The NSA and the United States Government created many programs that are used to surveillance suspected parties. Many of these modern programs were created under the broad power of the Patriot Act which enables the government to track suspected threats to national security. The programs were kept secret for many years, most of which were deemed classified, secret, top secret, or higher classifications. The capabilities of the government were censored from public knowledge. After knowing the capabilities of the government, employees of the NSA may have felt the need to self-censor in order to avoid infringing upon the law by releasing information about the programs regardless of their moral stance on it. However, when Edward Snowden decided to release information on these programs, he went to Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill. He trusted these journalists and filmmakers to censor the materials and documents they released to the public in order to accurately portray the seriousness of the situation and not escalate a battle between Snowden and the United States government. Snowden had all of the knowledge, but knew he was not capable of meaningfully releasing the information on his own as he was afraid his “strongly held views” would not accurately represent “the public’s interest.”
When Snowden decided to release the classified government programs, he felt the need to flee to Hong Kong in order to circumvent potential arrest from the U.S. government. He knew that if he were to initiate communications to journalists about the programs from within a country under surveillance, that there was a likelihood that his efforts would have been thwarted. Snowden decided to take seek asylum in Hong Kong as he believed the state had a “strong tradition of free speech” as citizens have long been able to protest in the streets to make their own views known. Additionally, “the internet [was] not filtered [there],” anymore so than any other Western government. Snowden knew the truth about government capabilities, potential, and interests and decided he needed to flee the country in order to speak up against programs that infringe upon privacy. If the public knows that everything they do online could be seen by the government, it could potentially limit their freedoms.