Britain's Guardian newspaper has identified a 29-year-old former CIA technical worker as the source for leaks about US spy agencies that have rattled Washington's security services in the past few days.
Snowden came forward and identified himself as the leaker of the NSA's massive surveillance operation
"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," Mr Snowden told The Guardian in an interview posted on the newspaper's website.
According to the Guardian, Mr Snowden has been working for the National Security Agency (NSA) for the last four years, employed by various outside contractors, including tech consultancy Booz Allen, and computer company Dell.
Three weeks ago, he copied secret documents at the NSA office in Hawaii and told his boss he needed time off for treatment for epilepsy.
He packed his bags and on May 20 flew to Hong Kong, leaving behind a salary of about $US200,000, a girlfriend with whom he lived in Hawaii, a stable career and a loving family.
"I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building," he said.
Booz Allen confirmed Mr Snowden had worked for them, saying he had been employed as part of a Hawaii-based team for less than three months.
"News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the company said in a statement.
NSA secret documents
It added that it would cooperate with any investigations into the matter.
Now hiding out in Hong Kong hotel roomSnowden revealed he was currently located in Hong Kong.
“It’s [Hong Kong's] not an independent part of China at all. I’ve talked to a bunch of people in Washington today, in official positions, and they are looking at this as a potential Chinese espionage case,” said Baer.
When he was asked if there was a possibility to extradite Snowden, Baer responded, “We’ll never get him in China. They’re not about to send him to the United States and the CIA is not going to render him, as he said in the tape, is not going to try to grab him there.”
President Obama recently met with China's Presdent Xi Jinping where they discussed issues of cybersecurity.
Baer said, "“It almost seems to me that this was a pointed affront to the United States on the day the president is meeting the Chinese leader,” Baer said, “telling us, listen, quit complaining about espionage and getting on the internet and our hacking. You are doing the same thing.”
Spy boss says leaks caused 'huge, grave damage'Mr Snowden's actions are comparable to that of the WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, who is currently on trial in the US and facing life in prison for aiding the enemy.
The bombshell disclosure of top secret documents by Mr Snowden implicated some of the biggest firms in Silicon valley, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube.