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Grande-Bretagne : Edward Snowden leaks forced British spies’ pullout from Russia and China

MI6 headquarters in London

The British MI6 secret service had to suspend operations of its field agents due to imminent exposure in “hostile” countries such as Russia and China, caused by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks, the Sunday Times reports.

United Kingdom

The Sunday Times alleges that both Moscow and Beijing have succeeded in cracking top-secret encrypted documents obtained from Snowden and learnt MI6’s methods. The British media outlet cited unnamed officials in Prime Minister David Cameron’s office, the Home Office and national security services. An official in PM Cameron’s cabinet said that as far as he knew there was “no evidence of anyone being harmed”, although allegedly Britain had been deprived of the opportunity to get the information it wanted. “It is the case that the Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information”, the Sunday Times was told.

At the same time, another senior British official said Snowden had “blood on his hands”. Russia and China will be going through Snowden’s material “for years to come”, in order to find clues to identify potential agents, a British intelligence source told the media outlet. “Snowden has done incalculable damage”, he said, saying evacuation of agents was a forced necessity because otherwise they would have been “identified and killed”. Russia and China gaining access to Snowden’s material became a “huge strategic setback” that harmed Britain, America and other NATO member states, said Sir David Omand, the former director of GCHQ. The damage caused by Snowden was “far greater than what has been admitted”, a US intelligence source told the Sunday Times.

Edward Snowden

In an email to a former US Senator written in July 2013, Snowden said one of his specializations was “to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China)”. “No intelligence service —not even our own— has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect”, the fugitive whistleblower said.

The Sunday Times reports that not only British agents, but spies of other Western agencies were evacuated from the countries they operated in on security grounds.

Former US National Security Services contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia via Hong Kong in June 2013, is believed to have collected some 1.7 million documents from US government computers. He has leaked them to journalists in order to secure "privacy and basic liberties" worldwide. Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in August 2013. Scandalous revelations about indiscriminate global mass surveillance sparked mass outrage from people and governments around the world. As a result of this unprecedented intelligence leak, the NSA and British GCHQ became the most affected agencies. They had to completely rethink their information security procedures.

The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst —and Filled with Falsehoods

The Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham

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éditeur : Frank Brunner | ouverture : 11 novembre 2000 | reproduction autorisée en citant la source