Snow­den files ‘cracked’

Lesotho Times - - International -

LON­DON — Bri­tain has been forced to re­move some of its spies af­ter Rus­sia and China ac­cessed the top se­cret raft of doc­u­ments taken by former US in­tel­li­gence con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den, Bri­tish me­dia re­ported. The BBC and the Sun­day Times cited se­nior govern­ment and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials as say­ing agents had been pulled, with the news­pa­per say­ing the move came af­ter Rus­sia was able to de­crypt more than one mil­lion files.

“It is the case that Rus­sians and Chi­nese have in­for­ma­tion. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowl­edge of how we op­er­ate has stopped us get­ting vi­tal in­for­ma­tion,” a Down­ing Street source said, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

Down­ing Street told AFP on Sun­day that they “don’t com­ment on in­tel­li­gence mat­ters” while the For­eign Of­fice said: “We can nei­ther con­firm nor deny these re­ports”.

The BBC said on its web­site, mean­while, that a govern­ment source said the two coun­tries “have in­for­ma­tion” that spurred in­tel­li­gence agents be­ing moved, but said there was “no ev­i­dence” any spies were harmed.

Snow­den fled to Rus­sia af­ter leak­ing the doc­u­ments to the press in 2013 to ex­pose the ex­tent of US on­line sur­veil­lance pro­grammes and to pro­tect “pri­vacy and ba­sic lib­er­ties”.

The Sun­day Times said other govern­ment sources claimed China had also ac­cessed the doc­u­ments, which re­veal US and Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence tech­niques, lead­ing to fears that their spies could be iden­ti­fied.

Snow­den worked as a con­trac­tor at the CIA and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, where he was able to down­load 1.7 mil­lion se­cret doc­u­ments that showed how hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple had been un­der sur­veil­lance, ac­cord­ing to the Sun­day Times.

He pre­vi­ously claimed that “no in­tel­li­gence ser­vice” could crack the doc­u­ments, say­ing he was able to “keep such in­for­ma­tion from be­ing com­pro­mised even in the high­est threat counter-in­tel­li­gence en­vi­ron­ments”.

But an in­tel­li­gence source told the Sun­day Times: “We know Rus­sia and China have ac­cess to Snow­den’s ma­te­rial and will be go­ing through it for years to come, search­ing for clues to iden­tify po­ten­tial tar­gets.”

An of­fi­cial from the in­te­rior min­istry added that “(Rus­sian Pres­i­dent) Mr Putin didn’t give him asy­lum for noth­ing”.

The US ad­min­is­tra­tion has branded Snow­den a hacker and a traitor who en­dan­gered lives by re­veal­ing the ex­tent of the NSA spy­ing pro­gramme.

But he has been nom­i­nated for the No­bel Peace Prize for the sec­ond year in a row and has re­ceived a string of in­ter­na­tional awards for free speech and civil lib­er­ties.

— AFP

Jeb bush (cen­tre) cel­e­brates af­ter an­nounc­ing his can­di­dacy for the 2016 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on Monday in Mi­ami, Florida.

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