Edward Snowden (爱德华·斯诺登) was an American former technical contractor and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), before leaking details of classified NSA mass surveillance programs PRISM to the press. Snowden said his disclosure of PRISM related to NSA data capture efforts was an effort "to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."
Edward Snowden grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. His father was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and his mother a clerk at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He has one older sister, who is an attorney.
Before leaving for Hong Kong, Snowden resided in Oahu, Hawaii, with his girlfriend, a former pole dancer who now works for an acrobatic troupe.
It's not believed that his girlfriend has had any part in or knowledge of his plans to leak the NSA details, but the agency still paid her a visit in light of his disappearance.
During an online Q&A with The Guardian newspaper on June 17, 2013, Snowden said he would like for everyone to stop talking about his girlfriend and concentrate on the "largest program of suspicion-less surveillance in human history."
That same day, in an interview with Fox News, Snowden's father urged him to return home and not to leak any more information.
By 1999, Snowden had moved to Maryland with his family, where he studied computing at a community college. He failed to complete the coursework.
He later obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, a test which proves the taker has the required American or Canadian high school-level educational skills.
In 2011, he worked towards an online master's degree in computing security from the University of Liverpool.
Snowden reportedly also studied the Japanese language and has a basic understanding of Mandarin. He has previously listed Buddhism as his religion.
On May 7, 2004, Snowden enlisted in the U.S. Army, but was discharged four months later because he broke both of his legs in a training accident.
He subsequently served as a NSA security guard at the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland before joining the CIA to work in IT security.
In August 2006, Snowden referred to himself on an online forum as a "computer wizard." Three months later, he wrote on that same forum that he might get a job in government service, perhaps involving China, but said it didn't seem like it would as much "fun as some of the other places."
In 2007, Snowden was working for the CIA under diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for maintaining computer network security.
In 2009, Snowden left the CIA for a private contractor inside an NSA facility on a Japanese U.S. military base.
Before leaving the U.S. in May 2013, he had been working as a system administrator for less than three months for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, inside the NSA in Hawaii.
On Aug. 6, Snowden had been officially registered as resident in Russia. He had not found a job so far, Interfax quoted Anatoly Kucherena as saying.
On Oct. 12, the Interfax news agency reported that Edward Snowden had met with his father Lon Snowden in Russia. "Their meeting has already taken place. It was very emotional," the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying. The meeting's time and place were not disclosed for security reasons, said the insider. Edward Snowden's father arrived in Moscow early on Oct. 11 with a multi-entry visa. And the first verified photograph of Edward Snowden in Russia has appeared hours after Snowden's father landed in Moscow, showing the NSA whistleblower meeting four former US government officials who presented him with an award for "integrity in intelligence".
Edward Snowden was nominated for the 2014 Nobel peace prize in a letter two Norwegian politicians sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Jan. 30, 2014.