MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former employee of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), unmasked himself as a source of recent disclosures about US government’s secret surveillance programs, The Guardian daily reported on Sunday.
According to the daily, Snowden, who will go down in history as one of US most consequential whistleblowers, said he was aware of possible prosecution but disclosed secret documents in response to America’s systematic surveillance of innocent citizens.
In an interview with Washington Post, Snowden, who recently worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and now stays in Hong Kong, said he was “not going to hide.”
“Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest,” he said.
The Guardian and The Washington Post recently published a number of stories that revealed two US government secret surveillance programs.
According to AP, one was a telephone records monitoring program, in which the NSA collected and recorded hundreds of millions of US telephone calls daily. The other was an Internet scouring program, which allowed the NSA and FBI to tap into nine US Internet companies and gather all information from users, including videos, emails, searches and pictures. The program was code-named PRISM.
The Washington Post said citing Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, that the intelligence community is “reviewing the damage” caused by Snowden’s leaks.
“Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law,” Turner was quoted as saying.
Snowden, who moved to Hong Kong from the United States before revealing secrets to media, told The Washington Post that he was seeking “asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy.”
According to The Guardian, Snowden lived a comfortable life before leaking secret documents as he had a stable career with a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend, with whom he lived in a house on Hawaii, and a family that he loved.
“I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building,” The Guardian quoted Snowden as saying.
The US Department of Justice did not comment on the issue saying only that it was in the “initial stages of an investigation” into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, according to the Washington Post.