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Edward Snowden: NSA leaker reveals himself, expects retribution

The Guardian newspaper Sunday revealed the principal source for its reports on NSA telephone and Internet intelligence gathering. Edward Snowden is a hero to some, while others see him as a highly damaging leaker of important secrets that could harm US national security.

By Staff writer / June 9, 2013

US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong Sunday. The 29-year-old NSA contractor revealed top-secret US surveillance programs.

Ewen MacAskill/The Guardian/REUTERS

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The most famous – and possibly the most influential – leaker of classified information in recent times has been revealed: Edward Joseph Snowden, a 29-year-old systems administrator working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

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The Guardian newspaper, a British publication, revealed Mr. Snowden’s identity Sunday in an article and a 12-minute videotaped interview recorded in Hong Kong.

The newspaper reported: “The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity.”

"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," Snowden says in the interview.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistle-blowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers and WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," the Guardian reported, 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."

Key takeaways from the interview as listed by Business Insider:

• "The NSA and the intelligence community in general is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by any means possible. It believes on the grounds of self-certification that they serve the national interest."

• "Any analyst at any time can target anyone ... I sitting at my desk certainly have the authority to wiretap anyone – from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the president." 

• "This is something that is not our place to decide. The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong, and I'm willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them."

• "Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded ... you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody – even by a wrong call – and then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made."

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