Former CIA contractor and self-declared leaker Edward Snowden possesses information that could badly damage the United States if revealed, the journalist who first published the leaked documents said in a newspaper interview.
"Snowden has enough information to cause more harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had in the history of the United States," Guardian blogger and columnist Glenn Greenwald told the Argentinean daily La Nacion in an interview published Saturday. "But that is not his objective."
Snowden has been charged with espionage by the United States and his passport was revoked after leaks about the country's spying methods, including eavesdropping on global email traffic, have upset U.S. allies and foes alike.
"His objective is to expose the software that people around the world use without knowing to what they are exposing themselves and without having consciously agreed to surrender their rights to privacy," Greenwald said.
He told the newspaper that Snowden has already distributed thousands of documents and has made sure several people around the world have all the files he possesses.
"If anything were to happen to him, those documents would be made public," Greenwald said. "That's his insurance policy."
"The U.S. government should be on its knees every day praying that nothing happens to Snowden, because if something happens to him, all the information would be revealed and that would be its worst nightmare," he added.
Snowden emerged Friday from his hideaway in the Moscow airport -- where he has been stranded since June 23 -- telling human rights groups that he wants temporary asylum in Russia but still hopes to travel to Latin America to avoid prosecution by U.S. authorities.
The 30-year-old has been offered asylum by three countries: Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. He is apparently unable to travel to them without entering airspace controlled by the United States, risking an enforced grounding that would lead to his arrest.
Greenwald told Reuters on Tuesday that Snowden would likely accept asylum in Venezuela.
Only a few countries -- including several Latin American countries, China and Russia -- have dared to challenge the United States, Greenwald told La Nacion.
He said Snowden has documents that detail how the United States captures transmissions in Latin America and the programs used in this practice.
"One way of intercepting communications is through a telephone company in the United States that has contracts with telecommunications companies in most Latin American countries," Greenwald said, without revealing that company's name.