WASHINGTON, D.C. (Chicago Tribune) — An ex-CIA worker employed as a contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency said he leaked documents and details of a top secret U.S. surveillance program in order to protect the “basic liberties for people around the world.”
Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicizing details of an NSA program code-named PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt the United States was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.
His whereabouts were not immediately known today. Staff at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong told Reuters that Snowden had checked out.
The White House will not discuss the investigation into leaks of details of a top secret U.S. surveillance program nor Snowden, spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.
Carney also said he did not expect the debate over the surveillance program to overshadow President Barack Obama’s trip to Europe next week to the G8 summit and to Berlin.
Snowden, a former technical assistant at the CIA, said he had been working at the super-secret NSA as an employee of contractor Booz Allen. He said he decided to leak information after becoming disenchanted with President Barack Obama, who he said had continued the policies of predecessor George W. Bush.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,” he told the Guardian newspaper, which published a video interview with him on its website. The interview was dated June 6.
Both the Guardian and the Washington Post said last week that U.S. security services had monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook
James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said Saturday that the Justice Department had launched an investigation of what he called “reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe.
“For me, it is literally — not figuratively — literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave danger it does to our intelligence capabilities,” Clapper said in an interview with NBC.
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