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Guardian reveals identity of whistle-blower behind NSA leak

The 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA tells The Guardian he expects to suffer for his actions.

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden. Screengrab via The Guardian

The person who revealed the National Security Agency's Internet surveillance program is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA named Edward Snowden, according to an interview published by The Guardian.

"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he told the newspaper, which said it was publishing Snowden's identity at his request.

"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," he said in an interview from Hong Kong. But, he added, "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."

The Guardian said Snowden, who has been working at the NSA for the past four years as a contractor employee, leaked documents to the newspaper revealing the agency's classified surveillance program called PRISM. According to recent reports in The Washington Post and The Guardian, the program grants "intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers" and that "from inside a company's data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes."

However, despite reports that Apple, Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies had provided the NSA with direct access to their systems, that turned out not to be the case, according to a report late Friday by CNET's Declan McCullagh. The reports appear to be the result of misreading of a leaked Powerpoint document, a former government official said.

Snowden was raised in North Carolina and later moved to Maryland, near NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, according to The Guardian. He joined the Army in 2003 and began training for the Special Forces. His first job at the NSA was as a security guard before transitioning to an IT security position at the CIA, where he displayed a talent for programming, the newspaper said.

After being stationed in Geneva in 2007, Snowden's exposure to CIA officers for three years led to disillusionment about how the U.S. government operates, the newspaper reported.

Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Sunday afternoon that Snowden had been an employee, working for less than three months with its Hawaii team. In a statement, the company said:

News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. PT Added Booz Allen Hamilton's statement.