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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has announced he already submitted his letter of resignation.

General James Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that “it felt pretty good”.

He had been expected to step aside, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to appoint his own officials.

Analysts believe that James Clapper is sending a signal to the Trump administration that they must now speed up the transition.

President-elect Donald Trump has denied that his transition team is in turmoil, despite having only filled two postings so far.

One of Donald Trump’s close advisers, Kellyanne Conway, told reporters at Trump Tower in New York that announcements would be made before or after Thanksgiving, which is one week away.James Clapper China hacking US government

James Clapper will remain in post until President Barack Obama leaves office.

“I submitted my letter of resignation last night which felt pretty good. I’ve got 64 days left,” he said.

Committee members jokingly asked him to stay for four more years.

James Clapper has authority over 17 different agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the (Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

More than 107,000 employees report to James Clapper with a combined budget of over $52 billion.

In a profile published by Wired magazine only hours before James Clapper’s announcement, he said that he never questioned the morality of his profession.

In his role, James Clapper has often been in the position of defending the National Security Agency (NSA), just one of the covert agencies that his office oversees.

NSA’s image was badly damaged after Edward Snowden revealed how they collect information on American citizens.

During a 2013 congressional hearing, James Clapper was asked: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?”

“No, sir,” he replied.

“It does not?” the incredulous senator responded.

“Not wittingly,” James Clapper said.

“There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”

On November 17, James Clapper was asked if Donald Trump will open up a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but answered that he does not predict a “significant change in Russian behavior”.

James Clapper, 75, has served in the job for six years after previously working for the US Air Force and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has hit out at a critical report by the House of Representatives intelligence committee.

The report rejected Edward Snowden’s view of himself as a whistleblower, and said he was a disgruntled employee whose actions did nothing more than help US enemies.

It comes a day after two rights groups launched a campaign for President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden.

The White House has rejected the possibility of a presidential pardon.

The release of the report, two years in the making, also coincides with that of the movie Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone.

Last month, Edward Snowden alleged that the NSA conducted industrial espionage

In a series of tweets, Edward Snowden dismissed the report’s findings, writing: “Their report is so artlessly distorted that it would be amusing if it weren’t such a serious act of bad faith.”

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, has been living in Russia since 2013, when he gained notoriety for releasing thousands of classified documents that revealed mass phone and internet surveillance put in place after the 9/11 attacks.

Releasing a summary of its 36-page investigation into the case, the House committee said Edward Snowden had fallen out with his colleagues and lied about his background while at the NSA.

The report says that most of the material Edward Snowden leaked related to military secrets that had nothing to do with Americans’ privacy but were to “protect American troops overseas and… provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states”.

Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union launched their “Pardon Snowden” campaign on September 14, urging President Barack Obama to do so before he leaves office in January 2017.

According to Amnesty, no-one should be prosecuted for exposing human rights violations, which, it claimed, is what “indiscriminate mass surveillance of communications” amounts to.

The ACLU acts as Edward Snowden’s legal adviser, and called him “a great American who deserves clemency for his patriotic acts”.

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The Senate passed the USA Freedom Act without any amendments, on a vote of 67-32, and sent the bill to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The USA Freedom Act extends the government’s ability to collect large amounts of data, but with restrictions. The bill will end the mass collection of Americans’ phone records by the NSA, restore some expired powers to security agencies, place record storage in private companies’ hands, create a public-interest advocate for the secret FISA court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) that oversees surveillance programs, and require the court to notify Congress when it reinterprets law.

The Patriot Act, the policy of collecting phone data had been in place since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The USA Freedom Act, which replaces the Patriot Act, had been backed by President Barack Obama as a necessary tool to fight terrorism.

Barack Obama later signed the bill into law.Rand Paul USA Freedom Act

The bill replaces a National Security Agency (NSA) program in which the spy agency collected personal data en masse.

The revelation of this program by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden triggered a global public backlash.

Instead of receiving bulk quantities of data from telephone and internet companies the NSA will now be forced to request the information through a court order.

The data will also be stored on telephone and internet company servers rather than government servers.

The request must be specific to an individual entity such as a person, account, or electronic device.

A six-month transition will be in place as the policy shifts so that data storage remains with private companies, rather than on government servers.

The law’s passage had been temporarily blocked by libertarian-minded senators who are fearful of government’s intrusion into individuals’ private lives.

Kentucky senator and presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul repeatedly criticized the bill from the Senate floor.

“We are not collecting the information of spies. We are not collecting the information of terrorists. We are collecting all American citizens’ records all of the time,” Rand Paul said.

“This is what we fought the revolution over.”

The Freedom Act had been approved by the House of Representatives and the White House but the Senate rejected it last week by a vote of 57-42.

