Journalists and readers who uncritically swallowed & heralded the Sunday Times article about China and Russia hacking into Snowden’s stolen documents, should watch the author of that article on CNN and re-examine if it has any merit. CNN’s George Howell speaks with Sunday Times correspondent Tom Harper about reports that Russia and China have decrypted files stolen by NSA leaker Edward Snowden and exposes the weak reporting the Times did on this story.
What was the British government’s evidence? That’s what Harper went on TV to explain to CNN anchor George Howell early Monday morning London time. As you can see in the clip, it did not go well. In fact, it ended up being perhaps the clearest vindication of Snowden’s work to date:
George Howell: How do senior officials at No. 10 Downing Street know these files were breached?
Tom Harper: Well, uh, I don’t know, to be honest with you, George. All we know is that this is effectively the official position of the British government…
Howell: How do they know what was in them if they were encrypted? Has the British government also gotten into these files?
Harper: Well. Um, I mean, the files came from America and the UK. So, uh, they may already have known for sometime what Snowden took. Again, that’s not something that we’re clear on, so we don’t go into that level of detail in the story. We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government at the moment.
Howell: Your article asserts that it is not clear if the files were hacked or if Snowden gave these files over when he was in Hong Kong and Russia. So which is it?
Harper: Well, again, sorry to just repeat myself, George, but we don’t know so we haven’t written that in the paper. Um, you know, it could be, it could be another scenario. When you’re dealing with the world of intelligence there are so many unknowns and so many possibilities, it’s difficult to state anything with certainty…
Howell: So we’re just really hearing, you know, what the British government is saying at this point. The article mentions these MI6 agents. Were they directly under threat as a result of the information leaked, or was it just a precautionary measure?
Harper: Again, I’m afraid to disappoint you, we just don’t know…
Howell: So essentially you’re reporting what the government is saying, but as far as the evidence to substantiate it, you’re not really able to comment or to explain that at this point. Right?
Harper: No… obviously when you’re dealing with intelligence, you know, it’s the toughest nut to crack. And, um, unless you actually have leaked intelligence documents, like Snowden had, it’s very difficult to say anything with certainty.