Edward Snowden, the former defense contractor who's been spilling the NSA's secrets, is taking questions from the Internet this morning/afternoon during a Q-and-A hosted by the Guardian. You can check out the full transcript here as it unfolds, but a few early highlights:
On why he didn't just flee straight to Iceland, which he has suggested he hopes will eventually provide him asylum:
"Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained. Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration."
On why he didn't go public with the documents sooner (he had previously suggested that he was prepared to leak information before President Obama became president):
"Obama's campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge."
On the confusion over how much he made at Booz Allen, which published his annual salary ($122K) in a statement announcing his firing:
"I was debriefed by Glenn [Greenwald] and his peers over a number of days, and not all of those conversations were recorded. The statement I made about earnings was that $200,000 was my 'career high' salary. I had to take pay cuts in the course of pursuing specific work. Booz was not the most I've been paid."
On whether he has or will provide classified info to the Chinese in exchange for asylum:
"This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk 'RED CHINA!' reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."
Head on over to the Guardian if you want to follow along.