Edward Snowden is an American computer expert who used his expertise and the access that he had to government files because of his job to obtain and leak secrets about American government surveillance programs. He fled the United States in May of 2013 before the information that he leaked became public. He is currently in Russia where he has been given temporary political asylum. The asylum was granted in early August 2013 and is good for one year. It may be renewed on an annual basis.
Snowden worked as a computer specialist for various private companies that had contracts with the American intelligence community. He is known to have worked in the facilities of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA). Through his work with these agencies, Snowden became aware of various programs that the US government was running including ones in which it intercepted and stored information about telephone calls made in the US. Snowden says that he leaked the information because he believes that what the government is doing is wrong.
Snowden is now a source of great controversy in the United States. Some see him as a whistleblower and a hero while others feel that he is a traitor.