As we noted last month, from earlier comments Ed Snowden had made about it being impossible
for him to reveal the documents he leaked to the Russians or Chinese, it seemed quite likely that he got rid of the documents
and had no copies any more himself. This seemed even more likely after the report from earlier this week that the four laptops he took were more of a diversion
than anything else. And now, Snowden has confirmed directly that he handed the documents off to Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald
and did not keep copies
for himself, as he's now explained to the NY Times' James Risen.
Mr. Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the files to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he said.
“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?” he added.
While he obviously did take them to Hong Kong, that was before anyone was paying attention to him, and he notes that he was well aware of how to hide the documents from the Chinese, having actually taught a class at the NSA on Chinese cybercounterintelligence.
“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said.
He further noted that the NSA is well aware that neither the Russians nor Chinese got access to the documents, meaning that when US officials are suggesting that he gave the docs to both (or that they got them from him) they're either ignorant or lying. He also explained that, contrary to the claims from some that he "defected" to Russia, his intent had never been to "defect" to either Russia or China, but (as people have noted) due to the US's own actions, he's effectively been stranded in Russia for the time being.