Everything You Need To Know About Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, a hero to some and a traitor to others, has gained prominence for his leak of government data. So how did he gain access to these documents, and what's happened to him now?

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May 20 - Snowden flies from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

June 5-8 - At Snowden's behest, The Guardian publishes its first articles revealing top secret programs like PRISM. He accuses the U.S. government, and President Obama in particular, of unlawful international spying.

June 7 - Obama does damage control in the wake of the leaks.

June 9 - Snowden reveals his identity as the whistleblower. In an interview, he says, "My sole motive is to inform the public."

June 12-21 - More classified documents are released, showing the U.S. and the U.K. were involved in top secret surveillance programs. It's revealed that the U.S. was hacking other nations' computers, while the UK was secretly accessing mobile data from leaders around the world.

June 21 - The U.S. files formal espionage charges against Snowden, requesting his extradition so he can face trial.

June 23 - Snowden flies to Russia, possibly en route to Ecuador, but is halted in Moscow after the U.S. cancels his passport.

June 26 - Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses to extradite Snowden. President Obama decides he will not organize any operation to retrieve him from Russia.

July 2 - Snowden applies for asylum in other countries.

July 3 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joins a growing contingent of leaders who question Snowden's actions, saying he "misused" his rights to access digital data.

August 1 - Russia offers Snowden a 1-year asylum.


August 1 - Snowden's asylum is renewed for 3 more years.


February 20 - Snowden continues to leak more documents. The latest details how American and British spies hacked into the SIM cards of Gemalto, enabling the spies to monitor calls on billions of phones.

Learn More:
The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole The Keys To The Encryption Castle (The Intercept)
"The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQdocument, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world's cellular communications, including both voice and data."

UPDATE 3-Hack gave U.S. and British spies access to billions of phones - Intercept (Reuters)
"A European security source said that mobile devices were widely used by terrorist groups and that intelligence agencies' attempts to access the communications were justified if they were 'authorised, necessary and proportionate.'"

Edward Snowden's digital 'misuse' has created problems, says Ban Ki-moon (The Guardian)
"Ban said that privacy was a fundamental principle and he also emphasised the importance of freedom of speech and information. But he went on to say that 'as we spend greater time and put more information into all different types of communications, like for example social media, individuals have to show more responsibility. The rights gained by this new right of access should not be misused, it should be used responsibly.'"

Photo Courtesy: UK Ministry of Defense