A 29-year-old man who said he is behind the leaks exposing NSA surveillance on American citizens revealed his identity Sunday in an interview with The Guardian.
Edward Snowden, a former CIA communications expert and current defense contractor living in Hawaii, said that he released the documents to alert the American public about what is being done in their name.
“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,” Snowden said to The Guardian.
Snowden told his superiors at Booz Allen and Dell, a firm where he earned $200,000 a year working on a contract with the NSA, that he was seeking treatment for his epilepsy and would need some time off. He then left on a plane bound for Hong Kong.
Snowden set up a meeting with Guardian reporters in his hide out after releasing documents last week on the NSA collecting telephone information from Verizon Wireless customers, and the PRISM program, which allows the government to tap into the servers of major internet companies in the U.S. and UK.