Edward Snowden, 29, Booz Allen Hamilton infrastructure analyst for NSA and PRISM Whistleblower explains his motives in the following video.
Edward Snowden is the man credited with one of the most critical leaks in US political and intelligence history.
As an employee of defense contractor, Booz Allen, Snowden requested his identity be made known and told The Guardian:
“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong”
In a note of explanation the former CIA technical assistant 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.”
Edward Snowden did not want to hide his identity, however, does not want the attention on him, but rather the government’s activities:
“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.”
Snowden did not need to be a whistleblower, indeed he lived a very comfortable life with a $200,000 salary, a nice home in Hawaii and and a family who love him. He stated in the Guardian interview:
“I’m willing to sacrifice all of that 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.”
As recounted in The Guardian article:
Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.
He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.
As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. “I’ve left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay,” he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.
Media and government agencies are speculating about Edward Snowden’s next move: will he defect to China? Argentina? He is holed up in Hong Kong for now, but Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, has stated she is ready to help the NSA Whistleblower seek asylum in Iceland.
As written in Forbes:
Snowden, who left his home in Hawaii in May and is taking refuge in a Hong Kong hotel, noted his interest in seeking asylum in Iceland in the Guardian’s interview, telling the newspaper that his ”predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values, The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland,” he said. “They stood up for people over internet freedom.”
The 29-year-old intelligence analyst may have been referring to the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a group founded by Jonsdottir and McCarthy that has sought to strengthen Iceland’s protections for media outlets and whistleblowers. That project, which successfully passed a new source protection law in 2011, was propelled in part by Jonsdottir and McCarthy’s participation in WikiLeaks; Both Icelanders helped to publish the leaked Apache helicopter video that revealed the killing of civilians and journalists in Baghdad in April 2010.
All of America watches as the details of Edward Snowden are further revealed and the information concerning PRISM dissected. The question remains: is Snowden a hero or traitor? Maybe a hint to the answer can be deduced from a quote in the Guardian article:
“There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.”
For now we wait and watch as PRISM hearings and investigations heat up: history will judge if the actions of Mr. Snowden were admirable or dubious.