Leaker of NSA program: ‘I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy’
A British newspaper Sunday revealed the source of the leak revealing the NSA’s extensive surveillance of US communications.
Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant who now works for a defense contractor with ties to the National Security Agency, asked the Guardian newspaper to reveal his identity.
“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he told the newspaper in a remarkable, rambling interview that touched on his reasons for the leak, how he took precautions in not revealing documents that could harm particular people, how he became disillusioned, and how he expects his life as he knows it to end. “I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
“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 Guardian first disclosed that the NSA has been collecting cellphone metadata — time of calls, their length, their destination, but not the contents of the conversation — for many business calls within the United States and from the United States to foreign countries. Since the disclosure, President Obama and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have acknowledged the program, saying it is an essential tool for revealing possible patterns that could lead to discovering terrorism plots. They said the program was overseen by a secret spy court.
“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” said Snowden, who added that he has been holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong and hopes to receive asylum, possibly from Iceland.