was extremely intense. Every day
myself and Glenn would see Snowden at The Mira. We didn’t expect him to be there.
We assumed that they must be hunting for him. What would you do if you were
the director of the CIA, the director of the NSA? And you knew there is an individual out there who was about
to expose evidence that you had committed serious crimes. And you had the resources available to stop this person,
even if it meant using lethal force. What would you do? I know for a fact that the U.S. government
was very angry at Mr. Snowden. His safety,
and also his life was put at risk. -But you know that?
-I do know. The idea that he could somehow evade the U.S.
for very much longer seemed inconceivable to us. And every time we interviewed him, we thought:
“Well, that’s the last time we’ll see him.” “We’ve got to make the most of this because
we won’t get the chance to speak to him tomorrow. He won’t be there.” NARRATOR: For many years, Edward Snowden worked at NSA headquarters
near Washington, D.C., just miles from where he grew up. LONNIE SNOWDEN: I saw him in the shadow of the National Security Agency,
literally it was in the area of Fort Meade. He was there.
I picked him up and we went out to dinner. NARRATOR: The Snowden family has a long history of military service, dating back to colonial times. Edward Snowden had an impressive
career in America’s intelligence community. By the age of 27,
he had gained access to its deepest secrets. He just seemed almost depressed.
And I was very concerned about him. It was not the Ed that I knew. What Snowden couldn’t tell his father during that dinner,
was that he had discovered NSA documents that disturbed him. One of the key things that actually motivated me,
was the growing realization that we – – in the United States government were increasingly
making decisions that departed from the rule of law. I assumed that maybe there was something going on between
him and his long-term partner Lindsay Mills. Which really concerned me,
because I knew that he loved her very much. And I gave him a hug. You know,
“I love you, dad.” “I love you, son.” What Snowden disclosed wasn’t information,
he disclosed how we collected information. In other words he didn’t reveal a bucket of water,
he revealed the plumbing. He revealed how we gather,
process and distribute water. And therefore, that’s going to have a really harmful effect
on American intelligence for a very long time. Mr. President, thank you for those kind words
and for the confidence that you and ambassador Negropontes … No one played a more important role in creating
the NSA we know today than General Michael Hayden. He was given the job by George W. Bush – – with a mandate to stop at nothing
to stop terrorism. When I returned from Korea in 1999 to take the position at NSA … Michael Hayden, former director of NSA and CIA,
ran a program called Stellar Wind. Where the communications of anyone in America
could be collected en masse – – under the pretext of preventing terrorism. If you are asking me to
delve into my deepest emotions … It was the arrogance of an individual. Who looked upon the activity of the NSA, and believed – – that his legal and ethical judgment
trumped the judgment of his co-workers, – – his leadership, the American president,
the American congress and the American court system. I thought to myself:
“What kind of man is this?” How can someone justify
the violation of the rights of an entire nation? Without even a law to lean on! How do we come back from a situation in which
the most senior officials in a democracy – – are acting against the interest of the public in secret? Snowden would have to have believed
his judgment trumped all of those – – in order to create the kind of
moral righteousness that he claims. That’s pretty arrogant. My name is Ed Snowden.
I’m 29 years old. I work for Booz Allen Hamilton
as an infrastructure analyst for NSA. … revealed massive NSA surveillance programs to collect
phone records and internet data on a scale that many people never imagined. -I don’t, I don’t welcome leaks.
-Journalists have been searching far and wide across the territory… -Where is he?
-It is almost certain that he is still here in Hong Kong, hid from the U.S. intelligence services. This is the most serious hemorrhaging of
legitimate American secrets in the history of my country. We have never seen anything like this before. For us in Hong Kong, it was about 3 or 4 in the morning,
so it was a couple of hours sleep, – – and then we woke up
and there was pandemonium. Where the world is Edward Snowden? So, my boss called me and she said: “Something urgent happened, Lavinia.
Come to the office immediately!” As soon as Edward Snowden revealed himself as the whistleblower, – – he set off a catch me if you can hunt by the U.S. government
and a where is he now guessing game for the media. The whole world now had a name and face to attach to the revelations.
