Nightly News   |  June 10, 2013

Who is Edward Snowden?

The FBI has launched a massive worldwide hunt for Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old NASA contractor who has turned the massive U.S. intelligence community inside out. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. i'm lester holt in for brian. an international manhunt for the 29-year-old man who says he's the one who unveiled the government secret surveillance program. what he told "the guardian" caused a controversy over privacy and national security . edward snowden is the civilian contractor who worked at the national security agency and yet from halfway across the world, he stepped from the shadows, admitting he was the leak. and tonight, the u.s. government is hot on snowden 's tail as it investigates whether or not he broke the law by sharing classified information . andrea mitchell is working the story from washington.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. the 29-year-old nsa contractor, edward snowden , has turned the massive national security agency inside out. home of edward snowden 's money in ellicott city . her mother ducked reporters.

>> please do not get in my way, thank you. have a good day.

>> reporter: fbi agents showed up at his father's home in pennsylvania.

>> my name is edward snowden . i work for the nsa in hawaii.

>> reporter: according to the guardian, the 29-year-old was a high school dropout . enlisted in the army, but discharged five months later for breaking both legs in a training accident. worked for the cia undercover in geneva and became disillusioned. signed up for a military contractor in japan. and then he joined booz allen , and a month later he copied top secret documents and then flew to hong kong to meet with glenn greenwald of "the guardian."

>> i'm another guy that sits in the office day to day and watches what is happening and think this is not our place to decide. the public needs to decide whether these are right or wrong.

>> that's why he felt compelled to talk about the massive capabilities that the program provides.

>> reporter: no sign of him at his home in hawaii, and he may have left hong kong as well.

>> reporter: extradition could take months and china has a veto. no action can be taken until there is a charge. plus, snowden has to be found.

>> reporter: what do the chinese know?

>> some of the very sensitive information he has could fall into a foreign government.

>> reporter: it's called gut wrenching.

>> the damage that these revelations incur are huge.

>> reporter: a trip canceled to washington to defend cooperating with the nsa.

>> this relationship has been and remains essential to the security of both nations.

>> reporter: but to supporters in new york today, snowden is krajuous. julian assange called him a hero. michael moore tweeted here yoft year.

>> we need to make an informed judgment if we need more civil liberties protections in the law.

>> reporter: why hire someone with so little foreign education to handle foreign secrets. officials say the real whiz kids are kids. they learned computers before they could talk.