Edward Snowden: A Privacy Activist with Epilepsy

Did you get a chance to see the 2016 Joseph Gordon-Levitt starrer biopic, Snowden? The movie will tell you about Snowden as a privacy activist and the controversy of him being a traitor, vs. him being a hero. But then, the internet can easily provide you with this piece of information. However, what the movie and a little research will tell you, is that Edward Snowden also had Epilepsy. Here’s something about the exiled whistleblower.


“If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home.”

– Edward Snowden

Adhaar Leak


Who is Snowden?

Edward is a 34-year-old former CIA employee, currently living in exile in Russia. He is the first contractor for the United States government who copied and leaked top secret information from the National Security Agency (NSA). This alleged espionage was about NSA’s surveillance activities, making headlines in 2013.

Edward Joseph Snowden was born on June 21, 1983, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He is an American computer expert and a privacy activist. Snowden was a high school drop out. He studied computers at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland (from 1999-2001, and again from 2004-2005). Between his jobs at the community college, Snowden spent four months in special-forces training in the Army Reserves but, he never completed it.


Snowden started out by working as a security guard for an institute affiliated with the NSA. Later, his computer programming skills and talent had him hired by the CIA. He began noticing government programs involving the NSA, spying on millions of Americans via phone calls and internet usage. He then began leaking information about the NSA, using an anonymous identity.

Edward Snowden

Source: The Washington Post

At the time of his departure from the US, Snowden worked as a Booz Allen Hamilton Systems Analyst, doing contract work for the NSA. The records which he mentioned revealed the secrets of NSA programs. He continued to use his skills to collect and store personal communications both within the US and abroad.

An experience with Epilepsy

Edward was diagnosed with Epilepsy when he was 23. Snowden told his NSA supervisor that he needed a leave of absence for his treatment.  Instead, after compiling a large number of documents, Snowden left Hawaii for Hong Kong.

Statistical data

65 Million: Number of people around the world who have Epilepsy.

–  1 in 26 people in the United States will develop it at some point in their life.

–  One-third: Number of people with Epilepsy who live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatment works for them.

–  6 out of 10: Number of people with Epilepsy where the cause is unknown.

– 3 Million: Number of people in the US who have Epilepsy.


Even though Edward Snowden suffered from Epilepsy, yet, he never discontinued his work. A person diagnosed with Epilepsy certainly does not have anything wrong with them, physically or mentally. However, the society we live in makes one feel so. It is the seizures that can cause brain damage. Otherwise, Epilepsy in no way disables a person. We all pay attention to the scandals and stories surrounding a person as famous as Snowden. However, rarely do we consider the other aspects of their lives. Yes, all of us are fighting our own inner battles.

People with Epilepsy CAN handle jobs with responsibility and stress. People with seizure disorders are found in all walks of life : Epilepsy Foundation

Despite his Epilepsy, Snowden has continued his work as a computer privacy activist. Anybody can develop a disorder or disease at any point in their lives. But, we can determine how it affects our work. So, if you encounter any anomalous symptom in yourself or anyone around you, do not hesitate to seek help. Don’t let a differently-abled body or mind turn into a dis-abled one.

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