OVERVIEW FROM WIKIPEDIA:
Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American and naturalized Russian former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013, when he was an employee and subcontractor. His disclosuresrevealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyesintelligence alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments and prompted a cultural discussion about national security and individual privacy.
In 2013, Snowden was hired by an NSA contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, after previous employment with Dell and the CIA. Snowden says he gradually became disillusioned with the programs with which he was involved, and that he tried to raise his ethical concerns through internal channels but was ignored. On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii, and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, and Ewen MacAskill. Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian, The Washington Post, and other publications. Snowden also made extensive allegations against the GCSB, blowing the whistle of their domestic surveillance of New Zealanders and acts of espionage under John Key's government.
On June 21, 2013, the United States Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property,following which the Department of State revoked his passport. Two days later, he flew into Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Russian authorities observed the canceled passport, and he was restricted to the airport terminal for over one month. Russia later granted Snowden the right of asylum with an initial visa for residence for one year, which was subsequently repeatedly extended. In October 2020, he was granted permanent residency in Russia. In September 2022, Snowden was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, and on 2 December 2022 he swore the oath of allegiance.
A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a traitor, a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a coward, and a patriot. U.S. officials condemned his actions as having done "grave damage" to the U.S. intelligence capabilities. Snowden has defended his leaks as an effort "to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them." His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy, something that he has said he intended to do in retrospective interviews.
In early 2016, Snowden became the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco–based nonprofit organization that aims to protect journalists from hacking and government surveillance. He also has a job at an unnamed Russian IT company. In 2017, he married Lindsay Mills. "I have to lay my head down in Moscow on a pillow at night," he told an Israeli audience in November 2018, "but I live on the internet and every other city in the world." On September 17, 2019, his memoir Permanent Record was published. On September 2, 2020, a U.S. federal court ruled in United States v. Moalin that the U.S. intelligence's mass surveillance program exposed by Snowden was illegal and possibly unconstitutional.