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US whistleblower Snowden says NSA failed to find his digital clues

August 13, 2014, 21:52 UTC+3 LONDON
In an exclusive interview with Wired.com, Snowden said that NSA’s earlier announced number of 1.7 million secret documents allegedly leaked by him was an overestimated figure
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© Council of Europe/Ellen Wuibaux

LONDON, August 13, /ITAR-TASS/. The US National Security Agency (NSA) had failed to count the exact number of secret documents leaked by American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden although he claims to have left a digital footprint in each file he either accessed or copied, Wired.com news website reported on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with Wired.com, Snowden said that NSA’s earlier announced number of 1.7 million secret documents allegedly leaked by him was an overestimated figure, although he left a digital trail under each document on purpose to prove that he acted alone.

“I figured they would have a hard time,” Snowden told Wired.com speaking about the clues he allegedly left for NSA investigators. “I didn’t figure they would be completely incapable.”

“The fact that the government’s investigation failed-that they don’t know what was taken and that they keep throwing out these ridiculous huge numbers-implies to me that somewhere in their damage assessment they must have seen something that was like, ‘Holy s...’. And they think it’s still out there,” Snowden was quoted as saying.

Snowden’s lawyer in the United States, Jesselyn Radack, told Wired.com that the figure of 1.7 million was repeatedly voiced by political figures and mass media in a bid to mischaracterize her client’s intentions.

“I think they probably didn’t spot the bread crumbs,” Radack was quoted as saying as she described the work of NSA’s investigators. “Even if they did get them, I think this [1.7 million] number is manufactured out of whole cloth to give the impression of a wholesale data dump. In fact, Ed [Edward Snowden] very carefully selected exactly what he wanted to turn over and why.”

The United States accuses Snowden, 31, of leaking information on the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) secret surveillance programs to media. Despite US extradition requests, last year he was granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia after spending more than a month in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow.

He has reportedly found a website maintenance job and resides at an undisclosed location in Russia.

On August 7, Snowden was granted Russia’s residence permit for three years starting from August 1 this year.

“Snowden was granted a three-year residence permit starting from August 1,” his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told a news conference last week in Moscow. “He can also move freely in the country and go abroad but for no longer than three months, as under the legislation residence permit can be annulled.”

The US authorities say Snowden violated two clauses of a 1917 law on espionage by divulging some secret data related to national defense and by deliberately transferring US intelligence data to individuals not authorized to obtain such data. Snowden is also charged with stealing US government property.

Should he turn up in the United States, he faces ten years in prison on each charge.

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