Heart-throb fugitive Edward Snowden re-emerged yesterday after nearly three weeks living behind a café refrigerator in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Good Housekeeping’s own Brendan Puce meets the man behind the infamous goatee.
BRENDAN Edward, thank you so much for speaking to me.
EDWARD My pleasure.
BRENDAN I’ve got to begin by asking the question that’s on everyone’s lips. What was going through your mind just before the press conference yesterday, knowing that the eyes of the world would soon be upon you?
EDWARD Well I guess my head was full of so many overwhelming thoughts. How to assert the right of citizens to be told what’s really being done to them. How to express that privacy and security can co-exist. But most of all I guess what was going through my mind was “This is a security announcement – please do not leave your bags unattended”. I hear that bloody thing in my sleep.
BRENDAN It must be tough living here in this airport terminal. I mean, I’ve seen the menus.
EDWARD Yeah, it gets a bit same same here. There’s a couple of OK restaurants that do their best, and a McDonalds, just in case I need to remember why I hate American imperialism so much.
BRENDAN And I see they have a hair stylist here too.
EDWARD (running his hand through newly permed hair) Yeah, but they still insist on using Brylcreem around here.
BRENDAN You and Julian Assange always seem to be flanked by beautiful and clever, though slightly intimidating women. Do you think beautiful women are always attracted to fugitive spies?
EDWARD I sort of wondered that myself. It was never that way in school.
There’s a couple of OK restaurants that do their best, and a McDonalds, just in case I need to remember why I hate American imperialism so much.
BRENDAN But I did read somewhere that you’ve made geeks cool. Do you really think that’s the case?
EDWARD Nothing can make geeks cool.
BRENDAN Moving onto some serious stuff for a minute, why do you think the White House is so angry at you? I mean, they’re starting to look obsessive.
EDWARD I think they got themselves backed into a corner, so they have to keep turning up the heat. Like, today it’s hijacking a president’s plane, but tomorrow they might ban imported Russian caviar.
BRENDAN Would they really go that far?
EDWARD They did with Cuban cigars. Never underestimate the childishness of American governments.
BRENDAN But there must be another reason. Surely this can’t be just about getting revenge and looking stupid?
EDWARD Well it might have something to do with this (waves around a green memory stick). It’s the blueprint for a project called the Doomsday Machine that will infiltrate every phone and computer on the planet and capture the iris algorithm and voice print of every living human.
BRENDAN You mean the NSA has been building this?
EDWARD. No, we hand over the dirty work to the contractor companies. I think this one’s being built by the Bland Corporation (giggles then looks very serious).
Why do you think I’ve never boarded a private jet to Bolivia? I’d disappear within the year.
BRENDAN Do you think the answer for concerned citizens lies with mathematics? Like, technical circumvention through novel cryptographic solutions?
EDWARD Only if mathematicians became more cool than geeks. That won’t happen any time soon.
BRENDAN You’ve made Europe very angry with the US haven’t you. I mean, what with the NSA sneaking into the EU and conducting all these secret spying operations. It’s disrupting European unity.
EDWARD Oh give me a break! The Brits are as bad as the NSA. The French have their own spy system, the Germans couldn’t wait to get into bed with the Americans, the Dutch and Danes and Spanish are begging to be partners and the Swedes and Finns have been at it for years. The only reason why the Italians aren’t doing it to so much is Berlusconi didn’t want to be caught out. Everyone’s at it like rabbits. European unity? Don’t make me laugh.
BRENDAN Now let’s clear up a mystery. You arrived here three weeks ago in that Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong and there were, like, 500 journalists here. But they couldn’t find you and no-one remembered you being on the plane and you couldn’t be seen disembarking. How did you pull that off?
EDWARD Easy. I wasn’t on that plane. I got the Cathay Pacific flight 207 that left at 00:55 – ten hours before the Aeroflot flight. That landed at Domodedovo airport about forty miles from here and they took me by helicopter to this airport because it has a transit hotel and hi-speed WiFi. Well, sort of Hi-Speed. Fast enough to send files anyway (grins).
BRENDAN Wow! A scoop.
EDWARD No, I think it was a Sikorsky S-76 Turboshaft.
BRENDAN Now while we’re on the subject of mysteries you might be able to shed some light on this one. There was an Aeroflot flight from here to Havana the other day with an amended flightpath that kept it away from US airspace. How come you weren’t on it? You could have safely gone from there to Latin America.
EDWARD Look, I love Venezuela and the others for offering to help, but they’re acting in anger. In two years there’ll be a deal with the Americans and i’ll be sacrificed. The CIA would make sure of it. They’re embedded into those countries. At least Russia is strong enough to withstand that sort of pressure. Why do you think I’ve never boarded a private jet to Bolivia? I’d disappear within the year.
BRENDAN Finally, do you have any advice for readers who are really freaked out by all these revelations?
EDWARD Sure. Whatever you do, never ever mix green peppers with linguini. It’ll just make you feel worse.