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Edward J. Snowden

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Introduction

Edward J. Snowden is the 29-year old former American National Security Agency technical assistant who was the individual who was responsible for one of the greatest leaks of top-secret information in United States history. He revealed details of several classified mass-surveillance programs used by the United States and British governments to collect data from its citizens.

Employment and Criminal Charges

He was employed by the National Security as an “infrastructure analyst” consultant when he leaked the information in the Spring of 2013. On the 14th of June, 2013, federal prosecutors in the United States charged Snowden with the theft of government property as well as espionage, or spying.

Flight to Hong Kong

Luckily, he fled the United States before he first revealed the information. Snowden first flew to Hong Kong and then traveled to Russia. He has received asylum, temporarily, in Russia.

Reaction

Snowden has been called many things, some referring to him as a traitor, others as a hero, and even some saying Snowden is a dissident. Snowden himself says “I am neither traitor nor a hero. I am American.” Snowden’s justification of the leaks was to use them in an effort to “inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” The Obama Administration, as well as officials of the United States have denounced his disclosures as hurting the interests of the government as well as the War on Terror. They are a subject of great debate.

Political Interests

Articles published in June of 2013 showed that internet freedom foundation decals were displayed on Snowden’s computer, such that of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Impact on Snowden's Life

The leaks made by Snowden came at a very high cost to him, as his life was “very comfortable” to him. He earned a salary of about $200,000 USD, and when he was working for an NSA consulting firm he was making about $122,000 USD. Snowden apparently was committed to leaking the information and was planning very early, for he took a pay cut to work at the firm to gather data on the NSA surveillance programs so he would be able to disclose it. His employment at the firm was terminated on June 10th, 2013.

First Flight

Snowden alone first fled from the United States on May 20th, when he flew to Hong Kong. (Special Administrative Region). While he was staying, the first articles he had leaked to the Guardian were released. On June 9th, Snowden told the Guardian to make his name public. He said that he had no reason to hide himself, because he “[knew he had] done nothing wrong”.

From Hong Kong to Moscow

On June 23rd, he flew to Moscow, Russia, while Hong Kong authorities were reviewing the request by the United States government for his extradition.

Safe! For now...

He was granted temporary asylum and the Russian government says that it may be extended on an annual basis “indefinitely”.

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