But so did the FBI. And I am sure they are going to
be very busy for the next week. In the interview Snowden posted on the Guardian website, there was a clue as to where he might be staying: A view out of a hotel window. From this video we can tell
there were two pylons of the Tsing Yi bridge. So, from this view, the one on the left is bigger than the one on the right. So I went to Google Maps
and used Google Earth trying to figure out – – from which perspective can
the Tsing Yi bridge look like that. The consequences if the media had known
where Mr. Snowden was from that time onward, – – it would have been a direct link for the NSA,
the U.S. government and any other U.S. government agencies – – to identify where my client was at the time. He was alarmed, he was upset that at anytime the CIA
could come crashing through that door. Everyone was chasing after this story.
Everyone was so desperate. Everyone was desperately hoping to find Snowden. SENATOR FEINSTEIN: I want to get him caught and brought back for trial. I think the chase is on. To leak that amount of material, that sensative – – and then stand up in front of the whole world and say:
“This is who I am and here is what I did.”, – – is a virtual guarantee that you are going to end up in
a cage for the next several decades if not longer. You can’t come forward
against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies – – and be completely free from risk.
Cause they are such powerful adversaries. This was the biggest media story on the planet at the time,
there is the likelyhood that media would arrive there. He needs to leave the hotel immediately
and just to leave everything behind. When I went to Hong Kong,
I didn’t intend to get out of this safely. This wasn’t about me.
I didn’t care what happened to me. -My part of the job was finished.
-The journalists were probably going to be there in a matter of minutes. And they just occupied the lobby.
They were hunting. -Saying: “Where was Snowden? Where was Snowden?”
-It was like a bright siren. Declaring to everybody:
“Here’s the man of interest.” 10 000 km (6 200 mi) away, in London,
there was one thing the U.S. government might be happy about: WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was not
involved in the Snowden revelations. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities
to wiretap anyone from you or … Assange has been confined
to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June, 2012. The U.S. government saw him as out of commission. Let’s look at the situation with Edward Snowden:
29 year old young man. In a foreign jurisdiction that he had no experience with,
the subject of the largest intelligence manhunt the world has ever seen. And the realities were for Edward Snowden:
He was going to be smashed. Our other news today,
and the man who leaked details of a secret
telephone- and Internet-surveillance program in the USA, – – has disappeared in Hong Kong. Snowden had fled the hotel
and was now hiding in the apartment of local supporters. The whereabouts are now unknown of Edward Snowden, who was a contract worker for the CIA. He has not been seen since he … And at that moment
he reached out and asked us for help. With WikiLeaks, Snowden hoped he had found a team
that was a match for the NSA. He knew the U.S. was investigating
WikiLeaks for espionage and terrorism. Years of surveillance had left WikiLeaks no option
but to protect their communications through encryption. Something Snowden considered vital. Assange and his colleagues
only agreed to appear in this film on condition – – WikiLeaks’ lawyers be permitted to vet their interviews. Sarah Harrison, a journalist at WikiLeaks,
was busy running an election campaign in Australia – when she got a call from London. I spoke to people from work and they said:
“Have you seen this thing about Snowden?” And I said:
“What is wrong with the mountain in Wales?” Then they said: “Look online, look online!”
So I looked, and he had gone public at that stage. A video had gone out on The Guardian. At that moment when I first heard his name,
I didn’t for a moment imagine that I would be spending four months with him. Although to the outside world it would look like a hurricane, with statements from the White House, – – and stories appearing in the newspapers and a lot of interest about what he was doing in Hong Kong, – – I knew that, actually,
this was the calm moment, – – and the real storm was just about to come, and he would be sucked in to this vortex within two weeks. Imprisonment, arrest …
I had seen Chelsea Manning go through a similar experience. After three years of solitary confinement without trial,
the U.S. military’s most famous Whistleblower,
Private 1st First Class Bradley Manning … Until Snowden, Chelsea Manning’s leak of American government documents had been the biggest loss of secrets in American history. WikiLeaks had published the documents,
but had to stand by and watch as Manning was caught, – – and held in conditions characterized by the UN as
cruel, inhuman and degrading. U.S. tried very hard to make Chelsea Manning a general deterrent. Incredibly abusive treatment of him, psychological torture.