Once it became clear that the Patriot Act extension would not be possible, senators voted to move forward with the Freedom Act.

The Senate has blocked the USA FREEDOM Act – a bill that would have ended the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the NSA.

It also failed to authorize a temporary extension of the current legislation, the PATRIOT Act. Senators are to meet again on May 31 – a day before the bill is due to expire.

A US appeals court has already ruled the bulk collection illegal.

The NSA’s spying was leaked by its former contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

Edward Snowden has since fled to Russia.

Photo Chicago Tribune

Photo Chicago Tribune

The NSA has collected data about numbers called and times, but not the content of conversations. It also allegedly spied on European companies.

Among individuals targeted was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The White House has pressed the Senate to back the bill passed by the House of Representatives. Domestic phone records would remain with telephone companies subject to a case-by-case review.

The 57-42 Senate vote fell short of the 60-vote threshold.

Another vote held over a two-month extension to the existing programs – Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act – also failed to reach the threshold.

Supporters of the proposed FREEDOM Act, including privacy and civil rights advocates, say it protects privacy while preserving national security powers.

The PATRIOT Act was passed after the 9/11 attacks and which will expire on June 1.

Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013 caused an international outcry, despite US administrations insisting the program has been fully authorized.

The measures have been repeatedly approved in secret by a national security court since 2006.

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House of Representatives has rejected the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records after voting in favor of the USA Freedom Act.

A 338-to-88 overwhelming vote in favor of the USA Freedom Act, already backed by the White House, means Senate backing would make it law.

The bill would empower the NSA to search data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis.

Bulk collection was revealed in 2013 by NSA’s former contractor Edward Snowden.House approves USA Freedom Act

Supporters of the Freedom Act, including privacy and civil rights advocates, say it protects privacy while preserving national security powers.

The bill, which only affects people within the US, would amend sections of the USA Patriot Act, which was passed after the 9/11 attacks and which will expire on June 1st.

The amendments would ban the NSA’s mass collection of telephone data – phone numbers, time and duration of calls – as well as emails and web addresses.

“Americans’ liberty and America’s security can co-exist,” said House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, who voted in favor of the bill.

“These fundamental concepts are not mutually exclusive.”

Earlier this month, a US appeals court ruled that bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency was illegal.

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The National Security Agency (NSA) phone data collection is illegal, a US appeals court has ruled.

Overturning a 2013 ruling, the judges did not, however, halt the program but urged Congress to take action.

The NSA’s spying was leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden, who has since fled to Russia.

The NSA has collected data about numbers called and times, but not the content of conversations. It also allegedly spied on European firms.

Among individuals targeted was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The latest verdict, by The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, came after New York District Judge William Pauley had dismissed a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which argued that the way the NSA tracked million of calls contravened the US constitution.NSA data collecting

The 97-page ruling says that “a provision of the USA Patriot Act permitting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect business records deemed relevant to a counterterrorism investigation cannot be legitimately interpreted to permit the systematic bulk collection of domestic calling records”.

However, the appeals court stopped short of ruling on the constitutionality of the program, launched after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013 caused an international outcry, despite US administrations insisting the program has been fully authorized.

The measures – repeatedly approved in secret by a national security court since 2006 – are set to expire on June 1st.

Leaders of the lower US House of Representatives would prefer to pass a bill to end the government’s bulk collection of phone records and replace it with legislation that supporters say protects civil liberties. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he wants to extend the Patriot Act and retain the bulk collection program.

The White House supports “an alternative mechanism to preserve the program’s essential capabilities without the government holding the bulk data”, said Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

ACLU’s deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said: “The appeals court’s careful ruling should end any debate about whether the NSA’s phone-records program is lawful.”

Wikimedia Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency alleging its mass surveillance program violates US laws on freedom of speech.

The legal action has also been filed against the US Department of Justice.

The legal action, co-signed by eight other organizations, seeks to end the NSA’s large-scale surveillance efforts.

The Foundation is the non-profit group that oversees the running of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia.

The Wikmedia Foundation said it was taking action against the NSA’s so-called “upstream” surveillance work which targets communication with people not in the US.

Such spying violates US laws on free speech and those that govern against unreasonable search and seizure, it said.Wikipedia sues NSA and DoJ

The scale of the monitoring carried out by the NSA has been revealed in documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden over the last two years. Some of those papers show the NSA tapped the net’s backbone network to siphon off data. The backbone is made up of high-speed cables that link big ISPs and key transit points on the net.

“By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy,” said Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, in a blogpost announcing the legal action.

Targeting the backbone means the NSA casts a “vast net” and inevitably scoops up data unrelated to any target and will also include domestic communications, violating the rules governing what the NSA can spy on, said Lila Tretikov.

