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Profile: Edward Snowden
24 June 2013 Last updated at 08:58 GMT
Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical worker, fled to Hong Kong in May after revealing extensive internet and phone surveillance by US intelligence.
Mr Snowden, 30, had been living with his girlfriend in Hawaii but left for the Chinese Special Administrative Region where, with his consent, the UK’s Guardian newspaper revealed his identity.
After the US filed charges and asked local authorities to extradite him, Mr Snowden left Hong Kong on 23 June, initially for Moscow but with the intention of seeking asylum in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said that Mr Snowden’s asylum request was being “analysed”.
Journalists who interviewed him at his secret location in Hong Kong described him as “quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers”.
Explaining why he decided to leave the US, he told the Guardian: “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.”
The US has charged Mr Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Each of the charges carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
With the knowledge that the US does have an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Mr Snowden left on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow.
Mr Snowden is reported to have grown up in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and later moved to Maryland, near the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade.
Describing himself as a less than stellar student, he is said to have studied computing at a Maryland community college to get the necessary credits to obtain a high school diploma. However, he never finished the course
In 2003, he joined the US Army and began training with the Special Forces only to be discharged after breaking both his legs in a training accident.
His first job with the NSA was as a security guard for one of the agency’s secret facilities at the University of Maryland. He then worked on IT security at the CIA.
Despite his lack of formal qualifications, his computer wizardry allowed him to quickly rise through intelligence ranks.
By 2007, he was given a CIA post with diplomatic cover in Geneva.
Mr Snowden told the Guardian: “Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world. I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”
Mr Snowden said he had considered going public earlier, but waited to see whether President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 would change the US approach.
“[Mr Obama] continued with the policies of his predecessor,” he said.
According to campaign finance records, Mr Snowden gave money in 2012 to Republican presidential long-shot Ron Paul, who supports strictly curtailing the powers of government.
Mr Snowden reportedly made two donations of $250 (£160) over the course of the campaign.
He left the CIA in 2009 and began working at the NSA as an employee of various outside contractors, including consulting giant Booz Allen.
In a statement, the company confirmed he had been an employee of the firm for less than three months, assigned to a team in Hawaii.
“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm, it said.
He was formally sacked on 11 June.
Mr Snowden was on a salary of $122,000 according to a statement from his employer.
He and his girlfriend moved out of their home in Waipahu, West Oahu, Hawaii, on 1 May, estate agents said, leaving nothing behind.
A neighbour told ABC that the couple usually kept the blinds and doors closed and “didn’t really talk to anyone at all around here”.
His girlfriend, whose personal blog includes photos of her pole dancing, has said her partner’s sudden disappearance caught her by surprise.
“My world has opened and closed all at once,” Lindsay Mills wrote. “Leaving me lost at sea without a compass.
Edward Snowden, Pembocor Rahasia Pemantauan Intelijen AS
Edward Snowden, yang bekerja sebagai kontraktor pada badan keamanan nasional AS (NSA) adalah orang yang membocorkan rahasia pemantauan hubungan elektronik.
Surat kabar Inggris Guardian yang terbit di London dan surat kabar Amerika Washington Post mengungkapkan bahwa seorang warga Amerika berusia 29-tahun yang bekerja sebagai kontraktor pada badan keamanan nasional Amerika, atau NSA, adalah orang yang membocorkan rahasia pemantauan hubungan elektronik yang dilakukan oleh badan intelijen Amerika itu.
Kata laporan surat kabar itu, pengungkapan identitas dan nama Edward Snowden itu dilakukan atas permintaannya sendiri. Surat kabar Guardian mengutip Snowden mengatakan, “Tujuan saya hanyalah untuk memberi tahu rakyat Amerika tentang hal-hal yang dilakukan atas nama mereka, dan tindakan-tindakan yang akan merugikan mereka.”
Laporan-laporan yang dimuat harian Guardian dan Washington Post dalam seminggu terakhir mengungkapkan adanya dua program pemantauan yang dijalankan pemerintah Amerika.
Pertama adalah program pemantauan hubungan telpon ratusan juta rakyat Amerika tiap hari, guna menciptakan suatu database untuk melihat apakah ada tersangka terroris di luar negeri yang menghubungi orang di Amerika.
Sementara yang kedua adalah program yang diberi nama PRISM yang memungkinkan NSA dan FBI untuk secara langsung menyadap sembilan jaringan internet Amerika untuk mengumpulkan data tentang penggunaan saluran elektronik itu, termasuk penyadapan audio, video, foto dan email, dan untuk mengetahui informasi apa saja yang dicari orang. Tujuannya adalah untuk mencari kegiatan-kegiatan yang mencurigakan yang datang dari luar negeri.
