Edward Snowden, 33, is a former NSA contractor in Hawaii who deserted his job with a trove of highly classified dossier and disclosed them to the media. His actions embarrassed and infuriated the United States authorities causing Mr Snowden to seek refuge in Moscow, Russia.
To some Mr Snowden is a hero, who exposed the dark side of government over-reach. While to others he’s a traitor, who betrayed his country. But speaking to Yahoo after over three years in a self-imposed exile, Snowden said he has “no regrets at all” and would repeat his actions again.
Meanwhile, as he continues to live in Moscow with his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mill, his allies in the United States are pushing for outgoing President Obama to pardon him before he leaves office. Mr Obama has made it clear he won’t consider that until Mr Snowden returns to the U.S., a move Snowden says “would be a threat to my liberty and to my life.” His lawyers, however, are thought to be negotiating a plea deal before the Trump administration takes power.
Mike Pompeo, who Mr Trump has named as his CIA director, has called him a “traitor” who should be subject to the death sentence. With the incoming administration it seems he doesn’t even stand any chance of a presidential pardon. On the possibility of getting one from President Obama, he responded “well, I’m not counting on it.”
Mr Snowden’s ordeal might last even longer and he understands that. He has always maintained he wasn’t working for Russia as a spy, telling Yahoo they “don’t own me.” He went on to say his recent “criticism of the Russian government’s Internet policies, criticisms of their human rights record” may make the Russian government to see him as “sort of a liability.”
The intelligence community in the United States is still furious with him for the damage he caused by leaking the surveillance programme. But Mr Snowden doesn’t see himself as a renegade. Instead he maintains he didn’t cause any damage to the United States unless by damage they mean embarrassed officials and tarnished reputations of top intelligence officers.