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Traitor or patriot? Edward Snowden sits down with Brian Williams

In his first American television interview, Edward Snowden defended his disclosure of the American government's use of surveillance programs to spy on its own people, and described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the Constitution.

Snowden met for about five hours last week with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges. An hour-long special program based on the interview is airing Wednesday on NBC News at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central.

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In the wide-ranging and provocative interview, Snowden suggested that a deal could be reached with the U.S. government for him to come home, said he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, and described his transition from enthusiastic supporter of American foreign policy, who enlisted for U.S. Army special operations training during the Iraq War, to a disillusioned intelligence worker who said he came to believe that the government took advantage of the September 11 terror attack to overreach into the private lives of all Americans.

When Williams asked, "Do you see yourself as a patriot?" Snowden answered immediately, "I do."

This story will be updated with full details of the interview, as well as video clips, during the hour-long special.

Snowden: 'I take the threat of terrorism seriously'

"I've never told anybody this. No journalist. But I was on Fort Meade on September 11th. I was right outside the NSA. So I remember — I remember the tension of that day. I remember hearing on the radio the planes hitting. And I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the FBI at the time — was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it. I take the threat of s— terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it's really disingenuous for — for the government to invoke — and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the — the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don't need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up."

Snowden: 'I've never met the Russian president'

"Right, so I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I'm — I've never met — the Russian president. I'm not supported by the Russian government, I'm not taking money from the Russian government. I'm not a spy, which is the real question."

By NBC News

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