WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Australian media that NSA whistleblower and leaker Edward Snowden has not been interviewed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) or any other Russian intelligence agency during his seven weeks in Russia, Agence France Presse reports.
Assange, whose closest advisor has reportedly been by Snowden’s side since he arrived in Moscow on June 23, added that WikiLeaks has been “watching the situation closely and the Russian authorities have behaved well.”
The statements are curious as there are several reasons to question the claim, including:
- If a Russian intelligence analyst defected to the U.S., there is little chance the FBI or CIA would ignore that person for seven weeks.
- Snowden’s Moscow lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, sits on the public council of the FSB and has been speaking for Snowden ever since the 30-year-old accepted all offers for support and asylum on July 12.
- Kucherena organizes Snowden’s affairs in Russia, which have involved getting him temporary asylum in Russia and in addition to taking Snowden and WikiLeaks advisor Sarah Harrison to a “secure location.”
- When Snowden arrived in Moscow on June 23, a radio host in Moscow “saw about 20 Russian officials, supposedly FSB agents, in suits, crowding around somebody in a restricted area of the airport,” ;according to Anna Nemtsova of Foreign Policy.
- John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and current Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, noted that during the Cold War, the covert term used by the KGB (i.e. the predecessor of the FSB) for the NSA was “OMEGA,” which is the highest Soviet intelligence priority — “in case you wondered how glad FSB is to see Snowden.”
- After Russian President Vladimir Putin denied caring about Snowden, Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told Russian media: “The special services understand that this person knows a lot and that it would be useful to talk to him. Snowden is not a human rights defender, and in fact there is something to shear from him.”
- Assange and Russia are allies.
Maybe he’s right and “this is a political and diplomatic matter that long ago rose above being just an intelligence matter.”
But that would mean that the FSB, who are masters of human exploitation, have decided not to involve themselves with an elite American hacker who “carefully read” 10,000 classified NSA files and knows his way around the NSA’s vetting process. That is highly unlikely.
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