Snowden spars with intelligence chairs Feinstein and Rogers

Edward J. Snowden on Tuesday adamantly denied as “absurd” and “smears” the suggestion by the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that he might have been a Russian spy when he downloaded archives of classified National Security Agency documents and leaked them to journalists.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Mr. Snowden declared that the accusation — advanced in particular by Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — was “false,” saying he had “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”
In the latest jostling over how to frame the public debate that Mr. Snowden’s leaks created, Mr. Rogers said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Mr. Snowden should be seen not as a whistle-blower but as “a thief, who we believe had some help.”
Officials at both the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. have said their investigations have turned up no evidence that Mr. Snowden was aided by others. But Mr. Rogers, asserting that Mr. Snowden had downloaded many files about military activities that do not involve issues of civil liberties, pointed to the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., the successor to the Soviet K.G.B. He offered no evidence.
“I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an F.S.B. agent in Moscow,” he said, adding: “I believe there’s questions to be answered there. I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the F.S.B.”
Mr. Rogers made his remarks two days after President Obama embraced some calls to reform certain N.S.A. activities brought to light by Mr. Snowden. In particular, Mr. Obama said he would impose greater court oversight on the once-secret program in which the agency has been collecting records of every American’s phone calls, and that he intended to eventually get the N.S.A. out of the business of gathering such records in bulk.
Mr. Snowden responded to Mr. Rogers’s remarks via an encrypted chat service from Russia, where he is a fugitive from criminal charges in the United States.
On Sunday, the “Meet the Press” host, David Gregory, also asked Mr. Rogers’s Senate counterpart, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, whether she agreed with his suspicions that Mr. Snowden had been helped by the Russians. She replied: “He may well have.”
Mr. Snowden criticized news organizations for treating such remarks as newsworthy.
“It’s not the smears that mystify me,” Mr. Snowden told The New Yorker, “it’s that outlets report statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation.”

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