Laptops Snowden took to Hong Kong, Russia were a "diversion"

Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:42pm EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON Oct 11 (Reuters) - The four laptop computers that former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden carried with him to Hong Kong and Moscow were a "diversion" and contained no secrets, according to an ex-CIA official who met with Snowden in Russia this week.

The classified documents that Snowden had downloaded from the U.S. National Security Agency were stored on smaller devices, such as hard drives and thumb drives, and they have not been turned over to the Russian or Chinese authorities, said Ray McGovern, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.

On Wednesday, Snowden held a six-hour meeting in Moscow with McGovern and three other former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials who have all become critics of government surveillance programs.

Snowden, 30, is living in a secret location in Russia, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities who want him on espionage charges because he leaked the details of top-secret electronic spying programs to the media.

He had traveled to Hong Kong in May and later, under pressure from China, flew to Moscow.

U.S. officials have said that they were operating on the assumption that any classified materials downloaded by Snowden have fallen into the hands of China and Russia's spy agencies, though the officials acknowledge they have no proof of this.

McGovern said Snowden made it clear at their Wednesday meeting that there was "nothing on" his laptops.

The former CIA analyst had traveled to Russia to give Snowden an award for "Integrity in Intelligence." The other Americans who went with him were Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent; Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department official; and Thomas Drake, a former NSA official who the U.S. government had prosecuted for allegedly leaking secrets about an NSA project called "Trailblazer."   Continued...