Edward Snowden is an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and former contractor for the United States government who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 without prior authorization.
His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.
Let’s find out some unknown facts about him!
1. Edward Joseph Snowden was born June 21, 1983 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
2. His maternal grandfather, Edward J. Barrett, was a rear admiral in the United States Coast Guard who became a senior official with the FBI and was at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, when it was struck by an airliner hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.
3. Snowden’s father, Lonnie Snowden, was also an officer in the Coast Guard, and his mother, Elizabeth B. Snowden, is chief deputy at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
4. His older sister, Jessica, was a lawyer at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington D.C. Snowden said that “in one way or another”, his entire family has been employed by the federal government, and that he “expected to pursue the same path”.
5. His parents divorced in 2001,and his father remarried.
6. Friends and neighbors described Snowden as quiet and nice, generally congenial.
7. One longtime friend said that he was always articulate, even as a child.
8. His father said he was not surprised when his son scored above 145 on two separate IQ tests, but Snowden’s father was more after Edward’s well-being than anything else.
9. Snowden’s father described Edward as “the smartest one in the family”, “a deep thinker” and “a sensitive, caring young man.”
10. In the early 1990s, while still in grade school, Snowden moved with his family to the area of Fort Meade, Maryland.
11. Mononucleosis caused him to miss high school for almost nine months.
12. Rather than returning to school, he passed the GED test and took classes at Anne Arundel Community College.
13. Although Snowden had no undergraduate college degree, he worked online toward a master’s degree at the University of Liverpool, England, in 2011.
14. Snowden was reportedly interested in Japanese popular culture, had studied the Japanese language, and worked for an anime company that had a resident office in the U.S.
15. He also said he had a basic understanding of Mandarin Chinese and was deeply interested in martial arts.
16. At age 20, he listed Buddhism as his religion on a military recruitment form, noting that the choice of Agnostic was “strangely absent.”
17. Snowden has said that in the 2008 presidential election, he voted for a third-party candidate.
18. He trained for 6 days in core Java programming and advanced ethical hacking, during his visit to India on official business at the U.S. embassy.
19. Snowden is known with various names – a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot, and a traitor.
20. He was enlisted in the U. S. Army Reserve as a Special Forces candidate on May 7, 2004. He was enlisted through the 18X enlistment option.
21. However, he was discharged from the Army Reserve on September 28, 2004, without completing any training, after breaking both his legs.
22. Two years after leaving Anne Arundel Community College, he joined as a security guard with National Security Guard.
23. He attended a job fair focused on intelligence agencies in the year 2006, in which he was offered a position at Central Intelligence Agency.
24. He was initially assigned to the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
25. He was later stationed in Geneva by the CIA, but left the job to work for private contractors including Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton in the year 2009.
26. While working with Dell, he was transferred to Tokyo, Japan and later to Hawaii as a subcontractor in an NSA office.
27. In his four years with Dell, he rose from supervising NSA computer system upgrades and a “cyberstrategist” and an “expert in cyber counterintelligence.”
28. He was reassigned to Hawaii, as lead technologist for the NSA’s information-sharing office in March 2012.
29. He left Dell and joined Booz Allen, another subcontractor, where he worked only for three months, before blowing the whistle.
30. In May 2013, Snowden took the decision that changed his life forever and flew to Hong Kong with large store of documents containing vast information on NSA’s domestic surveillance practices.
31. He was named as the top global thinker by Foreign Policy Magazine in the year 2013.
32. He was voted as Person of the Year 2013, by The Guardian, with four times the number of votes than any other candidate.
33. He topped the list “Ten Tech Heroes” of 2013 at TechRepublic. Editor Jack Wallen wrote “Prior to this leak, the public was unaware of the depth of surveillance and the true nature of government secrecy. His disclosures have also had major implications for those in the technology field.
34. He was awarded the biennial German “whistleblower prize,” along with an accompanying award equal to 3,000 euro in August 2013
38. The Washington Post reports that “according to campaign finance reports, Snowden made a $250 donation to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign in March of that year. Paul has been a critic of excessive government intrusion.”
39. Snowden has given several days of interviews to The Guardian alone, filming and recording interviews with several other outlets. He wrote a letter that accompanied the leaked documents which said “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” 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.”
40. He is justifiably a scared, paranoid man. “He is deeply worried about being spied on,” The Guardian writes. “He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping.
41. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
42. He was living with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills, whom he left behind when he took the flight to Hong Kong. The duo has been living together in Hawaii. However, Mills had no idea that he was about to disclose classified information to the public.
43. In January 2013, he contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, reportedly after seeing her New York Times documentary about NSA whistleblower William Binney.
44. Snowden’s disclosures created great tension by October 2013, between the U. S. and some close allies that the NSA had spied on including Brazil, France, Britain, Germany, Mexico and Spain.
45. Following this, he applied for political asylum to 21 countries including France, Poland, Brazil, Germany, Finland, India, Austria, Ecuador, Norway, Netherlands and Spain.
46. He was granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year, after a period of 39 days in transit section.
47. On August 7, 2014, his Russian lawyer announced that Snowden had received a three-year residency permit. This was exactly six days after his one-year temporary asylum expired.
48. In February 2014, he joined the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founded by Daniel Ellsberg, in which journalists Greenwald and Poitras also sit on the board.
49. On October 29, 2015, the European Parliament voted 285 to 281 for a non-binding resolution for EU states to drop criminal charges against Snowden and prevent his extradition by third parties.