Just weeks ago, Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant and current defense contractor, was at his job in the NSA office in Hawaii. Snowden copied the last sheets of documents, then told his supervisor he needed some time off from work in order to get treatment for seizures. He left Hawaii, and three weeks later he would reveal himself as the whistleblower behind one of the government's biggest leaks in history: their use of the highly-secretive and sophisticated surveillance program, PRISM.
PRISM, as previously reported, has been used by the government to collect data on Americans via cell phone records and private information accessed via Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other companies.
“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the President, if I had a personal e-mail," said the 29-year-old.
Snowden has been living in a hotel room in Hong Kong since May 20, on the run in a city he hopes will keep him safe from the repercussions that may await him in the United States, which he knows may be severe. As of now, he doesn't know where his future lies. Stay in Hong Kong? Not likely. Snowden says getting asylum in Iceland is at the top of his list, since Iceland is a country that has fought hard for Internet freedom.
"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," he said, adding that he isn't afraid of what may come by going public, just as long as it doesn't distract from the issue of the government abusing its power. "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."
"These things have to be decided by the public," he continued. "Not someone who is hired by the government."