On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified report into former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that alleges he has maintained ties with Russian intelligence agencies.
The 37-page report —some of which remains classified—includes a detailed report of his career as a government worker, and how he managed to extract millions of documents from the NSA without being detected by exploiting a vulnerability the agency was unaware of. The exploit itself is redacted in the report.
At the heart of the report is the conclusion that Snowden is not a whistleblower and did harm to national security. Several serious charges are made against the former NSA worker, including a claim he “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services” since taking asylum in Russia after fleeing the United States.
The report—which lawmakers noted is a “review” and not a formal investigation—cites classified information to support the claim, making the evidence of it unavailable to the public. The document also contains 20 specific accounts of apparent damage Snowden’s actions have caused, but those too have been redacted.
Snowden, who remains in Moscow, took issue with the report. He refuted its claims on Twitter, arguing the document is rife with “ obvious falsehoods.”
The former NSA contractor dismissed the claim he is working with Russian intelligence by attempting to discredit the source of the information.
The House Intelligence Committee’s document points to an NPR interview with Frants Klintsevich, a senator in Russia and deputy chairman of the country’s defense and security committee, in which he claims Snowden has shared intelligence with Russia.
Snowden pointed out that Klintsevich said in that interview audio he was “only speculating.” He also noted earlier this week Klintsevich claimed NATO was behind the assassination of a Russian ambassador in Turkey despite there being no evidence to support the claim, indicating the Russian senator may be making politically motivated claims in both cases.
Many of the charges made in the report were dismissed out of hand by Snowden, who refuted a claim he went to a hacker convention and met Chinese hackers as “ false and insane ” because he “never went to any hacker con during my time in government.” He also dismisses an argument he should have gone to the NSA’s Inspector General George Ellard by noting Ellard was recently removed from his post for retaliating against whistleblowers.
Snowden called the document “an endless parade of falsity so unbelievable it comes across as parody,” but noted it unintentionally exonerates him by documenting his many attempts to report waste, fraud, and abuse to his superiors.
“Bottom line: this report’s core claims are made without evidence, and are often contrary to both common sense and the public record,” Snowden concluded.
“The House committee spent three years and millions of dollars in a failed attempt to discredit Edward Snowden, whose actions led to the most significant intelligence reforms in a generation,” Ben Wizner, Snowden’s attorney and the director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement provided to IBTimes.
Wizner argued the report “wholly ignores” Snowden’s criticism of Russia’s own surveillance and censorship laws. He referred to Snowden as a whistleblower and said the report was an attempt to paint a false pictures of Snowden through “demonstrable falsehoods” and “deceptive inferences.”
“For all of its harsh rhetoric, the report contains no evidence whatsoever that Snowden’s intentions were anything other than public-minded, that his actions caused harm, or that he is under foreign influence – because no such evidence exists. In fact, the NSA’s former deputy director has stated publicly that he does not believe that Snowden acted under the influence of a foreign power,” Wizner said.