Edward Snowden

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.

The price of whistleblowing

Whistleblowers from some of the nation's highest profile cases have faced personal threats and consequences for their actions — but they're still urging others to expose wrongdoing despite the risks.

Why it matters: In interviews with "Axios on HBO," five of the best-known whistleblowers opened up about the threats they faced and the life-changing personal sacrifices they made: the isolation, the threats of physical harm, even the end of a marriage.