Information in the Snowden papers revealed that Wikipedia has been explicitly targeted, said the blogpost.

“By violating our users’ privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people’s ability to create and understand knowledge,” said Lila Tretikov.

In an accompanying editorial published in the New York Times, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he hoped the lawsuit would bring an “end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic”.

Other organizations joining the lawsuit include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Global Fund for Women.

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Edward Snowden says he would love to get asylum in Switzerland.

The fugitive US whistleblower was speaking via video link to a Geneva audience, from Moscow where he is sheltering from US prosecutors.

“I would love to return to Switzerland, some of my favorite memories are from Geneva,” Edward Snowden said. Previously he worked in Geneva undercover for the CIA.

Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking US secrets, said US authorities had given him no assurances of a fair trial.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“The only thing they’ve said at this point was that they would not execute me,” he said.

“That’s not quite the same thing as agreeing to a fair and open trial.”

He was speaking to the audience after a viewing of Citizenfour, an Oscar-winning documentary about his case. In 2013 his exposure of massive US surveillance – including routine tapping of internet traffic – grabbed the headlines worldwide.

It was an unprecedented leak by an insider in the top-secret US National Security Agency (NSA).

“I do think Switzerland would be a sort of great political option because it has a history of neutrality,” Edward Snowden told the Geneva audience.

Edward Snowden said he had requested asylum in 21 countries, most in Central and Eastern Europe, but none had granted his wish. He blamed US “political interference”.

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According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, New Zealand is conducting mass surveillance over its Pacific neighbors.

Calls, emails and social media messages were being collected from Pacific nations, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The data was shared with other members of the “Five Eyes” network – the US, Australia, Britain and Canada.

Edward Snowden leaked a large cache of classified NSA documents in 2013.

The documents published on March 5 reveal that New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) used its Waihopai base in the South Island to spy on allies in the region.

Targets included Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Tonga and French Polynesia.

Photo Bloomberg

Photo Bloomberg

According to The Intercept website, which published the documents in conjunction with the New Zealand Herald, the base was running “full take” interceptions, meaning it was retaining content and metadata of all communications rather than just of specific targets.

The data collected was then available to be accessed by analysts from the National Security Agency (NSA) via the agency’s controversial XKeyscore computer program, revealed during the original leak in 2013, the Herald reported.

New Zealand PM John Key said the reports contained errors and false assumptions, but did not elaborate.

John Key said the GCSB gathered “foreign intelligence that is in the best interests of New Zealand and protecting New Zealanders”.

“If I was a New Zealander and the New Zealand prime minister got up and told me we had a foreign intelligence service that wasn’t gathering some foreign intelligence, I’d ask him <<what the hell are we paying the money for? And what the hell are you doing?>>” New Zealand’s Stuff website quoted him as saying.

Andrew Little, leader of New Zealand’s opposition Labor party, said that he accepted the need for security agencies to protect the country but was “stunned at the breadth of the information that’s been collected”.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Andrew Little said GCSB seemed to be “hovering” up information and “supplying it to the United States”.

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Edward Snowden has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, described as Sweden’s “alternative Nobel Prize”.

The fugitive US intelligence leaker splits the honorary award with Alan Rusbridger, editor of UK newspaper The Guardian, which wrote extensively on government surveillance, based on his leaks.

Cash prizes went to three activists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the US.

Edward Snowden’s award seems to have caused embarrassment in Sweden.

It was due to be announced on September 25, at the Swedish foreign ministry in Stockholm, but this year the organizers were denied access and news of the laureates was leaked a day early to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

Edward Snowden has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award

Edward Snowden has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award (photo The Guardian)

The prize was awarded to Edward Snowden for “his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights”.

Alan Rusbridger was honored for “building a global media organization dedicated to responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenges of exposing corporate and government malpractices”.

The three men sharing the cash prize of 1.5 million kronor ($210,000) are Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Sri Lankan-born Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission and US environmentalist Bill McKibben.

The Right Livelihood Award has previously been awarded to such people as Chinese solar power pioneer Huang Ming (2011) and a group of Israeli doctors who worked in the occupied Palestinian territories (2010).

Edward Snowden has settled in Russia since fleeing the US last year, when he leaked secret documents belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA) to The Guardian and other media.

Russia has granted Edward Snowden permission to stay three more years with the right to travel abroad, his lawyer says.

Edward Snowden’s year-long leave to stay in Russia had expired on July 31.

He fled the US in 2013 after leaking details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance and telephone-tapping operations.

The US has charged Edward Snowden with theft of government property and communicating classified information.

Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told journalists that the request for an extension had been accepted.

“Accordingly, Edward Snowden was given a three-year residence permit,” which will allow him to move about freely and travel abroad, Anatoly Kucherena said.

