Edward Snowden: 10 things to know
By: Tal Kopan
June 10, 2013 10:09 AM EDT
Edward Snowden burst in public view when the 29-year-old identified himself as the source of leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Americans. Here are 10 things to know about Snowden.
1. Doesn’t have a high school diploma. According to The Guardian, which published the first story about the NSA surveillance, Snowden never finished his high school coursework, taking classes at a community college in Maryland but not completing those, either. The paper reported he did obtain a GED later.
2. Donated to Ron Paul. Zeke Miller of Time reported that Snowden made two $250 donations to the libertarian presidential candidate’s 2012 campaign. Snowden told The Guardian he voted for a third party in 2008 rather than President Barack Obama.
3. Wasn’t a friendly neighbor. Snowden most recently lived in Hawaii with his girlfriend before leaving in early May, and neighbors say he didn’t stop to chat much. According to The Telegraph, a neighbor told a local television station: “We occasionally saw him as he was coming or going, or checking mail, or getting the garbage. We would say ‘Hi, how’s it going? How are you?’ and he would just rush inside.” Neighbors also said Snowden had boxes piled floor-to-ceiling in his garage for the entire six months he lived there.
4. His laptop stickers reveal his beliefs. Stickers on Snowden’s laptop express support for Internet freedom, The Guardian said. One reads, “I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation,” and another is for the Tor Project, an online anonymity software.
5. Served in the Army for only five months. Snowden told The Guardian he enlisted in 2003 and entered a Special Forces training program but was discharged after breaking both his legs in a training accident. POLITICO confirmed Snowden was in the Army Reserve as a Special Forces recruit in 2004, but an Army spokesman said he was discharged five months later and “did not complete any training or receive any awards.”
6. First job with NSA was as a security guard. The Guardian reported that Snowden was a security guard at a covert NSA facility at the University of Maryland before moving on to the CIA to work on IT security.
7. Used the codename Verax, Latin for “truthteller.” According to Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, Snowden picked the pseudonym for their interactions. He called Gellman BRASSBANNER.
8. Not on social media. Don’t bother looking for Snowden on Twitter or Facebook, Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald says.
Any Twitter or Facebook accounts purporting to be Edward Snowden are fake.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 9, 2013
9. Whereabouts are currently unknown. While Snowden had said he was staying in Hong Kong, Reuters and USA Today each spoke to a hotel in Hong Kong that said Snowden had been staying there but checked out of his room on Monday.
10. Lived comfortably. Snowden told The Guardian that he made about $200,000 a year in his position, which The New York Times reports may have been largely paid for by the U.S. government. Before he went into hiding, he was working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.