NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden reportedly used the login details of his workmates to access sensitive data
The ethics and moral position of whistleblower Edward Snowden have been called into question in a new report that alleges he duped his former workmates into handing over their passwords so he could access sensitive material, some of which was then leaked to the media.
According to Reuters, a source close to several US government investigations into the damage caused by the leaks, has alleged that Snowden used login credentials and passwords provided unwittingly by colleagues at a base in the National Security Agency (NSA) regional operations centre in Hawaii to access classified information.
It is reported that Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers to give him their logins and passwords, claiming he needed the login detail to do his job as a computer systems administrator. A “handful of agency employees” who gave Snowden their login details were identified, questioned and removed from their assignments and their fates remain unknown.
Snowden worked at the Hawaii base for about a month last year, during which time he downloaded tens of thousands of secret NSA documents.
Officials with the NSA and the Office of Director of National Intelligence have not commented due to the ongoing criminal investigation into Snowden – an investigation which is apparently proceeding slowly because Snowden obscured some electronic traces of how he accessed NSA records.
For some, these new accusation against Snowden could undermine the moral high ground he has taken since the leaks, supported by civil rights groups who say exposing government surveillance is a good thing. Obtaining credentials in this way may have cost the jobs of several colleagues – in any case, it has been reported previously that following the leaks, the NSA began to lay off 90 percent of its system administrators, fearing there may be other Snowdens on the payroll.
Meanwhile, spychiefs have argued that Snowden’s leaks could have more serious consequences, in aiding terrorist groups. “It’s clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee, al Qaeda is lapping it up,” John Sawers, the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, told a parliamentary committee earlier this week.
Snowden is temporarily residing in Russia, after he made headlines across the world in May when he revealed the existence of several highly intrusive electronic surveillance projects run by the US government and its allies, including PRISM, which gives the NSA access to user accounts through secret court orders.
Snowden now reportedly has a new job providing technical support for a Russian website.
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