Today, a British newspaper reported that an ex-KGB/FSB officer claims the Russian government tracked and manipulated Snowden. The (Daily) Mirror article by Nigel Nelson alleges:
- Russia intelligence opened a file on Snowden in 2007 when he was working for the CIA in Geneva
- Russian spies posing as diplomats tricked Snowden into seeking asylum in Russia after he fled to Hong Kong
- Russians leaked information about Snowden’s presence in Russia to provoke the US into cancelling his passport
- The Kremlin plans to keep Snowden there another three years to extract everything he knows
- Snowden lives in “a block of flats in Moscow’s suburbs controlled by the FSB”
- Russia is mainly interested in knowing details of the encryption/decryption methods of US and UK intelligence
Less than a week ago, however, The Guardian reported that the NSA Director, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, believes Snowden is “probably not” working for a foreign intelligence agency, although he wouldn’t rule it out. Should Rogers be worried by Karpichkov’s revelation? Maybe not.
Former NSA intelligence office, Russell Tice, told Whistleblowing Today,
As a sys-admin guy, Mr. Snowden had access to most all the SI white-world material that NSA posts on their JWICS system. The Russian intelligence services would be most interested in finding out what was on his computers. If Mr. Snowden ensured that no classified data was on the laptop computers that he retained on his person, there is little the Russians will be able to extract from him as a source.
The source of The Mirror’s startling claims is Boris Karpichkov, who claims to be “in contact with secret service cronies in Moscow now close to the Snowden case.” According to The New Zealand Herald, Karpichkov worked until 1995 as “a spy for the KGB and its successor, the Russian FSB, in Latvia” then “swapped sides and started passing on information to the newly independent Latvian Government and its Western allies.”
Karpichkov was outed as a double agent in 1998 and fled to Britain where he worked with MI5 and the Special Branch, “but the relationship broke down after he refused to co-operate any further, leading to threats and blackmail over his legal status in Britain” (The Guardian). In 2006, Karpichkov used a forged passport to flee to New Zealand after his life reportedly was threatened by Russian security services.
In 2011, the London Evening Standard reported that Karpichkov, the former spy, was suing MI5 over . . . get this . . . invasion of his privacy. Karpichkov accused British intelligence of harassing his family, stealing documents from his home, bugging his calls and intercepting his mail. For what reason, then, would Karpichkov alert the British government to an alleged intelligence coup by the Russian government? And, why would someone threatened by the Russian government have any contact with Russian agents–especially after the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko?
Tice says, “I believe Karpichkov’s six years on the SVR target list assertion is highly unlikely. But taking advantage of an opportunity to gain access to Mr. Snowden while he was in Hong Kong, is a probability.”