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American man who unleashed NSA controversy in British newspaper is an activist, former attorney

A British publication, The Guardian, broke the news Wednesday about the National Security Agency secretly collecting metadata on a daily basis from Verizon in the form of millions of phone records.

But the reporter behind the story, Glenn Greenwald, isn’t British. In fact, Greenwald is actually an American activist who left a successful career as an attorney to write full-time about issues like criminal prosecutions against journalists and government surveillance.

An article in The New York Times on Friday quotes Greenwald as saying, “I approach my journalism as a litigator. People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”

The Times article continued, “(Greenwald) describes himself as an activist and an advocate. But with this leak about the extremely confidential legal apparatus supporting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he has lifted the veil on some of the government’s most closely held secrets. The leak, he said, came from “a reader of mine” who was comfortable working with him.”

Greenwald’s bio on The Guardian website reads: “Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and U.S. national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of 'How Would a Patriot Act?' (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power; 'A Tragic Legacy' (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and 'With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.'"