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NSA Whistleblower Identified

June 9th 2013


Britain's The Guardian newspaper has identified a former CIA technical worker as the source of leaked information on a controversial surveillance programme operated by the US government.

The Guardian said on Sunday it published the identity of 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a current employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, at his own request.

"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," Snowden was quoted as saying.

"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," Snowden wrote in a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided to the London-based newspaper. The leaks have reopened the debate about privacy concerns versus heightened measure to protect against attacks, and led the NSA to ask the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has decried the revelation of the intelligence-gathering programmes as reckless, and in the past days has taken the rare step of declassifying some details about them to respond to media reports about counterterrorism techniques employed by the government.

Internet surveillance
An internet scouring programme, code-named PRISM, allows the NSA and FBI to tap directly into the servers of major US internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL, scooping out emails, video chats, instant messages and more to track foreign suspects.

The NSA is also collecting the telephone records of millions of American customers, but not actual conversations. President Barack Obama, Clapper and others have said the programmes have been authorised by Congress and are subject to strict supervision of a secret court.

Snowden was quoted as saying that his "sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them".

The Guardian reported that Snowden was working in an NSA office in Hawaii when he copied the last of the documents he planned to disclose and told supervisors that he needed to be away for a few weeks to receive treatment for epilepsy. He left for Hong Kong on May 20 and has remained there since, according to the newspaper.

Snowden was quoted as saying he chose that city because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent," and because he believed it was among the spots on the globe that could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

Security clearance
Snowden also said he hopes the publicity the leaks have caused will provide him some protection and that he sees asylum, perhaps in Iceland, as a possibility. "I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets," Snowden told the newspaper.

He was said to have worked on IT security for the CIA and by 2007, was stationed with diplomatic cover in Geneva, responsible for maintaining computer network security. That gave him clearance to a range of classified documents, according to the report.

"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world," he said. "I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good."

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