News Column

Booz Allen Hamilton Down on Employees' NSA Leaks

June 10, 2013

Shan Li

Booz Allen Hamilton

Shares of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton were down on midday trading Monday after an employee, Edward Snowden, admitted that he leaked classified information about secret domestic surveillance by the government.

The Tysons Corner, Va.-based company has found itself embroiled in the uproar over a series of leaks to journalists about National Security Agency programs that monitored telephone logs and online messages by foreigners.

Snowden, a former computer technician for the Central Intelligence Agency and current Booz Allen employee, came forward Sunday as the source of the information.

So far, the leaks have revealed that the NSA looks at personal data of targeted foreigners and Americans connected to them with at least some consent from technology giants like Facebook and Google. The agency also gathers records on phone calls placed within the country and processes a huge amount of domestic and international data each month.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a large government contractor, has already felt blowback from the reveal. Its shares dropped 51 cents, or 2.8%, to $17.49 with about an hour left in the trading day. The company jumped into damage control mode Sunday.

"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," the company said in a statement. "We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter."

Snowden worked in Hawaii for Booz Allen and earned about $200,000 a year, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper. The 29-year-old started working at the CIA without a high school degree and later worked as a contractor at an NSA facility in Hawaii.

He was last reported to be in Hong Kong and the subject of an investigation that could land him in jail for the rest of his life. U.S. authorities could seek to have him extradited.

Snowden told the Guardian that he revealed only what he considered egregious abuses of surveillance by the U.S. upon its own citizens.

"If you realize that that's the world you helped create and it is going to get worse with the next generation and the next generation," he said, "you might be willing to accept any risks and it doesn't matter what the outcome is."

Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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