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Culture Re-View: 10 years since Edward Snowden leaked the NSA secrets

A banner supporting Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs in Hong Kong
A banner supporting Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs in Hong Kong Copyright Kin Cheung/AP
Copyright Kin Cheung/AP
By Jonny Walfisz
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5 June 2013: Edward Snowden blows the whistle on the NSA


Exactly one decade ago, Edward Snowden first went public with disclosures about global surveillance programs run by his employer, the National Security Agency (NSA).

Snowden was just 29, but had already spent years working as a technical assistant at the CIA, a defence contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and at the NSA. Despite a comfortable life on a high salary living with a partner in Hawaii, he threw it all in due to his ethical concerns over the way the NSA was using private citizens’ information.

During his time at the NSA, Snowden amassed a dossier of information on how the NSA, the FBI and GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent organisation to the NSA, had been spying on their citizens through social media platforms, hacking into foreign countries’ computers to access information through a programme called PRISM.

Patrick Semansky/AP
National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md.Patrick Semansky/AP

Estimates for how many documents Snowden leaked varies, but one figure puts the number of NSA documents leaked at 1.7 million, along with hundreds of thousands of documents from international agencies.

To make the disclosure, Snowden took leave from the NSA to fly to Hong Kong. From there, he was interviewed by The Guardian on the content of the leaks. The story became the biggest in the world and for a while, Snowden remained anonymous before revealing himself in a further interview claiming he had “done nothing wrong.”

Despite this, the US charged him with espionage and began attempting to extradite Snowden. Hong Kong refused to comply but Snowden moved to Russia where Vladimir Putin confirmed he would not cooperate with the US. Snowden’s American passport was revoked and he has since become a naturalised Russian citizen.

The following year, the reporting on Snowden’s leaks earned The Guardian and The Washington Post the Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Chorion/SD Entertainment
A shot from 'Make Way For Noddy'Chorion/SD Entertainment

5 June 1949: Noddy is first published

In lighter news, this is also the anniversary of the first ‘Noddy’ book by beloved English children’s author Enid Blyton.

Famous for her adventurous children’s novel series ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’, Blyton’s most well-known work for a younger audience was Noddy, a doll that comes alive after he is built by a woodcarver.

First featured in ‘Noddy Goes to Toyland’ published in 1949, Blyton went on to write 24 books on the charming toy doll’s adventures with friends like the gnome Big Ears and Toyland policeman PC Plod.

Noddy is a classic of British children’s literature and has been adapted countless times with multiple TV shows and films bringing the toy doll to life.

5 June 1988: Longest champagne cork flight

Everyone knows to duck whenever someone is opening a bottle of bubbly. You better get out of the way sharpish if it’s Emeritus Heinrich Medicus. In 1988, Guinness World Records observed the American get a champagne cork to fly a record amount.

Popped at the Woodbury Vineyards Winery, New York, Heinrich Medicus ejected a cork from an untreated and unheated champagne bottle to a distance of 54.18m. Cheers!

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