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Whistleblower Edward Snowden remains adamant that Russian and Chinese intelligence officials did not compromise any classified documents he took with him when he fled from the US.
In an extensive interview with the New York Times, Snowden says that the reason he’s able to make this claim is because he taught “cyber-counterintelligence” to NSA agents, specialising in defence against threats from the Chinese.
“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he says in the interview.
Another reason, he says, is that he gave over all the copies of classified documents in his possession to journalists before leaving for Moscow and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the documents to Moscow “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he tells the Times. “What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?”
Given Snowden’s work on defending against the Chinese, he would clearly have been a potential treasure-trove of information for that country’s intelligence agencies. But, Snowden says, if any information had been leaked to the Chinese or Russians, the NSA would have been much more aggressive in coming after him.
“If that was compromised, NSA would have set the table on fire from slamming it so many times in denouncing the damage it had caused. Yet NSA has not offered a single example of damage from the leaks,” he told the NYT.
“They haven’t said boo about it except ‘we think’, ‘maybe’, ‘have to assume’ from anonymous and former officials. Not ‘China is going dark’. Not ‘the Chinese military has shut us out’.”
As UK tech publication The Register notes, Snowden’s revelations also show that far from the US just trying to deflect attacks from Chinese cyber operatives, it actually perpetrates its own attacks on the Asian superpower.