US & Canada

Edward Snowden 'took no secret files to Russia'

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Media captionEdward Snowden said he had acted in the public interest

US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has insisted he took no classified documents to Russia when he fled to Moscow from Hong Kong in June.

He told the New York Times he had given all the papers to journalists in Hong Kong and had kept no copies.

Mr Snowden, who worked for two US spy agencies, also said no confidential information had been passed to China.

The US authorities want Mr Snowden extradited to face trial, but Russia has refused to hand him over.

The Russian authorities gave him a one-year visa earlier this year after he claimed asylum.

Mr Snowden told the US newspaper that he did not take any of the documents because it would not have been in the public interest.

"What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward," he said.

Claims had surfaced in media reports that China was likely to have gained some intelligence from the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor before he left Hong Kong.

Some analysts had suggested he was working with Chinese intelligence, while others said he was working with the Russians.

But Mr Snowden rebuffed these claims, saying: "There's a zero per cent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents."

He said his last job for the NSA had focused on China, and he had "access to every target", so he felt confident that the data was safe from Chinese agencies.

The New York Times report said its interview was conducted over several days via encrypted networks.

The information leaked by Mr Snowden has led to claims of systematic spying by the NSA and CIA on a global scale of governments, businesses and members of the public.

Targets have included rivals like China and Russia, as well as close allies like the EU and Brazil.

The NSA was also forced to admit it captured email and phone data from millions of Americans.