“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden told the South China Morning Post. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”
Snowden made the comments to the paper, one of the few he's spoken with, on June 12, when he was still in Hong Kong. The Morning Post only released the quote Monday.
The claims cast Snowden in a new light: He wasn't merely a government contractor who stumbled upon PRISM, the mass Internet surveillance system. Rather, he was a dedicated activist who set out to expose such programs.
This also serves to make abundantly clear why there was some initial discrepancy in Snowden's salary. In his initial public interview, Snowden claimed to make over $200,000, but when Booz Allen announced they'd terminated Snowden's position—several days after he'd left the United States for good, taking classified documents with him—it said his salary had been $122,000. Snowden later clarified that he'd had a number of related jobs, and that $200,000 was his "career high" salary.
As of this writing, Snowden's whereabouts are unknown. Hong Kong has confirmed he's no longer in that city, and multiple reports claim he has landed in Russia and aims to end up in Ecuador.
Illustration by Jason Reed