Simply for communicating to the media. I knew about Chelsea Manning going into it. There was
never any question about how that case was going to be settled. And you were willing to put yourself in the same position? That’s tough to vocalize. Three days after Snowden went underground,
Sarah Harrison landed in Hong Kong. She took charge of what was to become:
“Operation Asylum”. … that there was a person by the name of Edward Snowden who
had checked in and out, but it’s still not clear … What was particularly extraordinary I think, was – – while all of these news organizations around the world,
all of these publishers were trying to get a piece of the story, – – there was only one publisher that actually said:
“We want to help the source, we want to make sure he’s okay.” “We want to make sure that no matter what happens,
he has somebody on his side.” And that was WikiLeaks. If there was one thing I could change,
it would’ve been whether we could have done more for Snowden. I did have a discussion with the editor,
Alan Rusbridger, and the U.S. editor, Janine Gibson, – – about what we could do for Snowden. Whether we should be paying his hotel bills, and – – whether we should be getting him legal advice. I wish we’d thought it through
and maybe if we’d had more time we could’ve come up with something. It was the U.S. government vs. WikiLeaks.
And not just in the grand jury court, – – but right there on the ground in Hong Kong. PROTESTORS: Protect Snowden! Snowden blew the whistle
on American efforts to spy on innocent citizens. -Today we all blow the whistle!
-Protect Snowden! It’s about privacy on the Internet! The U.S. government has filed criminal charges
against Edward Snowden. I think it was probably on my birthday.
When the present I got from the government, was – – that they unsealed an indictment against me. Edward Snowden has been charged with espionage,
theft and conversion of government property. What was extraordinary about the indictment
was the fact that they included espionage charges. Now, they knew that I wasn’t working for any foreign government.
That was clear from the beginning. They knew that I was working with journalists
and that the recipient of the information was the public at large. Washington now wants help from Hong Kong officials because Snowden’s been hiding in the Chinese territory – – since unleashing the revelations about
the National Security Agency. The charge of espionage
increased the pressure on the Hong Kong authorities to act – – and made Snowden’s position even more dangerous. It meant that if Snowden was caught,
he could face the death penalty back home in the U.S. Snowden took the risk of leaving his hideout
and met his lawyer who warned him: Sooner or later
Hong Kong would hand him over to the U.S. – – where he could expect
same treatment as Private Manning. In terms of Private Manning’s situation, clearly he’d been subjected to cruel and inhuman degrading treatment. Or punishment. As such, this raised grave concerns
about what would happen to Mr. Snowden – – if he was returned to the United States. Snowden could not be sure if the Hong Kong authorities
would do as the U.S. was demanding and arrest him right away. Hong Kong citizens
were on the streets calling him a hero, – – but the Hong Kong authorities
were in an unpredictable situation. Snowden knew there was always the possibility the central government in Beijing would intervene – – and sacrifice him in a deal with the U.S. The things that were told to us was that the feeling within the government was that they just wanted — — the Hong Kong government —
was that they wanted it gone. He was a hot potato. They just didn’t want to have to deal with it. They were either going to upset the people of Hong Kong, or they were going to upset Beijing, – – and it was just too problematic. The Hong Kong government
decided to play for time. Rather than arrest Snowden, they decided
to wait for the proper paperwork to arrive. But Snowden was still in danger. With the nature
of the disclosures he made, – – there was a real and immediate risk
that he could be arrested in Hong Kong. One of the reasons Snowden was so vulnerable,
was that a white house task force – – was working the phones and putting
pressure on decision-makers in Hong Kong. Since we learned that Mr. Snowden was in Hong Kong,
U.S. authorities have been in continual contact – – with their Hong Kong counterparts
at the working and senior levels. The U.S. was certain, if the Hong Kong
government decided to arrest Snowden, – – they would not have problems
locating him. Look, the Chinese
have a wonderful intelligence service. I would lose all respect
for my Chinese colleagues – – if they did not have very good knowledge
as to what was going on. Although our analysis was that Edward faced
serious consequences and should immediately leave Hong Kong, – – he was reluctant to do that until
it seemed like there was no other choice. Because he wanted to explore different options,
and so on, and this was driving us mad. WikiLeaks have been working out various
options of where he would be safe, – – where he could go, different
people’s opinions around the world. But, I mean, it was his decision.
