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  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 5:07am
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

Snowden sought Booz Allen job to gather evidence on NSA surveillance

Fugitive whistle-blower reveals for first time he took job at US government contractor with the sole aim of collecting proof of spying activities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 11:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 4:49pm

Edward Snowden secured a job with a US government contractor for one reason alone - to obtain evidence of Washington's cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post can reveal.

For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the US National Security Agency's secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.

"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," he told the Post on June 12. "That is why I accepted that position about three months ago."

During a live global online chat last week, Snowden also stated he took pay cuts "in the course of pursuing specific work". He said: "Booz was not the most I've been paid."

His admission comes as US officials voiced anger at Hong Kong, and indirectly Beijing, after the whistle-blower was allowed to leave the city on Sunday.

Snowden is understood to be heading for Ecuador to seek political asylum with the help of WikiLeaks, which claimed to have secured his safe passage to the South American country.

Snowden, who arrived in Hong Kong on May 20, first contacted documentary maker Laura Poitras in January, claiming to have information about the intelligence community. But it was several months later before Snowden met Poitras and two British reporters in the city.

He spent the time collecting a cache of classified documents as a computer systems administrator at Booz Allen Hamilton.

In his interview with the Post, Snowden divulged information that he claimed showed hacking by the NSA into computers in Hong Kong and the mainland.

"I did not release them earlier because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content," he said.

"I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists."

Asked if he specifically went to Booz Allen Hamilton to gather evidence of surveillance, he replied: "Correct on Booz."

The documents he divulged to the Post were obtained at Booz Allen Hamilton in April, he said. He intends to leak more of those documents later.

"If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published."

Two days after Snowden broke cover in Hong Kong as the source of the NSA leaks, Booz Allen Hamilton sacked him.

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major.dickason.9
The Chinese are not friends of USA, Did you expect them to hand over Snowden. They used him and got rid of him. Their rationalization was patently absurd.You can keep HK and China. I will continue to not buy Chinese goods.nor visit your polluted filthy environment
Payback
the sun also rises
such a die-hard enemy of China is never welcomed ! Keep your nasty mouth shut and go !
tkruemmer
The unbelievable intrusion into privacy of netizens is being justified by the hunt for terrorists. Successful terrorists use letters and messengers, not the internet or mobile phones, as we have painfully learned.
Resulting paranoia turns every disgruntled mid-puberty student posting violent thought online into a dangerous terrorist. There are those who walk the talk, committing hideous crimes that without state-sponsored access to weapons would not be possible, but this is a different story.
Breaking into university computers has nothing to do with the hunt for terrorism. A lot of success of individual nations such as Germany bases on the link between research and industry, notably in Germany. Other countries try to emulate that. Attacking a country's research institutions and spying them out therefore amounts to nothing else than industrial espionage. It is an extremely hostile act, no excuse.
The USA have lost the moral high-ground for good by using disproportionate, in my opinion illegal measures. These Orwellian methods are reminiscent of the Third Reich, the Soviet Union and other communist countries. A national disgrace.
the sun also rises
hunt for terrorists ? Or hunt for people all over world's personal data ? I wonder.Now all the netizens in the world well knows that the largest hacker (and their biggest enemy /nightmare) is no one but the National Security Agency of America which headquarters located at Meade,in the midway from Washington D.C. to Balitmore, it is now named the most mysterious city which monitors the world citizens on their internet and cell phone communications like the Big Brother in George Orwell's novel-----'1984' : Big Brother is Watching You ! all the time,day and night, around the clock. Beware !
the sun also rises
what was wrong with Mr.Snowden to get into the contractor of NSA---the largest hacker in the world to grab information concerning the cyber-surviellance done by that intelligence-collecting organisation which seriously violate all the people's privacy in this world (including we Hongkongers of whom over 4 millions are netizens.) ? By doing so, he could get access to those highly sensitive data and info to be stored in his USBs and smuggled out to Hong Kong to reveal to the reporters of The Guardian,Washington Post and South China Morning Post as well.Now maybe the secret agents of Russia are learning some/all of the data as well in Moscow where Snowden had arrived earlier on------------a nightmare to Obama and his intelligence heads indeed !
barkway
Why are none of my replies to individual comments posting? Even if I refresh, and/or select "All" to show all comments, they never appear.
David
I can see your comments, perhaps they took a few minutes to come through the cache system.
jenniepc
The prosecution of Mr. Edward Snowden with violating espionage laws under the Espionage Act is questionable. Our First Amendment, one which is broad, progressive and encompasses almost any manner of expression. However, it seems to me if speech runs counter to the needs and actions of a government, said speech is deemed non-protected and in violation of Espionage Act. I do not agree with Mr. Jay Carney. Mr. Carney claimed that Mr. Snowden “failure to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the United States not to advance Internet freedom and free speech.” It is obviously that Mr. Carney or our government uses our Espionage Act of 1917 to interpret the First Amendment for purposes of its own self interest.
America has had a long history of providing asylums to all sorts of corrupt officials. I should remind US government that US have provided a safe heaven for those most Asian or African corruptive officials. Any forms of corruptions are no different from normal criminals, it does not matter if it is bribery, extortion, embezzlement, drug traf****, money laundering, or human traf****.
John Adams
You make a very good point !
Spies work for one country's govt against another country . Certainly they report back the information they obtained by spying in secret ( and they usually sell their information as well )
Snowdon was working ( if that's the word) for all the people of the world on whom the USA itself had been spying, and he reported what he found openly to the whole world!
If anyone is guilty of espionage it's the US govt !
barkway
This is a highly irresponsible misinterpretation of what Snowden said. Nowhere in this article is there a quote where he said he took the job at Booz Allen TO LEAK info. His "Correct on Booz" reply to the question about taking the job to "gather intelligence" is no more than an admission of a job description! His JOB was to gather intelligence! The other comments about level of access and pay also do not indicate a desire to LEAK info!

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