Washington (AFP) – Leaks from ex-intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have damaged America’s national security and he should return the secret documents he has “stolen,” the U.S. spy chief said Wednesday.
Snowden’s disclosures since June have revealed the National Security Agency’s vast electronic eavesdropping operations, sparking global outrage and prompting calls in Congress to curtail the NSA’s powers.
But James Clapper, director of national intelligence, delivered a scathing condemnation of Snowden at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying his leaks have aided America’s adversaries and undermined cooperation with foreign partners.
“What Snowden has stolen and exposed has gone way, way beyond his professed concerns with so-called domestic surveillance programs,” Clapper said.
“As a result, we’ve lost critical foreign intelligence collection sources, including some shared with us by valued partners.”
Clapper called on Snowden and his “accomplices” to return the classified documents that he took with him as the former NSA contractor has declared victory.
“Snowden claims that he’s won and that his mission is accomplished,” the intelligence chief said.
“If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to U.S. security.”
Snowden, who has secured asylum in Russia and faces espionage charges from U.S. authorities, has said he passed on the NSA classified files to journalists and no longer has them in his possession.