Edward Snowden Net Worth

How much is Edward Snowden worth?

Net Worth:$750 Thousand
Profession:Analyst & Whistleblower
Date of Birth:June 21, 1983 (age 39)
Country:United States of America
Height:
5 ft 10 in (1.8 m)

About Edward Snowden

Edward Joseph Snowden is an American whistleblower who disclosed numerous global surveillance programs. Snowden was born in North Carolina (1983), but moved to Maryland, right next to the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. He joined the military in 2004 but was discharged due to an injury. Then, working as a security guard, he attended a job fair and accepted a position at the CIA. A few years later, Snowden left the CIA and joined the NSA in 2009, working as a private contractor for Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Over time, though, Snowden became disillusioned to what he found to be the unethical nature of some of the NSA programs. In 2013, after rejoining the CIA, he leaked confidential NSA activity and documents to the whole world’s surprise.

American whistleblower and author Edward Snowden has an estimated net worth of $750 thousand dollars, as of 2023. Snowden leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency when he was a Central Intelligence Agency and NSA subcontractor, in 2013. He currently resides in Russia.

Inside the leaked documents is what appeared to be details of illegal surveillance programs. Programs headed by the National Security Agency (NSA) and The Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance (FVEY). Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There was also cooperation with telecommunication companies and governments in Europe.

True enough, in 2020, a court ruled that the NSA surveillance exposed by Snowden was unlawful. For example the surveillance that was gathering information from American’s phone data, a court found to be illegal.

I personally don’t mind surveillance because to quote Will Smith in the movie Enemy of the State (1998), “I’m not planning on blowing up the country”. However there are likely more implications and someone has to stand against the world turning into a George Orwell novel.

After the release of documents, Edward Snowden was on the run but was finally granted asylum by Russia. He now lives there permanently with his wife Lindsay Mills. Snowden credits WikiLeaks as helping him make his way safely into Russia, but he also says he never wanted to end up in Russia. According to him, the US government cancelled his passport to keep him in Russia possibly in the hopes that he would be viewed as a Russian spy and not as a whistleblower.

While some people at first doubted Snowden’s leaks, millions more now realize the extent of the NSA and FVEY surveillance. They revealed unethical programs run by surveillance agencies around the world. Programs that violated the Constitution of the United States. As well as citizens’ rights to privacy in just about every English speaking country.

Edward Snowden has since been well vindicated in this respect and established himself as an authority on privacy and citizens’ rights.

How does Edward Snowden earn money?

Snowden never finished high school or received a degree, although he did complete a GED at a community college. Still, after leaving the military and moving up from security guard to NSA private contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden made $200,000 a year, which, in 2013, he said was the highest salary he had ever received. Since becoming a public figure, Snowden earns money for his appearances in the media and speaking engagements, which has been enough to live a comfortable life in Russia.

He doesn’t go out much and I’m pretty sure he described himself as a bit of a “house cat” on JRE #1368. I thought the person sounded and came across as a decent human being.

In 2015, Edward Snowden was able to earn $50,000 for a speech to a Hong Kong-based capital markets and investment group, called CLSA. In 2016, Yahoo News reported that “he [had] collected more than $200,000 in fees for digital speaking appearances”. By 2020, Snowden had been estimated to have earned $1.2 million dollars from his speaking engagements alone.

For example, he earned $12,000 each from Georgetown and Ohio Wesleyan Universities. $14,000 from Ontario Colleges. $15,000 from the University of Pittsburgh. $18,000 each from Middlebury College and the University of Alberta. $20,000 each for speaking to audiences at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Winnipeg. $25,000 from the University of Waterloo. $30,000 for a “Get Motivated” event and another $30,000 for an appearance at the Park City Performing Arts Foundation. $32,000 for a speaking engagement with a Portuguese tourism bureau. And $35,000 from Piston ad agency in Kuwait. Among others.

Snowden has been said to have donated about $51,000 to charity from his speaking fees. As well as given at least $35,000 to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

He likely earned from his investments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, he commented on Twitter “Sometimes I think back to this and wonder how many people bought #Bitcoin then. It’s up ~10x since, despite a coordinated global campaign by governments to undermine public understanding of—and support for—cryptocurrency. China even banned it, but it just made Bitcoin stronger.”

