Who is Edward Snowden?
Whistleblower Edward Snowden became notorious for leaking US government documents last summer.
The leaked documents revealed operational details of the global surveillance apparatus run by the National Security Agency (NSA) along with numerous commercial and international partners, including the UK listening station GCHQ.
The disclosures have fuelled debates over mass surveillance and the balance between national security and information privacy.
Snowden previously worked for the CIA, NSA and other contractors in an NSA military base in Japan. He has been referred to as “a genius among geniuses” by a former NSA colleague.
Snowden, now 30, contacted the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers about releasing “sensitive” government documents in 2012.
After these documents were made public in June 2013, Snowden left the US and travelled to Hong Kong. He then allowed the newspapers to reveal his identity to the world.
The US government charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Each of these charges are punishable by a maximum of ten years in prison in the United States.
After the US filed charges and called for Snowden to be extradited, he left Hong Kong and headed to Russia with passport papers issued by Ecuador.