Russia has granted Edward Snowden permission to stay three more years with the right to travel abroad

Russia has granted Edward Snowden permission to stay three more years with the right to travel abroad

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor has been hailed by privacy activists for revealing the extent of the NSA’s surveillance operations and details of alleged US spying on foreign leaders, including US allies.

The US Congress has since attempted to impose restrictions on the NSA’s electronic surveillance activities.

However, US leaders have accused Edward Snowden of damaging national interests and harming the country’s security.

In May, Secretary of State John Kerry said Edward Snowden was a fugitive from justice who should “man up” and return home.

Edward Snowden had fled the US via Hong Kong in May 2013.

He remained in a transit zone in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for more than a month after the US revoked his travel documents, before being granted temporary asylum in Russia in August 2013.

Russia’s decision to shelter Edward Snowden was strongly criticized by the US.

Little is known about his activities in Russia, although his lawyer says he is working as an “IT specialist” and as a rights defender.

Anatoly Kucherena stressed on Thursday that Edward Snowden had not been granted asylum, but “temporary leave to remain on the territory of Russia,” Interfax news agency reports.

“In the future Edward will have to decide whether to continue to live in Russia and become a citizen or to return to the United States,” he said.

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Russia has made an offer of 3.9 million roubles ($110,000) in a contest seeking a way to crack the identities of users of the Tor network.

The Tor Project hides internet users’ locations and identities by sending data on random paths through machines on its network, adding encryption at each stage.

The Russian interior ministry made the offer, saying the aim was “to ensure the country’s defense and security”.

The contest is only open to Russians and proposals are due by August 13.

Applicants must pay 195,000 roubles to enter the competition, which was posted online on July 11 and later reported by the tech news site Ars Technica.

Earlier this month, Russia’s lower house of parliament passed a law requiring internet companies to store Russian citizens’ personal data inside the country.

Russia has made an offer of $110,000 in a contest seeking a way to crack the identities of users of the Tor network

Russia has made an offer of $110,000 in a contest seeking a way to crack the identities of users of the Tor network

Russia has the fifth-largest number of Tor users with more than 210,000 people making use of it, according to the Guardian.

Tor was thrust into the spotlight in the wake of controversy resulting from leaks about the National Security Agency (NSA) and other cyberspy agencies.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who revealed the internal memos and who now has asylum in Russia, uses a version of Tor software to communicate.

Documents released by Edward Snowden allege that the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ had repeatedly tried to crack anonymity on the Tor network.

Tor was originally set up by the US Naval Research Laboratory and is used be people who want to send information over the internet without being tracked.

It is used by journalists and law enforcement officers, but has also been linked to illegal activity including drug deals and the sale of child abuse images.

In its 2013 financial statements, the Tor Project – a group of developers that maintain tools used to access Tor – confirmed that the US Department of Defense (DoD) remained one its biggest backers.

The DoD sent $830,000 to the group through SRI International, which describes itself as an independent non-profit research centre, last year.

Other parts of the US government contributed a further $1 million.

Those amounts are roughly the same as in 2012.

Germany has expelled a CIA official in Berlin in response to two cases of alleged spying by the US.

The official is said to have acted as a CIA contact at the US embassy, reports say, in a scandal that has infuriated German politicians.

A 31-year-old German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.

Reports on Wednesday said an inquiry had also begun into a German soldier.

“The representative of the US intelligence services at the embassy of the United States of America has been told to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The chairman of the Bundestag (German parliament) committee overseeing the German secret service said the action was taken because of American spying on German politicians and its failure to co-operate and provide adequate responses.

Angela Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning the US spying, but also maintaining cordial relations

Angela Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning the US spying, but also maintaining cordial relations

The US has not denied allegations that a German intelligence agency employee arrested last week was passing secret documents to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

However, the latest reports that a soldier within the defense ministry was also spying for the US were considered more serious. Although no arrest was made, searches were carried out on Wednesday at the ministry and elsewhere.

The US and Germany have been close allies for decades but relations were hit last year when it emerged that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored by the NSA.

On Thursday, Angela Merkel said spying on allies was a “waste of energy”.

“We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” she said at a news conference with visiting Moldovan PM Iurie Leanca.

Angela Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning the US actions but also maintaining cordial relations. However, each revelation has made that balance harder to achieve, he adds.

The scale of the US agency’s surveillance was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who fled the US and is now a fugitive in Russia.

The German intelligence official arrested last week was alleged to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee investigating the NSA spying scandal.

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The FBI and NSA spied on the emails of five high-profile Muslim Americans in an effort to identify security threats, documents leaked by fugitive ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden show.

The targets include a lawyer, professor and a political operative, according to a report published in the Intercept.

