Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). In June, 2013, he instantly became known as one of America's biggest whistleblowers when he released classified material on top-secret NSA programs including the PRISM surveillance program to The Guardian and The Washington Post. [1] [2]

On June 9, 2013, journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed, with his permission and full cooperation, his identity as the source of super-secret information on US digital data collection. [3]

Classified Information Leaked by Snowden

On June 5, 2013, Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian reported on a top-secret court order requiring Verizon, "on an 'ongoing, daily basis' to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries."[4]

PRISM Data Mining Program

On June 6, 2013, The Guardian and The Washington Post reported on the NSA's widespread data mining of major Internet tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple thanks to a top-secret powerpoint presentation Snowden leaked to those news outlets.

Motivation for Leaking Top-Secret Government Data

On June 9, 2013, The Guardian revealed Snowden as the source of the leak, with his permission, as he gave an interview about his motivation. The Guardian asked: "Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?" Snowden responded: A: "You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process. A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor." [5]


June 17, 2013 Live Public Q&A

On Monday, June 17, 2013, Snowden held a live Q&A session published on the Guardian. He answered questions from the public in a live forum as well as with the Twitter hashtag #AskSnowden.

During the Q&A, Snowden was asked if a single moment made him decide to go public with the surveillance programs. He responded: "It was seeing a continuing litany of lies from senior officials to Congress - and therefore the American people - and the realization that that Congress, specifically the Gang of Eight, wholly supported the lies that compelled me to act. Seeing someone in the position of James Clapper - the Director of National Intelligence - baldly lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy. The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed."

He also stated that the US Government destroyed his chance of a fair trial here by declaring him guilty of treason: "The US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime,"

Interview with Edward Snowden's Father, Lon Snowden

On June 17, 2013, Edward Snowden's Father, Lon Snowden, did an exclusive interview with Fox News in which he urged his son not to commit any more acts of "treason" and return to the U.S. to face the U.S. justice system. [6]

Hiding and Search for Asylum

As of May 20, 2013, Snowden has been in Hong Kong but fears extradition to the U.S. He says his best hope for political asylum is Iceland.[3] Also, Britain has warned airlines not to allow him to fly to the UK. [7] However, his case may fall under the "political offense exception" which is an exception to extradition found in almost all international treaties.[8]


Allegedly, a "middleman" on behalf of Snowden approached Iceland requesting political asylum. [9]

Extradition Process from Hong Kong

The South China Morning Post published a flowchart of the extradition process Snowden may face in Hong Kong.

A Chinese State Media outlet said that if it extradited Snowden to the US, it would 'tarnish Hong Kong's image'. [10]

Criticism & Praise

There are many who say Snowden is not a hero and should be imprisoned for leaking classified government information that was being collected to keep Americans safe from terrorism. [11]

Others call Snowden a hero and a whistleblower for revealing the extent of the personal data the U.S. collects from its citizens without a warrant. [12]

Public Opinion

In a USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll, most Americans want Snowden prosecuted for leaking classified government information. [13]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Glenn Greenwald, NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others, The Guardian, June 6, 2013.
  2. Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, The Washington Post, June 6, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations, The Guardian, June 9, 2013.
  4. Glenn Greenwald, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily - Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama, The Guardian, June 5, 2013.
  5. Ewen MacAskill, Edward Snowden, NSA files source: 'If they want to get you, in time they will'Source for the Guardian's NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next, The Guardian, June 9, 2013.
  6. Eric Bolling, EXCLUSIVE: Father of Edward Snowden urges son not to commit 'treason,' to return home, Fox News, June 17, 2013.
  7. AP, Britain to airlines: Don't let Edward Snowden fly to U.K. CBS News, June 14, 2013.
  8. Jacques Semmelman, How Edward Snowden could sidestep extradition, USA Today, June 19, 2013.
  9. Reuters, Iceland approached by 'middleman' over possible Edward Snowden asylum, The Guardian, June 18, 2013.
  10. Agence France-Presse, Snowden extradition would 'tarnish Hong Kong's image', says China state media, South China Morning Post, June 17, 2013.
  11. Jeffrey Toobin, EDWARD SNOWDEN IS NO HERO, The New Yorker, June 10, 2013.
  12. John Cassidy, WHY EDWARD SNOWDEN IS A HERO, The New Yorker, June 10, 2013.
  13. Poll: Snowden should be prosecuted for NSA leaks, USA Today, June 18, 2013.

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