A former technical assistant for the CIA and a current contract employee for the National Security Agency is the source of the leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post last week about the agency’s top-secret Internet surveillance program.
Edward Snowden, 29, asked The Guardian to reveal his identity.
“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” the Hawaii resident told the U.K. newspaper.
“I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
The drama started last week with the revelation by The Guardian that the National Security Agency and the FBI had forced Verizon via a court order to hand over data from the telephone calls of its subscribers. The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T and Sprint Nextel had also been forced to dole out data to the agency.
Next up were stories from The Washington Post and The Guardian about a top-secret program, dubbed PRISM, that monitors virtually every form of online communication available.
According to documentation — a 41-page presentation — obtained by The Post and The Guardian, the monitoring campaign costs $20 million a year to run. And, despite reports that Internet companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook had voluntarily joined the program, it has since come to light that the leaked Powerpoint document was, in fact, misunderstood by The Post and The Guardian.
In fact, none of the companies named in the original reports — Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple — have granted the NSA access to their servers.
The leak of yet another top-secret National Security Agency document over the weekend revealed the agency’s use of a data-mining tool that records and analyzes the source of its intelligence.
The Guardian obtained documents outlining an NSA data-mining tool, dubbed Boundless Informant, that categorizes by country the reams of data it collects from computer and telephone networks.
Snowden apparently began compiling the data he planned to leak to the press three weeks ago at the NSA office in which he worked in Hawaii. After completing the compilation of documents, he requested and received a few weeks of medical leave at which time he flew to Hong Kong. He told The Guardian he chose the city because he believed it “would resist the dictates of the U.S. government.”
He said he fully expects the Obama administration to do all it can to extradite and prosecute him. Snowden, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, told the publication the CIA or “any of its third-party” partners could come after him.
“That is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be,” he said.