Edward Snowden didn't just stumble upon details of the National Security Agency's PRISM surveillance program while working as a contractor with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton — he was looking for them. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden said that he took a job with Booz Allen specifically to gather information on the NSA's spying efforts. His role as a source of leaks, sharing details of international surveillance efforts to the press, was something he says he envisioned for himself before taking the job.
"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," he said in the interview, "that is why I accepted that position about three months ago." Since then, Snowden has leaked details to various news organizations about PRISM, an alleged UK spying effort called Tempora, and Verizon sharing metadata with the NSA. Snowden also said in the interview, which took place on June 12 and was published today, that he has "a cache of classified documents" that he's still sifting through before sharing with the press.
"I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists."
Among the documents Snowden says he has is proof of the US hacking into computers in both Hong Kong and mainland China. "I did not release them earlier because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content," Snowden said. "I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists." Before Snowden began talking to the press, he fled the US for Hong Kong. The US was pressuring Hong Kong to extradite Snowden to his homeland so he could face charges of theft and espionage. But the Hong Kong government instead allowed Snowden to leave, and he is reportedly seeking asylum in Ecuador.