Snowden membantah bahwa pelaksanaan kedua program itu dilakukan dengan aman dan sesuai hukum. Katanya, tiap analis bisa saja memilih siapa yang akan dipantau hubungan elektroniknya. Kata Snowden lagi, ia sendiri punya otorita untuk menyadap telepon siapapun, termasuk telepon Presiden Amerika.
Surat kabar itu mengatakan, Snowden melarikan diri dari Hawaii ke Hong Kong tanggal 20 Mei dan mungkin akan minta suaka politik di Eslandia.
National Security Agency, atau NSA, badan intelijen Amerika yang besar itu telah minta bantuan Departemen Kehakiman untuk mengusut perkara pembocoran rahasia tadi. NSA dilaporkan telah mengumpulkan ratusan juta nomor telpon penduduk Amerika dalam usaha mencegah serangan terroris. Presiden Obama minggu lalu menjelaskan bahwa tindakan itu telah disetujui oleh Kongres Amerika dan dijalankan dengan pengawasan ketat oleh pengadilan.
Man behind NSA leaks says he did it to safeguard privacy, liberty
(CNN) — He’s a high school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor — only to blow those secrets wide open by spilling details of classified surveillance programs.
Now, Edward Snowden might never live in the United States as a free man again. Where he may end up was a source of global speculation Sunday after he flew from Hong Kong to Russia, his ultimate destination unknown to most.
Snowden has revealed himself as the source of documents outlining a massive effort by the U.S. National Security Agency to track cell phone calls and monitor the e-mail and Internet traffic of virtually all Americans.
Snowden, 29, said he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing.
“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded,” he said.
Snowden told The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom that he had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets around the world.
“I’m just another guy who sits there day to day in the office, watching what’s happening, and goes, ‘This is something that’s not our place to decide.’ The public needs to decide whether these programs or policies are right or wrong,” he said.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong after copying one last set of documents and telling his boss he needed to go away for medical treatment.
From Hawaii to hiding
Before his leak of U.S. intelligence, Snowden was living “in paradise.”
He worked for a major U.S. government contractor in Hawaii, earning a six-figure salary and enjoying the scenic state with his girlfriend.
He told The Guardian he never received a high school diploma and didn’t complete his computer studies at a community college. Instead, he joined the Army in 2003 but was discharged after breaking both legs in an accident.
Snowden said he later worked as a security guard for the NSA and then took a computer security job with the CIA. He left that job in 2009 and moved on to Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked as a contractor for the government in Hawaii.
He told the Guardian that he left for Hong Kong on May 20 without telling his family or his girlfriend what he planned.
“You’re living in Hawaii, in paradise and making a ton of money. What would it take to make you leave everything behind?” he said in the Guardian interview.
“I’m willing to sacrifice all of that 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.”
Some residents on Oahu island are glad Snowden left.
“From a Hawaii standpoint, good riddance, thanks for leaving,” Ralph Cossa told CNN affiliate KHON.
“I’m sure the guy had an overactive Mother Teresa gene and thought he was going to go out and save America from Americans, but in reality he was very foolish,” Cossa said. “We expect the government to honor our privacy, but we also expect our government to protect us from terrorist attacks.”
President Barack Obama insists his administration is not spying on U.S. citizens — rather, it’s only looking for information on terrorists.
Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor that employed Snowden, said Snowden had worked at the firm for less than three months.
“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the company said in the statement. The firm said it will cooperate with authorities in their investigation.
According to the Guardian, the only time Snowden became emotional during hours of interviews was when he thought about what might happen to his relatives — many of whom work for the U.S. government.
“The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help anymore,” he said. “That’s what keeps me up at night.”
As for his concerns about his country, “the greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.”
CNNs Matt Smith and Holly Yan contributed to this report.
Edward Snowden: how the spy story of the age leaked out
The full story behind the scoop and why the whistleblower approached the Guardian
As he pulled a small black suitcase and carried a selection of laptop bags over his shoulders, no one would have paid much attention to Ed Snowden as he arrived at Hong Kong International Airport. But Snowden was not your average tourist or businessman. In all, he was carrying four computers that enabled him to gain access to some of the US government’s most highly-classified secrets.