The Intercept is an online news site overseen by Glenn Greenwald, who helped publish many of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The FBI and NSA said they only spied on Americans when they had probable cause.

“The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans… under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies,” according to The Intercept report.

According to the report – the result of a three-month investigation using classified documents obtained from Edward Snowden – all five individuals have denied involvement in terrorist activities.

The NSA and Department of Justice quickly responded to the report, saying emails of Americans are only accessed if there is probable cause.

“It is entirely false that US intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights,” the agencies wrote in a joint statement.

The White House has ordered a review of national security agencies in the wake of the allegations, however.

Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee

Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee (photo ABC News)

“Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the Director of National Intelligence undertake an assessment of Intelligence Community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance,” White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said on Wednesday.

“The use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language” is not acceptable, she added.

Several dozen civil liberties groups have also spoken out against the allegations made in The Intercept report, urging President Barack Obama to provide a full public accounting of domestic surveillance.

It is not the first time US agencies have been accused of snooping on Americans. Previous documents leaked by Edward Snowden indicate the electronic files of thousands of citizens were scanned by the NSA.

Last year, Edward Snowden – a former NSA contractor now residing in Russia – fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian, where Glenn Greenwald worked.

The Congress has attempted to curb online snooping in the wake of the snooping revelations, with the House of Representatives passing legislation to that effect in mid-June.

The measure, added to a $570 billion defense spending bill, would bar the NSA from collecting Americans’ personal online information without a warrant.

Earlier this year the House also passed the USA Freedom Act that would limit the NSA’s bulk data collection and storage of some American landline telephone call records.

Those allegedly spied on include:

  • Faisal Gill, a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee
  • Asim Ghafoor, a lawyer who represented clients in terrorism-related cases
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor at Rutgers University
  • Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University
  • Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [youtube J3hsr3q69eU 650] [youtube Hzkqz5fsp18 650]

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Edward Snowden has officially applied for the extension of his stay in Russia after his visa expires.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, confirmed that paperwork had been submitted to Russia’s Federal Migration Service.

The current document granting him temporary asylum expires on July 31.

Edward Snowden fled the US in May 2013 and has been living under temporary asylum in Russia. Last year, he fed a trove of secret intelligence to news outlets.

“We have gone through the procedure of getting temporary asylum… We have submitted documents for extending his stay in Russia,” Anatoly Kucherena told reporters on Wednesday.

The lawyer did not say for how long Edward Snowden wanted to stay in Russia, or whether he wanted to become a Russian citizen.

Edward Snowden has officially applied for the extension of his stay in Russia after his visa expires

Edward Snowden has officially applied for the extension of his stay in Russia after his visa expires

Edward Snowden became stranded in the international airport at Moscow last year while travelling from Hong Kong to Cuba. He was in effect trapped in the airport’s transit zone for several weeks before the Russian government allowed him refugee status for a year.

He went to Russia shortly after leaking details of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) international surveillance and telephone-tapping operation.

Russia’s decision to give asylum to Edward Snowden – a former NSA contractor – was strongly criticized by the US.

Correspondents say that while Edward Snowden has in recent weeks increased his media visibility in Russia by giving several closely monitored interviews, he has conceded that he would like to go home, where he faces spying charges that could result in a substantial jail sentence.

News of his moves to extend his visa came as prosecutors in Germany searched the home of a defense ministry employee suspected of spying – the second such case in a week.

The US has not denied allegations that the intelligence agency employee arrested earlier this month was passing secret documents to the NSA.

The two countries, the biggest members of the NATO alliance, have been close allies for decades but relations were strained last year when it was revealed – from paperwork leaked by Edward Snowden – that the NSA had been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls.

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Germany has summoned the US ambassador in Berlin after a man was arrested on suspicion of spying for the NSA.

The US diplomat “was asked to help in the swift clarification” of the case, the foreign ministry said.

German officials confirmed the arrest but released no other details.

US-German ties were strained after allegations last year that the NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone as part of a huge surveillance program.

The NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone as part of a huge surveillance program

The NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone as part of a huge surveillance program

The scale of the agency’s global spy program was revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

The revelations also raised feeling in Germany against American surveillance.

German media say the man arrested this week is a 31-year-old employee of the federal intelligence service, the BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said she had been informed of the arrest, as had the members of the nine-strong parliamentary committee investigating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.

Der Spiegel news magazine said the man was believed to have passed secret documents to a US contact in exchange for money.

However, one unnamed politician told Reuters news agency the suspect had offered his services to the US voluntarily.

“This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee… He was not a top agent,” the source said.

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Germany’s intelligence service has arrested one of its employees on suspicion of spying for the US, reports say.

