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Brian Williams: I Was Followed While Getting Snowden Interview

Image: Brian Williams: I Was Followed While Getting Snowden Interview

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 06:32 AM

By Greg Richter


NBC News anchor Brian Williams says he was tailed during his trip to Moscow to interview National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden in May.

Williams revealed the details of the interview Monday on "Late Night with Seth Myers."

Intermediaries were used to set up the exclusive, and Williams and his staff used fake names at the hotel.

"This was a big secret," Williams said. "We walked around with file folders with no proper names on them. I guarded my notes, all our research with my life. It never left my sight on the plane."

Still, Williams wasn't able to keep his secret from spying eyes all along the trip. He had talked to one person formerly in the U.S. government who told him to keep an eye out for people watching him.

"And this official said, 'Don't kid yourself. The minute you board, look around on the plane. Look for someone who looks uncomfortable and didn't bring a lot of reading. They're there to be on the flight with you,'" Williams said. "'Look around at baggage claim when you get to Russia. You'll probably have two guys with you there. Look in the rearview mirror. Look around the hotel lobby,' even though I was under a different name."

Everything the former official told him happened, he said.

He left right after a "Nightly News" broadcast and flew to London before connecting to Moscow. His bag was held in London and didn't arrive until three hours before the interview.

"[I]t was going to be the first major network interview in a white terrycloth robe from the hotel," he said. Once his clothes did show up, "They'd been gone through."

Eventually, Snowden himself knocked on the door and sat down.

Williams asked all the major questions at the beginning in case Snowden took off his microphone and ended the interview 10 minutes in. Snowden stayed for three hours.

Williams called Snowden a "very smart guy," but also, "very cagey about movements, entering the hotel, what he knew about him. And then he was gone."

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