After observing numerous unethical and unofficial monitoring techniques while serving as a CIA employee and a sub-contractor from NSA, Edward J. Snowden decides to turn into a whistleblower on the U.S. Government’s illegal attempts of global spying. The story in the movie continues through flashbacks as he tells his story to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and
The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, Snowden reveals the events that led to this great decision of Edward. Starting with his recruitment in the U.S. Army, then his transformation to a CIA technology expert, and then finally NSA sub-contractor, the cyber expert describes his concern over the increasingly prohibited he is compelled to enact, which then in a way causes problems in his relationship with girlfriend Lindsay Mills.
Although, the events shown in the movie are not exactly similar to what happened in the reality obviously. It is dramatized a bit by showing additional events with his girlfriend. One of the repetitive points which is portrayed in the movie is that several secret operations run by the government have the ability to turn on the laptop camera without us knowing. At several points of time, there can be seen a phase where it becomes hard for the journalists if and when they should post the details, which Snowden provided them or not. He explains Laura about a backup program built by him named EPIC SHELTER. It made sure that the data which aren’t already backed up are sent to servers at NSA headquarters. And even though Officials of Japan didn’t like the idea of being spied on by their live drone feed, the NSA didn’t stop it but tapped the country and even their physical infrastructures by putting sleeper programs in their power grid so that if a day comes when Japan is not an ally anymore they could use it against them. The same happened with several others like Mexico, Austria, Brazil, Germany and many more.
Later he was put in Terrorism watch duty, that is he had to keep an eye on all possible people they have information about but that was not it. When they follow a specific person/ terrorist, they also have to keep a watch on their metadata that is who the other person is in contact with and it becomes a kind of loop which never ends, hence concluding the theory that almost everyone is tapped by some way or other by the NSA. The film shows several scenes where it’s clear the amount of stress Snowden was in as he used to get strokes when he gets to think about what people on the other side would be feeling like when spied.
Glenn and Laura tried their best to communicate with Janine from Hongkong to post the leaked details online as soon as possible before the CIA and NSA get to know about the leak. His new job was counter-spying on the Chinese at the NSA Regional Cryptological Centre in Oahu where basically no employee could take any sort of electronic device inside the centre. And while he was working there one day he copied all the data from the main server to his external hard disk that included the Top secret FISA Court orders asking VERIZON to hand over call details. And immediately THE GUARDIAN posted an article including links to the FISA Court Orders and later it was confirmed that all the data was going directly to the NSA. And the very next day, another article was published by THE WASHINGTON POST that said the U.S and the British intelligence is tapping directly into the central servers of nine U.S. Internet companies in through a secret program called PRISM.
The Government quickly stated that all the surveillance programs were done by following safety guidelines. After somedays, Snowden came forward as the whistleblower of this subject with the interview conducted by THE GUARDIAN. Later Edward was formally charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property. The U.S.A asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant. He found a hideout in Hong Kong and stayed there for almost 10–15 days till he found out that U.S officials might find him soon and then he, fortunately, was able to board a flight to Moscow, Russia. Although he had plans to move to Cuba and then to Ecuador but he could not get to his connective flight in Moscow, since The U.S Government had his passport revoked. Russia denied arresting Edward. He thought Russia was the perfect asylum for him.
The movie ends with a scene where the reel actor who played the role of Edward Snowden with a transition changes to the real Edward Snowden who answers some of the Questions of a News Offical where he even said that he can accept trial only if it was fair which was not going to happen as long as the Espionage Act is being used against whistleblowers. And answers questions if it was worth it to become a whistleblower since he didn’t actually gain anything rather than bring this thing in front of the people who are getting spied on always.
IN 2020, EDWARD SNOWDEN WAS GRANTED PERMANENT RESIDENCY AFTER 7 YEARS OF TEMPORARY RESIDENCE IN RUSSIA