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Edward Snowden is a former National Security Agency subcontractor who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities.
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Born in North Carolina in 1983, Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency through subcontractor Booz Allen in the NSA's Oahu office. After only three months, Snowden began collecting top-secret documents regarding NSA domestic surveillance practices, which he found disturbing. After Snowden fled to Hong Kong, China, newspapers began printing the documents that he had leaked to them,
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... 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 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."
"I'm willing to sacrifice [my former life] 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."
"I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act."
"I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good."
"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."
"I don't see myself as a hero, because what I'm doing is self-interested. I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity."
"I do not expect to see home again."
many of them detailing invasive spying practices against American citizens. With the U.S. charging Snowden under the Espionage Act but many groups calling him a hero, Snowden remains in Russia, with the U.S. government working on extradition.
Edward Snowden was born in North Carolina on June 21, 1983, and grew up in Elizabeth City. His mother works for the federal court in Baltimore (the family moved to Ellicott City, Maryland, when Snowden was young) as chief deputy clerk for administration and information technology. Snowden's father, a former Coast Guard officer, lives in Pennsylvania.
Snowden dropped out of high school and studied computers at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland (from 1999 to 2001, and again from 2004 to 2005), later earning a GED. Between his stints at community college, Snowden spent four months (May to September 2004) in the Army Reserves in special-forces training. According to Army sources, he did not complete any training, and Snowden has said that he was discharged after he broke his legs in an accident.
Two years after leaving Anne Arundel for the second time, Snowden landed a job with the National Security Agency as a security guard, which he somehow parlayed into an information-technology job at the Central Intelligence Agency. Snowden has said that in 2007, the CIA stationed him in Geneva, but in 2009 he left to work for private contractors, among them Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton, a tech consulting firm. With Booz Allen, he was shipped off to Japan to work as a subcontractor in an NSA office before being transferred to an office in Hawaii. After only three months with Booz Allen, Snowden would make a decision that would change his life forever.
While working at the NSA's Oahu office, Snowden began noticing government programs involving the NSA spying on American citizens via phone calls and internet use. Before long, leaving his "very comfortable life" and $200,000 salary behind, in May 2013, Snowden began copying top-secret NSA documents while at work, building a dossier on practices that he found invasive and disturbing. The documents contained vast and damning information on the NSA's domestic surveillance practices, including spying on millions of American citizens under the umbrella of programs such as PRISM.
After he had compiled a large store of documents, Snowden told his NSA supervisor that he needed a leave of absence to undergo treatment for epilepsy, a condition recently diagnosed. He also told his girlfriend that he'd be leaving Hawaii for a few weeks, remaining vague about why.
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