According to The Guardian, the individual responsible for probably the most significant leak in US history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and who currently works for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
The wistleblower has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
Which is more, after he decided to make public various top-secret documents, the man didn’t even try to keep his identity in secret, saying: “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong.”
When he unveiled the first series of secret documents, he wrote: “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.”
Despite his determination to reveal his identity, he insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
Showden does not fear the consequences of going public. The only thing he is really afraid of is that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”
He went on, adding: “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.”
“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a long-time fiance, a stable career, and a family he loves.
“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.”
The now-famous whistleblower is deeply concerned about being spied on. He is hiding in hotels, blocking the doors and checks whether he is being spied via his computer.
While that may sound like paranoia, Snowden has good reason for such fears: he worked in the US intelligence for almost a decade.
And he realizes that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in country, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.
He predicts the government will launch an investigation and “say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become”.
“The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said, with eyes full of tears.