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The source of one of the greatest government leaks in U.S. history finally has a name: Edward Snowden.

A 29-year-old defense contractor and former CIA technical assistant, Snowden publicly revealed his identity today after his leaks outlined in worrying detail the NSA’s data surveillance tactics.

In an interview with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Snowden says that his sole motivation for the leak was to inform the public, not make a name for himself.


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“I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing,” he said.

Snowden, who is currently hiding out in a Hong Kong hotel, says he’s very much aware of the danger his actions have put him in. “I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads,” he said.

“That’s a fear that I’ll live under for the rest of my life — however long that happens to be,” he added.

Snowden may not have to wait long to see how the U.S. government responds. The Obama administration is already mulling a criminal investigation into the leaks, though it’s obvious that today’s news has made that investigation a whole lot more simple.

The whole interview is worth watching, especially because it gives you a very clear idea that Snowden is, in many ways, an information leaker in the tradition of Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg: He’s a smart guy with access to a lot of very sensitive information. And he hasn’t liked what he’s seen.

Snowden’s insight is perhaps most clearly encapsulated in this line: “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome [of this] is that nothing will change,” he said.

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