The source of the National Security Agency intelligence leaks that rocked the White House last week was revealed on Sunday by the Guardian as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of NSA defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Snowden, who was interviewed by the newspaper in his hotel room in Hong Kong, where he is hiding, said he has no regrets about going public with information about the NSA’s controversial domestic surveillance programs, even if he never sees his family again.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things,” Snowden said. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. … 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.”
Snowden, a Hawaii resident, said he decided to leave his family, girlfriend and a comfortable, $200,000-a-year salary behind, and flew to China on May 20. He chose Hong Kong because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”
The newspaper said it revealed Snowden’s identity at his request, but that he is concerned it will be a distraction. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me,” Snowden said. “I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing.”
But he said he realizes that the government will come after him like they did for Bradley Manning, the former U.S. army soldier who is currently on trial for accused of providing thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
“All my options are bad,” Snowden said. “I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners.”
Snowden said he’s left his hotel room three times in three weeks.
“We have got a CIA station just up the road—the consulate here in Hong Kong—and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week,” he continued. “And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”
Snowden said he “carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest. There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” he added. “The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over Internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.”
A spokesman for National Intelligence Director James Clapper did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Associated Press.
Last week, Clapper blasted the disclosure of the classified program, saying it had already done “grave damage.”
“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” Snowden wrote a note accompanying the first set of documents, according to the Guardian.
It’s not entirely clear why Snowden chose the Guardian to reveal the surveillance operation, but Glenn Greenwald, one of the Guardian reporters who interviewed Snowden, hinted the whistleblower sought a non-American media outlet.
“There’s a lot of supine behavior, subservient behavior in the part of the American media when it comes to the government,” Greenwald said. “So much reporting in Washington consists of running to government sources, mindlessly repeating what they say after giving anonymity to ensure that they can say it with no accountability, and then simply disseminating it to the public.”
Source: Yahoo News