It’s his life. The border is open.
We got to go. Now is the chance. The border is open.
It could close at any time. Then something happened that narrowed
the options for Snowden. The request for his extradition arrived
from the United States on a Friday night. Would the Hong Kong justice ministry wait
until Monday to issue a warrant? Who could know? They would make a decision, and
then they would act upon that decision. We needed to move.
The clock was ticking. Mr. Snowden was in a difficult position
where he could be arrested at any time. What Edward was concerned about is knowing
the exact status of the border. He agreed that he should leave, – – but as soon as he went to passport
control maybe he would be arrested. So he was very reluctant to actually leave,
because that would cut short his last time. His last hours of freedom. Attorney General Eric Holder placed
a phone call, stressing the importance – – of the matter and urging Hong Kong
to honor our request for Snowden’s arrest. It was the end. He couldn’t wait to continue
to assess the situation. He had to make a decision. That was the moment
where it all came together or it didn’t. Either our plan worked,
our negotiations had worked. And we would get on that flight. Or it wouldn’t. We, over the weekend, the United States has been in touch via diplomatic – – and law enforcement channels with
a number of countries which Mr. Snowden – – might transit or that could serve as
final destinations. This was the largest intelligence manhunt
the world has ever seen. So the U.S. was throwing everything,
all its resources at this thing. So we needed some way of splitting those
resources. Because we didn’t want them all focused on
his flight out. He bought a ticket to India as cover.
It was booked using his credit card – – for two days after the actual asylum
flight. In all, WikiLeaks bought more than a dozen
tickets in Snowden’s name – – on flights leaving Hong Kong. They hoped the U.S. wouldn’t figure out
which flight he and Harrison – – were aiming for. I was worried about missing the flight. We were running late, basically, – – due to the fact that I had been printing
all of our airline tickets, – – and there was an issue with the printer,
and just sort of these stupid things… We’re advising these governments that Mr. Snowden – – is wanted on serious felony charges. On as such he should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel. I spoke to Edward the day before, and I told him that the highest risk is in the airport. He was getting very nervous. And his lawyer kept calling. I think he worried too, that the whole thing would collapse. I don’t think the U.S. would assassinate him in the airport. I don’t think that would happen. But that they might kind of make a fuss. And lean on airport authorities
to hold him and detain him. And then the State Department could bring all its – – assets to bear. There have been repeated engagements by the U.S. – – Department of State and U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. There have been repeated engagements by the FBI – – with their law-enforcement counterpart. You could also be racing to getting captured.
Right? I mean you also… Yeah, running towards them. Yeah. I’m quite sure that that airport was being watched. Ultimately as I walked up to the checkpoint counter, – – the only thing I was thinking is that I should remember to smile. The guy took our passports, which is obviously the normal thing to do. Mine was sort of fine, and then, – – Ed’s was run, [?] which took a while, and – – again, reaching for the phone, and a little bit confused, – – and the computer made a funny sound, and [laughter]… I was not quite sure what was going on there, but I was getting very nervous. Snowden’s lawyer did sort of start stepping forward to see what was going on. On June 17th, Hong Kong authorities acknowledged receipt of our request. Despite repeated inquiries Hong Kong authorities did not respond – – with any request for additional documents or information, – – stating only that the matter was under review and refusing to elaborate. What was under review, was that there was a mistake in the American paperwork. In the rush to prevent him from leaving Hong Kong, – – the State Department got Edward Snowden’s middle name wrong. It is not Edward James Snowden. It is Edward Joseph Snowden. Our people are meticulous
in processing legal documents. They had to double check the spelling. Make sure that they are catching the right person sought by the U.S. authorities. I don’t think our authorities deliberately
held up the arrest. We needed to take maybe a few days, but a few days was not good enough for the U.S., you know? And apparently Snowden made use of the few days available to work out his escape. As it happened, we were rushing
our paperwork forward – – as Snowden was trying to leave Hong Kong – – to fly on to Russia. We made it easier for the Chinese and the
people in Hong Kong to make the decision – – they made, because of the delay. Because, you know, we’ve now done everything. You know, you’ve checked-in, you’ve got through security, you’ve done the bag check, – – the passport check.
