Booz Allen fires Snowden

2013-06-11 21:46

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New York - Edward Snowden, who admitted leaking details of secret US government surveillance programmes, was fired by his employer on Tuesday while the US government considers criminal charges against him.

Booz Allen Hamilton said in a statement that it fired Snowden on Monday "for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy". It said he had earned a salary of $122 000 a year. The firm called Snowden's actions "shocking" and said he had been a Booz Allen employee for less than three months.

President Barack Obama's administration is weighing whether to charge Snowden with leaking classified surveillance secrets while it defends the broad US spy programme that it says keeps America safe from terrorists.

Snowden, 29, has identified himself as the person who leaked top-secret information. He fled to Hong Kong in hopes of escaping criminal charges.

Booz Allen provides consulting services, technology support and analysis to US government agencies and departments. Last year, 98% of the company's $5.9bn in revenue came from US government contracts. Three-fourths of its 25 000 employees hold government security clearances. Half the employees have top secret clearances.

Snowden previously worked for the CIA and likely obtained his security clearance there. But like others who leave the government to join private contractors, he was able to keep his clearance after he left and began working for outside firms.

Once given security clearance, workers can access offices, files and, most important, dedicated communications and computer networks that are walled off from the public.

Snowden says he accessed and downloaded the last of the documents that detailed the surveillance programme while working in an NSA office in Hawaii for Booz Allen.

The US justice department, facing a global uproar over the programmes that track phone and internet messages around the world, is investigating whether the Snowden's actions were criminal.

The global scrutiny comes after revelations from Snowden, who has chosen to reveal his identity. Snowden has fled to Hong Kong in hopes of escaping criminal charges as lawmakers including Senate intelligence chair Senator Dianne Feinstein accuse him of committing an "act of treason" that should be prosecuted.

- AP
Read more on:    edward snowden  |  us  |  privacy
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