Edward Joseph "Ed" Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer professional. A former systems administrator for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a counterintelligence trainer at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), he later went to work for the private intelligence contractor Dell, inside a National Security Agency (NSA) outpost in Japan. In early 2013, he joined the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton inside the NSA center in Hawaii. In June 2013, he came to international attention after disclosing to several media outlets thousands of classified documents that he acquired while working as an NSA contractor for Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden's release of classified material has been described as the most significant leak in U.S. history since the release of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg.
On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew from Hawaii to Hong Kong, where in early June he met with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, releasing numerous NSA documents to them. On June 9, four days after the first NSA program was exposed by the press, Snowden revealed his identity in a video filmed by Poitras and published by The Guardian. On June 14 the U.S. Department of Justice charged Snowden with two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The U.S. Department of State revoked his passport on June 22. According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Snowden had by then spent a couple of days in the Russian consulate in Hong Kong to declare his intention of flying to Latin America via Moscow. On June 23, ticketed for onward travel via Havana, Snowden flew to Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.But after he arrived, Kommersant reported, Havana asked Russian authorities not to let him on the plane. Fidel Castro denied the story, calling it a lie. ABC News reported that Snowden "could not enter Russia because he did not have a Russian visa and he could not travel to safe haven opportunities in Latin America because the United States had canceled his passport." Snowden remained stranded in the airport transit zone for 39 days, during which time he applied for asylum in 21 countries. On August 1, Russian authorities granted him a one-year temporary renewable asylum.