Today, just over three weeks later, he is the world’s most famous spy, whistleblower and fugitive, responsible for the biggest intelligence breach in recent US history. News organisations around the globe have described him as “America’s Most Wanted”. Members of Congress have denounced him as a “defector” whose actions amount to treason and have demanded he be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
His supporters argue that his actions have opened up a much-needed debate on the balance between security and privacy in the modern world.
So is he whistleblower or traitor? That debate is still raging.
Snowden, aged 29, had flown to Hong Kong from Hawaii, where he had been working for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at the National Security Agency, the biggest spy surveillance organisation in the world. Since Monday morning, he has gone underground. Hong Kong-based journalists, joined by the international press, have been hunting for him. At the height of the search, reporters recruited Twitter followers to see if they could successfully identify the lighting and other hotel furnishings shown in the video in which he went public. They did: the $330-a-night Mira Hotel, on Nathan Road, the busy main shopping drag in Kowloon district.
Knowing it was only a matter of time before he was found, Snowden checked out at lunchtime on Monday. It is thought he is now in a safe house.
What happens now? The US is on the verge of pressing criminal charges against him and that would lead to extradition proceedings, with a view to bringing him back to the US for trial and eventually jail.
If America is planning to jail for life Bradley Manning, who was behind the 2010 WikiLeaks release of tens of thousands of state department memos, what retribution lies in store for Snowden, who is guilty of leaking on a much bigger scale? The documents Manning released were merely “classified”. Snowden’s were not only “Top Secret”, but circulation was extremely limited.
For an American, the traditional home for the kind of story Snowden was planning to reveal would have been the New York Times. But during extensive interviews last week with a Guardian team, he recalled how dismayed he had been to discover the Times had a great scoop in election year 2004 – that the Bush administration, post 9/11, allowed theNSA to snoop on US citizens without warrants – but had sat on it for a year before publishing.
In January, Snowden reached out to a documentary filmmaker and journalist, Laura Poitras, and they began to correspond. In mid-February, he sent an email to Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, suggesting he might want to set up a method for receiving and sending encrypted emails. He even made a YouTube video for Greenwald, to take him step-by-step through the process of encryption. Greenwald did not know the identity of the person offering the leaks and was unsure if they were genuine. He took no action. In March, in New York, he received a call from Poitras, who convinced him that he needed to take this more seriously.Greenwald and Snowden set up a secure communications system and the first of the documents arrived, dealing with the NSA’s secret Prismprogramme, which gathers up information from the world’s leading technology companies.Greenwald flew to New York to talk to Guardian editors on 31 May; the next day, he and Poitras flew to Hong Kong. (I met the two for the first time in the New York office, accompanied them to Hong Kong and joined them in interviewing Snowden over the best part of a week, and writing articles based on the leaked documents and the interviews).Neither Greenwald nor Poitras even knew what Snowden looked like. “He had some elaborate scheme to meet,” Greenwald said. Snowden told him to go to a specific location on the third floor of the hotel and ask loudly for directions to a restaurant. Greenwald assumed Snowden was lurking in the background, listening in.They went to a room that, Greenwald recalled, contained a large fake alligator. Snowden made himself known. He had told Greenwald that “I would know it was him because he would be carrying a Rubik’s Cube”.
Both Greenwald and Poitras were shocked the first time they saw the 29-year-old. Greenwald said:
I had expected a 60-year-old grizzled veteran, someone in the higher echelons of the intelligence service. I thought: ‘This is going to be a wasted trip.’
After an hour of listening to Snowden, Greenwald changed his mind. “I completely believed him,” he said.
The interviews were conducted in Snowden’s room, which overlooked Kowloon Park. Snowden and the journalists, complete with camera equipment, crammed into the tiny space. He had been there for two weeks, having meals sent up. He did not have much with him: some clothes, a book, four computers, that Rubik’s Cube. He was becoming worried about the costs and especially the chance that his credit cards would be blocked.
Even though he was well-versed in surveillance techniques, he would not have been hard to find – having signed in under his own name, using his own credit cards.
The interviews, combined with the leaked documents, provided the Guardian with four scoops in quick succession, from the court ordershowing that the US government had forced the telecoms giant Verizon to hand over the phone records of millions of Americans, to the previously undisclosed programme, Prism.
The Prism story was also published independently by the Washington Post after Poitras, a freelance journalist, had earlier approached the investigative reporter Barton Gellman, who took the story to the paper. Once on the ground in Hong Kong, however, Poitras began working with the Guardian team.
