Edward Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, and former contractor for the U.S. government who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 without prior authorization. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments. On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property. Russian authorities granted him one-year asylum, which was later extended to three years.
Note: Edward Snowden’s principled whistleblowing has fueled important debates over mass surveillance and government secrecy. It’s been three years now. Snowden is still in Russia, but since September 2015 has been an essential voice on Twitter. Check out this Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) article: “3 Years Later, the Snowden Leaks Have Changed How the World Sees NSA Surveillance.”