[Dimitris Manis]: Since last Tuesday, the young man responsible for leaking information about the highly classified surveillance programs implemented by American government agencies has disappeared. Officials in Washington insist that the suspect must be arrested and extradited to the United States immediately. Edward Snowden left the hotel he was staying at in Hong Kong on Monday, a day after he revealed his identity himself through the British newspaper The Guardian. The 29-year-old man had traveled to the semi-autonomous Chinese region on May 20th, shortly before publishing details on the monitoring of mobile phones and the internet by the National Security Agency, aiming to prevent terrorist attacks. Phil Carter, a security expert, is among those who believe that Snowden’s actions have greatly harmed U.S. security. [Phil Carter]: This is a program the government relies on to gather massive amounts of data and understand it. The program is also used for detecting future terrorist attacks, as well as for monitoring foreign intelligence services and generally identifying anomalies related to criminal activities in the US. [Dimitris Manis]: On the other hand, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks which has published confidential US diplomatic documents in the past, praised Edward Snowden’s action. [Julian Assange]: Edward Snowden is a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious events of the last decade, which is the clandestine formation of a state of mass surveillance that has corrupted justice in the US and forced it to operate secretly, violating the constitutional protection of almost the entire population. Additionally, the state involved technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, forcing them to extend this surveillance worldwide. The data collected by the US government exceed 2.4 billion files for the month of March alone. [Dimitris Manis]: Edward Snowden acquired this information while working as an analyst at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which undertakes contracts for the national security service. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist at The Guardian who published the report on the surveillance programs, mentioned that Snowden knew what would happen by publishing this information. [Glenn Greenwald]: Of course, I worry for the fate of my source, who has provided an exceptional service to the public interest. However, he is a very intelligent man who made this decision with full knowledge of the consequences it would have. I don’t think anything unanticipated will happen to him. He is fully prepared for whatever comes his way. [Dimitris Manis]: Edward Snowden has stated that he will seek asylum in any country that believes in freedom of speech and global protection of personal data. The American Department of Justice announced that it has initiated an investigation into the leak of classified information but did not provide further details. Dimitris Manis, from Washington, for the Voice of America.