Edward Snowden, the CIA contractor who revealed the scale of America's internet surveillance around the world, may have learnt the hacking skills to leak thousands of files on a pounds 1,000 course he attended in India.
According to the Delhi-based Koenig training institute, Mr Snowden attended a six-day "security analyst and ethical hacker" course in September 2010, two years before he disclosed the files that outraged foreign leaders and embarrassed his government.
Last night (Wednesday), the company told The Daily Telegraph that the rogue analyst contacted it in 2009 to join the course. He later paid the fee for his tuition and extra for his boarding in Karol Bagh, a grimy market district of the Indian capital.
Mr Snowden had been a quiet student who stayed in his hostel room and focused entirely on his course. Hema Sharma, Koenig's Delhi training centre manager, said that the hacking course was paid for by Mr Snowden personally.
"He was an intelligent, quiet and cooperative student," Mr Sharma said. "A thorough hacking professional, who preferred to maintain a low profile and not share details about [his] personal life. "He made the initial payment through PayPal and the rest through his credit card.
It was a self-sponsored course. "He mostly spent time at the institute and used to go out rarely." Mr Sharma added: "Certainly his course here included some elements which may have helped him in what he did.
But overall he was a very intelligent student and good learner." The course allowed Mr Snowdon to become a "Certified Ethical Hacker", and an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst.