Former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden chided WikiLeaks on Thursday for its indiscriminate approach to leaking information, barely a week after the anti-secrecy organisation published 20,000 emails that were hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
The organisation possesses a “hostility to even modest curation,” Snowden wrote on Twitter.
WikiLeaks has attracted harsh criticism for failing to curate the information they leak based on what is legitimately in the public’s interest. The organisation has also made it a policy not to redact sensitive personal information that may be contained in the documents they expose.
WikiLeaks posted a sharp rebuttal, insinuating that Snowden was trying to curry favour with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The public clash is of particular interest, given Snowden’s previous collaboration with the organisation. WikiLeaks came to Snowden’s aid in 2013, when he first leaked information about the NSA’s surveillance programs and sought a country in which he could request asylum.
WikiLeaks submitted multiple asylum requests on Snowden’s behalf, including to Ecuador, which granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum at its embassy in London. A WikiLeaks researcher eventually accompanied Snowden when he fled from Hong Kong to Moscow, where he currently lives in exile.
Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who Snowden gave some of the leaked NSA documents to in 2013, has also criticised WikiLeaks for failing to withhold information that might invade people’s privacy and is not a matter of public interest.
“Most of the information that we have withheld I’ve withheld on the grounds that it would invade people’s privacy, like emails that the NSA has collected between people, documents where they accuse people of engaging in certain bad acts without any proof,” Greenwald told Slate on Thursday, referring to the process by which he has chosen to release the NSA documents Snowden gave him.
“We’ve done a lot of withholding information in order to protect people’s privacy or reputational interests or other legitimate interests,” Greenwald added. “We tried to balance these two competing values. WikiLeaks has said, criticising us, that they no longer believe in any form of redaction. I do not ascribe to that view.”
The latest WikiLeaks release of hacked DNC documents has prompted concerns that Russia is intervening in a US presidential election — there is evidence that the DNC hack originated inside Russia, and the documents were given to WikiLeaks because of the organisation’s ties to the Russian government.
The Kremlin has denied accusations that it was involved.
Snowden has previously weighed in on the incident, declaring earlier this week that the NSA is capable of tracing the stolen DNC emails back to Russia, if the country was indeed responsible.
Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.
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