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Edward Snowden, the man behind security leaks regarding the National Security Agency’s anti-terrorism efforts has been charged with espionage. Snowden has been hiding out in China and after having landed in Russia, may be on his way to Ecuador.

U.S. Federal prosecutors brought the charges against Snowden requesting that he be extradited from Hong Kong.

Snowden admitted to leaking confidential information, effectively unveiling the governments spying efforts, touted as tactics to monitor terrorism.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Charges of espionage and theft are based on Snowden’s extraction of classified documents from NSA servers, which led to publication of several articles regarding the NSA’s surveillance programs, including PRISM, which is alleged to harvest private user data through cooperation with a slew of American corporations including Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Microsoft.

The implicated companies have denied granting US intelligence services “direct access” to their servers, though during an online chat on Monday Snowden alleged that they had been purposely deceptive in their responses.

When asked to “define in as much detail as you can what ‘direct access’ means,” Snowden went into greater technical detail:

“More detail on how direct NSA’s accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want,” he said. 

The specific details of how Snowden transported the classified NSA documents are somewhat unclear, with The Guardian saying they were extracted using four laptops taken to Hong Kong, though subsequent reports suggested that Snowden simply copied secret files on USB drives. Even though the use of thumb drives is banned in SIPRNET, the Defense Department’s secret network, as a system administrator Snowden had much broader access to data.

Russia’s housing of Snowden has done nothing to improve an already damaged relationship between the U.S. and the Eastern European country, over it’s stance on Syria.

Photo: The Guardian

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