EDWARD SNOWDEN: What we Know and His Road Ahead

By March 24, 2014NSA


Edward Joseph Snowden is an American citizen born in the year 1983 who was known to be a computer specialist in the United States.  He was employed initially, by the Central Intelligence Agency and later, even by the National Security Agency in the United States. On the 5th of June 2013, Snowden marked an important day in the history of information warfare as he leaked classified files to the journalists of the Guardian and the Washington Post. These leaks have been termed as the ‘biggest in the history of espionage so far’ and the story is still ongoing. Snowden has been branded as a traitor and is charged for espionage by the government but to some he remains as a savior, as a good informer and some even honor him for exposing the violations of privacy that the common man had to face at the hands of the intelligence agencies. The main agencies named by Snowden include the NSA and the Five Eyes governments of the countries of Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand that were working in conjunction with the top notch government and business tycoons of the European corridor.


The first instance of the leaks breaking out into the mainstream was reported by a journalist named Glenn Greenwald in the June 6th, 2013 edition of The Guardian. These reports were the first that were leaked out by Snowden after he fled the country by going off the grid and was seen escaping from the United States to Hong Kong from where he regularly interacted with Greenwald. These informative reports made big headlines as they revealed the massive amount of data being collected by the British intelligence agencies from the accounts of the telecom service provider Verizon. It is believed that Snowden gave Glenn access to more than 58,000 documents during their interaction. There were many headline grabbers that the Guardian printed and finally the news channel Al Jazeera happened to convert all these into what they liked to call the ‘Snowden timeline’. It is estimated that more than a hundred different newspapers had different leaks of the documents provided by Snowden.

Edward Snowden had followed the previous examples of government security leaks which can be traced as far back as the year 1971. Back then, information leaks were passed in different number of copies to printing presses all over the world to ensure that no government could effectively stop the printing of such documents owing to the large geographical area involved. In this case as well, it is believed that Snowden had in his possession more than 1.7 million documents that were taken by him before he left the NSA. As a matter of fact, certain American officials have also acknowledged that they will never know for sure how much information Snowden managed to sneak out from their archives.


There have been mixed reactions all over the world with the revelations that were made by Snowden and are waiting to still be disclosed. There is a large segment of the common people that are calling him the hero or their savior because of the fact that he managed to bring out to the masses the real meaning of the hoax that they believed to be their privacy. Secondly, the political setup in the Great Britain is annoyed with the fact that they have been shown as being under surveillance of the government agencies over an extended period of time. Thirdly, as far as the Judiciary is concerned, they have two stands. First is the stand on Snowden himself.

As of today, Snowden has been declared as a traitor in his own country, charged with espionage and has had his passport revoked. He also has an arrest warrant in his name for violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. Secondly, these leaks have forced the Judiciary to ask whether what the NSA was doing was legal in the first place. As per a ruling passed by a federal court in Columbia, the judge has ruled that NSA’s collection of domestic phone-call data of the consumers in bulk amounts as per Section 215 is likely unconstitutional.


edwardsnowden2When Snowden signed up with the NSA, he signed a declaration to be bound under the National Secrets Act. After clear violations of said article, he fled to Hong Kong and finally landed up in Russia for an onward flight to Ecuador. No one knows for certain why he didn’t board that flight the next day, but he was granted political asylum in Russia for one year by President Putin under the condition that he would not indulge in activities that would harm the United States while in Russia. It is anyone’s guess as to the amount of damage he has already caused by leaking more than 200,000 documents to journalists.

The leaking of information regarding the inner workings of intelligence agencies has shaken the very foundation of secrecy that such agencies operate upon. Furthermore, the amount of embarrassment that has been caused to the political leadership with Obama’s government in particular is beyond imagination. Snowden may have supporters in the hacker community and small agencies, but it has been claimed by Russian authorities that they have not received any information from Snowden in regards to granting him asylum. It is clear that diplomatic pressures will force Russia to give in and extradite Snowden to the United States sooner than later and he will still find governance that can grant him permanent asylum. Though the story of Edward Snowden has begun to grow stale, there will still be much more news in terms of bold headlines in the months to come.

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