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NSA leaker Edward Snowden: 'Mission's already accomplished'

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who set off a worldwide debate about government surveillance, is speaking out in a rare interview with the Washington Post. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said his "mission's already accomplished" and spoke of having “personal satisfaction” at the revelations about U.S. surveillance policies in an interview published Tuesday.

The former intelligence contractor, who exposed extensive details of global electronic surveillance by the U.S. spy agency, said he was not being disloyal to the U.S. or to his former employer.

"I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA," he told The Washington Post. "I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it."

It is the first full interview with Snowden, now 30, since he arrived in Moscow in June in a dramatic bid to evade prosecution by authorities in the U.S., where he is charged with espionage and felony theft of government property.

He has been granted temporary asylum by Russia, and remains at an undisclosed location, but his long-term future status remains unclear.

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he said in the interview, which was accompanied by what appeared to be new pictures. "I already won."

“As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated,” he said. “I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."

A report commissioned by President Obama recommends tighter legal control over the way an NSA data gathering program collects and use information it collects. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he would consider some changes to NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records to address the public's concern about privacy. His comments came in a week in which a federal judge declared the NSA's collection program probably was unconstitutional. A presidential advisory panel has suggested 46 changes to NSA operations, The Associated Press reported.

Snowden also revealed himself to be "an indoor cat", adding that he rarely left the house where he was staying in Moscow.

“As long as I can sit down and think and write and talk to somebody, that's more meaningful to me than going out and looking at landmarks." 

He also told the Post: “There is no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States,” he said. "I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”

“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story