US officials have alerted some foreign intelligence services that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have some documents detailing the operations or embarrass countries that do not wish to be seen as cooperating with the United States.
The officials said that Snowden took tens of thousands of documents, some of which contain sensitive material about collection programs against adversaries such as Iran, Russia and China.
According to the Washington Post, some refer to operations that in some cases involve countries not publicly allied with the United States. The revelation about spying on an ally is causing a diplomatic headache for the United States.
The notifications come as the Obama administration is scrambling to placate allies after allegations that the NSA has spied on foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is handling the job of informing the other intelligence services, the officials said.
In one case, for instance, the files contain information about a program run from a NATO country against Russia that provides valuable intelligence for the US Air Force and Navy, one US official said. Snowden lifted the documents from a top secret network run by the Defense Intelligence Agency and used by intelligence arms of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, sources said.
Snowden took 30,000 documents that involve the intelligence work of one of the services. He gained access to the documents through the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, or JWICS, for top secret/sensitive compartmented information, the sources said.
The material in question does not deal with NSA surveillance but primarily with standard intelligence about other countries’ military capabilities, including weapons systems — missiles, ships and jets, the report added.