Edward Snowden Biography

Edward Snowden, an American computer professional and former subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), gained worldwide attention when he exposed the agency’s unethical practices. Concerned about the infringement of privacy through domestic surveillance, Snowden collected evidence and leaked highly classified information to the media. Fleeing to Hong Kong for his safety, he met with a reporter from The Guardian to publish his findings, shocking the world, particularly the United States. Currently residing in Russia, Snowden stands by his decision and is hailed as a national hero by many, although the NSA considers him an outlaw. His courageous actions have been recognized through the award-winning documentary “Citizenfour” and the film “Snowden,” directed by Oliver Stone and portrayed by Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Edward Joseph Snowden
  • Age: 40 Years, 40 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Lindsay Mills (m. 2017)
    • Father: Lonnie Snowden
    • Mother: Elizabeth Snowden, Wendy Snowden
    • Partner: Lindsay Mills
  • Born Country: United States
  • American Men
  • Male Activists
  • Height: 5’11” (180 cm), 5’11” Males
  • U.S. State: North Carolina
  • Ancestry: American Russian
  • Notable Alumni: Anne Arundel Community College, University Of Liverpool
  • More Facts
  • Education: University Of Liverpool, Anne Arundel Community College
  • Awards: Sam Adams Award, Fritz Bauer Prize, Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize, Right Livelihood Award, Stuttgart Peace Prize, Carl-von-Ossietzky-Medaille, Whistleblower Prize, Bjørnson Prize, Ossietzky Prize, The glass of reason SUMA Award

Childhood & Early Life

Edward Snowden was born on June 21, 1983, in North Carolina, USA. His father was a coast guard officer and his mother, a chief deputy at the US district court in Maryland. His grandfather served the ‘FBI’ for some years. Snowden said that ever since he was a kid, he knew that he would serve the federal government like his family members.

His parents got separated when Snowden was a teenager, but he didn’t let that affect his academics and went on acquiring top ranks in school. His mind was sharp and his I.Q. was well over 140, placing him in an elite group of people who possess high level of intelligence. An illness forced him to remain absent from high school for many days. Despite his absence from school he went straight for a ‘GED’ test, which he cracked and went on to attend classes at ‘Anne Arundel Community College.’ Though he didn’t finish his undergraduate degree, he took classes online for a master’s degree at the ‘University of Liverpool.’ He was pretty much influenced by the Japanese and Chinese culture, which encouraged him to learn Japanese and Chinese along with Chinese martial arts. He adopted Buddhism as his religion at the age of 20.


Edward Snowden landed a job at the ‘Central Intelligence Agency’ (CIA) as an IT professional in 2006. He was stationed with a diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland for maintaining computer-network security. He discovered the surveillance system which infiltrated the privacy of general public and started collecting documents. Snowden was fired following a suspicion of breaking into the top classified documents. He then went on to work with ‘Dell’ in one of NSA’s offices in Japan where he worked as a sub-contractor from 2009 until 2013.

During his time working for ‘Dell,’ he was assigned to an ‘NSA’ facility at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. In 2012, he was reassigned to the Hawaii regional operations center as the lead technologist. After leaving ‘Dell,’ he went on to work for another tech consultant company called ‘Booz Allen Hamilton’ where he worked for three months. His interest in the top secret files of the ‘NSA’ grew while working at ‘Booz Allen’ and he devised ways to break into the top secret vaults of their system. He then found out the practices which he thought were immoral, unethical, and needed to be halted immediately. He went on to build a dossier of all the information he collected, which he thought was necessary to prove his point.

Once he was done with collecting the relevant documents he took a medical leave, stating that he suffered from epilepsy. He arranged for a meeting with a journalist from ‘The Guardian’ and then made contact with a documentary filmmaker named Laura Poitras. In June 2013, the information was officially presented to the whole world through ‘The Guardian’ where it stated that the Americans’ phones were getting tapped without their knowledge and some of them were being kept under surveillance. The information was gathered through ‘PRISM,’ a program devised by the ‘NSA.’ The world was shaken and ‘NSA’ went bitter as Edward kept addressing the media from Hong Kong. He told that he wouldn’t allow this to happen and that the privacy of general public was being monitored every second of the day, infringing the basic rights of human beings to be free. The US government replied to the leaks almost immediately and charged Snowden with the accusations of ‘theft of government properties’ and ‘illegal communication of intelligence information to an unauthorized person’ under the espionage act.

His leaks paved the way to unearth crucial matters, such as the ‘Black Budget’ which exposed the work of the 16 spy agencies working under the US Intelligence and their handiwork in persuading private companies to reveal and provide access to their communication network.

Snowden moved out of Hong Kong and went to Russia, where he got stranded at the airport for close to a month due to issues with his passport. But the Russian government allowed him to stay in the country and rejected several of America’s requests to extradite him. Meanwhile, Americans considered him a national hero and came up with a petition to free Snowden of all the charges. However, several appeals of clemency made by Snowden were rejected by the American government.

Snowden continued living in Russia while Barack Obama asked the intelligence agencies to look into the matter and reconsider their security protocols. In October 2013, Snowden claimed that he didn’t have the ‘NSA’ documents with him anymore and that he had given it all to the journalists in Hong Kong, fearing Russians might use them for their benefit. He stayed in Russia for an indefinite period of exile, but he remains a controversial figure in America. He made a much-awaited appearance at the Southwest festival through teleconferencing in March 2014 and it was revealed that the US government has lost billions of dollars owing to the leaks. In May, Snowden cleared the air and said that he was a patriot and the welfare of his country’s people is on his priority list and that he would want to return to his homeland.

Personal Life

Snowden met Lindsay Mills back in America and the two started dating. He broke up with her right before leaking the highly classified information, citing her safety to be the main concern. However, when he went to live in Russia, Lindsay joined him there and the couple has been together ever since. In 2015, Mills showed herself at the ‘Oscar’ award ceremony where Poitras accepted the award for ‘Citizenfour.’


Snowden refrained from leaking the confidential documents in 2008, believing that the newly elected President Barack Obama will make the necessary changes. In 2013, he was named The Guardian’s person of the year, garnering four times the number of votes as any other candidate.

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