Greenwald: Snowden Copied Files in Case 'Anything Happens'

The Guardian‘s Glen Greenwald told the Daily Beast that Edward Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.”  These people are unable to access the files until Snowden makes arrangements for access if something should happen to him.  The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake interviewed Greenwald earlier today.

It’s clear throughout the interview that Greenwald is painting Snowden as someone who is concerned about disclosing information that would be harmful to the US.

Greenwald says he has thousands of documents from Snowden “I don’t know for sure whether [Snowden] has more documents than the ones he has given me,” Greenwald said. “I believe he does. He was clear he did not want to give to journalists things he did not think should be published.”

Snowden turned over some information to the South China  Morning Post, disclosing IP addresses that the NSA monitored in China and Hong Kong.  Greenwald emphasized that Snowden did not want to disclose anything beyond the public’s “right to know” but went on to say “Whether I would have disclosed the specific IP addresses in China and Hong Kong the NSA is hacking, I don’t think I would have.What motivated that leak though was a need to ingratiate himself to the people of Hong Kong and China.”

Nevertheless Greenwald emphasized Snowden’s trepidation about turning over information that would “harm the US Government.”  

Greenwald said Snowden for example did not wish to publicize information that gave the technical specifications or blueprints for how the NSA constructed its eavesdropping network. “He is worried that would enable other states to enhance their security systems and monitor their own citizens.” Greenwald also said Snowden did not wish to repeat the kinds of disclosures made famous a generation ago by former CIA spy, Philip Agee–who published information after defecting to Cuba that outed undercover CIA officers. “He was very insistent he does not want to publish documents to harm individuals or blow anyone’s undercover status,” Greenwald said. He added that Snowden told him, “Leaking CIA documents can actually harm people, whereas leaking NSA documents can harm systems.”

The Guardian has no plans to publish technical specifications of the NSA systems, said Greenwald. “I do not want to help other states get better at surveillance,” Greenwald said. He added, “[w]e won’t publish things that might ruin ongoing operations from the U.S. government that very few people would object to the United States doing.”

Snowden is currently thought to be in Russia, staying in the transit zone.