Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked top-secret U.S. surveillance programs to The Guardian last week, has dropped out of sight in Hong Kong.
Snowden worked for Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) in Hawaii, up until two weeks ago when he took a leave of absence.
Snowden gave up his $200K a year job to blow the lid on the NSA surveillance.
Apparently, Snowden checked out of his Hong Kong hotel after giving a video interview (below) to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, who is the same reporter who broke the NSA scandal last week.
The Hong Kong hotel staff told Reuters that Snowden had checked out at noon on Monday.
“He didn’t have a plan. He thought out in great detail leaking the documents and then deciding rather than being anonymous, he’d go public. So he thought that out in great detail. But his plans after that have always been vague,” said Ewen MacAskill, of The Guardian.
“I’d imagine there’s now going to be a real battle between Washington and Beijing and civil rights groups as to his future. He’d like to seek asylum in a friendly country but I’m not sure if that’s possible or not.”
Snowden may be welcome to seek asylum in Iceland, according to Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir and Smari McCarthy, who is the executive director of the International Modern Media Institute, which is dedicated to protecting whistleblowers.
Jonsdottir and McCarthy released a statement on the website of the International Modern Media Institute:
Over the last few days we at the International Modern Media Institute have watched alongside the rest of the world as the US government’s enormous encroachments on privacy and information security have been exposed in the media. These exposures have verified our greatest fears about the state of global intelligence gathering, and yet again highlighted the need for strong privacy protections and government transparency.
Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability.
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 … and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjansdottir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.