Washington: Edward Joseph Snowden, a man who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) before disclosing details of a classified NSA spy programme to the press, is now at the centre of the latest debate in the United States.

Snowden had released classified material on top secret NSA programmes, including the PRISM surveillance programme, to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Now he is being marked as a traitor by the US government. While the CIA is searching for the man, his supporters are out on the streets declaring him as a patriot.

Snowden had released a 12 minute video on Sunday in which he said, “CIA was turning out to be dangerous. I decided to speak out. It’s the decision of the people to decide whether the US government is right or wrong.”
He added that his disclosure of PRISM and FISA orders related to NSA data capture efforts was meant to expose what he believes is excessive government surveillance on the American people. In the video, Snowden also expressed apprehensions that he might be caught by the CIA or some Asian agency.

The journalist of The Guardian, who is working on the story, said that Snowden is a very intelligent and calm person. However, he is afraid of what might happen to him further. Snowden is currently hiding in Hong Kong and wants to reach Iceland.

The US government, which calls Snowden a traitor, believes that he has risked the lives of the US nationals by releasing the information to the media. As the government calls it a violation of law, there is no dearth of Snowden’s supporters. More than 25,000 people have signed a petition to seek a blanket pardon for Snowden for his alleged crimes. Snowden is also receiving a lot of praises from another famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who defied the Nixon administration four decades ago by leaking the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War.

Russian government has also come forward in support of Snowden. Russian president Vladimir Putin said, “If Snowden asks for help, Moscow would be happy to help him.”