The man is said to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee that is investigating claims of US espionage.

German authorities have asked the US ambassador for “swift clarification”.

The NSA was last year accused of bugging the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance program.

The NSA was last year accused of bugging the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance program

The NSA was last year accused of bugging the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance program

The scale of the NSA’s global spy program was revealed in documents leaked last year by Edward Snowden.

The revelations about the NSA put a strain on ties between Germany and the US and raised feeling in Germany against American surveillance.

According to the German media, the man arrested this week is a 31-year-old employee of the federal service, the BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst.

The German federal prosecutor’s office confirmed the man’s arrest, but gave no other details.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had been informed of the arrest, as had the members of the nine-strong parliamentary committee investigating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.

Der Spiegel news magazine said the man was believed to have passed secret documents to a US contact in exchange for money.

However, one unnamed politician told Reuters the suspect had offered his services to the US voluntarily.

“This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee… He was not a top agent,” the source said.

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The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would curb electronic snooping.

The measure would bar the National Security Agency (NSA) from collecting Americans’ personal online information without a warrant.

It was added on Thursday night to a $570 billion defense spending bill.

The move follows revelations the NSA mass harvested data on telephone calls and snooped on foreign leaders.

“The American people are sick of being spied on,” Congressman Thomas Massie, the amendment’s sponsor, said.

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would curb electronic snooping

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would curb electronic snooping (photo Reuters)

The amendment, added to the defense bill in a 293-123 vote on Thursday, also prohibits the NSA and CIA from accessing commercial technology products, which some politicians have described as a government “backdoor” for snooping.

Leaked documents provided to the Guardian newspaper indicate the NSA intercepted computer network devices such as routers and servers and embedded them with backdoor surveillance tools.

They were then sent to customers around the world.

Technology companies including Google were part of a coalition which urged support for the House provision.

Earlier this year the House passed the USA Freedom Act that would limit the NSA’s bulk data collection and storage of some American landline telephone call records.

But some members of Congress complained that legislation was not strict enough.

The House is expected to pass the defense bill on Friday. But the fate of the spying curbs is unclear, as they have yet to be written into the Senate version of the defense spending bill.

Congress has attempted to restrict government surveillance after revelations last year by fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden showed widespread snooping.

Last year, Edward Snowden – a former NSA contractor – fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian.

Among other things, the leaks detailed the NSA’s practice of harvesting data on millions of telephone calls made in the US and around the world, and revealed the agency had snooped on foreign leaders.

The revelations have sparked a debate in the US over the appropriate role of the NSA and the extent to which it should be authorized to conduct such broad surveillance.

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German federal prosecutor Harald Range will investigate allegations by Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

Harald Range told the German parliament’s legal affairs committee that an investigation would be held against “unknown” persons.

Angela Merkel has publicly asked for an explanation for the alleged spying by the NSA.

The inquiry was announced as President Barack Obama visited Europe.

German federal prosecutor Harald Range will investigate allegations by Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone

German federal prosecutor Harald Range will investigate allegations by Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone

“Sufficient factual evidence exists that unknown members of the US intelligence services spied on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Harald Range said on Wednesday.

At the same time, he said he had decided against opening an investigation into claims of wider NSA surveillance of German citizens, AFP news agency reports.

Pressure for a wide-ranging investigation had been growing, correspondents say.

Angela Merkel and Barack Obama are due to meet in Brussels at a G7 summit on Wednesday.

Barack Obama told Angela Merkel last month that he was “pained” that Edward Snowden’s disclosures had strained the US-German relationship.

He said he had directed US intelligence agencies to weigh the privacy interests of non-Americans as well as US citizens and residents, “in everything that they do”.

Angela Merkel has proposed establishing a European communications network to avoid emails and other data automatically passing through the US.

On Wednesday, Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said he would not “evaluate” or comment on the prosecutor’s decision.

“The government didn’t exert any influence on the prosecutor,” he said in quotes carried by AP news agency.

Meanwhile, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters he believed dialogue between the two allies would be more effective than an investigation.

“We believe we have an open line and good communication [with Germany],” he said.

Some German lawmakers have also called for Edward Snowden to be invited to Berlin to testify in parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance.

However, German government has opposed this, fearing it would damage bilateral ties.

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Oliver Stone will write and direct the story of Edward Snowden, the fugitive US intelligence leaker.

The movie will be based on the book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man.

Luke Harding’s book is an account of events surrounding the Guardian‘s reporting of Edward Snowden’s disclosures last year.

Oliver Stone said: “This is one of the greatest stories of our time.”

He added that making the film would be “a real challenge”.

