Edward Snowden

The whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said. [...]

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. "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."

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me." [...]

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.

Previously, previously.

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36 Responses:

  1. spoonyfork says:

    What Internet services is he logging into so I know they're safe?

  2. PaulJBis says:

    Well, there we go.

    Good luck, Mr. Snowden, and beware and black vans approaching you on the street.

  3. Line Noise says:

    I hear the weather in Guantanamo is nice this time of year.

  4. joe luser says:

    i wonder if they'll torture his family?

  5. phessler says:

    He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me." [...]

    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.

    Interesting definition of "does not fear".

    • Brian B says:

      Seems fine to me. Or are you saying that even attempting to minimize the effects of blowback is an act of cowardice?

  6. phuzz says:

    Why Hong Kong? Not my first place to run too if I was scared of the US government, although it has a certain logic I guess.

    • ardgedee says:

      For much of the world, the U.S. could probably extract him by force, or pressure the government to return the guy. China can't really be pressured in that sort of way, and any manual attempt the U.S. would make is likely to cause some nasty blowback, international-relationships-wise. The Chinese government loves to whip up domestic sentiment whenever the U.S. is caught doing things on/over their territory.

      On the other hand, I suspect China's interest in protecting this guy is only going to go on for as long as they anticipate him being useful to them. They are probably quite curious to hear any further anecdata he might have about the NSA. But if he can't pay his bills and isn't willing to cooperate with them, he's probably going to get bounced sooner rather than later, and not necessarily back into the waiting hands of the U.S.

      • phuzz says:

        I've been trying to think of places I'd flee to if I thought the US government was after me (staying in the UK wouldn't be much use).
        France maybe? Various Scandinavian countries, and New Zealand might take a stand as well.

        • cd says:

          If I recall correctly people say he's requested asylum in Iceland.

        • Iain says:

          Relying on New Zealand's sane-as-written laws didn't work out as well as planned for Kim dotCom when the US copyright police leaned on the local cops…

        • 205guy says:

          Why not link to the source directly (and maybe say you found it on Wikipedia): https://immi.is/index.php/86-statement-regarding-involvement-of-immi-in-edward-snowden-asylum-request

          Also, why so negative when this is what they really say: "We are currently attempting to get in touch with Mr. Snowden to confirm that this is his will and discuss the details of his asylum request. Our next step will be to assess the security implications of asylum, as it is possible that Iceland may not be the best location, depending on various questions regarding the legal framework - all of these issues will be taken into account. We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made."

          • nooj says:

            Oh. The page changed, and my link is to the wrong thing.

            I intended to comment on Hong Kong telling Snowden to leave or be subject to extradition [citation needed].

            • joe luser says:

              that wikipedia page has had over 500 edits in two days, and is a phenomenon all on its own.

  7. James says:

    For such a one-off throwaway film, the writers of Enemy of the State were worryingly accurate at times.

    • nooj says:

      Never saw it. Is that movie any good? On a scale where The Fog of War is an 8(*), and Alex Jones is a 2.

      (McNamara only gets an 8 for crying about not wanting to critcize a President in a time of war, despite clearly intending the interviews as a referendum on the then-current Administration. Veiled Machiavellian critique was novel five hundred years ago.)

      • Colby Russell says:

        It's not Independence Day, if that's what you're thinking. Even noting whose names are in the writer, director, and producer slots, it's really, genuinely not-terrible. See it.

        Its being a 1998 film is also kind of interesting. It shapes (or anti-shapes, maybe, since this is retrospective) the story in some neat ways. And the imagery, too. Like the SUN workstation in Jason Lee's apartment.

  8. Erbo says:

    Snowden to become an Orwellian "unperson" in 3, 2, 1...

  9. nooj says:

    I'm kind of tired of everyone going on about "hero or traitor." It's the same circus as with Bradley Manning. The leaker's motivation makes no difference. The debate is a) whether we want to live in a surveillance state, b) how officials can say the things they do without consequences, and c) whether we want a society where public outrage is ineffectual.

    • James says:

      (a) No, surveillance causes greater incarceration and the US already has the greatest proportion incarcerated, about 40% more than the next most in Russia. (b) I don't know. (c) Let's get out on the street and march instead of filing court papers and boycotting economic interests, that will show them.

