Edward Snowden and George Zimmerman became household names in 2013, dividing the nation and sparking emotional reactions. NY1's Cheryl Wills takes a look at what made national headlines and filed the following report.
A little-known 30-year-old computer specialist became an internationally known cyber-fugitive after leaking classified documents from the National Security Agency. Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how the NSA's surveillance program gathered information from every day people and even presidents and prime ministers. After leaking his hacked information to the press in June, he fled the United States for Hong Kong and later Russia. He is now wanted by the U.S. to face criminal charges for espionage and government property. Hailed as both a patriot and a traitor, Snowden came in second place for Time magazine's person of the year and was granted asylum in Russia.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight disappeared without a trace between 2002 and 2004. In May, the nation learned they had been held captive - sometimes bound and gagged in Ariel Castro's house of horrors in Cleveland, Ohio. Berry managed to escape while Castro was out running errands and neighbors came to their aid. Castro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years. He died in jail in September.
All eyes were on the George Zimmerman trial this summer as he faced second degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin. On February 26, 2012 the neighborhood watchman shot and killed the unarmed teenager in Florida after following him, claiming he acted in self-defense. A jury acquitted him of all charges which sparked nationwide protests and led President Barack Obama to call for calm and said, "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."