Oliver Stone will write and direct the story of Edward Snowden

Oliver Stone will write and direct the story of Edward Snowden

Oliver Stone is one of Hollywood’s most controversial and provocative film-makers, renowned for political dramas such as JFK, Platoon and W – a biographical drama based on the life of former US President George W. Bush.

Filming is due to start before the end of the year. Like Harding and other Guardian journalists will be production and story consultants on the project.

Guardian Editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said: “The story of Edward Snowden is truly extraordinary, and the unprecedented revelations he brought to light have forever transformed our understanding of, and relationship with, government and technology. We’re delighted to be working with Oliver Stone and Moritz Borman on the film.”

The Snowden scandal broke in early June 2013 when the Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans.

Shortly afterwards, the Guardian revealed that ex-CIA systems analyst Edward Snowden was behind the leaks about the US and UK surveillance programs.

Edward Snowden has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.

HE fled to Russia via Hong Kong following the revelations last year.

Edward Stone described Snowden as a “hero” in August last year.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, the film-maker said: “Edward Snowden is a hero. Because he did this not for profit, not to give, exchange, give secrets away that could hurt our country supposedly… He is doing it out of conscience.”

Oliver Stone came to prominence as a film-maker in the 1980s with films like Salvador, Platoon and Wall Street. He won Oscars for directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, and for writing 1978’s Midnight Express.

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Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled Edward Snowden a fugitive from justice who should “man up” and return home.

John Kerry added that if Edward Snowden, 30, “believes in America, he should trust the American system of justice”.

Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled Edward Snowden a fugitive from justice who should man up and return home

Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled Edward Snowden a fugitive from justice who should man up and return home

His comments come in the wake of an interview with NBC in which Edward Snowden said he sought asylum in Russia because the US revoked his passport.

Edward Snowden also described himself as a trained spy, not a low-level analyst.

“A patriot would not run away,” John Kerry said on Wednesday.

“If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States… we’ll have him on a flight today.”

John Kerry also called the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor “confused”, adding “this is a man who has done great damage to his country”.

“He should man up and come back to the US,” John Kerry said.

In the NBC interview, Edward Snowden claims he was trained as a spy who worked undercover overseas for the CIA and NSA.

But he described himself as a technical expert who did not recruit agents.

“What I do is I put systems to work for the US,” he said.

“And I’ve done that at all levels from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top. Now, the government might deny these things, they might frame it in certain ways and say, <<Oh well, you know, he’s – he’s a low-level analyst>>.”

When Edward Snowden fled the US in May 2013, he had been working as a technician for Booz Allen, a giant government contractor for the NSA.

Last year, Edward Snowden fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian.

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Edward Snowden has described himself as a trained spy specializing in electronic surveillance, dismissing claims he was a mere low-level analyst.

In an interview with NBC, Edward Snowden reiterated that he had worked undercover overseas for the CIA and NSA. This is the first interview with the former NSA employee for an American television. The NBC interview will air next week.

The fugitive intelligence leaker said the US got better intelligence from computers than human agents.

Edward Snowden, 30, fled the US in May 2013 and has been living under temporary asylum in Russia.

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Edward Snowden said he had trained as a spy

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Edward Snowden said he had trained as a spy (photo NBC)

Last year, he fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian.

Among other things, the leaks detailed the NSA’s practice of harvesting data on millions of telephone calls made in the US and around the world, and revealed the agency had snooped on foreign leaders.

The revelations have sparked a debate in the US over the appropriate role of the NSA and the extent to which it should be authorized to conduct such broad surveillance.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to rein in the program by barring the NSA from storing phone call data on its own and to require it to seek a court order to access telecom companies’ records.

Last week, the US House passed such legislation, sending it to the US Senate.

In excerpts of an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Edward Snowden said he had trained as a spy “in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas – pretending to work in a job that I’m not – and even being assigned a name that was not mine”.

But he described himself as a technical expert who did not recruit agents.

“What I do is I put systems to work for the US,” he said.

“And I’ve done that at all levels from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top. Now, the government might deny these things, they might frame it in certain ways and say, <<Oh well, you know, he’s – he’s a low-level analyst>>.”

Edward Snowden said he had worked for the CIA and NSA undercover, overseas, and lectured at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

When Edward Snowden fled the US, he had been working as a technician for Booz Allen, a giant government contractor for the National Security Agency.

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A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a contempt of court ruling against Lavabit – the secure email service that was used by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Lavabit was found in contempt of court last year after refusing to comply with an FBI order to hand over encryption keys in an investigation thought to relate to Edward Snowden.

After that ruling, Lavabit’s owner Ladar Levison closed down the service.

Ladar Levison could appeal against this latest decision in a higher court.

“I haven’t read the court’s opinion, nor sought advice from lawyers on any possible legal strategy, so that is still pending,” he told news website Ars Technica.

