Name: Edward Joseph Snowden

Location: United States of America

Occupation: Intelligence contractor; Systems Administrator; activist

Fields of Expertise: Mass surveillance; On-line privacy and security; Cyber defenses

Edward Snowden became the center of much controversy in 2013, when he leaked a series of NSA (National Security Agency) secrets that included a court order compelling the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over data regarding millions of its subscribers and a program called PRISM that, reportedly, gave the NSA, the FBI and the Government Communications Headquarters (Britain’s NSA equivalent) “direct access” to the servers of companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple.

This information was published in The Guardian and The Washington Post and revealed by Snowden during an encounter he had with the journalists in Hong Kong, where he had gone to disclose the information he possessed. On June 14, 2013, the United States of America charged Edward Snowden with espionage. He left Hong Kong for Russia where he is still living, as a refugee.

Although the initial publications did not reveal the source, Edward Snowden decided he should come forward stating that he felt no need to hide because he had done nothing wrong. In April 2014 The Guardian U.S. and The Washington Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their roles in reporting on the NSA leaks. Snowden characterized the award as “a vindication” of his efforts to bring the secret surveillance programs to light.

Snowden is the subject of two major films - Citizenfour, a documentary which won the Academy 2015 Award for Best Documentary Feature and Snowden, a biographical political thriller based on the book The Snowden Files, by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus, by Anatoly Kucherena. Snowden was produced and directed by Academy Award-winner Oliver Stone and released in 2016.