Gellman, in turn, was referred to as 'Brassbanner' in their communications.
He said earlier that he had only left his hotel room, now revealed to be the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, three times since he arrived on May 20, though he has now checked out and his whereabouts are unknown.
Mr Snowden's case already echoes that of Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange who took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London last summer after Swedish authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest amid allegations of sexual assault. Iceland's government of newly-elected conservative Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, may not be so generous this time around.
This means that they will protect free speech if a person is being arrested just for their political opinions.
The petition, which calls for 'a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs' is aiming for 100,000 signatures by July, 9, 2013.
Explaining why he chose to go to Hong Kong, the whistleblower said mainland China had significant restrictions on free speech but he admired the people of Hong Kong's long tradition of protesting in the streets to ensure their voices were heard.
Regina Ip, formerly the city's top official overseeing security, told reporters the city's administration was 'obliged to comply with the terms of agreements' with the U. government, which included the extradition of fugitives.'It's actually in his best interest to leave Hong Kong,' she said, adding that she did not know whether the government had yet received an extradition request. Using the code name 'Verax,' which means truth-teller in Latin, he gingerly approached Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman with the explosive story on May 16.
He described how his intense paranoia saw him line the hotel room door with pillows for fear of eavesdroppers and cover his head with a blanket when he communicated to muffle his voice.
The country of 320,000 people has served as the home base for the fundraising efforts of anti-secrecy website Wiki Leaks and earlier earned a reputation as a safe haven by taking in American fugitive former chess champion Bobby Fischer in 2005.
The group monitor the NSA's staff and contractors for unusual behavior that may pose an intelligence risk, the Beast writes.'I think there has not been a more significant or helpful leak or unauthorized disclosure in American history ever than what Edward Snowden shared with The Guardian about the NSA — and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers,' he told The Daily Beast.
Due to privacy rules, the receptionist refused to confirm with The Post how long Snowden had stayed at the Mira though it is presumed he had been holed up there since arriving in Hong Kong. Hong Kong officials also have the right to say no to extradition if they believe that the attempt is 'politically motivated'. Justice Department Andrew Ames said: 'The Department of Justice is in the initial stages of an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by an individual with authorized access.
Heim says police came by on Wednesday to ask where the couple went. He then told his boss and his girlfriend that he'd be away for a few weeks, keeping the reasons vague as only someone working in intelligence can, and on May 20, he boarded a plane to Hong Kong, where he remains in hiding. He also thinks the Chinese government might seize him.
The high level security clearance he was given, and in turn, the information he saw in his roles within both the CIA and NSA, sparked his concern for the intense surveillance the NSA was carrying out among millions of Americans and hundreds of millions across the world.
Federal agents this afternoon visited the Pennsylvania home of Edward Snowden's father and stepmother, just hours after the 29-year-old NSA whistleblower checked out of his plush Hong Kong hotel and went on the run from U. Mrs Snowden said on Sunday night that they had been 'bombarded' by media since Edward Snowden revealed himself to have leaked top-secret documents detailing the government's extensive surveillance programs.