'Spectacular coincidence'? Sunday Times report claiming China and Russia have accessed Snowden files comes under fire

A Sunday Times story claiming Russia and China have accessed the Snowden files has been described as a “spectacular coincidence” by Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.

The latest concerns about the Snowden leaks come after the publication of the David Anderson report last Thursday. The official reviewer of terrorism legislation has called for comprehensive legal reform of Government surveillance and new judicial oversight in a move which has been welcomed by Liberty.

Chakrabarti said: “Rumblings from No 10 immediately betrayed they were less than happy with many of Anderson’s recommendations – particularly his call for judicial oversight. And three days later, the empire strikes back…

“Low on facts, high on assertions, this flimsy but impeccably timed story gives us a clear idea of where Government spin will go in the coming weeks.”

The Sunday Times front page states that Snowden downloaded 1.7m secret documents when working as a contractor for the US National Security Agency.

It reports that Russia and China have accessed the files, “cracked” the encryption and forced MI6 to take agents out of hostile countries.

It quotes a Downing Street source: “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. There is no evidence of anyone being harmed.”

The Guardian published its first Edward Snowden stories two years ago.

Guardian journalist Ewan MacAskill wrote yesterday: “Which cache of documents is the UK government talking about? Snowden has said he handed tens of thousands of leaked documents over to journalists he met in Hong Kong, and that he has not had them in his possession since. Have Russia and China managed to access documents held by one of the journalists or their companies?”

He also notes that UK agents being moved as a result of Snowden is an old story.

“The claim about agents being moved was first made in the UK 18 months ago, along with allegations that Snowden had helped terrorists evade surveillance and, as a result, had blood on his hands. Both the US and UK have since acknowledged no one has been harmed.”

MacAskill said that “The Sunday Times story may reflect a cack-handed attempt by some within the British security apparatus to try to take control of the narrative”.

In a leader column headed “Putin’s Poodle”, The Times said today: “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. There is no evidence of anyone being harmed.”

The New York Times has a copy of the same Snowden files which The Guardian has access to. Snowden documents are also held by Der Spiegel.

American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who worked on the Snowden story for The Guardian, said on Twitter: "If you're someone who believes anonymously voiced self-serving govt claims, you're dumb. If you're a journalist who prints it, you're worse.”

Speaking on CNN, Greenwald said: “This is the kind of reporting that single-handedly destroyed the credibility of journalism around the world.

“People are smart enough by now to know that when you read in the paper accusations and smears from the Government who are too cowardly to put their names to it, this is all anonymous officials…

"People know by now that’s completely unreliable, shoddy journalism.”

He said it was a “ridiculous story” which was also “filled with lies”.

Greenwald disputed The Sunday Times claim that Snowden had 1.7m NSA documents and the suggestion that he had taken the files with him to Moscow. Greenwald said Snowden handed over all his documents to journalists before entering Russia and destroyed his own copies.

He also noted that The Sunday Times said that David Miranda, Greenwald’s partner, was arrested at Heathrow with 58,000 Snowden documents on his way back from seeing Snowden in Moscow. He said that Miranda has never been to Moscow. Miranda had in fact been in Berlin visiting the film-maker Laura Poitras who worked with Greenwald on the Snowden story.

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twenty + fifteen =

CLOSE
CLOSE