Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has demanded NSA leaker Edward Snowden return the documents he has “stolen”.
At a Senate hearing, James Clapper harshly condemned Edward Snowden, saying his leaks caused “profound damage”.
James Clapper said the leaks had gone “way beyond [Edward Snowden’s] professed concerns” about domestic spying.
Edward Snowden, 30, remains in Russia on asylum but faces espionage charges in the US.
The documents from the NSA that Edward Snowden has leaked to journalists have shed new light on electronic spying operations in the US and UK.
Among other revelations, the documents showed the NSA collected data on millions of phone calls, collected millions of text messages per day, tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sought to collect intelligence by spying on users’ mobile apps, and more.
Some of the intelligence was shared with British spies in the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), according to the documents.
Edward Snowden, who was a contract computer technician for the NSA before he fled the US last year, has said he no longer has copies of the documents.
“Snowden claims that he’s won and that his mission is accomplished,” James Clapper told the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday.
“If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to US security.”
James Clapper did not clarify whom he meant by “accomplices”, but his spokesman told the Associated Press news agency he “was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs”.
The former NSA contractor has said in recent interviews he believes the leaks have prompted a global reaction and a political debate within the US over spying programs.
But James Clapper said on Wednesday the leaks had damaged US national security and undermined co-operation with the country’s foreign partners.
US enemies “are going to school on US intelligence sources, methods and trade craft and the insights that they are gaining are making our job much, much harder,” he said.
As the hearing opened on Wednesday, protesters heckled James Clapper – one saying: “Should we be asking for James Clapper’s resignation for lying to Congress?”
James Clapper has been criticized for telling legislators during a hearing last year the US did not collect data on millions of Americans, though Edward Snowden’s leak has suggested the NSA had indeed been gathering data on calls of many Americans.
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