WASHINGTON — Edward Snowden has been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia in 2013, according to a new report from Congress.
“Since Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services,” the 33-page report, issued Thursday by the bipartisan House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said.
Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked volumes of information on American intelligence and surveillance operations to the media, settled in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of classified information. The Russian government granted asylum to Snowden shortly thereafter.
Large portions of the pertinent section, entitled “foreign influence,” are redacted, but one paragraph reveals the Russian link, saying that Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense and security committee, “publicly conceded that ‘Snowden did share intelligence’ with his government.”
Snowden immediately took to Twitter following the report’s release to dispute the accusations, writing “they claim without evidence that I’m in cahoots with the Russians.”
The report cites classified material in the section linking Snowden to Russian intelligence.
The investigation also noted that Snowden left encrypted hard drives containing classified information in Hong Kong and that the CIA had refused to grant Snowden access to sensitive information years before he began working with the NSA, documenting numerous issues that Snowden had with supervisors and co-wokers during his various jobs in the intelligence community.
The release of the two-year congressional investigation comes as some in the US and around the world, to include Amnesty International and the ACLU, have called on President Barack Obama to consider issuing a pardon for Snowden.
“Not one page mentions this journalism won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, reformed our laws, and changed even the President’s mind,” Snowden tweeted, referring to the publication of his leaked information.
The report labeled Snowden’s actions the “largest and most damaging public release of classified information in US intelligence history,” adding that “It is not clear which of the documents Snowden removed are in the hands of a foreign government.”
Asked about a potential pardon last month, Obama told the German publication Der Spiegel that while Snowden had “raised some legitimate concerns,” he said “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves.”