You have bordered onto the plane. And I was like:
You are still not OK! I knew the schedule of the flight that
was going to leave. And I was just watching the Hong Kong
airport register to see: Has the flight left?
Has the flight left? Has the flight left? And it was late. It was 20 minutes late.
So I was quite concerned. The other thing that made me very nervous
was when we were waiting to take off. We came from the gate, then we go up
a bit. And then we just stop! And we’re just waiting.
And we’re waiting. And we’re waiting. Straight to our breaking news for you. This hour,
Chinese sources have alleged – – that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is
on route to Moscow from Hong Kong. If so, the whistleblower would have
departed hours after Washington – – threatened the Chinese city-state with
repercussions if it didn’t arrest him. Hong Kong authorities requested additional
information concerning the U.S. charges – – and evidence. The U.S. had been in
communication with Hong Kong. And we were in the process of responding
when we learned that Hong Kong had – – allowed the fugitive to leave. What is clear is that – – at the time he left,
the State Department did not cancel his passport. Maybe you should have cancelled —
they should have cancelled his passport. They cancelled his passport *after* his departure. So, when he left Hong Kong, he was holding
a valid U.S. passport. It is very clear to me – – that the Hong Kong authorities *knew*
the United States – – wanted to extradite Snowden
from Hong Kong to the United States – – when Snowden was trying to leave the country. And on some made-up pretext — a misspelling of his middle name, or something – – in the documents that we gave to the Hong Kong police, – – they allowed him to leave, and to fly on to Russia. Is the administration embarrassed now, that you can’t track him down, – – that he’s, or this cat and mouse game that’s going on for all the world to see? I think I’ve been very clear about the actions we’ve taken. We have known where he is, and believe we know where he is now, and – – there are ongoing conversations about that. We both just sort of just sat there.
Like, we didn’t — really didn’t say much until – – that moment where it actually —
we were out of the airspace, – – and there was a visible [deep sighing]. And then, that’s when we first, like, sort of had any
real conversation. INTERVIEWER: And, what did he ask —
What did he ask you? Or, what? Ah, pretty much his first question was,
“Why did you do this? Why did you” – – “risk everything just to help me?” And I was sort of saying, um, – “Yeah, but, you were wanting help”, or something. And he said, “Yeah, I was wanting help and advice. – – “I didn’t think that WikiLeaks would send, like, a ninja in to get me out.” Um, which was funny enough. But then, about two minutes later, – – like, a fly buzzes past, and I just — I’ve never done it before in my life, – – and I’ll probably never do it again, but I just went, “Well, that’s annoying” and – – literally plucked it out of the air.
And he was like, – – “You really ARE a ninja!” [laughing] Sarah’s probably the most incredibly brave woman I know. She’s – – somebody who was there
through the *hardest* times, uh, – – in a period of incredible risk, – – and she put her life on the line for somebody who was a complete stranger to her. There’s a lot of information in the — floating around here. Organize it all for us. Tell us what’s exactly going on. We’re led to believe that Edward Snowden – – has safely left Hong Kong, and is currently – – in the sky somewhere over the Russian city of Omsk – – in an A330. He’s due to arrive here, – – we are led to believe, at Sheremetyevo Airport – – later on Sunday. That’s all rumor and hearsay at the moment, – – but it’s thought that his final destination
will not be Moscow. At that moment, there was a race for the interpretation of what had happened. So, had he left as a fugitive? Busted through the Hong Kong airport? Whatever? So, you had a fugitive on an aeroplane? That was one possible *spin* that we would see from the media machine. Uh, and it was very important to counter that spin, – – because his whole flight path would have been closed down, – – because countries and airlines would go,
“Oh, we can’t accept this fugitive on our flight.” So, we put out, as soon as he was in safe airspace, – – that No, he had left Hong Kong legally; – – that he was accompanied by legal advisors. Ah, so this flight path wouldn’t be closed down. [Voice on airliner intercom] We will be landing at Moscow, Sheremetyevo Airport, terminal F … [Voice on television] As you can see on this map, the flight that has, – – *reportedly* has Snowden aboard it, has – – almost reached its destination here in Moscow, – – scheduled to land in the Russian capital within minutes. The plane believed to be carrying Edward Snowden, – – touching down in Moscow. He’s on the run, but where will he end up? He’s not thought to have permission to stay. The expectation is that tomorrow,
he’ll get on a plane to Latin America. The exact route he’ll take is unclear. Breaking news this hour. WikiLeaks claims one of its legal advisors – – accompanying Snowden after the
whistleblowing organization – – secured papers, a safe exit, and asylum, – – quote, “in an unnamed democratic state”. Even if he does find a country willing to offer him asylum, – – there’s no guarantee he’ll actually arrive – – at his desired destination. There, the first woman, she’s just some normal check-in woman. You know? She’s like, “Your passport doesn’t work. – – “Sorry, I can’t issue you your boarding pass.” We managed to get him out of Hong Kong. Uh, but when he landed in the Moscow airport, – – the American government had cancelled his passport. And now they — now the Americans make a lot of pressure – – on other countries to stop him. You know, it was actually really surprising – – to me, to discover that the U.S. – – cancelled my passport. They tried to freeze me in place – when I was in jurisdictions which wouldn’t – – be considered particularly friendly – – to the United States government. That — that always puzzled me. Cancelling Snowden’s passport was the first step
in an FBI plan B. Now, they would just need to pick him up. In a small airfield in Manassas, Virginia,
far from prying eyes, – – a former CIA rendition plane prepared for takeoff. Its mission: To transport a fugitive
back to the United States. But at Moscow Airport, Snowden’s escape to Cuba still seemed possible. The gate had not yet closed. Julian Assange had asked a diplomat from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – – to accompany Snowden on the flight, and protect him en route to secure asylum. The diplomat just needed to find Snowden at the gate – – and explain that he now enjoyed diplomatic protection from Ecuador. The Ecuadorian ambassador visited the Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday… But at Terminal F, the presence of hundreds of media people had created pandemonium. The diplomat couldn’t find Snowden. Julian Assange began to play switchboard. He tried to bring Snowden and Sarah Harrison together – -with the diplomat, without alerting the press. Go to the information desk, or help desk, and ask them to put out an announcement – – uh, asking that Sarah Harrison come to see you. Though they finally managed to meet, the diplomat could not help Edward Snowden. Without a valid passport,
he was not allowed to board the plane. The flight to Cuba left without him. Um, is that a positive sign as far as the U.S. government’s concerned? That Mr. Snowden did not get on —
has not gotten on any airplane? We have communicated to the Russians, – – our hope that they will look at all options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States. Just a few hours after Edward Snowden landed in Moscow, – – the U.S. prisoner transportation plane landed in Copenhagen, – – waiting on standby Was its mission to transport Edward Snowden
back to America? Almost as soon as he arrived in Moscow, the FBI contacted me. I chose to speak to them for 4 hours. [unclear], one of the agents was starting to doze. Uh, I, you know, nothing, I shared everything I possibly could. I wanted to help. Back in Terminal F, the Russian authorities offered Snowden a secret deal. He could leave the airport right away, – – on one condition: – – that he agreed to work with the FSB, – – the Russian intelligence service. They asked once. They had approached. I mean, it’s kind of unimaginable to think that they wouldn’t. He didn’t give anything to the Russians at all, – – and he certainly didn’t cooperate with them, or give them anything in any way whatsoever. INTERVIEWER: And how do you know?
