by Malcolm Curtis|The Local Switzerland|June 10, 2013
A computer specialist who leaked details of reported surveillance of personal phone and internet activity by America’s National Security Agency (NSA) says he began to question what the US government was doing while working for the CIA in Geneva.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, 29, recently released documents showing that the NSA collected nearly three billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks through a process of “data mining” over a 30-day period ending in March.
Billions of other pieces of information were reportedly obtained by the agency elsewhere in the world.
Snowden, an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who was working for the NSA, leaked the information to The Guardian newspaper in the UK last week and went public about his identity on Sunday.
“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he told the newspaper in an interview published online on Monday.
“I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”
The CIA in 2007 stationed Snowden as a technical assistant in Geneva, where the US has a mission to the United Nations.
The Guardian reported that he was responsible for maintaining computer network security and had clearance to access a “wide array of classified documents”.
Snowden’s access to the documents led him to “begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw.”
The Guardian said Snowden described a “formative” incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information.
The operatives purposely got the banker drunk and encouraged him to drive home in his car, he told the newspaper.
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