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(NEW YORK) — The father of Edward Snowden told ABC News he’s concerned for his son since Edward revealed himself to be the source of a series of top secret leaks from the National Security Agency.

Lonnie Snowden, who spoke briefly with ABC News on Sunday, said he’s still digesting and processing the news reports about his son, who he last saw months ago for dinner.  Lonnie said the two parted that meal with a hug.

Edward, 29, went from obscurity as an NSA contractor to a controversial international figure on Sunday when The Guardian newspaper published an interview in which Snowden said he was the source of headline-grabbing news stories about the NSA’s vast surveillance programs — from the shadowy agency’s penchant for vacuuming up millions of Americans’ phone call information to spying on foreigners’ Internet activity.

He did it, Edward said, because he believed the U.S. government had “granted itself power it is not entitled to” in the form of a “horrifying” surveillance capability.

“You are not even aware of what is possible.  The extent of their capabilities is horrifying,” he told The Guardian.  “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded… That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Edward has been reportedly in hiding in Hong Kong, and an employee at Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel told ABC News he checked out of that hotel earlier on Monday.

Now, on the run and in apparent fear of U.S. recriminations, a complex portrait is being revealed of a man who went from being a high school dropout to a CIA computer specialist to a highly-paid private contractor and, eventually, to a man in hiding from the most powerful country in the world.

“I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want,” Edward told The Guardian.

Much of what is known about Edward was revealed by Edward himself in a lengthy interview he gave The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong, some of which has been confirmed by ABC News through records requests and interviews.

According to a scant U.S. Army file, Edward was born on June 21, 1983.  The Guardian reported he was raised in Elizabeth City, N.C., and then Maryland.

Edward told The Guardian he was a high school dropout who later earned his GED.  He also said he attended community college to study computer science, but didn’t complete the coursework there either.

Edward said he enlisted in the Army in 2003, but Army records said it was in 2004 that he signed up in the Army Reserves as a Special Forces recruit.  He told The Guardian he enlisted because “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression.”

Edward was apparently an enlistee of an Army program that ensures the recruit of at least a shot at joining the famed Green Berets, whose motto is De Oppresso Liber, or Free the Oppressed.  However, Edward’s military records say he left the service just a few months after signing up and did not complete any training.  He told The Guardian he broke both his legs in a training accident and was discharged.

From there, The Guardian reported he worked at the University of Maryland as a security guard for a secret NSA facility within the university.  He then joined the CIA and worked abroad and undercover as a technical assistant, he told The Guardian.  The CIA declined to comment Sunday on Edward’s employment there.

Edward left the CIA in 2009 only to go to later work for the NSA as a private contractor with the technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii.  Edward described his work in a series of titles — “systems engineer, systems administrator, senior adviser for the Central Intelligence Agency, solutions consultant and telecommunications informations systems officer” — before becoming an “infrastructure analyst for the NSA.”

Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Edward’s employment there and said he joined less than three months ago.

A neighbor in Hawaii told ABC News that Edward and a woman moved out of their home about a month ago.  Before that, the neighbor said the couple was disengaged and standoffish.

Wherever he is now, some U.S. officials are calling for his prosecution.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., became one of the first U.S. officials to call for “extradition proceedings at the earliest date” and warned that “no country should be granting this individual asylum.”

With his future uncertain, Edward told The Guardian from hiding that he has no illusions about what could be waiting for him now that his face and name are known to what he described as the “world’s most powerful intelligence agencies.”

“If they want to get to you, over time they will,” he said.  “I think the sense of outrage [over the NSA programs] that has been expressed is justified.  It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America.”

And just as his father is concerned about him, Edward says he worries about his family.

“My family does not know what is happening… My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner, anyone I have a relationship with,” he said.  “I will have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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