      • bode says:

        LOL, what ridiculous pure fantasy. Big brother secretly watching people jack off online puts basically no one in jail. Oh wait? You know someone snared by this dragnet? Because The Guardian and the NYT and the WAPO don't know that unperson; they'd love to - but I guess the loner geek non-violent anarchist/libertarian disappeared by the jackboots has no friends and no relatives to notice their disappearance.
        Anyway, what is not fantasy: po-lice targeting poor minority Americans and filling our jails over capacity with minor drug violations and trumped-up 3 strikes. But I don't see the protests or the outrage over that one (you know, the one that actually fills the prisons).

        • nooj says:

          I'm surprised you haven't connected the dots yet.

          Databases like this are created in response to some perceived threat (Communism, terrorism, being Japanese or Arab, etc.). But they are essentially never used for that threat.[1][2] The way they're used is to prosecute drug and fraud crimes.[3]

          I am protesting the War on Drugs.

          [1] FBI claims to need greater access to telephone data, but has been thwarted exactly zero times from things like encryption. (Emphasis theirs.)
          [2] DNA collected and retained in perpetuity from individuals not charged with any crime, including, but not limited to, Driving While Black.
          [3] Cell phone tower spoof device, "Stingray," used for finding a suspect in tax and wire fraud crimes. While the government clearly misused its warrant powers in multiple ways, the evidence was ultimately allowed anyway. Yay, team!

        • James says:

          You are clearly unfamiliar with my peitioning activities (item 12; see also.)

          Is stopwatching.us the sternly worded letter you want to send, or can you think of something stronger?

          • bode says:

            "Stronger" would be to keep your arguments clear and concise. By mentioning incarceration in the same paragraph as "giant NSA invasion of metadata privacy" you catastrophically weaken your argument.
            Unless your argument is "all government is bad and can never be trusted to follow any rule." In which case, again: weak arguments.
            Example of good argument:
            http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/06/09/is-the-nsa-surveillance-threat-real-or-imagined
            Note lack of nonsense / hyperbole / OMFG all the government does is disappear people.
            Of course no one here wants any of that, uh, reason. But if you want to advance your cause, hitch to an actual sane crew (read: ACLU, EFF) and stop fucking around with the LulzSecs of the world (or the parallel idiots in the Occupy movement). The ACLU might make a difference. "The sky is fucking falling / fuck all government / government is only out to fuck you" arguments will only make the world a worse place.

            • James says:

              Are you suggesting that greater surveillance does not cause increased convictions requiring mandatory minimum sentences and therefore increased incarceration. If so, where is the evidence? There is extensive evidence showing that it does, from the Congressional Research Service and first principles, and very soon from the National Academies, I predict.

              • bode says:

                If the NSA hoovering up call metadata put a single american citizen in jail then it's front-page, 250 point font news. Same with PRISM. Holy jesus fucking christ, that'd be A1 news if ever there was news and people would end up in jail (no fucking joke, whatever you idiots might think). IRS scandal has fuck all on "americans end up in jail via totally illegal NSA surveillance".
                The poor folk who get the shaft and fill our jails don't have the NSA to blame; they're fucked because they're not not rich and/or white. Please separate the two. Sheriff Arpaio does not know what a fucking computer is but he can incarcerate Mexicans 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
                In the future this nonsense could be abused. No question. It's terrible and should be stopped. But we do not live in a police state in 2013 (ask JWZ about the "turn over the video of customers" he did not go for - last I checked police states don't give you that option). So please stop acting like we do. "Could" is not "is happening."

      • nooj says:

        Yeah, it's bullshit when protests of the Executive Branch can't happen because the group failed to ask the Executive Branch's permission more than 30 days in advance.

        And it's bullshit when Occupy resulted in lots of police action and zero policy change. I guess some of us should have set ourselves on fire!

  10. nooj says:

    This is the first thing I've heard Lindsey Graham say on this topic. Does it count as a Godwin in 1?
    Nutjob Lindsey Graham:

    Senator Graham says the US should consider boycotting the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi if Russia grants asylum to fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

    Graham said allowing Russia to host the Olympics after granting asylum for Snowden would be parallel to allowing Germany to host the Olympics before World War II.

    "If you could go back in time, would you have allowed Adolf Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany? To have the propaganda coup of inviting the world into Nazi Germany and putting on a false front?" Graham told NBC News.

    "I'm not saying that Russia is Nazi Germany, but I am saying that the Russian government is empowering some of the most evil, hateful people in the world,"