Snowden studied with Liverpool University

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden © Guardian

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden © Guardian

The man who told the world about the American government monitoring people’s internet and phone activity honed his IT skills through the University of Liverpool.

Edward Snowden this week announced himself as the source behind leaked National Security Agency documents that indicate that the US government, under a programme called ‘Prism’, collects user data from the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook and also stores information from phone records.

It now appears that the American Snowden, a NSA contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, was studying online for a Masters degree in Computer Security through the University of Liverpool, but did not finish the course, according to the Liverpool Echo.

A spokesman for the university said: “Edward Snowden registered to study a University of Liverpool online MSc programme in Computer Security in 2011. He is not active in his studies and has not completed the programme.”

University of Liverpool © geograph.org.uk at Wikipedia Creative Commons

University of Liverpool © geograph.org.uk at Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The course prospectus describes how its “international virtual classroom provides an ideal perspective from which to consider the global nature of security and confidentiality issues, offering a unique insight into threats and solutions across the world”.

The skills he studied online may have contributed to his attaining the position within the NSA, where he was privy to the information he would then leak.

Currently based in Hong Kong after revealing the Prism documents to The Guardian, Snowden, 29, claims that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) shared the information collected by the NSA, although the allegations have been refuted.

The UK government has, however, issued an international travel alert to airlines to say that Snowden would be likely to be refused entry into this country should the whistleblower attempt to come here, although there is no official warrant out for his arrest or detention by the US government.

Update 23/6/13: three days before Edward Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow, the Huffington Post carried a report by Reuters suggesting that NSA contractors, Booz Allen Hamilton, hired him this year “despite concerns about discrepancies in his resume”. According to sources quoted by Reuters, the resume stated that Snowden “estimated” he would receive his Master’s degree in Computer Security from the University of Liverpool some time this year. The report states it is unclear precisely which element of Snowden’s CV caused personnel officials at Booz Allen Hamilton to raise questions.

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism