30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Snowden distances himself from father and his lawyers
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday moved to distance himself from comments made in his name, saying neither his father nor his father's attorney speak for him "in any way".
"I would like to correct the record: I've been fortunate to have legal advice from an international team of some of the finest lawyers in the world, and to work with journalists whose integrity and courage are beyond question," Snowden said in a statement to the Huffington Post.
"Neither my father, his lawyer Bruce Fein, nor his wife Mattie Fein represent me in any way."
According to the news website, Snowden said he issued the statement because "it has come to my attention that news organisations seeking information regarding my current situation have, due to the difficulty in contacting me directly, been misled by individuals associated with my father into printing false claims about my situation".
The 30-year-old former US National Security Agency contractor received asylum in Russia on August 1. He had spent more than five weeks stranded in Moscow airport after arriving from Hong Kong.
Snowden is wanted by Washington on espionage charges linked to his disclosures about secret details of US surveillance programmes.
Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that Snowden began downloading documents describing the spy programmes while he was working for computer firm Dell in April 2012, almost a year earlier than previously reported.
Snowden worked for Dell from 2009 until earlier this year, assigned as a contractor to NSA facilities in the US and Japan.
He downloaded information while employed by Dell about eavesdropping programmes run by the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, and left an electronic footprint indicating when he accessed the documents, said sources familiar with the matter.
Snowden earlier told the South China Morning Post he left Dell for a job at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii around March this year, specifically to gain access to additional top-secret documents that could be leaked to the media.
Some of the material Snowden downloaded in April 2012 while a Dell employee related to NSA collection from fibre-optic cables, including transoceanic cables, of large quantities of internet traffic and other communications, the sources said.
David Frink, a spokesman for Dell, declined to comment.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters