The Sunday Times dropped a bombshell this weekend, reporting that the top secret files leaked by Edward Snowden have been obtained by the Russian and Chinese governments. The story claimed Western intelligence agencies were “forced into rescue operations” to mitigate the damage, and one UK government source claimed that Snowden had “blood on his hands.”
It would be a major blow to Snowden and the journalists who worked with him—if it were true. But the bold claims started falling apart shortly after it was published this weekend. The story is behind a paywall but available elsewhere. It’s based entirely on anonymous British officials and contains some glaring inaccuracies.
Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald immediately attacked it as “journalism at its worst.” Greenwald is a predictable critic, to be sure, but Times reporter Tom Harper was later questioned about his story on CNN and admitted he’s been unable to check out any of the far-reaching claims told to him by government sources. The reporter answered one question after another with some version of “I don’t know,” admitting he has no idea how any “hack” took place, how or when any foreign governments got the files, or if the files were encrypted at all. Harper simply maintained that the Snowden hacking story was the “official position of the British government.”
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