By Lee Ferran
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden today denied “stealing” or tricking his co-workers into giving up their passwords and log-in information so that he could make off with a trove of secret documents from the secretive agency.
Snowden made the denial during an online Q&A today and referenced a Reuters report from November that alleged Snowden had used “log-in credentials and passwords provided unwittingly by colleagues at a spy base in Hawaii to access some of the classified material he leaked to the media.”
Citing an unidentified source, the Reuters report said that Snowden “may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their login and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator.” The Reuters report did not directly accuse Snowden of “stealing.”
“With all due respect to [Reuters reporter] Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong,” Snowden said today.
Today’s Q&A is the second conducted by Snowden since he revealed himself to be the source in a seemingly never-ending stream of reports about the NSA’s vast foreign and domestic espionage operations.
Snowden is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum, having fled his contractor job at the NSA in Hawaii first for Hong Kong and then for Moscow. He has been charged in the U.S. with a series of espionage-related crimes.