Snowden Moscow
A television screen shows the image of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in late June. Reuters

Edward Snowden is in possession of highly sensitive “blueprints” that detail the operating mechanism of the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, and therefore could enable someone who read them to evade or replicate the NSA’s surveillance, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has reported in detail on Snowden's actions, told the Associated Press on Sunday in Brazil.

Greenwald said the former defense contractor turned NSA whistle-blower has “literally thousands of documents” that constitute “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.”

“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” said Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and the author of three books on the impact of U.S. government operations for national security on civil liberties.

Greenwald said it's not Snowden's aim to make the information in the encrypted documents public but rather that he had to acquire “detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do” to prove that “what he was saying was true.”

According to Greenwald, who has been living in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro for the past eight years, the interview with AP took place about four hours after he last interacted with Snowden, who on Friday expressed willingness to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin about possible asylum, after emerging from weeks of hiding in an airport in Moscow.

Snowden said he would stop leaking classified U.S. government data if Russia would grant him refuge until he can safely travel to Latin America. Although Snowden has received asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, he would encounter technical difficulties in traveling to any of these countries because his U.S. passport has been revoked.

Greenwald said that Snowden remains “calm and tranquil,” adding: “I haven't sensed an iota of remorse or regret or anxiety over the situation that he's in. He's of course tense and focused on his security and his short-term well-being to the best extent that he can, but he's very resigned to the fact that things might go terribly wrong, and he's at peace with that.”

Greenwald said he would allow several people to access Snowden’s documents if anything were to happen to him.

“It's not just a matter of, if he dies, things get released, it's more nuanced than that,” he said. “It's really just a way to protect himself against extremely rogue behavior on the part of the United States, by which I mean violent actions toward him, designed to end his life, and it's just a way to ensure that nobody feels incentivized to do that.”