The whistleblower who leaked details of the NSA's secret surveillance programs has revealed himself as 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant with the CIA who has been working at the NSA for four years for a number of outside contractors. Snowden asked the Guardian to unveil his identity ("I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he says) and the paper has obliged with a lengthy account of the story behind the story. Amongst other revelations:
- Snowden joined the US Army in 2003 and was training for the Special Forces and preparing for Iraq, but quickly became disillusioned. "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone," he says. He was discharged after breaking both his legs during training.
- He first began questioning US government actions while working for the CIA in Geneva, where he claims he witnessed operatives recruit a Swiss banker by getting him drunk, arresting him for drunk driving, then offering to help.
- Snowden says he became "hardened" when he began working at the NSA in 2009 and "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in."
- He decided to act because he believes the NSA is "intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them" and poses "an existential threat to democracy."
- Snowden gave up a happy life in Hawaii with his girlfriend and a $200,000 salary to leak the info to the paper. He took time off work three weeks ago and fled to Hong Kong, where he is still living.
- He believes the government will claim he has "broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies" and will come after him.
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