US data spying leaker identified

29-year-old contractor leaked data on US surveillance programmes to alert the public

A 29-year-old contractor at the US National Security Agency revealed top secret US surveillance programmes to alert the public to what is being done in their name, the Guardian reported yesterday.

Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant who was working at the NSA as an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, is ensconced in a hotel in Hong Kong after leaving the United States with secret documents, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian published revelations this week that US security services monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook. It said Snowden had now asked the newspaper that his identity be disclosed.

The exposure of the secret programmes has triggered widespread debate within the United States and abroad about the vast reach of the NSA, which has expanded its surveillance programmes dramatically in the last decade. US officials say the agency operates within the law.

"My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which was done in their name and that which is done against them," the Guardian quoted Snowden as saying. "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," it quoted him as saying in a note that accompanied documents he provided to the paper. – (Reuters)