Edward Snowden – a former employee of America’s Central Intelligence Agency and currently employed by the country’s National Security Agency – faces criminal charges for reportedly leaking details of a top-secret US surveillance programme which, according to him and his supporters, threatens “the basic liberties for people around the world.”
The programme, code-named Prism, is designed and built by the NSA and allows the agency to “intercept almost everything” according to Snowden who was video-interviewed from a Hong Kong hotel by The Guardian newspaper.
The 29 year-old NSA contractor’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Snowden was last known to be at a Hong Kong hotel where he admitted to The Guardian that he had “no intention of hiding [his identity]” claiming “I know I have done nothing wrong”. But since the former CIA employee checked out on Monday, his exact location has been unclear. However, officials doubt that he has left the city.
“I am not here (Hong Kong) to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” he told the Washington Post newspaper on Wednesday morning.
During his interview with the Guardian, Snowden claimed that he decided to leak the information following his loss of admiration for President Barack Obama who is continuing with the ill policies of his predecessor George W Bush.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sorts of things,” confessed Snowden, “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do or say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support of live under.”
Although many of Edward Snowden’s supporters have labelled him a hero, the American government would strongly disagree. American senator Bill Nelson has referred to Snowden’s actions as “an act of treason.” Stating that he “ought to be prosecuted under law,” and added that “we [the American government] cannot have national security if our secrets cannot be kept.”
During his interview with the Guardian, Snowden revealed the unnerving capabilities of the Prism programme. Last week, both the Guardian and Washington post reported that American security services often view phone call data and internet interactions using large companies such as Verizon, Google and Facebook.
Similarly. “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 [would] have to do is use the intercepts,” he reported, “[One could] get your emails, passwords, phone records and credit cards.”
The revealment of secret programmes has ignited debates within the United States and abroad over the large reach of the National Security Agency’s reach.