“I don’t run the risk of going hungry”

In December 2013, journalist Barton Gellman interviewed Edward Snowden in Moscow and asked him about his living conditions as a former US intelligence official living in Putin’s Russia.

“Useless question,” Snowden replied, according to Gellman’s book, “Dark Mirror,” because Silicon Valley backers had sent him “enough bitcoin to live until the fucking sun dies.”

At the time, the highly volatile price of bitcoin had recently breached $1,000 for the first time. It’s unclear how much bitcoin Snowden owns or the average price per bitcoin of his holdings.

On Oct. 27, 2022, with the price of bitcoin hovering around $20,000, Decrypt editor-in-chief Dan Roberts asked Snowden, “So unless you sold everything… are you bitcoin rich these days? And, I think I read recently that you are working doing IT for a company in Russia. Is that so? And why do you need to work?

Snowden, who appeared on video for the extensive Camp Decrypt interview, laughed and replied: “So one thing I would say: don’t trust everything you read in the press. Secondly, that [bitcoin comment]…it was a private comment that shouldn’t have been published. But look, my advice is, as a privacy advocate: if someone asks you what cryptocurrency you own, what you own, the answer is, “What is cryptocurrency?” But I’m not in danger of going hungry, certainly not this year. Let’s put it this way.”

Gellman did not respond to a request for comment on Snowden’s claim that the original bitcoin claim was unofficial.

The US government claims Snowden removed 1.5 million classified documents from US systems in 2012 and 2013 while working as an NSA contractor in Hawaii before providing about 200,000 of those documents to journalists and eventually settling in Russia.

A torrent of revelations from the leaked documents exposed various aspects of America’s post-9/11 surveillance practices, including both national trawling programs and international espionage campaigns. Other aspects of the Snowden saga, such as the living conditions of the 39-year-old or the fate of documents not provided to journalists – remain unclear.

On August 1, 2013, the day Russia officially approved Snowden’s asylum application, prominent Kremlin-linked lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told reporters that Snowden would try to “build a new life for himself in Russia”. that the former CIA technician held a computer job at an anonymous company.

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena shows a picture of fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in his new refugee documents granted by Russia during a news conference in Moscow August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetovc

“Edward Snowden will start working in one of the largest Russian companies,” announced on October 31, 2013 Kucherena, who accepted the case pro bono and became the main spokesman for Snowden. “His job will be to provide support and develop one of Russia’s largest websites.

Kucherena’s office hung up the phone when asked for comment. Camp Decrypt was the first time Snowden, who recently became a Russian citizen, was asked directly about having an alleged job at a Russian tech company. Two former CIA officials had previously expressed skepticism of Yahoo Finance when asked about Kucherena’s claims.

Either way, Snowden has multiple revenue streams: In October 2014, he began giving paid speeches via video; between September 2015 and May 2020, he earned more than $1.2 million in 67 appearances; her 2019 memoir led to $4 million advance; and in June 2021, Snowden launched a Substack newsletter that costs $50-$150 a year for subscribers (although no paid posts have yet to be published).

Snowden appears at Camp Decrypt via video link on October 27, 2022. (screenshot/YouTube/Decrypt)

Snowden appears at Camp Decrypt via video link on October 27, 2022. (screenshot/YouTube/Decrypt)

The appearance at Camp Decrypt, for which Snowden was paid an undisclosed fee, is an example of Snowden monetizing his status despite a 2020 court ruling placing a permanent injunction on similar paid speeches and writings without the authorization of his former government employers.

Snowden is also active on Twitter, where his account has amassed 5.5 million followers since joining in September 2015 and continues to voice opinions on various topics: including bitcoins.

“There are still a lot of problems ahead,” @Snowden tweeted recently as the price of bitcoin plummeted after the crash of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, “but for the first time in a long time I’m starting to feel the urge to scale back” .

Michael B. Kelley is an editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBKelley.

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