Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for the US National Security Agency (NSA), may have chosen which documents to leak out of a desire to help Russia.
The German magazine Focus spoke with the heads of the BfV and the BND, Germany’s domestic and foreign intelligence services, both of whom expressed skepticism about Snowden’s intentions.
BND chief Gerhard Schindler noted. “It’s very remarkable that he exclusively published files about the work of the NSA with the BND or the British secret service GCHQ.”
“Leaking the secret service files is an attempt to drive a wedge between western Europe and the USA – the biggest since the Second World War,” added Hans-George Maassen, the director of the BfV.
Maassen claimed that Snowden targeted open and democratic countries, while giving regimes that routinely violate human rights on a far larger scale a pass. “It’s remarkable that there were no publications about countries like China or Russia, which are main targets for intelligence work by the NSA.”
He added that this alleged bias could be the result of an intentional effort to discredit Russia’s enemies, as there is “evidence that the Kremlin uses every opportunity to discredit Germany. Disinformation, infiltration, seeking influence, propaganda and degradation.”
The uproar that followed Snowden’s leaks drew particular attention to Germany’s actions. A parliamentary investigation began and new scandals began piling up.
Last year it was revealed that the BND spied on companies, business leaders and politicians, both in Germany and around Europe, on behalf of the NSA. Only a few weeks ago, another German paper found that the BND had been spying on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for over a year, as well as on the US military.
Even the head of the parliamentary investigation claims that his phone was hacked shortly before he was scheduled to question the BND on its actions.
Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013, out of fear of prosecution and life in prison should he ever return to the United States.