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Washington (AFP) – Edward Snowden has rejected suggestions he was a Russian spy, saying he acted alone in exposing U.S. surveillance programs.

“This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd,” the U.S. fugitive told The New Yorker.

In an interview the magazine said was carried out by “encrypted means” from Moscow, the 30-year-old said he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”

On Sunday two Republican lawmakers suggested the fugitive — who is in hiding in Russia — may have acted in concert with a foreign power, possibly Moscow.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, for one, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show that he didn’t think “it was a gee-whiz luck event that (Snowden) ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB” Russian state security agency.

Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that he didn’t believe “Mr Snowden was capable of doing everything himself.”

He added he could not say “definitively” that Russia was involved, “but I believe he was cultivated.”

Snowden received temporary asylum in Russia in August — a move that infuriated the United States — and is believed to be living in the Moscow area.

Before being granted asylum, however, he spent more than a month holed up in an airport there, a point he raised in the New Yorker interview.

“Spies get treated better than that,” he said.

The New Yorker also quoted Snowden as saying that “Russia was never intended” to be his place of asylum and that he was “stopped en route.”

“I was only transiting through Russia,” he told the publication.

“I was ticketed for onward travel via Havana — a planeload of reporters documented the seat I was supposed to be in — but the State Department decided they wanted me in Moscow, and cancelled my passport.”

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Doug Mastriano

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Doug Mastriano is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and January 6 insurrectionist who this week won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor. Mastriano is also anti-Muslim: He previously shared an image with the words, “Stop Islam” and a post claiming that “the American People have a right to be fearful of the prospect of a large number of muslims being elected to congress, specifically if they practice Sharia law.”

In addition to running for governor, Mastriano is a Pennsylvania state senator, a right-wing commentator, and a frequent guest in right-wing media. He regularly pushes lies about the 2020 election being stolen from former President Donald Trump.

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