According to reports from the BBC, Edward Snowden has vanished from his Hong Kong hotel room. Ex-CIA employee Snowden, 29, was not expected to check out and the move has taken many by surprise. His whereabouts are unknown and thus far he has not made contact with anyone as to his plans.
Snowden who is on record as saying he had “an obligation to help free people from oppression”
He is being investigated regarding the leaks and the case has been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.
An online petition on the White House website has so far gotten 30,000 signatures calling for an immediate pardon for Snowden, though, sadly, an opinion poll commissioned by the Washington Post reveals that the majority of American Citizens think that this kind of intrusive phone monitoring is acceptable if it is aimed at fighting terrorism.
Before fleeing to Hong Kong Snowden said:
The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sorts of things. I do not want to live in a world where everything I say and do is recorded…. We have seen enough criminality on behalf of the government, it is hypocritical to make this allegation against me.
Hong Kong does have an extradition treaty with the US though a standard US visa lasts for 90 days, he is believed to have arrived in Hong Kong on May 20th.
He has recently said that he fears his actions could put him in jail and he is worried about his family and friends being sucked into the affair. His vanishing without warning from the Mira Hotel has concerned those close to him.
On Thursday, the Washington Post and Guardian said the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine Internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a program known as PRISM.
All the Internet companies deny giving the US government access to their servers.
PRISM is said to give the NSA and FBI access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US Internet companies.
Other major US Security Leaks
- Pentagon papers, 1971: Daniel Ellsberg leaks study showing the government had knowledge it was unlikely to win Vietnam war.
- Watergate, 1972: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reveal extent of cover-up over burglary at Democrat National Committee HQ.
- Iran-Contra affair, 1986: Iranian cleric reveals illegal US arms sales to Iran, the proceeds of which are later used to fund Nicaraguan Contras.
- Valerie Plame, 2003: Ms Plame is revealed to be an undercover CIA agent, ending her covert career.
- Abu Ghraib, 2004: Publication of pictures showing abuse of detainees at Iraq prison by US officials turns initial media reports of abuse into full-blown scandal.
- Bradley Manning, 2010: The soldier downloads thousands of classified documents from military servers and hands them over to WikiLeaks
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this article first appeared. Wake the flock up!