Edward Snowden Sends Patriotic Message on Anniversary of NSA Leaks

In the year since Snowden’s leak of classified files, the public is still debating if he’s a hero or an outlaw.
Jul 3, 2014·
Michael Sugerman is a summer intern at TakePart and a student at the University of Michigan, where he reports for the school newspaper, The Michigan Daily.

It has been just over a year since former Central Intelligence Agency systems administrator Edward Snowden released classified National Security Agency documents, revealing the government's sweeping surveillance programs—which include the collection of private citizens' Internet use and phone calls.

"Technology has been a liberating force in our lives," Snowden wrote in a June 2014 letter to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"But in secret, our very own government—one bound by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights—has reverse-engineered something beautiful into a tool of mass surveillance and oppression.... In the long, dark shadow cast by the security state, a free society cannot thrive," he wrote.

In the wake of the NSA leaks, the United States government charged Snowden with espionage. Subsequently, he fled to Russia, where he took refuge in the Moscow airport for nearly five weeks before President Vladimir Putin granted him a year's asylum in the country.

That was August 1, 2013, and Snowden has applied to extend his asylum there another year, according to Daily Mail, in addition to eyeing a few other countries, including Brazil.

Recent independent reports on the impact of Snowden's actions find that they may have been beneficial and not as damaging to national security as was initially feared. The reports further argued that the leaks did not deter the NSA from its mission but gave U.S. citizens a greater awareness and context to discuss surveillance policies.