On Sunday, the story shifted from the leaks to the leaker. Snowden had from the start decided against anonymity and Poitras filmed him being interviewed by Greenwald for a video that would announce his outing.
Snowden’s decision to go public has mystified many. Why come out? He had, he said, seen at first hand the impact on colleagues of leak inquiries involving anonymous sources and he did not want to put his colleagues through another ordeal.
So what are the options available to him now? In the interviews, he praised Hong Kong as a place with a strong tradition of free speech and a working judicial system, in spite of having been returned to Chinese sovereignty. But these courts, judging by examples of past extradition cases, tend to lean towards being helpful towards the US.
Snowden would likely argue he is not guilty of a crime and claim the charges are politically motivated.
He has been hailed as a hero by some and a criminal by others. He was denigrated in columns in the New York Times and Washington Post. The Post columnist Richard Cohen, though he has never met Snowden, wrote: “He is not paranoiac; he is merely narcissistic.” In the New York Times, David Brooks offered up psychological analysis, writing:
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.
On Sunday night, Snowden gave the last of what had been almost a week’s worth of interviews. It was his final night in that hotel room: the final night before his old life gave way to a new and uncertain one. He sat on his bed, arms folded, television news on without the sound, and spoke about the debate he had started, homing in on a comment Obama had made on Friday, in response to the leaks.
“You can’t have 100% security and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” the president said. Society had to make choices, he added.
Snowden challenged this, saying the problem was that the Obama administration had denied society the chance to have that discussion. He disputed that there had to be a trade-off between security and privacy, describing the very idea of a trade-off as a fundamental assault on the US constitution.
In what were to be the last words of the interview, he quoted Benjamin Franklin: “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Snowden recited it slowly. For him, it had a special resonance.
He has gone underground for now. But this saga is far from over.
US leaker Edward Snowden ‘defending liberty’
10 June 2013 Last updated at 17:45 GMT
An ex-CIA employee has said he acted to “protect basic liberties for people around the world” in leaking details of US phone and internet surveillance.
Edward Snowden, 29, was revealed as the source of the leaks at his own request by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Mr Snowden, who says he has fled to Hong Kong, said he had an “obligation to help free people from oppression”.
It emerged last week that US agencies were gathering millions of phone records and monitoring internet data.
A spokesman for the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the case had been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.
‘You will never be safe’
The revelations have caused transatlantic political fallout, amid allegations that the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, used the US system to snoop on British citizens.
Foreign Secretary William Hague cancelled a trip to Washington to address the UK parliament on Monday and deny the claims.
The Guardian quotes Mr Snowden as saying he flew to stay in a hotel in Hong Kong on 20 May, though his exact whereabouts now are unclear.
He is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a defence contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Mr Snowden told the Guardian: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.
“If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
“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.”
He told the paper that the extent of US surveillance was “horrifying”, adding: “We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Mr Snowden said he did not believe he had committed a crime: “We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me.”
Mr Snowden said he accepted he could end up in jail and fears for people who know him.
He said he had gone to Hong Kong because of its “strong tradition of free speech”.
Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty with the US shortly before the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
However, Beijing can block any extradition if it believes it affects national defence or foreign policy issues.
A standard visa on arrival in Hong Kong for a US citizen lasts for 90 days and Mr Snowden expressed an interest in seeking asylum in Iceland.
However, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post quoted Iceland’s ambassador to China as saying that “according to Icelandic law a person can only submit such an application once he/she is in Iceland”.
In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.
“If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the statement said.
At a daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he could not comment on the Snowden case, citing an ongoing investigation into the matter.
The first of the leaks came out on Wednesday night, when the Guardian reported a US secret court ordered phone company Verizon to hand over to the NSA millions of records on telephone call “metadata”.
The metadata include the numbers of both phones on a call, its duration, time, date and location (for mobiles, determined by which mobile signal towers relayed the call or text).
On Thursday, the Washington Post and Guardian said the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a programme known as Prism.
All the internet companies deny giving the US government access to their servers.
Prism is said to give the NSA and FBI access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US internet companies.
The data is used to track foreign nationals suspected of terrorism or spying. The NSA is also collecting the telephone records of American customers, but said it is not recording the content of their calls.
US director of national intelligence James Clapper’s office said information gathered under Prism was obtained with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (Fisa).
Prism was authorised under changes to US surveillance laws passed under President George W Bush, and renewed last year under Barack Obama.
Mr Obama has defended the surveillance programmes, assuring Americans that nobody was listening to their calls