Former CIA contractor Edward Snowden in Moscow, possibly en route to Ecuador

24 Jun 2013

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Rogue intelligence contractor Edward Snowden

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US intelligence agencies appear to have been led on a merry dance as they struggled to intercept former intelligence contractor gone rogue, Edward Snowden. Snowden is believed to be in Russia’s capital Moscow with the intention of seeking asylum in the South American country of Ecuador.

Snowden, a former CIA contractor who worked for Booze Allen Hamilton, went rogue and revealed activities of the National Security Agency (NSA), such as the alleged PRISM programme, which monitored the servers of internet giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.

In recent days, Snowden created further diplomatic furore by revealing details of British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)’s Tempora programme, which takes in recordings of phone calls, email message content, Facebook messages and any users’ internet history.

According to The Guardian, Snowden has described the GCHQ as “worse than the US” and the Tempora programme as “the largest programme of ‘suspicionless’ surveillance in human history.”

The New York Times has reported US intelligence agencies scrambled to capture Snowden as he fled Hong Kong.

The US has warned countries in Latin America not to harbour Snowden or allow him to pass to other destinations.

Snowden is understood to have been aided in his escape by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

There were wild scenes at Moscow airport as passengers vied to take photos of Snowden as he passed through the airport. Snowden spent the night at the transit zone of the airport, where it is believed an Ecuadorian diplomat paid him a visit.

The question now is will Russia protect Snowden or hand him back to the US? In the past, the US has returned various high-level criminals to the Russia.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com