LONDON ( TheStreet) -- Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American, has identified himself as the source of National Security Agency leaks about top-secret government programs that gather vast amounts of data from telephone and Internet companies, The Guardian and The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Last week, after reports in the Guardian and the Post, government officials admitted that the NSA has collected the telephone records of hundreds of millions of individuals. The agency has also collected data on Internet use by foreign nationals overseas, with Google (GOOG), Yahoo! (YHOO), Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) among the providers of the data.
Government officials defended the practices as necessary tactics in their efforts to thwart terrorist plots against the U.S.
Snowden, who contracted for the NSA while working for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH - Get Report), told the Post that "it's important to send a message to government that people will not be intimidated."Snowden, who is in Hong Kong, told the Guardian, "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."