Fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden took a job at Booz Allen Hamilton for the sole purpose of gaining access to classified information, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
Hours after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow in the face of a U.S. extradition request to the Chinese government, the Post claimed that Snowden’s sole motivation for seeking employment with the giant intelligence contractor was to gain access to the details of the programs he intended to leak to the world.
“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden reportedly told the Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”
The revelation that Snowden intended to leak information long before he even had access to anything to leak complicates the picture he has painted of himself as a whistle blower driven to act by a tormented conscience. The apparently premeditated nature of his actions will likely invite further speculation about his motives from American officials and lawmakers.
Numerous public figures have already strongly condemned his actions as “traitorous”, while others have questioned his choice of Russia and China, two nations with poor records in regards to human rights and civil liberties, as safe havens.
The revelation helps clarify a previously confusing aspect of Snowden’s story: the details of his salary during his career in the intelligence security industry. After Snowden claimed to have made $200,000 a year in the Guardian‘s original profile, Booz Allen countered that he had only been paid $122,000 a year when it announced, somewhat unnecessarily, that Snowden had been fired “for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy.”
Snowden explained the disparity during an online question and answer session hosted by the Guardian on June 17, writing that “$200,000 was my ‘career high’ salary. I had to take pay cuts in the course of pursuing specific work. Booz was not the most I’ve been paid.”
The Post‘s allegations concerning Snowden’s motivations help clarify his willingness to take a pay cut, as he put it, “in the course of pursuing specific work.” If he knew he would soon be an international fugitive, salary cuts may well have figured little into his long term calculus.