NSA Whistleblower is 29-Year-Old Contractor

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 9 2013 3:37 PM

Paper Reveals NSA Whistleblower's Identity: “I Am Not Afraid Because This Is the Choice I’ve Made”

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Screengrab from Guardian interview

The man responsible for handing over secret information to journalists that the Guardian says amounts to "one of the most significant leaks in US political history" isn’t even 30. The Guardian reveals the identity of the man who gave the paper several top-secret documents and he’s a 29-year-old American who has worked at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various contracts, including
Booz Allen Hamilton, where he is still an employee. The paper emphasizes that it is revealing Edward Snowden’s identity at his request. He insists he never intended to remain anonymous: "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."

Snowden traveled to Hong Kong from Hawaii, where he lived with his girlfriend, right before leaking the documents, choosing the city because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.” Still, he’s well aware lots of things could happen to him: The United States could begin extradition proceedings, the Chinese government may try to question him. And he even sees rendition as a possibility. Snowden hopes to eventually get political asylum somewhere, with Iceland being at the top of his list, but he knows that may never happen.

Snowden insists he doesn’t want to be famous, but felt an obligation to let the world know what he was witnessing. Even though he had a “very comfortable life” Snowden says he was willing to sacrifice everything “because 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.” Read the full interview here

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.