• Tue
  • Dec 30, 2014
  • Updated: 11:20pm
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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This article is now closed to comments

rhiannon.welles
I called this. After his friend was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC it was obvious he took the job with the specific intent of stealing information from the NSA. And now he's admitted it. Still think he's a hero?
hard times !
a criminal ? maybe in Obama's administration's eyes and his closest accomplice the UK's GCHQ's eyes as well.But not in the eyes of most netizens all over the world and the majority of Hongkongers who were honounred to host this leaker-hero during his month-long stay here and his revelations of the top-secret cyberspying acts done by the largest hacker in the world---the National Security Agency of America which hacked into our Internet Exchange at our Chinese Univ.in Shatin since 2009 and the computers of our public officials,businessmen and students (maybe they are also terroritsts !) Snowden maybe considered a criminal of conscience who told the world that their privacy has long been violated by the state-owned intelligence-collecting agency on the excuses of national interests and anti-terrorism.Gone are the days of these shameless hypocrites who hold double standards in respecting human rights, liberty and cybersecurity which Obama told President Xi five times during their meeting at the Sunnyland Estate in California---it is theft, we can't tolerate it ! But why should the world netizens tolerate the hackings of the Big Brother---Uncle Sam ? I wonder.
barkway
Well of course he sought the job to gain access to sensitive information. I imagine that is why many people seek that kind of work. It is exciting, exclusive, and a great resume item. This does not mean he took the job to leak information and it was irresponsible of the author of this piece to make that implication.
vincent.hanlon.5
There is very good evidence that not too long ago Snowden
would have been the first in line to point the fickle finger of guilt at...
Edward Snowden. Contrary to your comment, the Nobel Prize
winner of whistleblowing, Edward Snowden, does his case not
a bit of good by seeking even temporary respite in a country like Russia.
Golly, the US T-party must really be gnashing their teeth at that one.
How can anyone who was mentally functioning during the Cheney Bush
years be surprised at any of these NSA "revelations" without having
at least a little trouble with expressing fake outrage, which means
being both shocked and appalled and appalled and shocked, unless
they are either paid or volunteer absolutist liars4hire.
nosidam
Sorry to say based upon his security level, what he did was criminal. The opinion that accumulating meta data is a crime needs to be decided by the courts and if this data is not protected by the 4th ammendment then Snowden desires a lighter sentence. Seeking asylum or escape after working workingwith a security clearance is not the proper or even ethical solution. He should stand up and "face the music" in the courts not in a developing or LDC country. By the way, not one article has addrresed how he arrived in Hong Kong. Was it through Japan or the Philippines? As most travelers know there are no non-stops to or from Hawaii anymore. I suggest the government continue spying on the world, yet when there is any trouble or disaster, who steps up and does the right thing thing and utilizes people and resources ? Not China, and not the ancient UK empire.
joyalsofi
" The opinion that accumulating meta data is a crime needs to be decided by the courts" sounds good, but attempts to challenge such 'secrets' are not entertainable by the courts which defer to 'National security' claims of the government.
garrislo
Tes
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.
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!
Wodetiana
Well,even if he did seek employment for the purpose of gathering information, it is still for the purpose of reveling the truth about what the NSA was doing. He knew that things were not right and gathered evidence to prove it. He could not stay in US territory and release the information, let alone go through "normal" channels as the US government does not take kindly to being uncovered in their nefarious dealings.

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