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 Sunday, said he's still digesting and processing the news reports about his son, who he last saw months ago for dinner. Lonnie Snowden said the two parted that meal with a hug.
Edward Snowden, 29, went from obscurity as an NSA contractor to a controversial international figure 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 Snowden 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."
Snowden 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 today.
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," Snowden told The Guardian.
Who Is Edward Snowden, Reported NSA Leaker?
Much of what is known about Edward Snowden was revealed by Snowden 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, Snowden was born June 21, 1983. The Guardian reported he was raised in Elizabeth City, N.C., and then Maryland.
Snowden 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. School officials at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland confirmed that Snowden was enrolled in classes there beginning in the spring of 1999 up to the fall of 2005. He did not earn a degree or certificate there, the officials said.
A neighbor of Snowden's in Maryland said when Snowden was a teenager, she would often see him on his computer late at night, but she always assumed he was doing school work, unaware that he reportedly dropped out of school.
"I was just totally shocked when I found out that the whistleblower was him," the neighbor said. "You think you know somebody and you don't."
Snowden said he enlisted in the Army in 2003, but Army records said it was 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."
Snowden 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, Snowden'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 Snowden's employment there.