The four laptops NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden took with him when he fled America for Hong Kong were nothing but a diversion, according to an ex-CIA official who met Snowden in Russia last week.
Classified documents downloaded from NSA systems were stored in thumb drives and HDDs that were kept out of reach of Chinese officials, and later Russian security operatives, when Snowden fled from China to Moscow, according to Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst turned political activist and 9/11 truther.
Reuters reports that McGovern made the claims after three former US intelligence and law enforcement officials held a six hour meeting with Snowden at an undisclosed location in Russia last Wednesday.
US officials and conservative commentators have said that any electronic secrets Snowden carried would inevitably fall into the hands of the Chinese and Russian intelligence services. The whistleblower's physical safety has been completely dependent upon the Russian authorities from when he became stuck in legal limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in June through to the present day. It is entirely probable that this dependence may have been used to leverage access to the information Snowden was carrying.
However, during the meeting, Snowden stated that there was “nothing” on his laptops and thus there was no need for concern about US national security. He didn't say who had the sensitive data but collaborators Snowden met in Hong Kong, such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, must be strong candidates for the role of data mule.
McGovern travelled to Russia to give Snowden an award for "Integrity in Intelligence." Other Americans on the trip included Thomas Drake, a former NSA official who was prosecuted for allegedly leaking secrets about an NSA project called "Trailblazer". Drake's prosecution was resolved after he pleaded guilty to a relatively minor charge.
Snowden is "well protected" but also able to go out and about. The NSA whistleblower told McGovern that he had "no regrets" about the actions that have led to him being labelled as a traitor by sections of the US media and left him facing an array of criminal charges.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his associate Sarah Harrison played a role in arranging the meeting.
Lon Snowden, Edward's father,met his son last week for what was described as an emotional reunion.
Snowden had worked for the CIA as a technician prior to becoming a contractor with the NSA some years later. The CIA became suspicious about Snowden back in 2009 while he was posted to its Geneva office. His supervisor noticed changes in his behaviour and even became suspicious that he was trying to break into classified files, The New York Times reports.
The appraisals only came to notice after officials begun scrutinising Snowden's work history after he fled overseas. ®