Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.Instapundit quotes an earlier report from The Guardian:
Western intelligence agencies say they have been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in US history.
Senior government sources confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents, which contain details of secret intelligence techniques and information that could allow British and American spies to be identified.
MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations because Russian security services had broken into encrypted files held by American computer analyst Snowden. . . .Yup. A real hero, that Snowden. Like John Walker. And Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. And Benedict Arnold.
The files held by Snowden were encrypted, but now British officials believe both countries have hacked into the files, according to the report.
The newspaper quotes a series of anonymous sources from Downing Street, the Home Office and British intelligence saying that the documents contained intelligence techniques and information that would enable foreign powers to identify British and American spies. . . .
A “senior Home Office source” was also quoted by the newspaper, saying: “Putin didn’t give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.”
The Sunday Times also quoted a “British intelligence source” saying that Russian and Chinese officials would be examining Snowden’s material for “years to come”.
“Snowden has done incalculable damage,” the intelligence source reportedly said. “In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to prevent them from being identified and killed.”