Senator cites contradiction in national intelligence director's eavesdropping answer

By Lara Jakes

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 11 2013 11:57 a.m. MDT

"It was his choice to publicly unveil himself," Greenwald told the AP in Hong Kong. "He recognized that even if he hadn't publicly unveiled himself, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. government discovered that it was he who had been responsible for these disclosures, and he made peace with that. ... He's very steadfast and resolute about the fact that he did the right thing."

Greenwald said he had more documents from Snowden and expected "more significant revelations" about NSA.

Although Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political. Any negotiations about his possible handover will involve Beijing, but some analysts believe China is unlikely to want to jeopardize its relationship with Washington over someone it would consider of little political interest.

Snowden also told The Guardian that he may seek asylum in Iceland, which has strong free-speech protections and a tradition of providing a haven for the outspoken and the outcast.

The Justice Department is investigating whether his disclosures were a criminal offense — a matter that's not always clear-cut under U.S. federal law.

A second senior intelligence official said Snowden would have had to have signed a non-disclosure agreement to gain access to the top secret data. That suggests he could be prosecuted for violating that agreement. Penalties could range from a few years to life in prison. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the process of accessing classified materials more frankly.

The leak came to light as Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was being tried in military court under federal espionage and computer fraud laws for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. The most serious charge against him was aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. But the military operates under a different legal system.

If Snowden is forced to return to the United States to face charges, whistle-blower advocates said Monday that they would raise money for his legal defense.

Clapper has ordered an internal review to assess how much damage the disclosures created. Intelligence experts say terrorist suspects and others seeking to attack the U.S. all but certainly will find alternate ways to communicate instead of relying on systems that now are widely known to be under surveillance.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was open for a discussion about the spy programs, both with allies and in Congress. His administration has aggressively defended the two programs and credited them with helping stop at least two terrorist attacks, including one in New York City.

Privacy rights advocates say Obama has gone too far. The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School filed legal action Monday to force a secret U.S. court to make public its opinions justifying the scope of some of the surveillance, calling the programs "shockingly broad." And conservative lawyer Larry Klayman filed a separate lawsuit against the Obama administration, claiming he and others have been harmed by the government's collection of as many as 3 billion phone numbers each day.

Army records indicate Snowden enlisted in the Army around May 2004 and was discharged that September.

"He attempted to qualify to become a Special Forces soldier but did not complete the requisite training and was administratively discharged from the Army," Col. David H. Patterson Jr., an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said in a statement late Monday.

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Frederic Frommer and Matt Apuzzo in Washington, Robert H. Reid in Berlin and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larajakesAP

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS