MOSCOW â€” NSA whistleblowerÂ Edward Snowden has finally spoken about his stay in Russia which seems particularly aimed at his critics and wants them to know that he is happy with life in Russia.
During the interview, Snowden focused on a speech that former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden had given in which he predicted that Snowden would be depressed and drunk.
â€œThey talk about Russia like itâ€™s the worst place on earth. Russia’s great,â€ the former NSA contractor told journalist James Bamford during an interview in Moscow for a program “NOVA,” which released a transcriptÂ of the conversation Thursday.
â€œIt was funny because he was talking about how I was â€“ everybody in Russia is miserable. Russia is a terrible place,â€ Snowden recalled, hat-tipping Washington Post reporter Barton Gellmanâ€™sÂ coverageÂ of the September 2013 speech.
â€œAnd Iâ€™m going to end up miserable and Iâ€™m going to be a drunk and Iâ€™m never going to do anything.â€
Haydenâ€™s exact prediction during that speech was that Snowden would â€œend up like most of the rest of the defectors who went to the old Soviet Union: isolated, bored, lonely, depressed â€“ and most of them ended up alcoholics.â€
â€œI donâ€™t drink. Iâ€™ve never been drunk in my life,â€ Snowden said.
Snowden has been living in Moscow forÂ more than a year, ever since the Russian government gave him asylum after the U.S. government revoked his passport, leaving himÂ strandedÂ atÂ Moscowâ€™s Sheremetyevo airport.
Snowden became the subject of an international manhunt after he revealed himself as the source of highly publicized leaks detailing previously unknown U.S. surveillance programs that led toÂ articlesÂ in leading English dailies. He isÂ wantedÂ in the United States onÂ theft and espionageÂ charges.
Snowden, who is about six months into his three-year asylum term, has apparently been settling into life in Russia rather well. His exact whereabouts havenâ€™t been publicized, but his girlfriendÂ movedÂ to Russia to be with him in July, according to the recent documentary â€œCitizenfour.”
And Snowden clearly wanted to tell a U.S. audience how much he is enjoying life in Russia, because he was not specifically asked about it during the interview.
Snowdenâ€™s opinions about his new home only came up because toward the end of the interview, the producer offered him a cup of coffee.
â€œI actually only drink water,â€ Snowden said, before launching into an explanation of how Hayden wrongly predicted that he would end up drunk, sad and alone, and that nobody expected how much he would like Russia.