American man ID’d as whistleblower behind NSA leaks

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Hong Kong (CNN) — Edward Snowden, the man behind of one of the biggest leaks in the history of U.S. intelligence, is a former technical assistant for the CIA who is now holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, in danger of running out of money and hoping to find asylum somewhere in the world.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, called Snowden “a defector” who should be turned over to the United States with an eye toward harsh prosecution.

“This person is dangerous to the country,” King told CNN’s “Starting Point” on Monday.

Snowden, 29, identified himself this weekend in American and British newspapers as the person who exposed details of a top-secret American program that collects vast streams of phone and Internet data.

The revelations have set off a furious debate in the United States about whether the surveillance program is a disturbing form of government overreach or an important tool for intelligence agencies trying to prevent attacks against the nation.

They have also dealt a fresh blow to the Obama administration, which has found itself on the defensive early in the president’s second term amid other complaints of intrusions of privacy.

As details of the U.S. government’s widespread telecommunications surveillance emerged last week in reports by the British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post, speculation built about who the source of the information might be.

Could it be a disgruntled high-ranking official at the National Security Agency, the U.S. electronic intelligence service?

It turned out to be Snowden, who until recently was working as a computer technician for a U.S. Defense contractor.

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