S. HARRISON: I was with him the whole time. So, I would stake my entire life on the fact that he did not give anything to anybody. Russian president Vladimir Putin refused Snowden entry into Russia. He and Harrison would have to fend for themselves in the airport’s transit zone. And then we were in this room
for a month. It didn’t have a window. Or a shower. Uh, these were representatives from the FBI, from the D.C. area, – – who I suspect were working very closely, at that point, with the State Department. And, uh, – – you know, they — they just wanted to talk, – – and they said, “Would you be interested in, uh, – – “Would you consider traveling to Moscow, flying to Moscow, to meet with your son?” And I said, “Absolutely.” They had mentioned at one point, – – when we were talking about the details, – – and I’m not gonna get too far into specifics. Uh, they had mentioned to me that, “Well, you understand that, uh, – – “once we get there, ah, we’re going to need to check your son out to make sure he’s okay medically”, – – and I laughed. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” It concerns me, to hear the things that I’ve – – heard about the activities of the FBI at that time. Whether it was their plan to get my father onto an airplane at the Moscow airport, – – and then use *him* to sort of lure me onto the plane in this wacky strategy, – and then sort of slam shut the door to the airplane, and, you know, fly back to D.C. [Crowd sounds] New revelatoins based on Snowden’s documents were appearing every day. Throughout western Europe, there was popular support for Edward Snowden, – – and the drama of his flight was on the nightly news. For many in Europe, Snowden deserved protection, not a prison cell. Hopeful that he could harness public opinion, and get out of Russia, – – Snowden filed asylum applications to western European democracies. 21 of them. It was the State Department, was making the phones ring – – in every government office, in every European government. Agents that, where they had a phone number, you know, – – anywhere they had a business card that was sitting in a Rolodex, – – that person got a call. And they said, “This man will not receive asylum in Europe.” But you would not deny that there have been, um, – – conversations and discussions about Mr. Snowden, – – his whereabouts, and the consequences of, –
J. PSAKI, OFFSCREEN [simultaneously]: Well, no, – – of, of hosting him. Correct?
– J. PSAKI: I’m not a, I don’t, I don’t think
we’ve at all denied – – that we’ve been in contact through
a range of diplomatic channels.
REPORTER: Okay, but you would — alright. So, I think Poland was the first to deny,
followed by France. Italy said they weren’t likely to respond,
or simply didn’t respond. The vast majority of European governments
did something which I think was – – particularly illustrative, which is,
they took no position at all. REPORTER [offscreen]: Alright. But so, but you, you would just object to the characterization – – that it’s bullying or arm twisting. Is that — That is correct, yes? I think that’s clear. [Crowd sounds, cheering] A glimmer of hope after living in limbo for weeks, – – Venezuela and Bolivia offered the NSA leaker asylum, – – after European countries rejected his offical request. Venezuela came out very strongly. We couldn’t actually get there, because all the western countries were saying, – – “No, we’re not offering any help.”
There was no possibility – – for safe passage, or to, like, physically get to
Latin America safely. There were several plans to get him out of Moscow. We looked at private jets.
We looked at presidential jets. We had a tip-off inside the U.S. administration – – that they would be fairly confident about
taking down a private jet, – – they’d be a little bit less confident in relation to commercial airliners, – – and they were not very confident at all
in relation to a presidential jet. With Snowden still stuck in the transit zone, – – he watched on Russian TV – – as one of the few presidents of the world prepared to offer him asylum – – landed in Moscow. President Evo Morales of Bolivia had arrived
for an international summit – – of gas exporting countries. Just before leaving Moscow, Evo Morales left no doubt – – that his country would welcome Snowden. If Snowden asks for political asylum,
will you give it to him? Yes. Why not? Given what President morales had said, – – there was a strong suspicion within my government – – that there was at least a possibility that Morales would be happy to take Snowden with him. When President Morales left for the airport, – – the FBI thought Snowden might be with him. They believed Snowden was escaping on the presidential jet. According to the Vienna Convention, – – a presidential plane enjoys a special diplomatic status. It’s like a flying piece of territory from the home country. Bolivian officials said France and Portugal wouldn’t let the Bolivian president’s plane – – land and refuel on their territories because of rumors – – that Snowden could have been on board that plane. Government to government, you express your concern, – – express your belief why you think
this man may be on that plane. Ah, express that to a friend,
how serious you view the situation, – – and then you ask the friend to take a course of action. And apparently they did. [Aeronautical radio chatter] Well, they said, ah, “You don’t have permission to enter French airspace.” And we tell the control, Well, this is the diplomatic clearance number. And they said, “Well, yeah, that one was cancelled.” My government went to other European governments, and because of their control over airspace, – -forced the President’s plane to land. Now again, this is absolutely unprecedented. I was in my room. I was looking in my laptop, – – and I was reading the news.