Lavabit was found in contempt of court last year after refusing to comply with an FBI order to hand over encryption keys in an investigation thought to relate to Edward Snowden

Lavabit was found in contempt of court last year after refusing to comply with an FBI order to hand over encryption keys in an investigation thought to relate to Edward Snowden

Last June, the US government obtained a court order for Lavabit’s encryption keys in order to allow investigators to track the email traffic of an unnamed target, thought to be Edward Snowden, who had an email account with the service.

Just hours before a deadline to hand over the information expired, Ladar Levison provided the FBI with an 11-page printout listing the keys in tiny type, in effect making them unusable.

The court found Ladar Levison in contempt and the government told Lavabit to provide the keys in an acceptable industry standard electronic format within three days.

Ladar Levison did provide the information to the FBI by the new deadline but appealed against the court’s contempt ruling.

A judge sitting on the case at the appeals court upheld the ruling as he said Ladar Levison had never challenged the court order in the lower court.

Ladar Levison’s lawyer said he was disappointed with the ruling but said the court’s decision was to do with procedural issues and not the merits of the case.

“The court did not say the government’s actions in this case were legal,” said Ian Samuel.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been supportive of Ladar Levison, said in a statement: “We believe it’s clear that there are limits on the government’s power to coerce innocent service providers into its surveillance activities.”

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Washington Post and The Guardian US have shared this year’s Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism for a series of stories on NSA electronic spying.

The publications’ reporting was based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Among other winners of the top prize in US journalism was the Boston Globe, for breaking news reporting.

Two staff writers of the Reuters news agency were awarded the prize for international reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded by the Columbia University journalism school.

In giving the top prize to The Guardian and the Washington Post, the Pulitzer committee said the Guardian helped “through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy”.

It said the Post’s stories were “marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security”.

Edward Snowden, in a statement published by The Guardian, called the award “a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government.

Edward Snowden's NSA leaks earned Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian and Washington Post

Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks earned Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian and Washington Post

“We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation,” added Edward Snowden, who has been charged with espionage in the US and is currently a fugitive in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe provided “exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city”, the committee wrote of the paper’s coverage of the April 15, 2013 attack.

Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded a Pulitzer for his reporting on how lawyers and doctors conspired to deny benefits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease.

The top prize for US reporting was awarded to The Gazette in Colorado for its examination of mistreatment of wounded combat veterans, while the prize for international reporting went to Reuters for reports of persecution of a Muslim minority group in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The editorial staff of the Oregonian in Portland won the prize for commentary for pieces explaining pension costs.

Tyler Hicks of the New York Times won for breaking news photography for images captured during a terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya. Also for the Times, Josh Haner won in the feature photography category for a “moving” essay on a Boston Marathon bomb blast victim who lost most of both legs.

Among other categories, Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch, was awarded the Pulitzer for fiction writing, while Don Fagin received the award for general nonfiction for his work, Tom’s River: A Story of Science and Salvation.

Members of this year’s selection committee included Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and Eugene Robinson, a columnist for The Washington Post.

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President Barack Obama is planning to ask Congress to end bulk collection of US phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA).

NSA senior officials told the New York Times the agency would “end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits”.

Phone records would instead remain with telecoms companies, only to be accessed by government when needed.

It follows widespread anger at home and abroad after leaks revealed the full extent of US surveillance operations.

The documents – leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden – revealed that the US collects massive amounts of electronic data from communications of private individuals around the world, and has spied on foreign leaders.

In a speech in January, Barack Obama said it was necessary for the US to continue collecting large amounts of data, but that civil liberties must be respected.

Barack Obama is planning to ask Congress to end bulk collection of US phone records by the NSA

Barack Obama is planning to ask Congress to end bulk collection of US phone records by the NSA

He said the current system, in which the NSA collects the details of the times, numbers and durations of phone calls, known as metadata, would come to an end.

According to the New York Times report, Barack Obama told the US justice department and intelligence officials to come up with a plan by March 28.

Under the new proposal, officials say surveillance “would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received”.

The phone companies would not be required to hold on to the data for longer than they normally would, the New York Times says.

The NSA currently holds information for five years, whereas telecoms companies are required by federal regulation to retain customer records for 18 months.

The new proposal “would retain a judicial role in determining whether the standard of suspicion was met for a particular phone number before the NSA could obtain associated records”, the newspaper adds.

The Obama administration plans to renew the current NSA program for at least another 90 days until Congress passes the new legislation.

New legislation has also been developed separately by leaders of the House intelligence committee that would allow the NSA to issue subpoenas for specific phone records without prior judicial approval, the New York Times reports.

The New York Times report does not provide information on possible changes to the NSA’s surveillance of phone records from other countries.

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