The man who claims to be the whistleblower behind the revelation that the National Security Agency is gathering troves of data on individuals' telephone and internet use stepped forward on Sunday.
Edward Snowden asked Britain's Guardian newspaper -- which along with The Washington Post first broke the story -- to release his identity.
Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who currently works as a contractor for the National Security Agency as an employee of contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, claimed responsibility for the leaks that have roiled Washington for the last week, saying: "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I have done nothing wrong."
Booz Allen confirmed later Sunday that Snowden worked for their firm for less than three months, assigned to a team in Hawaii.
"News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter," the company said in a statement.
Working out of an NSA office in Hawaii, Snowden copied the documents he subsequently disclosed to the Guardian and asked his supervisors for time off to receive treatments for epilepsy. The Washington Post reports he told no one -- not even those closest -- about what he was doing.
On May 20, Snowden departed for Hong Kong to monitor the results of his disclosures, a city he chose because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech" and because he believed the Asian island metropolis would afford him some level of insulation from the prying eye of the U.S. government.
Snowden said that his best opportunity at evading punishment would be to seek asylum in Iceland, which has a reputation for championing Internet freedom, but conceded: "All my options are bad."
He will likely face prosecution if he is extradited to the United States. On Sunday, an official with the Director of National Intelligence confirmed to CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett that the NSA has asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak. Reuters has described the formal request as a "crimes report," signaling the likelihood of some kind of prosecutory action.