U.S. Fears Edward Snowden May Defect to China: Sources


A source told ABC News Snowden also said he attended classes at Johns Hopkins on a campus in Columbia, Maryland. A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins University said they have "no record" of Edward Snowden taking classes there.

Instead, the Maryland Higher Education Commission said that someone named Ed Snowden actually took "MS Windows 2000 Systems Engineer w/ Exchange" at a for-profit entity known as Advanced Career Technologies from February 2002 to May 2002. The school offered career training in Columbia, Maryland, under the name "Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins University." Hopkins ended its relationship with the company in 2009 and it shut down in 2012.

In addition, Snowden did work towards a Master's Degree at the University of Liverpool, taking an online Computer Security class in 2011.

Kate Mizen, head of public relations for the University of Liverpool, said he studied there, but "he is not active in his studies and has not completed the program."

Snowden told people his studies had also taken him to Tokyo with the University of Maryland, according to an informed source, who provided information on the condition he not be identified. ABC News confirmed a student named Edward Snowden attended one term in the Asia Program at the University of Maryland University College, in the summer of 2009.

"We serve non-traditional students, mostly working adults," said Bob Ludwig, Assistant Vice President, Media Relations for the University of Maryland University College. "We don't have a traditional campus environment, as most of our classes are online."

The Guardian report indicated that Snowden's professional career also included a stint in Japan, with the Texas-based computer giant Dell.

A Dell spokesman has angrily refused to verify Snowden's employment there, at first saying the company had been advised by the Department of Justice not to respond to questions. When a Justice Department official refuted that, the Dell official revised his reasons for remaining silent.

"That request came from our customer," the company spokesman said, without identifying that customer.

Around this time, in February 2010, Snowden allegedly wrote online that society "seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types."

"Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop, or was it [a] relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government surveillance?" he wrote.

Snowden's upbringing remains a source of bewilderment for members of Congress, trying to determine where the now-famous intelligence contractor came from.

"I'm trying to look at this resume background for this individual who had access to this highly classified information at such a young age with a limited education and work experience," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, said when grilling NSA Director and Army Gen. Keith Alexander. "And [I] ask you if you're troubled that he was given that kind of opportunity to be so close to important information that was critical to the security of our nation."

As the debate rages over whether Snowden is a traitor to the U.S. or a hero for exposing what he called "horrifying" surveillance programs, Snowden told The South China Morning Post he believes he's neither. "I'm an American," he said.

Snowden has slipped back into the shadows somewhere in Hong Kong, but according to former Royal Hong Kong Police Force intelligence chief Steve Vickers, after making sure a public splash, it's unlikely the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities aren't tracking him.

"It would be very surprising to me if they weren't aware of where he is and [aren't] keeping a close eye on what's occurring," Vickers said.

The high-profile Snowden has cultivated could make it more difficult for the U.S. to get the 29-year-old back to the homeland should they bring charges against him, Vickers said, as illustrated by a small group of protestors outside the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong.

"The longer he remains here and the more lawyers he sees and the more attention he gets… day by day it becomes more difficult to just have him put on a plane and disappear into the sunset," he said.

A Booz spokesman declined to comment Wednesday about whether the FBI had executed search warrants to do forensic examinations of computers or company records pertaining to Snowden's short time as an employee.

ABC News's Jonathan Karl and Rashid Haddou contributed to this report.

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