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Edward Snowden tells "Axios on HBO" what he gave up to become a whistleblower

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."

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