Edward Snowden is an American intelligence contractor who in 2013 revealed the existence of secret wide-ranging information-gathering programs conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Despite a relative lack of formal education and training, Snowden demonstrated an aptitude with computers, and he was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2006. Snowden left the CIA for the NSA in 2009, there he worked as a private contractor for the companies Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton.
In May 2013 Snowden flew to Hong Kong, where he conducted a series of interviews with The Guardian. Among the NSA secrets leaked by Snowden was a court order that compelled telecommunications company Verizon to turn over metadata (such as numbers dialed and duration of calls) for millions of its subscribers.
Snowden also disclosed the existence of PRISM, a data-mining program that reportedly gave the NSA “direct access” to the servers of such Internet giants as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple.
The U.S. charged Snowden with espionage on June 14.
Snowden, with the assistance of the media organisation WikiLeaks, flew to Moscow, where his exact whereabouts became the source of intense speculation. Snowden was granted temporary refugee status by Russia. In April 2014 The Guardian U.S. and The Washington Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their roles in reporting on the NSA leaks.
Snowden characterized the award as “a vindication” of his efforts to bring the secret surveillance programs to light. In August 2014, the Russian government awarded him a three-year residence permit, the opportunity to request an extension and, after five years of residence, to apply for Russian citizenship should he choose to do so.
This year, Edward Snowden will be on TagCDMX via live streaming and Rafael Fernández de Castro, a great and well known journalist, will be talking with him, looking for all the answers. You can’t miss it!
Rafael Fernández de Castro is a columnist for various publications including Foreign Affairs Latin America and Letras Libres. He’s an expert in the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, immigration issues and soft power. He worked from the Univision headquarters in Miami covering Mexico for the Fusion Media Group (FMG). He was part of the Univision and Fusion team that collaborated with several prestigious news outlets around the world in the Panama Papers investigation. He now leads a team of reporters based in Mexico City for the launch of Fusión, a website about pop culture and news for young audiences.