Nightly News   |  January 23, 2014

Snowden: 'I Never Stole Any Passwords'

NSA leaker Edward Snowden went on the record from his hiding place in Russia during a web-based question and answer session.

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>>> good evening, he has done as much as any one man in modern history to affect u.s. intelligence policy, even our relations with some other countries. today, edward snowden , the man who single handedly exposed this nation's secret spy program with data mining went on the record from his hiding place in russia , it was a web-based question and answer session, motivated perhaps in part by the recent charges that he was somehow working with the russians, who later provided him a home. and on this day, the u.s. attorney general weighed in for the first time on the idea of clemency for snowden . it is where we begin with our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: from his hiding place in russia , fugitive edward snowden answered questions tweeted to his website. at rag bag asked what snowden thinks is the appropriate situation for u.s. national security apparatus, surely some spying is needed. the biggest problem we face is the massive surveillance where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocent communications every single day. at one asked, was the privacy of your co-workers considered while you stole their log-in pass words, he replied, i never stole or tricked anyone. there is issue over the spying on u.s. leaders' cell phones, today, a government board said the massive collection he exposed is illegal.

>> no, the program is not legal and should be seized.

>> reporter: and the panel said even in 12 terror cases cited by the government, the benefits were minimal. on "meet the press," the house chairman suggested vladimir putin 's russia may have helped snowden steal secrets.

>> i believe there is a reason he ended up in the loving hands of the agent in moscow, i don't think that is a coincidence. number two --

>> you think the russians helped snowden ?

>> i don't think it was a gee whiz luck event.

>> reporter: snowden strongly denied getting help from russia or any other country.

>> he called these allegations absurd, basically and said they're flatly false.

>> reporter: experts tell nbc they see no evidence that snowden had help.

>> thus far, i don't think there is any strong evidence that he operate operated with any foreign support.

>> reporter: today, the attorney general told msnbc he would not consider clemency for snowden .

>> the clemency, no harm, no foul, i think that would be going too far.

>> reporter: and in a related case, the justice department accused fraud, saying the contractor failed to do the required background checks 40% of the time, brian.

>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. news room starting us off