The man behind last week's bombshell NSA leak never intended to remain anonymous, and has now allowed The Guardian to publish his identity.
Edward Snowden, 29, is a former CIA technical assistant who came forward recently with the information that the National Security Agency collects phone record data from millions of Verizon customers.
“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” said Snowden in an interview with The Guardian. Snowden understands the repercussions of disclosing the top-secret government details, but opted not to hide behind anonymity anyway.
According to The Guardian, Snowden felt uncomfortable knowing the U.S. government was not disclosing information to the public regarding its data mining programs, and felt that the public deserved more transparency.
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"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," Snowden told The Guardian. "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.”
Snowden currently works for Booz Allen Hamilton, a technology consulting firm, and lived in Hawaii with his girlfriend before disclosing the documents to The Guardian. Afterwards, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, where he sat with Glenn Greenwald, a journalist from The Guardian, for an interview. During the interview, Snowden said he is willing to give up his old life in order to work towards making the government more transparent.
“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,” he said.
Snowden, like many whistleblowers, may be persecuted under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration for disclosing top-secret information.