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Former National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden told "Axios on HBO" that "it was a difficult thing to come forward" and release top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance of American citizens to journalists in 2013.

Why it matters: The U.S. government does not considered Snowden a whistleblower because he did not raise his concerns through the legal process that had been established. As a result, he has lived in exile in Russia for more than six years.

  • Snowden's leaks prompted changes to laws and standards for American intelligence agencies and the practices of U.S.-based technology companies.

What he's saying: Snowden said he gave up a well-paying government job "spying on you" to never return home to see his family.

  • "Today I still live in exile, where I've been for over six years, which is actually getting close to the eight years that I spent working for the government in the intelligence community."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" β€”Β The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows β€” America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  3. Education: Devos extends federal student loan relief to Jan. 31
  4. States: New Mexico to allow hospitals to ration coronavirus medical care
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
2 hours ago - Health

A safe, sane survival guide

Photo: Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all know, it’s getting worse.

Reality check: Here are a few things every one of us can do to stay safe and sane in coming months:

Biden's debut nightmare

President-elect Biden speaks in Wilmington on Nov. 24. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address β€” virtually β€” a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.