Another way Edward Snowden earns money is through his book(s). Originally he sold a memoir called Permanent Record (2019), which reached number one on Amazon. Unfortunately for Snowden a lawsuit from the US Government claiming that Snowden had violated a non-disclosure agreement blocked him from banking the profits from it. “The government [seeks] to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of his failure to submit his publication for pre-publication review in violation of his alleged contractual and fiduciary obligations.”

Snowden was advanced $4 million for his memoir, however the 2020 federal court ruled that Snowden must pay $5.2 million in book royalties and speaking fees derived from his book. “We will pursue those who take advantage of sensitive positions in government to profit from the classified information learned during their government service,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.

In 2021, Permanent Record (Young Readers Edition): How One Man Exposed the Truth about Government Spying and Digital Security was published. It seems Snowden must have retracted certain statements because it is listed on Amazon.com and there is no corresponding lawsuit from the US Government.

What Snowden Found Out

Working at the CIA, Snowden was moved to Switzerland where he was considered one of the experts in technical and cyber security. In fact, Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists Snowden worked with, said Snowden was personally chosen by the CIA for the 2008 NATO summit. Then, when working at the NSA, Snowden was promoted from supervising computer system upgrades to being the lead technologist of Dell’s CIA account.

In 2012, Dell moved Snowden to Hawaii where he says he was assigned to break into telephone and internet traffic around the world, which may have been justified based on preventing terrorist attacks.

Terrorism is a key concern, however indiscriminate data gathering could lead to worse outcomes. According to The Economist, data is now the most valuable resource in the world, ahead of oil. Is it not possible that NSA data could be mishandled? Hacked? Or inadvertently passed on? These are all important questions.

Snowden claims when he witnessed the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appear to lie under oath. With Snowden being privy to certain programs that he found unethical, eventually he decided to reveal NSA activities. James Clapper denies lying to Congress about NSA surveillance programs, saying: “I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake, and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about”. 

In any case, having come to his own conclusions and realizing what he must do. Snowden switched from Dell to Booz Allen Hamilton, and 3 months later, on May 20, 2013, went to Hong Kong.

The Snowden Leaks

The leaks occurred in Hong Kong after Snowden took sick leave from the NSA facility in Hawaii. There, he met with journalists from The Guardian and provided between 9,000 and 10,000 leaked documents. Among the many revelations Snowden revealed were PRISM, an NSA program that allowed the government to access data from Google and Yahoo, as well as a secret court order forcing Verizon to provide data to the NSA.

These programs have been defended. NSA director, General Keith Alexander, told Congress that “over 50” terrorist plots were stopped by surveillance efforts since 9/11. President Obama also defended the NSA’s program in an interview on Charlie Rose, in 2013.

Snowden provided information on actions of the Canadian, British, and Australian NSA counterparts. Although he was originally trying to remain anonymous, Snowden decided that he was doing nothing wrong and let his identity be reported. Today, he is both a hero in the eyes of some and a traitor in the eyes of others. Following the leaks, he was charged with espionage, but Snowden escaped trial and eventually became a popular figure worldwide.

In 2014 both The Guardian and The Washington Post, who Snowden personally worked with to expose the privacy and power concerns, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the NSA. Snowden is the President of the Freedom of the Press foundation, and works to protect journalists from government control. In 2016, a biographic movie was released called Snowden, and Snowden himself has received several awards from around the world. Including the Right Livelihood Award. Despite talk of pardoning Snowden and allowing him to legally reenter his home country of America. As of yet, that has not happened.

Estimates by different security organizations believe Snowden has up to 200,000 NSA documents, 15,000 Australian intelligence files, 58,000 British intelligence files, and 900,000 US Department of Defense documents.

Summing-Up

Edward Snowden’s rise to fame was as unexpected for him as it was for the rest of the world. His position as a security guard led him into the CIA, and after being hired by the agency, and later the NSA, Snowden discovered several illegal surveillance programs. Instead of doing his job as instructed, Snowden felt compelled to download thousands of documents that demonstrated the lengths of these programs.

In 2013, he revealed it to the world.

The U.S. tried to catch Snowden on charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Despite their efforts, he escaped. The government of Hong Kong may have even allowed Snowden to escape to Russia. “The US government […] may even question whether the Hong Kong government was acting in good faith pursuant to their treaty obligations,” as per the linked article. “To what degree was Hong Kong’s sovereign power Beijing behind the decision to allow Snowden to board Aeroflot flight SU213”, was a topic brought by Time. In any case Snowden made his way into Russia where he has been able to stay since.

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