- Thomson Reuters
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden “has had and continues to have contact” with Russian intelligence services, according to newly declassified portions of a House Intelligence Committee report released on Thursday.
The Pentagon found 13 undisclosed “high risk” security issues caused by Snowden’s disclosure to media outlets of tens of thousands of the US eavesdropping agency’s most sensitive documents, according to the new material.
If the Chinese or Russians obtained access to materials related to these issues, “American troops will be at greater risk in any future conflict,” the report said.
“The committee remains concerned that more than three years after the start of the unauthorized disclosures, NSA, and the IC (Intelligence Community) as a whole, have not done enough to minimize the risk of another massive unauthorized disclosure,” the report said.
Snowden took to Twitter shortly after the report was released Thursday, blasting the committee for spreading “obvious falsehoods,” and arguing that the report actually exonerated him by failing to prove he intended harm when he disclosed the documents.
“After three years of investigation and millions of dollars, they can present no evidence of harmful intent, foreign influence, or harm. Wow,” he tweeted.
He also rebuked the report’s claims that he traveled to China while he was still employed by the NSA and spoke positively of his trip to his colleagues, calling the accusations “false and insane.”
Snowden noted that the report also failed to acknowledge his previous criticisms of Russian policies and President Vladimir Putin, such as his vocal opposition of a law signed last July that gave the government sweeping control over Russians’ online communications.
“Despite this, they claim without evidence I’m in cahoots with Russian intel,” Snowden wrote.
Snowden lives in Moscow under an asylum deal that was made after his leaks of classified information in 2013 triggered an international furor over the reach of US. spy operations.
In a statement, Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner called the report “a failed attempt to discredit Edward Snowden” that contained no evidence Snowden had harmful intentions or was under foreign influence.
“It combines demonstrable falsehoods with deceptive inferences to paint an entirely fictional portrait of an American whistleblower,” Wizner said.
The 37-page report was completed in September. It called Snowden’s leaks “the largest and most damaging public release” of top-secret materials in U.S. intelligence history. The report was released at a tense time in Washington over US government charges of Russia hacking of the US presidential election.