Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee, has outed himself as the person responsible for leaking the NSA’s surveillance tactics to the American public, the Guardian said Sunday.
The current employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton told the paper "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong.”
"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,” he wrote in a note accompanying the first round of documents he handed over.
Snowden says he is willing to sacrifice his cushy lifestyle, which includes a residence in Hawaii and a $200,000 salary, 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 he is currently in Hong Kong for safety purposes and because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent." He said he hopes he can end up in Iceland on the basis of asylum.
Snowden told the paper he became turned onto his country’s surveillance efforts while working in IT security for the CIA in Geneva, Switzerland. He recalls an incident that had his colleagues getting a banker drunk in order to obtain private banking information. In 2009, he left the CIA for a private contractor that worked with the NSA. There, he said he “got hardened” as he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in."