And, at first I didn’t believe it. His jet was ultimately forced to land,
and underwent a search – – over rumors whistleblower
Edward Snowden was aboard. Ah, I couldn’t believe – – that the United States government would go so far – – as to ground the diplomatic jet
carrying a head of state – – to search it, for somebody like me. Latin America united with their condemnation, – – social media erupted with claims the U.S. – – was behind the move, and Europe, a puppet. And that was something that was so physical,
and so obvious, – – it was like the tide going out
on the power relations between, ah, – – western Europe and the United States. You could see – – the underlying power structure, the rocks on the shore that represented the true nature – – of the relationship,
because you could see that actually – – western Europe wasn’t going into bat with him at all. In fact, western Europe was playing on the other side. We consciously laid false trails
in relation to the Morales flight. Sometimes there would be, you know,
there would be calls – – to ambassadors on open telephone lines, for example, – – including from this embassy. You know, we were trying to split up the surveillance resources, – – force the United States to consider the Morales flight. INTERVIEWER: Do you think that one could imagine disinformation? That’s, that’s, that’s an, that’s an interesting question. I must admit, I hadn’t considered it before. But, it’s always, always a possibility. Sure. I didn’t know that that diversion would end up in such an extraordinary outcome. INTERVIEWER: Though, Morales flight also kind of helped the Russian giving him asylum. And, it did, and it reinforced the, uh, the image of Snowden as victim. Snowden as the pursued. Yeah. INTERVIEWER: So, if you were sitting
on the other side of the fence, – – To trap the Americans, would that
have been a wise move? I, again, I hadn’t thought of it until you raised it, – But, it’s *incredibly* clever. Yeah. Yeah. It was, I think, a crystallizing moment, – – where for everybody, – – even those people like myself, who are inclined to believe that the United States government – – is a fundamentally good force, but, – – when we saw that happen, I think everybody went: – – “Is this the kind of action that good guys take?” INTERVIEWER: It ended up to be a huge embarrassment. Yes! [Laughs] Not as big as the original embarrassment,
losing all the secrets, but: Yes. Federal Migration Service has confirmed publicly that they have issued Mr. Snowden – – temporary asylum for one year, and allowed him to leave the airport. The light physically hurt my eyes. And I remember actually standing and staring out of the window there, and being like, – – um, almost tearful to see the sky, you know? And it seemed sort of – – suddenly extraordinarily amazing and beautiful to see all of the sky. We are extremely disappointed
that the Russian government – – would take this step despite our very clear – – and lawful requests, in public and in private – – to have Mr. Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him. Mr. Snowden is not a whistleblower. Russian and American relations, already strained, – – dropped to their lowest level in years. The lack of cooperation between the two great powers – – haunts the world until today. So many people like me would not contemplate – -amnesty, or plea-bargaining, – – or anything else to bring Snowden back. There are a hundred thousand people in the American intelligence community – – who *didn’t* violate their oath of office. If my government participates in any kind
of Welcome Home – for Mr. Snowden, that even, [sniffing] even *smells* of that kind of approach, – – it would alienate this body of people, – – on whom both the safety
and the liberty of my nation depends. That’s not a good idea. [Crowd sounds, cheers] Anybody who ever embarrassed a great power – – is never gonna be safe. I mean, as long as people – – feel a sense of retaliation, as long as people feel – – like they have to send messages, and set examples not to mess with us, – – um, dissenters are gonna be at risk. To be leaving the airport under those circumstances, – – just to have seen everything that had transpired in those two months, – – and then just to be struck with what was a completely perfect – – warm and bright day, you know, a seasonable day, – – a normal life outside. You know, you, you hear – uh, the birds! [Laughing] You, know, simple things like that! Um, insects. Traffic. It’s like stepping into a larger world. I want to get him, uh, caught, and brought back for trial.