- POSTED: 28 May 2014 22:32
- UPDATED: 28 May 2014 23:49
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday lashed out at fugitive spy Edward Snowden urging him to "man-up" and do his patriotic duty by returning to face trial for leaking intelligence secrets.
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday lashed out at fugitive spy Edward Snowden urging him to "man-up" and do his patriotic duty by returning to face trial for leaking intelligence secrets.
Kerry's comments came only hours after Snowden revealed that he was not just a low-level contractor working for the CIA, as the White House has consistently portrayed him.
"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," he told NBC.
In his first interview in US media, Snowden said he had worked covertly as "a technical expert" for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and as a trainer for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
"I don't work with people. I don't recruit agents. What I do is, I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that at all levels -- from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top," the 30-year-old Snowden said.
"So when they say I'm a low-level systems administrator, that I don't know what I'm talking about, I'd say it's somewhat misleading."
He also blamed the United States for having forced him into exile in Russia after his revelations last June of a vast US dragnet by the NSA to sweep up telephone numbers and data about calls.
"The reality is, I never intended to end up in Russia," he said in a second excerpt of the interview released Wednesday.
"I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport," Snowden told NBC.
"So when people ask, 'Why are you in Russia?' I say, please, ask the State Department."
But Kerry hit back, saying Snowden should do the patriotic thing and return to the United States to face charges for leaking a trove of classified documents.
Two of the charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act and Snowden is wanted for theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defence information, and wilful communication of classified intelligence information.
"This is a man who has betrayed his country," Kerry told CBS News, during a round of morning interviews with US television networks.
"He should man up and come back to the US," Kerry said.
"The fact is, he has damaged his country very significantly. I find it sad and disgraceful."
Snowden was granted asylum by Russia in August 2013 after being holed up in the Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23.
Kerry however denied that the State Department had trapped Snowden in Moscow, saying "for a supposedly smart guy, that's a pretty dumb answer, frankly."
"If Mr Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we'll have him on a flight today," Kerry told NBC.
"We'd be delighted for him to come back," Kerry said, insisting "a patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country.
"A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people."
Snowden, who left high school at 15 without graduating, made his revelations three months into a new job with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton as a systems administrator based at the NSA's threat operations center in Hawaii.
He had flown to Hong Kong in May 2013 and holed up in a hotel room for hours of interviews with The Guardian about his revelations, before flying to Moscow.