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The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

He's a high school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor and identify himself as the source of leaks about US surveillance programmes - PRISM. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations the NSA.

Verax was the name he chose for himself, "truth teller" in Latin. In an interview with The Guardian, Snowden publicly 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.

Before his leak of U.S. intelligence, Snowden was living in paradise, working for a major U.S. government contractor in Hawaii, earning a $200,000 salary and enjoying the scenic state with his girlfriend.
He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, "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."

Edward Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years and PRISM Presentation file, that was disclosed on internet few days back was created by him three weeks ago at the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.

Snowden demanded all 41 pages of PRISM document be published, but neither Washington Post nor The Guardian had the courage to publish it.

He got his first NSA job working as a security guard at one of the agency's facilities at the University of Maryland before moving to the CIA to work on IT security.
He said, "Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector. Anywhere. I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email."

He added: "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 Prism system gives officials easy access to data held by nine of the world's top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype.

"The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight." he said

Snowden can expect to be targeted by the full force of the United States government. A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged the existence of PRISM in a statement Saturday. President Barack Obama insists his administration is not spying on U.S. citizens, rather, it's only looking for information on terrorists.
Snowden spoke to The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers from a hotel room in Hong Kong where he is on the run after making one of the most significant leaks in US history. As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend too that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. "That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world."
He said that he would ask for asylum from countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimisation of global privacy, but the law appears to provide for his extradition from Hong Kong, a semi autonomous territory of China, to the United States.

The worst part about the NSA's surveillance is not its massive reach. It's that it operates entirely in secret, so that we have no way of assessing the sophistication of its operation. Snowden's leak is thus doubly damaging. The scandal isn't just that the government is spying on us. It's also that it's giving guys like Snowden keys to the spying program.

A half-dozen former intelligence officials, including one who now works at Booz Allen Hamilton, said they did not know Snowden or anything about his background. The NSA is hunting him down, having visited his home in Hawaii twice and already contacted his girlfriend.
So far, the online petition to "Pardon Edward Snowden" has pulled in over 8,374 signatures. On social media, He is about as close to a modern superhero. "Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,"

Snowden didn't sell the secrets or give them to a foreign power, so he won't be subject to the huge penalties of the espionage laws, But for all the harm that government officials have warned of, legal experts expect that the charges he'd face would carry maximum penalties of 10 years apiece.

UPDATE: Whistleblower Edward Snowden claims, NSA has been hacking China since 2009

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