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Everyone has heard of Edward Snowden. He’s the NSA contractor that leaked troves of classified information relating to the U.S. government’s spying programs. Some people have called him a hero, while others have condemned his actions. Whether you think he’s a hero or not, what he did is still illegal. But, who is Edward Snowden?

Born Edward Joseph Snowden on June 21, 1983 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Snowden studied at Arundel Community College before moving on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Liverpool online. He later enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve but did not make it past training. Snowden claims he broke both legs in a training accident. Later, Snowden joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to work in IT security. After working for the CIA, he then went on to work for Booz Alan as an NSA contractor.

During his work at Booz Alan, Snowden collected classified documents with intent to leak them. He believed that what he was helping accomplish at Booz Alan was unconstitutional and morally wrong. He has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t “want to live in a society that does these kinds of things”

Since releasing the documents in the spring of 2013, Snowden–fearing incarceration–fled  the U.S. and ultimately ended up in Russia. The Russian government has granted Snowden asylum and he is now virtually immune from punishment.

 

**This story was last updated on October 14, 2015

[Photo by The Guardian / YouTube]