House re­port ties Snow­den to Russian in­tel

For­mer NSA con­trac­tor cites ‘ob­vi­ous false­hoods,’ lack of ev­i­dence

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY AN­DREW BLAKE

The House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence ac­cused for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den of main­tain­ing con­tacts with Russian spies, but the leaker of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion quickly re­sponded by say­ing the re­port re­leased Thurs­day was “ri­fled with ob­vi­ous false­hoods.”

The com­mit­tee’s years of re­view of Mr. Snow­den’s pil­fer­ing of an es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from the NSA yielded a de­clas­si­fied but highly redacted re­port de­voted largely to ex­am­in­ing the con­di­tions that al­lowed the heist to hap­pen and the dam­ages caused by Mr. Snow­den’s sub­se­quent dis­clo­sures.

The unredacted text of the com­mit­tee’s 38-page re­port sug­gests that Mr. Snow­den has forged a re­la­tion­ship with the Russian in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity dur­ing the 3½ years he has resided in Moscow.

Mr. Snow­den fled the U.S. for Hong Kong in May 2013 and the fol­low­ing month be­came stranded in­side Moscow’s Shereme­tyevo In­ter­na­tional Air­port af­ter the State Depart­ment re­voked his pass­port. Russian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin granted him asy­lum shortly af­ter­ward.

“Since Snow­den’s ar­rival in Moscow, he has had, and con­tin­ues to have, con­tact with Russian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices,” the House re­port says.

The state­ment is in a highly redacted sec­tion of the re­port con­cern­ing “for­eign in­flu­ence” and ap­pears along­side a quote from Frants Klint­se­vich, deputy chair­man of the Russian par­lia­ment’s de­fense and se­cu­rity com­mit­tee.

Mr. Snow­den, 33, de­nied any con­nec­tion with Russian in­tel­li­gence from his Twit­ter ac­count and called into ques­tion the House panel’s ac­cu­sa­tion as well as the cred­i­bil­ity of the Russian of­fi­cial cited in its re­port.

“Af­ter three years of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and mil­lions of dol­lars, they can present no ev­i­dence of harm­ful in­tent, for­eign in­flu­ence, or harm. Wow,” Mr. Snow­den tweeted.

In­stead, he tweeted, “they claim with­out ev­i­dence I’m in ca­hoots with Russian in­tel.”

“Every­one knows this is false, but let’s ex­am­ine their ba­sis,” he continued. He said Mr. Klint­se­vich ac­cused NATO of plot­ting the as­sas­si­na­tion Mon­day of Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to Tur­key.

The House re­port, Mr. Snow­den said, re­sem­bles “an endless pa­rade of fal­sity so un­be­liev­able it comes across as par­ody. Yet un­in­ten­tion­ally ex­on­er­at­ing.”

“Bot­tom line: this re­port’s core claims are made with­out ev­i­dence, and are of­ten con­trary to both com­mon sense and the pub­lic record,” he tweeted.

Aside from his con­nec­tion with Russian spies, the House re­port por­trays Mr. Snow­den as “a se­rial ex­ag­ger­a­tor and fab­ri­ca­tor” who caused tremen­dous dam­age to U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity by leak­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments con­cern­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and the NSA’s sur­veil­lance ap­pa­ra­tus.

Con­trary to his own claims, the re­port stated that most of the doc­u­ments stolen by Mr. Snow­den had “no con­nec­tion to programs that could im­pact pri­vacy or civil lib­er­ties, but “in­stead per­tain to military, de­fense, and in­tel­li­gence programs of great in­ter­est to Amer­ica’s ad­ver­saries.”

Mr. Snow­den’s at­tor­ney, Ben Wizner, called the re­port an ex­pen­sive and “failed at­tempt to dis­credit Ed­ward Snow­den, whose ac­tions led to the most sig­nif­i­cant in­tel­li­gence re­forms in a gen­er­a­tion.”

The re­port “wholly ig­nores Snow­den’s re­peated and coura­geous crit­i­cism of Russian sur­veil­lance and cen­sor­ship laws. It com­bines demon­stra­ble false­hoods with de­cep­tive in­fer­ences to paint an en­tirely fic­tional por­trait of an Amer­i­can whistle­blower,” he said in a state­ment.

More than three years af­ter the Jus­tice Depart­ment in­dicted Mr. Snow­den on es­pi­onage and other charges, mem­bers of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee used the release of their re­port this week to call on him to come home and stand trial.

“It will take a long time to mit­i­gate the dam­age he caused, and I look for­ward to the day when he returns to the United States to face jus­tice,” com­mit­tee Chair­man Devin Nunes, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, said in a state­ment.

“This ex­ten­sive re­port shows Snow­den is no hero and that he should be brought to jus­tice for his reck­less ac­tions,” said Rep. Lynn A. West­more­land, Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the NSA and cy­ber­se­cu­rity subcom­mit­tee.

The House re­port was re­leased amid rekin­dled pleas for Pres­i­dent Obama to par­don Mr. Snow­den be­fore leav­ing of­fice next month. Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump and his nom­i­nee for CIA di­rec­tor have called for Mr. Snow­den to be ex­e­cuted.

“I think that Mr. Snow­den raised some le­git­i­mate con­cerns. How he did it was some­thing that did not fol­low the pro­ce­dures and prac­tices of our in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity,” Mr. Obama said last month.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“Bot­tom line: this re­port’s core claims are made with­out ev­i­dence, and are of­ten con­trary to both com­mon sense and the pub­lic record,” for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den tweeted Thurs­day about the House re­port.

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