The Guardian has published another surveillance scoop in which it has introduced the man inside the NSA who leaked the publication details of the PRISM program. The article was drafted and published at his request.
Edward Snowden is a 29-year-old who had been a technical assistant at the CIA and is currently employed at Booz Allen Hamilton, a firm contracted by the US Department of Defence. He took medical leave before leaking the documents but is currently in Hong Kong — a destination chosen for its potential to resist US dictates — where he has watched his efforts ripple across media and society in the US and worldwide.
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The interview is quite incredible. Snowden is portrayed as a man of principle who is fully aware of his actions. He did what he did because he could no longer continue to watch the program and its work.
“I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets,” he is quoted as saying, despite the immense danger and uncertainty that he now faces for leaking the documents.
Selected excerpts that explain his background and reasoning in more detail are below this video.
“I’m willing to sacrifice all of that [his “comfortable” life] because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Why he is not staying anonymous:
From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
His expectations of what’s next:
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”
“All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.
His disinterest in becoming famous over the leak (although that is an inevitable reality given the huge profile and storm around PRISM):
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
Read the article in full to learn more about this incredible man who is sure to go down in US history. The big question is how will the story go.
You can peruse our full coverage of PRISM here.
Headline image via Getty Images