Fox News on June 10, 2013, reported that the reported source of the bombshell leaks about the U.S. government gathering information on billions of phone calls and Internet activities risks decades in jail for the disclosures. This if the U.S. can extradite him from Hong Kong, where he says he has taken refuge after saying his sole motive was to “inform the public.” Edward Snowden, 29, who claims to have worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency and the CIA, allowed The Guardian and The Washington Post to reveal his identity. Excerpts below:
Snowden said he was a former technical assistant for the CIA and a current employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, which released a statement confirming he had been a contractor with them in Hawaii for less than three months. Company officials have promised to work with investigators.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided to the newspaper, Snowden wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions…
Snowden told the Post he was not going to hide.
Snowden is now staying in Hong Kong and seeking asylum outside the United States, possibly in Iceland, The Guardian reports.
If the reports are accurate, Snowden could face many years in prison for releasing classified information if he is successfully extradited from Hong Kong or elsewhere.
The NSA said: “Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law.”
“The Department of Justice is in the initial stages of an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by an individual with authorized access,” Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement.
New York Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said: “If Edward Snowden did in fact leak the NSA data as he claims, the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date. The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”
Washington officials have acknowledged all branches of the federal government — Congress, the White House and federal courts — knew about the collection of data under the Patriot Act.
Fox News confirmed the Obama administration took the first steps on June 9 in a criminal investigation when officials filed a “crimes report.”
National Intelligence Director James Clapper has decried the leaks as reckless. And in the past days he has taken the rare step of declassifying some details about them to respond to media reports about counterterrorism techniques employed by the government.
“Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a ‘playbook’ of how to avoid detection,” Clapper said Saturday.
PRISM allows the federal government to tap directly into the servers of major U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL…
President Obama, Clapper and others also have said the programs are subject to strict supervision of a secret court.
The president acknowledged the U.S. government is collecting reams of phone records, including phone numbers and the duration of calls, but said this does not include listening to calls or gathering the names of callers.
“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”
The Guardian reported that Snowden was working in an NSA office in Hawaii when he copied the last of the documents he planned to disclose and told supervisors that he needed to be away for a few weeks to receive treatment for epilepsy.
Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States that took force in 1998, according to the U.S. State Department website.
“The government could subject him to a 10- or 20-year penalty for each count,” with each document leaked considered a separate charge, Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer who represents whistle-blowers told the Associated Press.