Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicising details of an NSA programme codenamed PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt his country was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.
Both the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper - to whom he gave the documents he had purloined - published his identity on Sunday.
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under," he told the Guardian, which published a video interview with him on its website.