Edward Snowden revealed himself as the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. political history in the online editions of the Guardian and Washington Post yesterday. He also stated that he intends to seek political asylum in Iceland.
The 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA, who is currently employed at defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, used to work for the National Security Agency (NSA) as an employee of outside contractors, and is responsible for leaking material from the NSA, one of the world’s most secretive organizations.
In a note accompanying his first leak, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but, “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.”
Snowden maintains in an interview with the Guardian that he has done nothing wrong. “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
He explained that he prefers Iceland for an asylum because of the country’s reputation of a champion of internet freedom. However, he realizes that his wish may not be fulfilled.
Snowden is currently based in Hong Kong.
Iceland’s Ambassador in China Kristín Árnadóttir explained in an email statement to the South China Morning Post that according to Icelandic law, a person can only submit such an application once he/she is in Iceland.
Icelandic MP for the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who also chairs the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI), told national broadcaster RÚV that many things concerning Snowden’s case remain unclear.
The IMMI intends to assist Snowden, Birgitta added, however, they must first speak with him. They are currently looking into Snowden’s legal position, including what extradition treaty is in effect between Hong Kong and the U.S.