The whistleblower responsible for providing The Guardian with top-secret documents uncovering the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs revealed his identity on Sunday. The Guardian wrote that it was publishing Edward Snowden's identity at his request:
From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. 'I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,' he said.
The Guardian compared Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant and current employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, to Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations – the NSA," Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras wrote.
Snowden, however, said there were differences. "I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he told The Guardian. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
Snowden's identity revelation followed Greenwald's appearance on ABC News' "This Week," where he told host George Stephanopoulos that the public should expect more revelations from him. Greenwald is the journalist responsible for breaking the bombshell story about the NSA secretly collecting phone data from millions of Verizon customers. Greenwald then raced the Washington Post to break the story about Prism, a program that allows the NSA to collect data from some of the country's largest Internet companies (including AOL, HuffPost's parent company).
After turning over the documents to The Guardian, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, where he sat for an interview with Greenwald and watched Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Snowden lived in Hawaii with his girlfriend, but told the UK paper that he was willing to give all of that up. He said:
I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building.
Click over to The Guardian to watch an interview with Snowden.