MOSCOW, May 28 (UPI) -- American fugitive Edward Snowden is claiming he was a trained spy when he leaked classified documents about U.S. surveillance practices, not a contracted systems administrator as he has been consistently portrayed.
"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas -- pretending to work in a job that I'm not -- and even being assigned a name that was not mine," Snowden told NBC News' Brian Williams.
"They're trying to use one position that I've had in a career here or there to distract from the totality of my experience, which is that I've worked for the Central Intelligence Agency undercover overseas, I've worked for the National Security Agency undercover overseas and I've worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, where I developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world."
Snowden is currently maintaining political asylum in Russia to avoid extradition back to the United States, where he would face treason charges.
"He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint about what's the matter with American surveillance, come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case. But instead he is just sitting there taking potshots at his country, violating his oath that he took when he took on the job he took."