Mr. Snowden is revealed to be the anonymous NSA contractor behind the document leaks to the press. In a video interview first published on The Guardian’s website, Snowden said he thought the public had a right to know more about secret government surveillance programs. At the time he revealed himself, Snowden was in Hong Kong, but later fled to Moscow on June 23. He lived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for several weeks before he was granted asylum in Russia on Aug. 1.
Why is this important? Not only did Edward Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Russia put a strain on both Sino-US, and Russian-US relations, the idea that a relatively low-ranking employee could wreak such havoc on the US security apparatus greatly alarmed US officials.