Birthday: June 21, 1983
Age: 37 Years, 37 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Edward Joseph Snowden
Born Country: United States
Born in: Elizabeth City, North Carolina, U.S.
Famous as: Computer Professional, Former CIA Employee
Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males
father: Lonnie Snowden
mother: Elizabeth Snowden, Wendy Snowden
Partner: Lindsay Mills
U.S. State: North Carolina
education: Anne Arundel Community College, Arundel High School, Anne Arundel Community College, University of Liverpool
awards: Sam Adams Award
Fritz Bauer Prize
Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize
Right Livelihood Award
Stuttgart Peace Prize
The glass of reason
Who is Edward Snowden?
Edward Snowden is an American computer professional and former ‘National Security Agency’ (NSA) subcontractor, who blew the whistle about his employer’s ‘unethical’ activities. The reason he gave for leaking highly classified information from the ‘NSA’ was that the NSA’s ‘practices were disturbing.’ He also said that it was the right thing to do to show the world what the intelligence agency was up to. He revealed that ‘NSA’ was involved in some domestic surveillance practices, which he thought were infringement of privacy. He then spent several years collecting evidence. Snowden, worrying for his safety, fled to Hong Kong and met with a reporter from ‘The Guardian’ to get his findings printed. Upon publishing his findings, he shocked the world, especially the United States of America. Presently, Snowden is staying in Russia and stands strongly by his decision of getting the documents leaked. A documentary made on his life and works titled ‘Citizenfour’ won an ‘Oscar’ in 2015 and ace director Oliver Stone also made a film on his life titled ‘Snowden,’ where his role was played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Snowden remains a national hero in the eyes of many, while he is considered an outlaw by ‘NSA.’
Childhood & Early Life
Edward Snowden was born on June 21, 1983, in North Carolina, USA. His father was a coast guard officer and his mother, a chief deputy at the US district court in Maryland. His grandfather served the ‘FBI’ for some years. Snowden said that ever since he was a kid, he knew that he would serve the federal government like his family members.
His parents got separated when Snowden was a teenager, but he didn’t let that affect his academics and went on acquiring top ranks in school. His mind was sharp and his I.Q. was well over 140, placing him in an elite group of people who possess high level of intelligence. An illness forced him to remain absent from high school for many days. Despite his absence from school he went straight for a ‘GED’ test, which he cracked and went on to attend classes at ‘Anne Arundel Community College.’
Though he didn’t finish his undergraduate degree, he took classes online for a master’s degree at the ‘University of Liverpool.’ He was pretty much influenced by the Japanese and Chinese culture, which encouraged him to learn Japanese and Chinese along with Chinese martial arts. He adopted Buddhism as his religion at the age of 20.
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Edward Snowden landed a job at the ‘Central Intelligence Agency’ (CIA) as an IT professional in 2006. He was stationed with a diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland for maintaining computer-network security. He discovered the surveillance system which infiltrated the privacy of general public and started collecting documents. Snowden was fired following a suspicion of breaking into the top classified documents. He then went on to work with ‘Dell’ in one of NSA’s offices in Japan where he worked as a sub-contractor from 2009 until 2013.
During his time working for ‘Dell,’ he was assigned to an ‘NSA’ facility at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. In 2012, he was reassigned to the Hawaii regional operations center as the lead technologist.
After leaving ‘Dell,’ he went on to work for another tech consultant company called ‘Booz Allen Hamilton’ where he worked for three months. His interest in the top secret files of the ‘NSA’ grew while working at ‘Booz Allen’ and he devised ways to break into the top secret vaults of their system. He then found out the practices which he thought were immoral, unethical, and needed to be halted immediately. He went on to build a dossier of all the information he collected, which he thought was necessary to prove his point.
Once he was done with collecting the relevant documents he took a medical leave, stating that he suffered from epilepsy. He arranged for a meeting with a journalist from ‘The Guardian’ and then made contact with a documentary filmmaker named Laura Poitras. In June 2013, the information was officially presented to the whole world through ‘The Guardian’ where it stated that the Americans’ phones were getting tapped without their knowledge and some of them were being kept under surveillance.
The information was gathered through ‘PRISM,’ a program devised by the ‘NSA.’ The world was shaken and ‘NSA’ went bitter as Edward kept addressing the media from Hong Kong. He told that he wouldn’t allow this to happen and that the privacy of general public was being monitored every second of the day, infringing the basic rights of human beings to be free. The US government replied to the leaks almost immediately and charged Snowden with the accusations of ‘theft of government properties’ and ‘illegal communication of intelligence information to an unauthorized person’ under the espionage act.
His leaks paved the way to unearth crucial matters, such as the ‘Black Budget’ which exposed the work of the 16 spy agencies working under the US Intelligence and their handiwork in persuading private companies to reveal and provide access to their communication network.
Snowden moved out of Hong Kong and went to Russia, where he got stranded at the airport for close to a month due to issues with his passport. But the Russian government allowed him to stay in the country and rejected several of America’s requests to extradite him. Meanwhile, Americans considered him a national hero and came up with a petition to free Snowden of all the charges. However, several appeals of clemency made by Snowden were rejected by the American government.
Snowden continued living in Russia while Barack Obama asked the intelligence agencies to look into the matter and reconsider their security protocols. In October 2013, Snowden claimed that he didn’t have the ‘NSA’ documents with him anymore and that he had given it all to the journalists in Hong Kong, fearing Russians might use them for their benefit.
He stayed in Russia for an indefinite period of exile, but he remains a controversial figure in America. He made a much-awaited appearance at the Southwest festival through teleconferencing in March 2014 and it was revealed that the US government has lost billions of dollars owing to the leaks. In May, Snowden cleared the air and said that he was a patriot and the welfare of his country’s people is on his priority list and that he would want to return to his homeland.
Several human right groups asked the US government to pardon Snowden and he himself apologized to President Obama several times, hoping that he would be allowed to enter his country.
In 2014, ‘Citizenfour,’ a documentary film on the life of Snowden, made by Poitras, came out and received huge critical acclaim, eventually winning an ‘Oscar.’ Several other films and documentaries followed and Snowden ended up achieving a celebrity status in the USA and around the world. He has constantly denied allegations of being a traitor to his country. He believes that what he did was needed as the general public had to be told how the government was keeping a watch all the time.
He made another revelation in November 2018, when he produced a court declaration in the ‘Jewel vs NSA’ case where the ‘Electronic Frontier Foundation’ (EFF) had accused ‘NSA’ and other high-ranking officials of ‘illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance’ under the George W. Bush administration.
Snowden met Lindsay Mills back in America and the two started dating. He broke up with her right before leaking the highly classified information, citing her safety to be the main concern. However, when he went to live in Russia, Lindsay joined him there and the couple has been together ever since. In 2015, Mills showed herself at the ‘Oscar’ award ceremony where Poitras accepted the award for ‘Citizenfour.’
Edward Snowden’s net worth is close to USD 8.6 million.
Snowden refrained from leaking the confidential documents in 2008, believing that the newly elected President Barack Obama will make the necessary changes.
In 2013, he was named The Guardian’s person of the year, garnering four times the number of votes as any other candidate.